Rowan Williams (Pic: Brian from Toronto, Canada)

British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell has slammed the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ stance on the issue of gay clergy as being hypocritical.

“Rowan Williams is inconsistent. Although he says he is willing to accept a gay celibate bishop, he blocked the appointment of the celibate gay cleric, Jeffrey John, as Bishop of Reading,” said Tatchell.

Tatchell was responding to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s interview in The Times Saturday magazine on 25 September, where he said he would accept a gay bishop but not one who was having a sexual relationship with a man.

“To put it very simply, there’s no problem about a gay person who’s a bishop. It’s about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe. So there’s always a question about the personal life of the clergy,” Williams told the newspaper.

Tatchell responded by commenting that for Williams “church unity is more important than the human rights of lesbian and gay people”.

“His attacks on pro-gay Anglicans have been far stronger than his muted criticisms of Anglican leaders who advocate discrimination against gay people.

“Before he became Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan supported gay inclusion and equality. Now he victimises gay clergy like Jeffrey John and goes out of his way to retain within the Anglican Communion some of the most hateful Christian homophobes in the world,” Tatchell added.

The global Anglican Church, led by Williams, has been split apart by the issue of the ordination of gays and women as clergy-members, with primarily African dioceses opposing their recognition.

“An Archbishop is supposed to be a moral leader. On gay human rights, Rowan is a follower. He’s an appeaser of homophobes. He’d never make similar compromises over racism within the church. Why the double standards?

“Rowan is speaking with a forked tongue on the issue of gay clergy and equality. He looks weak and cowardly compared to the inspired moral leadership against homophobia voiced by Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” said Tatchell.

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