British PM says Church of England should not be forced to perform same-sex marriages

(Reuters/Stefan Wermuth)Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Number 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, January 25, 2017.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she believes that the Church of England should not be forced to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies even though she personally supports gay marriage.

In a Q&A with Pink News on Thursday, May noted that the Church of England is still debating the issue of same-sex marriage and said that she respects the deeply-held views of its members.

"As the established Church, it is in a different legal position from other churches or faith groups, so the law equalising marriage had to recognise that," the Prime Minister stated.

"I strongly support equal marriage, and I know that these debates will continue, but it will have to be for the Church as a whole to decide if it wants to make a change to its Canon law," she added.

In another part of the Q&A, a PinkNews reader asked whether May found it hard as a Christian and a vicar's daughter to push for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

"No, it wasn't. We were very clear when we introduced the equal marriage legislation that it was not about forcing the Church of England to conduct marriage ceremonies, but removing a legal injustice," she explained.

When she was asked about her opinion on gay cure therapy, advocated by some conservative Christians, May said that the practice was "unethical, damaging and are not supported by any evidence."

The Prime Minister maintained that being homosexual is not an illness and said that young people should be protected from therapies that attempt to change them. She said that the government is looking into the problem and studying other countries that have banned the practice "to ensure we get the approach to this right."

May's remarks came after several MP's questioned the Church of England's parliamentary representative about its stance on gay marriage.

Labour's Ben Bradshaw and Chris Bryant along with Tory MP Robert Jenrick described its stance as "untenable," "unfair," and "hard to justify," and called on the Church to change.

Some pro-gay marriage vicars had also criticized the Church for insisting that marriage is solely between a man and a woman.

Rev. Andrew Foreshew-Cain said that the Church was "institutionally homophobic" and has decided to quit because of the Church's stance.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has previously called for acceptance and dialogue with gay people, but he had also supported the temporary suspension of the U.S. Episcopal Church for its refusal to reverse its decision to support same-sex marriage.

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