University of Kent called ‘spineless’ after agreeing to host Lambeth Conference banning gay spouses

Mar 22, 2019 by

By Anna MacSwan, Kent Online:

The university of Kent has come under fire for hosting an Anglican conference excluding same-sex couples.

Its Canterbury campus will be the venue for next year’s Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops and their spouses from around the world which takes place every ten years.

But students have called the decision “shocking” and “spineless” after it emerged gay bishops, who are joining the assembly for the first time, were personally told by the Archbishop of Canterbury that their spouses are banned from the event.

The university has said the conference, which costs £4,950 per person to attend, is lawful because of a loophole in the Equality Act applying to religious organisations.

It has argued that while it would not “apply such a prohibition to any event we were running directly”, it has to respect its clients’ wishes provided they are legal.

LGBT student Natalie Yoh, 25, who is doing a PhD in biodiversity management, says she feels the university is putting the opportunity to make money through venue hire above its moral values.

“I was shocked that this is happening in Kent, which I have always thought of as an inclusive place,” she said.

“I think it would suggest, whether rightly or wrongly, that they are putting their commercial interests above their moral values. Whether or not they have made that decision [not to invite same-sex spouses], they’re still choosing to host an event that’s being exclusive.

“That’s disappointing for the LGBT community, because you don’t feel supported by the university.

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