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Gay chaplain loses employment tribunal after being sacked by Church for marrying

Nick Duffy November 4, 2015

A Church of England hospital chaplain who lost his job after he married his same-sex partner has now lost his employment tribunal case.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton was the first member of the Church of England clergy to enter into a same-sex marriage, when he wed his partner Laurence Cunnington last April.

His marriage defied a decision by the House of Bishops, which has banned gay clergy from marrying – and he later had his permission to officiate revoked by a Bishop. This meant he was prevented from taking up a job, as he was declined the correct licences.

Canon Pemberton filed an Equality Act claim in the Employment Tribunal, alleging that the Church had discriminated against him because of his sexuality – but the tribunal this week found against him.

The case against the former Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham Richard Inwood was dismissed by the tribunal.

The Tribunal noted: “The claimant would never have been in this position had he not defied the doctrine of the Church.

“The claimant knowingly entered into that marriage and knew what the potential consequences could be for him.

“When so doing, he was in breach of his Oath of Canonical Obedience and the Oath of Affirmations. The Claimant maintains, obviously genuinely, that he believes he could still keep his credibility within the Church whilst being married to Mr Cunnington… but there is the canonical requirement that he has to live his life as a priest consistent with his calling.

“In getting married to his partner, he was flying in the face of the clear restating of doctrine in relation to same-sex marriage.”

It concludes: “The claim is dismissed in its entirety.”

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham said: “We are thankful to the tribunal for its work on this complex case and for its findings in favour of the former Acting Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him.

“We recognise that it has been a long and difficult process for all concerned, and we continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers.

“Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds.

“We remain engaged in the on-going shared conversations across the wider Church of England that are exploring questions relating to human sexuality.”

More: Church, civil partnership, civil union, equal marriage, Gay, gay weddings, Jeremy Pemberton, lesbian, lesbian wedding, LGBT, marriage, marriage equality, Religion, same sex weddings, Union, wedding

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