The annual meeting of Quakers is to consider whether to request legal authority to register civil partnerships in the same way as marriages.

They will also consider whether to revise Quaker Faith and Practice, the book of Christian discipline of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, to include equal treatment of marriage and other committed partnerships.

First published in 1738, the book is revised each generation.

Quakers have acknowledged same-sex partnerships since the 1960s.

The event is to be held in York next week and 1,600 Quakers are expected to attend. They will hear personal testimonies from gay Quakers about their experiences.

Michael Hutchinson, for Quakers in Britain, said: “We recognise that many homosexual people play a full part in the life of the Society of Friends. Many of our meetings have told us that there are homosexual couples who consider themselves to be married and believe this is as much a testimony of divine grace as a heterosexual marriage. They miss the public recognition of this in a religious ceremony.

“We hope our discussions this week will help us recognise, in love, the Friend whose experience is not our own, and will lead us forward in exploring what true equality means.”

The meeting will be held from Saturday July 25th to August 1st.