Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell says he has compiled a list of Anglican bishops he believes are in same-sex relationships and has threatened to reveal their identities publicly if they discipline homosexual clergy for marrying their partners.
Last month hospital chaplain Jeremy Pemberton had his license to preach revoked by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham after marrying his partner Laurence Cunningham earlier this year.
Twenty years ago, Tatchell notably outed 10 Anglican bishops as being gay at the 1994 General Synod. He said his aim now, as it was then, is ‘self-defence’ and that he wants to expose church hypocrisy and defend the homosexual community against bishops who endorse anti-gay discrimination, he has been quoted as saying in The Independent.
He said there are names on the list already although he has not decided whether to reveal his evidence.
‘We are looking at the possibility of outing gay bishops who abuse their power to harm gay clergy and the wider gay community. There is no question of outing bishops who want to keep their sexuality private.’
Last month, Andrew Cain, vicar of St Mary’s with All Souls in Kilburn, London, became the second priest to defy the Church of England by marrying his same-sex partner Stephen Foreshew. He said he ‘fully expects’ action to be taken against him following his decision.
Labour councillor and prospective parliamentary candidate Wes Streeting opposed Tatchell’s plans saying, ‘That’s not the right approach. It’s not necessarily hypocritical. One can be gay and not support same sex marriage.’
To which Tatchell responded, ‘If a gay bishop in a same sex relationship supports discrimination and discipline against gay clergy, his actions are homophobic and he deserves to be exposed. They have put themselves in the firing line.’
He explained, ‘People have a right to privacy so long as they are not using their own power and authority to harm other people and when other people are being caused harm and suffering we have a duty to try and stop it.
‘If this is the only way, it is certainly not the preferable way, it’s not the first option but as a last resort I think it is morally and ethically justifiable.’