My Lords, before the right reverend Prelate sits down, I would like his reaction to the fact that what is proposed is not at odds with—I forgot the phrase he used—religious law. It does not compel the Church of England to do anything but rather removes the legislative barrier from the Church progressing down the route if it so chooses to solemnise. The right reverend Prelate says that he regrets that we are bringing this amendment forward; I also regret that we have to bring forward an amendment that addresses such basic inequalities in the second decade of the 21st century.
I would welcome the right reverend Prelate’s response to some research carried out by the Stonewall Group—I declare an interest as the founding chair and co-founder of Stonewall—which found that:
“A third of lesbian, gay and bisexual people of faith … aren’t open with anyone in the faith community about their sexual orientation … One in four trans people of faith (25 per cent) aren’t open about their gender identity in their faith community … Only two in five LGBT people of faith … think their faith community is welcoming of lesbian, gay and bi people”,
“Just one in four LGBT people of faith … think their faith community is welcoming of trans people”.
Are those levels of perceived hostility and discrimination acceptable, and does the right reverend Prelate agree with me that the Church, by completing its internal discussions on this important issue, could send a very important signal that everyone—people who believe in the same beliefs and the same religion—is welcome within the Church and that there is no prohibition to them being a full and fully partaking member of that community?