Update: An original draft of this article published on 13 July included a misquotation which made it appear as though the Dean of Chichester suggested that being gay is a choice. The talk held at Chichester Cathedral titled ‘Gay Marriage- Sacrament or Scandal’, included an impassioned debate during which the Dean stood up for gay rights and equal marriage and said he was “horrified” by homophobic behaviour. The correct quote from the Dean read that being gay is “not a choice but a given”.

The Dean of Chichcester held a public talk at Chichester Cathedral last week, which focussed on equal marriage, during which he reflected on the idea that “homosexuality is not a choice but a given”, but also that there was no easy solution to religious opposition to equal marriage.

The Dean – the Very Reverend Nicholas Frayling, led the discussion, which was titled Gay Marriage – Sacrament or Scandal?

During his talk at Chichester Cathedral the Dean spoke of how he has been “horrified by the cruel treatment meted out to gay people in public school, in prison, and by the casual (and not always thoughtless) remarks… from people who, if they have considered the matter at all, have determined that homosexuality is a chosen way of life and therefore deserving of censure.  It is not.”

He went on to say that ‘The Church’s attitude to gay people has been pastorally very damaging… and the result has been calamitous: loneliness, fear and secrecy in our Church… The issues are very complex but must be faced, because same sex marriage will certainly come sooner or later.  English law changes all the time to mirror the gut instinct of each generation for what is just and what is necessary.”

Following the talk, a statement from the cathedral read: “As part of Chichester Cathedral’s Education Department’s series of Hot Topics, The Dean of Chichester, Nicholas Frayling, led a lively discussion in a packed Vicars’ Hall.

“Reminding the audience that ‘homosexuality is not a choice but a given,’ the Dean drew on theology to present arguments for both sides before opening up the debate to the wider audience.

“Feelings ran high as people felt able to express their views on this safe and unrecorded occasion, but good humour was retained throughout, and it became clear there was no simple solution to this 21st-century problem.

“Marilyn McInnes, the cathedral’s education officer, thanked the Dean and was struck by the number of people, during and after the session, who said how much they had been helped by the talk, in their own or their families’ personal circumstances.”

Earlier in July, the editor-in-chief of the Chichester Observer Colin Channon also held a talk on the Freedom of the Press, as part of a Hot Topic event.