The head of Stonewall has warned that a split in the global Anglican church could bolster anti-gay churches.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is currently hosting church leaders from around the world, as he attempts to avoid an entire breakdown of the Anglican Communion.
While the Church of England is relatively moderate when it comes to gay rights, a number of other churches within the global Anglican Communion remain militantly opposed – leading to tensions particularly with some African churches.
In a piece for the Telegraph, Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt voiced her concerns about the possible upcoming divide in the Anglican Communion – which could free more extreme churches to pursue an even more anti-LGBT agenda.
She warned: “The Church and its leaders are right to stand up to some of the more conservative elements and support LGBT communities.
“A split in this union could have negative effects on Anglicans worldwide. There are 85 million people across the world that belong to the Anglican Communion.
“A split would be incredibly dangerous for the thousands of LGBT people – and their families – who live in countries where being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is illegal or punishable by death.
“People who live, work and pray in fear that they cannot divulge their true identity. People who feel that their family – the Church – is no longer a place for them.”
The roots of the divide between the two sides go back decades – but the current debate flared up in 2003 when the US Episcopal Church ordained its first openly gay Bishop, Gene Robinson.
The last meeting of the Anglican Communion meeting in 2008 descended into farce, when some evengelical African Churches refused to attend alongside gay Bishops. The Archbishop has not called a meeting since.
Last month, over 100 senior Anglicans signed a letter to the Archbishop calling for “repentance for accepting and promoting discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, and for the pain and rejection that this has caused.
“We, the Church, need to apologise for our part in perpetuating rather than challenging ill-informed beliefs about LGBTI people.”
In the past, Hunt – who is Catholic – spoke about reconciling her faith and sexuality, writing: “[Faith] is doing significant damage to people’s mental health – we have to do something about it.
“There are also many faith leaders who are gay and many faith leaders who are distressed by the constant exclusion of LGBT people from their communities and parishes.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has strived to reconcile the two sides on the issues of LGBT rights.
He claimed earlier this week: “Certainly I want reconciliation. Reconciliation doesn’t always mean agreement, in fact it very seldom does. It means finding ways of disagreeing well.
“There is nothing I can do if people decide to leave the room. It won’t split the communion.
“The Church is a family and you remain a family even if you go your separate ways.
“A schism would not be a disaster, God is bigger than our failures, but it would be a failure.”