The Speaker of the House of Commons has mocked a “misguided” Church of England reverend who equated gay people to paedophiles.
The Hull vicar, Reverend Melvin Tinker, last week hit out at a decision by a canon at York Minster to bless the city’s Pride parade last weekend, suggesting that accepting gay people means also accepting paedophiles and “serial adulterers”.
Diana Johnson, the MP for Kingston upon Hull North raised the issue in Parliament today, during questions to the Leader of the Commons Chris Grayling.
She said: “During the course of the same-sex marriage act, the Reverend Tinker in Hull told me that if I supported it, he’d instruct his congregation not to vote for me. It might have something to do with the fact my majority went from 641 to 12,899. However, this weekend the Rev Tinker has equated homosexuality in the same category as paedophilia.
“Can we please have a debate in government time about the responsibilities of the established Church of England around community cohesion, and not inciting crimes of hate?”
Mr Grayling responded: “First of all, let’s be absolutely clear. There is absolutely no connection whatsoever between homosexuality and paedophilia.
“Paedophilia is a crime, homosexuality is a reality of our society, it is something we have moved to support through same-sex marriage and through other changes in recent years. It is never acceptable to equate the two.
“Of course, as we were during the passage of the same-sex marriage act, it is important to be sensitive about these issues, particularly in relation to people with strong religious views, but there is never any justification for equating the two.”
Speaker John Bercow, a strong proponent of LGBT rights, interjected with a characteristically biting remark.
He quipped: “The misguided reverend is obviously rather a blinkered fellow, to put it mildly” – to cheers from both sides of the House.
A campaign has recently been started urging the Church of England to sack Reverend Tinker over the remarks, and has now 400 supporters.