Actions not words: LGCM’s response to Archbishop Welby’s apology

Actions not words: LGCM’s response to Archbishop Welby’s apology

Press release – 16 January 2016


Gay Christians have given a cautious welcome to Archbishop Justin Welby’s apology to LGBT people yesterday but warned that unless his words are matched by action, his credibility and integrity will be further diminished.

Tracey Byrne of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said, ‘We’ve been campaigning for forty years, and we’ve become all too used to empty words from our leadership.  If Justin Welby’s apology is a sincere one then he needs to realise that he’ll be returning to his desk on Monday morning with a significant amount of work to do’.

She pointed out the challenges facing him and the church if it continue to maintain that LGBT people should not be harmed or criminalised, but that their committed relationships still fell short of marriages.  Likewise demanding celibacy of gay people wanting to exercise ministry, whilst permitting straight people to be married, was she said simply untenable without condemning LGBT people to an ongoing sense of being ‘second rate and unworthy, both to the church, and to God.’  ‘What kind of church censures those who would endorse loving committed relationships between two people, yet fails to address those amongst its members who support the criminalisation of homosexuality?  Which gospel are these people reading?’

She went on, ‘It would be great to think this apology marks a real change of position by Welby, but as Christians we believe that any expression of sorrow, any sincere apology, demands a commitment to stop doing damaging things.  He and his fellow primates need to take a long, hard look at how their words and actions contribute to the very pain they say saddens them.  We don’t see any sign of that just yet.  If this is a sincere apology by Welby, then he needs to start talking to LGBT people about how to right those wrongs, and make sure they don’t happen again, anywhere in the world.’  

‘There are plenty of LGBT people out there willing to help him move forward.  A good start would be to enable those in leadership positions to speak freely on the issue, something which appears to be increasingly difficult for them to do.  LGBT people are feeling abandoned, angry and hurt right now;  Welby is at a critical point where he can chose to make things better, or choose to make things very much worse.’

The Church of England is currently in a process of facilitated conversations over sexuality, which is due to conclude in July.


Notes for editors

  1. Information on the Primates meeting in Canterbury can be found here.
  2. An account of Justin Welby’s apology can be found here.
  3. The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement was founded in 1976 as an ecumenical campaiging and support group for LGBT people and their friends.  

More information at

For more information please contact:

Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive

07497 203635