Three gay rights protesters say they were punched while being forcibly removed yesterday from a conference at which rebel bishops were trying to attract recruits to a network for Anglicans who believe all same-sex relationships should be condemned.
The protest, led by Peter Tatchell, comes as the Anglican communion goes through what is possibly its greatest crisis in 450 years, with many senior clergy predicting that a split in the Church is almost inevitable.
Yesterday’s meeting, at All Souls Church, London, followed a conference in Jerusalem of Anglican bishops from around the world who are defying the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, because they believe he has failed to follow the biblical line on homosexuality.
The General Synod of the Church of England is also in danger of being split this weekend in an equally passionate dispute over whether to permit women bishops.
“We were punched and physically ejected,” Mr Tatchell said yesterday. “We were very polite. We folded up our banners and tried to walk into the conference. They did not say a word to us, they just started punching and shoving.”
After they were turned out, the protesters unfolded banners with slogans saying “Church of Hate! Stop Crucifying Queers!”, “Defend gays, fight Christian bigots” and “Anglicans Repent Your Homophobia”.
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