The Irish News: Allow gay people to be ordained: canon

By Andrea McKernon

A pro-gay Church of Ireland priest has called on all Churches in Ireland to allow gay and lesbian ordinations.

Belfast-based Canon Charles Kenny was speaking after attending the city’s Gay Pride parade on Saturday in his role as representative of the Changing Attitudes Ireland group.

Revellers turned out in force to mark the annual celebration of the gay community in Northern Ireland in an event which passed off without incident.

Last year the parade was marred by controversy after a participant exposed himself in front of city centre shoppers.

On Saturday around 6,000 people turned out to see pole dancers parade on a rainbow-coloured route for the festival.

The annual counter-protest by members of the Free Presbyterian Church was led by the Rev David McIlveen who told around 70 demonstrators that the march should be stopped.

However, Canon Kenny, who turned out to support the pride parade, said there must be acceptance for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation.

He said his campaign was another step in the direction of full acceptance of everyone – regardless of their sexual orientation – within organised religion.

Changing Attitudes Ireland, which is made up of homosexual, heterosexual ordained and lay people, campaigns for the ordination of gays within the Irish Churches as well as religious blessings for homosexual partnerships.

Canon Kenny, who served in St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast before his retirement and was involved in a group attempting to address sectarianism in the wake of the Drumcree dispute, said: “We are working for acceptance of gay people within the church traditions.

“Specifically we hope that being homosexual would not be a barrier to ordination and we would support some form of blessing for gay relationships.

“I see this as the latest campaign facing the Christian Churches.

“It used to be that a black person could not become ordained in the Church of Ireland and then it was women that were excluded.

“We don’t see that any more and people would be outraged now if these people were excluded.

“It is unreasonable that people should be excluded because of their sexual orientation.”