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shock resignation Tyrone Church of Ireland minister quits post claiming church is 'homophobic'

Rev Andrew Rawding has previously attended Pride events and campaigned for LGBT+ equality in the church

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Rev Andrew Rawding claimed the Church of Ireland is “structurally, culturally and socially homophobic”

Rev Andrew Rawding claimed the Church of Ireland is “structurally, culturally and socially homophobic”

Rev Andrew Rawding claimed the Church of Ireland is “structurally, culturally and socially homophobic”

A County Tyrone Church of Ireland minister has quit his post after claiming the church is “homophobic”.

Rev Andrew Rawding has championed LGBT+ rights and has been involved in helping to organise Pride events at which he has carried a banner apologising for the church’s treatment of people from the LGBT+ community.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Rawding, who had been rector of Brackaville, Donaghendry and Ballyclog, said his parishioners had expressed their “sadness” that he was leaving his role.

Claiming the Church of Ireland is “structurally, culturally and socially homophobic”.

He added: “There are some kind and compassionate individuals but corporately, at best there is indifference. At best there is hypocrisy.”

He also said there had been “aggressive and proactive opposition” in terms of the “full inclusion and equality” of LGBT+ people in the church and that some members were “still weaponising Bible verses” as well as “using the language of condemnation and rejection”.

Mr Rawding said he has “made a stance in the past as a Church of Ireland rector to send a message to the LGBT+ community that it’s OK to be LGBT+ and to be a Christian”.

He added that he feels the current stance of the church is “homophobic and discriminatory” and said “there are still grandparents and relatives who will not accept LGBT children within their own families”.

He claimed a previous select committee on sexuality which had been created by the church was a “tick-box exercise”.

Speaking of the reception he has had from within the church in regards to his pro-LGBT+ work, he said: "All I have had is blank looks and silence, or comments like, 'I'm not homophobic because I know gay people', or even, 'You need to be careful because people will think you're gay’.”

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