Australian Anglican Church apologizes to LGBT community while majority of Australians support same-sex marriage.
Anthony Venn-Brown, Christian gay rights advocate, recently spoke at St. Mark’s Anglican church in Melbourne, Australia, concerning support for gays within the Anglican faith and the church’s past condemnation of homosexuality. Addressing the congregation, Venn-Brown called on the church to acknowledge its past anti-gay attitudes. He asserted that while this may not right the wrongs perceived by the LGBT community, it would pave the way for mending fractures within the Anglican Church which is already divided from within by theological and doctrinal disputes.
The church, its steeple lit purple for Melbourne’s 20th International AIDS Conference, is the first Anglican church to issue an apology to the LGBT community. In his address, Venn-Brown emphasized understanding from both sides: “So as you willingly and sincerely say sorry tonight to the LGBT community there are those of us who say thank you and we forgive. . . . This makes the apology complete. As I mentioned at the beginning, sorry will never automatically right the wrongs of the past but, said with deep sincerity and authenticity, creates the potential for healing and reconciliation.”
While speaking to the Australian Anglican church, Venn-Brown also cited instances where the church’s condemnation of homosexuality led gay Christians to commit suicide. “A great deal of harm has been done to LGBT people because of the Christian church. A lot of people have been hurt and damaged. Lives have been lost . . .” As a result of this, he founded Freedom2B, an organization dedicated to supporting gay Christians struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. He recalled one young man who was helped by Freedom2B, stating, “I wonder how many more are out there like this young 19 year old who have never heard that God loves them.”
Anthony Venn-Brown’s address at St. Mark’s comes on the heels of a survey published earlier in the week in which 72% of Australians polled believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized. The group with the highest recorded support of legalized same-sex marriage were couples with children, 85% of whom believe that it should be given legal status. This indicates that a higher percentage of Australians support same-sex marriage than people in the United Kingdom or New Zealand, two countries which have already granted legal status to same-sex married couples. The poll further showed that support had grown among all demographics regardless of age or religious affiliation.
It has also been reported that Australian same-sex couples are having trouble marrying in British consulates in Australia, despite the UK having passed its own marriage equality laws. The current laws do not recognize foreign marriages, creating barriers for gay couples trying to attain legal weddings in foreign consulates. In light of this, there have been calls in the government for a vote on the issue by the Australian Parliament. Australian Prime Minister and Coalition leader Tony Abbot replied that any amendments to the Marriage Act will be decided by the Coalition MPs. Due to increased support, many are hopeful that such an amendment is coming very soon.
- Gay News Network
- Australian Times