Although it is often said that the religious climate in the West is accommodative to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) + community to openly express who they really are and how they identify even in churches, a recent outcome from a Canadian church shows that the issue is not only unripe in African churches but the world all over.
AFP reports that last week the Anglican Church of Canada with over half a million members rejected a motion to change its definition of marriage to embrace same-sex/homosexual unions.
The motion heard at the church’s general assembly, called a Synod, would have changed its marriage canon to remove references to unions between a man and a woman.
To pass, the proposal required a two-thirds majority from each of three groups of delegates: laypeople, clergy and bishops.
But though lay delegates and members of the clergy voted largely in favour of the move late Friday in Vancouver — Canada’s densest and most ethnically diverse cities — they did not meet the two-thirds threshold among the bishops.
The motion had been approved in a first vote at the last general assembly three years ago, but it needed to be validated at two meetings in a row.
Many in the church, which has nearly 1,700 parishes, were reportedly disappointed.
Toronto Bishop Andrew Asbil said the vote was “devastating news to our LGBTQ+ community, families and friends.”
“I share in that sense of devastation,” Asbil added.
Another motion passed at the Vancouver meetings left the church some room to contemplate, as it recognises that each diocese can handle homosexual marriage in their own way, meaning they can perform gay weddings.
Some dioceses have performed same-sex marriages since 2016, and many of them intend to keep on doing so, Megan Hilty, the church’s director of communications told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Canada legalised gay marriage in 2005.
Since the 1990s, the Anglican Communion has struggled with controversy regarding homosexuality in the church.
Under current law, gay marriage is still barred for church officials.
Over the past two decades, the question of homosexuality has been raging in the church, often pitting conservatives in Africa against perceived liberals in the west.
A handful of Anglican national churches have taken steps toward approving and celebrating same-sex relationships amid strong resistance among other national churches within the 80 million-member global body.
To date, the more liberal provinces that are open to changing Church Doctrine on marriage in order to allow same-sex unions include Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Scotland, South India, South Africa, the US and Wales”.
The United States-based Episcopal Church which is part of the Anglican Communion has allowed gay marriage since 2015.
These progressive reforms in the aforementioned have however not eased the tense “moral currency” in other Anglican churches nationals.
In 2018, the aftermath of the legalising of same-sex marriage in Australia, the Anglican Church ramped up its discrimination against gay people to new heights.
In a joint resolution, they declared that it wasn’t “appropriate” for same-sex weddings to be held anywhere in the Anglican property. Not just in Anglican churches; they cannot be held in church halls or the chapels of Anglican schools, or in other Anglican organisations, such as welfare agencies and the like.
The bishops were also concerned about Anglican priests wanting simply to bless a same-sex union and pondered on the need to control private prayer for gay people. They would consider the “appropriate content for an informal prayer for same-sex couples, which occurs outside a public liturgical setting”.
At General Synod in 2019, the Church of England announced that same-gender couples may remain married and recognised as married after one spouse experience a gender transition provided that the spouses identified as opposite genders at the time of the marriage.
Likewise, same-sex relationships for clergy are sanctioned if they remain celibate.
LGBT+ Christian organisations have pointed out an “inconsistency” in the Anglican Communion’s move to exclude same-sex spouses from the 2020 global conference.
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