The Church of Ireland voted against recognizing and supporting same-sex relationships within the church.
At the church’s annual General Synod yesterday (5 May), members of the church voted down a proposal that ‘Acknowledges the injury felt by members of the Church who enter into loving, committed and legally-recognised, same-sex relationships.’
Same-sex marriage is not offered within the church, so the proposal simply asks for pastoral support for same-sex couples.
Yet, the General Synod voted 176 against and 146 for.
Leo Kilroy from Wicklow drafted the proposal and just wants pastoral support for same-sex couples.
He said: ‘Many of your brothers and sisters in our Church are lesbian and gay.
‘Advances in civic society in recent years have seen LGBT people achieve many rights and legal protections… But many lesbian and gay people continue feel gravely hurt by the Church.
The proposal doesn’t aim to change the church’s stance on same-sex marriage, just include formal acknowledgements of their pain with an inability to marry.
Kilroy also said: ‘This motion is not asking for marriage in the Church.
‘I understand that many of you hold the Church’s definition of marriage dearly.
‘This motion is careful to protect Canon 31. It is simply calling for permission to develop ways to publicly and pastorally support and celebrate lesbian and gay people at important times in their lives,’ he said.
North-south divide in Ireland over same-sex marriage
Interestingly, almost every speaker against the motion was from Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland remains the only region in the UK to prohibit same-sex marriages, with LGBTI rights campaigner Peter Tatchell describing it as ‘the most homophobic place in Western Europe.’
Canon Maurice Elliott of Down and Dromore diocese in the north said the motion would be ‘immensely detrimental.’
Reverend Alison Calvin of Kilmore diocese also said at times she feels bullied for her beliefs.
‘It’s not fair that my deeply held convictions are portrayed as those of a narrow-minded bigot,’ she said.
But Changing Attitudes Ireland, an LGBTI equality and religious advocacy group supported the motions.
They believe spiritual support for same-sex couples in light of civil unions has become ‘urgent’ within the church’s teachings.
They said in a statement: ‘What God wants most of us, his children, is love – love toward our fellow human beings.’