Wedding discrimination appeal

A Church of England hospital chaplain has lost his claim that he was discriminated against when his licence to work was withdrawn after he married his same-sex partner, in a case that gay rights campaigners hoped would force the church to change its stance.

Jeremy Pemberton was appealing against an earlier ruling that backed the church’s legal right to enforce its position that gay clergy are forbidden from marrying their partners.

The employment appeal tribunal judge Jennifer Eady said in her ruling that the state could not impose same-sex marriage on the church.

According to the ruling, Pemberton “was aware his marriage would be seen in conflict with the teachings of the church (even if he did not accept the characterisation of those teachings as doctrine) and he would thus be viewed as not in ‘good standing’, as would be understood within the Church of England”.

It added that parliament had permitted a specific exemption to the church on discrimination claims of this nature.

In a statement after Wednesday’s decision, Pemberton said his case – brought against the bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Richard Inwood – had raised “novel and complex issues of law”, and he may take it to the court of appeal.

He added: “The result is, obviously, not the one my husband and I had hoped for. I appreciate that this case was a source of hope for many people and I am grateful that the judge has recognised its significance and indicated that its importance warrants permission to appeal to the court of appeal.

“I am now going to take some time to consider the lengthy judgment with my husband, and we will decide on the best way forward, having taken advice from my lawyers.”

A spokesperson for the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham said: “Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds and we remain fully engaged in the church’s exploration of questions relating to human sexuality.

“The Church of England supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions. It has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships, as set out in the house of bishops’ guidelines in 2006.”