The Bishop of Gloucester has said he thinks it is time for the Church of England to apologise for its treatment of the gay community, but that it is moving slowly towards acceptance.

Michael Perham, the bishop, made the comments during a rare meeting between the Gloucestershire’s Gay and Lesbian Community (GGLC) and the Church of England this week.

The meeting was significant because it was the first official meeting between the two groups since 1976, reports the Gloucestershire Citizen.

Speaking around the issue of equal marriage, the Bishop said it was time that the church changed its stance on gay issues. “The church has to be sorry,” he said.

“It has not treated the gay, lesbian and transgender community very well.

“The church may be moving slowly, but it will get there. The vast majority of Christians are moving relatively fast towards a more modern way of thinking and towards a position where they should be. It is a place where they should have reached a long time ago, but clearly not as quickly as the rest of society. The church is slow because it is trying to pull together this universal family from all over the world to have the same understanding.

“The church’s view on same sex marriage is not sustainable. But homosexuals must realise that the church is not homophobic. We should all celebrate committed, faithful and loving relationships.”

Michael Charlton-Hubble, the chairman of the GGLC agreed, saying that he had personally experienced some hostile treatment.

“For me, it is not just the question of same sex marriage,” he said. “It is more about how homosexuals are treated by the church.

“Twenty years ago I served with the parochial church council and when the church found out I was gay, it was like a curtain had come down.

“I was really shocked by the reaction I’ve had at Gloucester Cathedral. There are other churches in the Forest of Dean that are far more accepting.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in August admitted that his stance against same-sex marriage could be seen as “wicked”.

Archbishop Welby admitted that the Church’s opposition to equal marriage was “utterly overwhelmed” by vocal supporters in July.

Earlier in August his predecessor, Dr Rowan Williams admitted he regularly questioned whether he had let gay and lesbian people down during his time in post. 

“I know that is what a great many of my gay and lesbian friends would say that I did,” Dr Williams said to an audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.