The Anglican Church of Canada has elected a gay father-of-two as a bishop.

The third largest Canadian church after the Roman Catholic Church and the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church is already accepting of same-sex unions and gay clergy.

But another barrier was broken this week, when the Diocese of Toronto green lit the election of openly gay bishop Kevin Robertson.

Robertson, one of three new  suffragan bishops in the Diocese, has two children with his partner Mohan.

The 45-year-old said: “I’m very overwhelmed… I didn’t really expect to be here, but I’m deeply, deeply honoured. I realise this is an historic day in the life of our church.

“It’s no secret that I’m the first openly gay, partnered bishop-elect in the diocese and perhaps in the Canadian church as well, and I know that for some people that’s a real challenge and for others it’s the fulfilment of what they’ve been hoping and praying for for a very long time.

“The peace and unity of the church is really important to me and I will work to continue that peace and unity as a bishop.”

He added: “My election today is a turning point for our diocese, and I’m honoured to be a part of that. I’m really encouraged by the developments over the past couple of months – both General Synod and today bode really well for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of our church.”

“I think LGBTQ clergy and lay people might naturally gravitate towards me looking for some leadership around the issue of full inclusion, but I absolutely see myself as a bishop for the whole church, including people who have a very different view of things than I do. I’m their bishop, too.

“I hope I can help to renew the life of the church at the local level, and as a result strengthen and enhance the whole church. One of the things I want to do is really engage with clergy and lay leaders, including churchwardens, to reinvigorate things.”

Archbishop Colin Johnson said: “Kevin is certainly not the first gay man to become a bishop in the Communion but his election will probably bring a negative reaction in some places and a positive reaction in others.

“We’re at an early stage in this experience; I think many parts of the world do not understand it, so it will be a challenge for them, but it will be an opportunity for us to explain how and why we have made this choice today.”