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Wednesday, August 5, 1998 Published at 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK


UK

Confrontation at Lambeth Conference

Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma confronts gay protesters


Bishop Spong and Archbishop Moses debate the issue on BBC Radio 4's Today programme
Anglican bishops at the Lambeth Conference are discussing the issue of homosexuality before voting on a final resolution.

Earlier, there were angry scenes between conservative clergy and lesbian and gay campaigners over the issue which will be voted on by 800 bishops.


Bishop Emmanuel Chukwama confronts activists
Nigerian Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma confronted Richard Kirker of the Gay and Lesbian Christian Movement outside the Conference and prayed repeatedly that God would 'deliver him' from his homosexuality.


[ image: Richar Kirker defends his homosexuality]
Richar Kirker defends his homosexuality
Mr Kirker said afterwards, "it was threatening - he was waving his hands in my face and it was very hard, in fact impossible, to get a word in edgeways.

"He was basically saying that we needed to repent and that there was no place in the Church for people like us and that we ought to leave because we were defiling the Church."


Right Rev Emmanuel Chukwuma: We are going to make sure it is thrown out
Earlier, the bishop had said: "I feel this issue of sexuality is like a diversion of our attention.

"And we would not have debated it all as an issue. But since it has been bought forward as an issue we are going to make sure it is thrown out."

While some western bishops favour blessing same-sex unions in church, some of their African counterparts say that homosexuality is sinful.

The North American bishop championing the gay cause said he will not vote for anything that will force him to discriminate against gay priests in his diocese.


[ image: Right Rev Jack Spong: No more persecution]
Right Rev Jack Spong: No more persecution
Right Reverend Jack Spong of Newark, New Jersey, said: "My only ambition is to leave Lambeth without another insult being added to the gay and lesbian community who have been insulted by religious bodies for too long.

"They have been murdered, they have been burned at the stake and I think we ought to be repenting for that sort of behaviour and try to embrace them as children of God."

He told the Today programme that the way society views homosexuality had changed in the last 25 years.

Bishop Spong said: "We're living in a world of vast cultural differences.

"We have been debating openly and publicly in the US and in the western world in the past 25 years and we've come to a lots of new conclusions.


Right Rev Jack Spong: Gays have been insulted by religious bodies for far too long
"We can document that homosexuality does exist in the world of animals and we can even produce it in laboratories."

But the bulk of the bishops, especially those from Africa and Asia, do not want homosexuality debated.

Archbishop William Moses, Primate of South India, said homosexuals could not be part of the Church of England.

He told Today: "It's a matter for serious dispute and we will not accept it."

A sub-committee dealing with the issue has seen some of the fiercest debate of the three-week conference.

Its report condemns homophobia and "any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation".

But it insists that only marriage between one man and one woman is acceptable within the church.

The committee motion says the conference "cannot advise the legitimising or blessing or ordaining of those involved in same-gender unions".

'Devil is in the detail'


The BBC's David Sillitoe reports on the divided views
But it does recognise gays and lesbians and, rather than recommending celibacy outside marriage, it uses the word "chastity".

BBC religious affairs correspondent Emily Buchanan said: "It's very much a case here of the devil being in the detail.

"If the wording of the resolution can avoid strong condemnation of homosexuals - while not condoning gay equality - it looks likely that liberal and conservative bishops will vote for it.

"Otherwise the danger of a deep and lasting split remains."

The conference, held every 10 years, cannot bind the bishops to the resolutions it adopts, but it is seen as influencing opinion within the church.



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