Gay MP Chris Bryant has criticised the Church of England, writing that it “needs to forget its silliness about homosexuality”
In a comment piece for The Independent, Bryant discussed the case of The Very Rev. Jeffrey John, 58, who recently sought the council of Alison Downie, a leading Equality Act lawyer, in order to sue the Church over discrimination.
Dean of St. Albans, John has been blocked from becoming a bishop twice because of his sexuality.
Bryant wrote about the general attitude of the Church towards gay clergy, and the cruelty of its “double speak,” which forces celibacy but does not rule out the option of a same-sex relationship.
He goes on to say that the Church “teaches that homophobia is immoral,” and that “it’s fine and dandy to be gay just so long as you don’t do anything about it.”
Labour MP, Bryant described The Very Rev. Jeffrey John as “a man of immense spirituality who should have been made a bishop years ago.”
Bryant went on to discuss a colleague at his theological college in the 1980s who only found “relief,” upon retiring with their same-sex partner, and the “sad joy,” gained in his freedom from the Church.
He also writes about personal experience of being asked by a bishop about the moral issues around appointing a priest to an inner city parish simply because he was the only heterosexual candidate.
Discussing changing attitudes towards gay members of society, Bryant wrote, “In the old days it was all very simple. Homosexuality was a deliberate choice, a perversion, a sin. But nobody seriously believes that anymore.”
Bryant also comments that Jeffrey John would not be the first gay bishop, but simply the first to be open about his sexuality. He suggested that that the Church is “ludicrously pretending,” that there are currently no gay bishops.
The article written by Bryant comes just a few days after he, in praising the current diversity in Westminster, likened the Strangers bar in parliament to Rupert Street, and described it as “virtually a gay bar.”
Despite approving of the diversity in parliament, Bryant also said that “Parliament should look like the country that it is meant to represent,” and that there is a long way to go to reach the same percentages as in the whole population.