A vicar in Monmouthshire, Wales, has stepped down from his position over what he says is the Church’s homophobia surrounding gay couples marrying.

The Reverend Andrew Morton, who is the vicar of Llangybi, said that homophobia among members of the Anglican communion, and among elements of the Church in Wales in general, has increased.

Reverend Morton fully supports marriage between same-sex couples, and is the first in Wales to step down over the issue.

The Church in Wales responded to his resignation by stating it was “a matter of regret”.

Reverend Morton, who has been a vicar since 1979, said that a number many of his colleagues privately agree with his stance, and that homophobia is rife in the church some respects.

He told the BBC: “First of all I felt that the church’s position on same-sex relationships, never mind same-sex marriages, was increasingly judgemental and not really inclusive in the way that I felt that it should be.

“I feel a greater degree of homophobia in the church than I’ve felt for a long time. Maybe it’s just my personal perception but it certainly seems to be more prevalent in some quarters of the church. I felt that in order to offer an authentic critique of the church as an institution, the most honourable thing was to do it from the outside rather than from the inside which was what prompted the resignation.”

However, another Welsh vicar, Canon Andrew Knight of Sketty, Swansea, opposes gay marriage and said although the Christian community had sympathy with gay people, it “cannot celebrate something which is not seen as being good”.

In response to the UK government consultation over the issue of same-sex marriage, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who is to step down from his post, said the law should not be used as a tool to bring about social changes such as gay marriage.