Page last updated at 23:48 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 00:48 UK

Quakers 'to allow gay marriages'

Same-sex statues on the top of a wedding cake
The Quakers have supported same-sex unions for more than two decades

One of the UK's oldest Christian denominations - the Quakers - looks set to extend marriage services to same-sex couples at their yearly meeting later.

The society has already held religious blessings for same-sex couples who have had a civil partnership ceremony.

But agreeing to perform gay marriages, which are currently not allowed under civil law, could bring the Quakers into conflict with the government.

The issue of active homosexuality has bitterly divided Churches.

But the BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the Quakers had been more prepared than other groups to reinterpret the Bible in the light of contemporary life.

Religious commitment

The Quakers - also known as The Religious Society of Friends - are likely to reach consensus on the issue of gay marriage without a vote at their annual gathering in York on Friday.

They will also formally ask the government to change the law to allow gay people to marry.

Quaker registrars, like rabbis and Church of England priests, have the authority to marry heterosexual couples on behalf of the state.

But many British Quakers feel it is wrong to exclude a religious commitment from civil partnerships and want the right to marriage extended to same-sex couples too.

The Quakers has welcomed same-sex unions for more than two decades, allowing local groups to celebrate same-sex commitments through special acts of worship.

But within Britain's Christian community more widely, the issue of homosexuality has caused major confrontations.

Most recently, the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, told a newspaper that homosexuals should "repent and be changed".



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Gay blessing vicar is reprimanded
23 Sep 08 |  North West Wales
Gay rights church bans weddings
08 Apr 08 |  London
Bishop's fear for marriage status
03 Mar 08 |  Staffordshire

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific