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Sandi Toksvig says ‘lives at stake’ after anti-gay Anglican church declaration

The lives of LGBTQ+ people are “at stake”, the broadcaster and author Sandi Toksvig has said, after the archbishop of Canterbury affirmed the validity of a 1998 resolution that gay sex is a sin.

In a letter to more than 650 bishops attending the once-a-decade Lambeth conference on Tuesday, Justin Welby, who is also leader of the Anglican church, said the resolution, known as Lambeth 1.10, was “not in doubt”.

“It was a sin in 1998 and you just wanted to make clear in 2022 that no one in your finely frocked gang has moved on from that,” wrote Toksvig in her letter published on Twitter on Wednesday evening. “Seriously, with the state the world is in, that is what you wanted to focus on?”

Responding to the latest knot the Church of England has tied itself into, Toksvig laid bare the facts, including that suicide is contemplated by young LGBTQ+ people at higher rates than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. She said she had faced death threats herself, and questioned the Church of England’s interpretation of Jesus’s views on homosexuality.

“Oh Justin, how can you be so stuck?” Toksvig wrote. “Jesus doesn’t mention sexuality at all. It clearly wasn’t a big deal for him.”

Nor is Toksvig alone in criticising the church’s traditional stance. Other campaigners for LGBTQ+ equality were similarly angered by Welby’s decision to uphold a declaration that says “homosexual practice” is “incompatible with scripture” and says same-sex unions should not be legitimised or blessed.

“Priority has been given to saving a manmade institution over protecting LGBTQ+ people’s lives,” said Jayne Ozanne, a leading gay activist in the Church of England. “It is a stick with which many of us have been beaten and will continue to suffer around the world.”

Responding in stride, 90 bishops, including eight archbishops, said LGBTQ+ people had “historically been wounded” by the church, and said they “look forward to the day when we all may feel truly welcomed, valued and affirmed”.

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While Welby indicated he would not seek the authority to discipline churches that conduct or bless same-sex marriages, the remarks stand in stark contrast with social attitudes of Anglican churches globally such as in Scotland, Wales, the US, Canada and Brazil.

On Saturday, Toksvig, a humanist, said she planned to visit her local church with her wife of 16 years. While she had been “too hurt over the years to have any faith left”, she would be hosting a concert to raise money for l Ukrainian refugees, but afterwards would never set foot inside an Anglican building again, she wrote.

“Call me, Justin. Let’s have coffee,” Toksvig ends her letter. “Let me talk you round. You never know, I might even forgive you.”

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