Reverend Andrew Rawding resigned from his position in the Church of Ireland this week due to the homophobic stance the church has upheld. A former editor of The Church of Ireland Gazette, Canon Ian Ellis, has since rejected claims that the church is homophobic.
Rev Rawding resigned on Sunday morning in all three of his parishes. He has been a passionate ally for the LGBTQ+ community throughout his tenure. He has spoken out against the church’s stance on same-sex marriage and is the deputy chairman for Mid Ulster Pride.
In 2017 the Church rejected a motion to accept same-sex marriage. “I have made a public stance in the past as a Church of Ireland rector to send a message to the LGBT+ community that it’s okay to be LGBT+ and to be a Christian, and to show my full support for same-sex marriages within the Church of Ireland,” the reverend said.
Upon resigning, Rawding told the BBC that the Church of Ireland was “structurally, culturally and socially homophobic.” Canon Ian Ellis has come forth and expressed regret over Rawdling’s resignation and has appealed to him to reconsider.
Speaking to News Letter, Canon Ellis said “His characterisation of the Church of Ireland as structurally, culturally and socially homophobic raises the question of what is meant by ‘homophobia’ as a term.
“How it is understood varies from negative feelings about homosexual people, to fear of them, to actual hatred. I don’t think the Church of Ireland falls into any of those categories.”
He continued to say the Church of Ireland has acknowledged that members have at times “hurt and wounded” people in relation to sexuality, which is “clearly wrong.” He also rejected the claim his church’s listening to LGBTQ+ people was “a tick-box exercise.”
Canon Ellis failed to include discrimination under his definition of homophobia. A very quick google search of ‘what is homophobia’ led me to this: “discrimination from religious institutions, companies, or from [the] government. Examples include same-sex couples not being allowed to marry.”
Not allowing people to marry their same-sex partners is discrimination, and Rev Rawding is correct in defining the church as homophobic.
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