Final submissions made in gay Hospital canon tribunal

A gay clergyman may have to wait until next year to find out whether a decision to remove his right to officiate after he married another man was discriminatory.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton (left) and Laurence Cunnington.Canon Jeremy Pemberton (left) and Laurence Cunnington.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton (left) and Laurence Cunnington.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who married Laurence Cunnington last April, was told a job offer as a chaplain for Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust was being withdrawn.

This came after Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottinghamshire Richard Inwood refused him a licence to officiate. Mr Inwood has said the same-sex marriage was against the church’s beliefs.

Mr Pemberton is taking the Church of England to a tribunal claiming he was unlawfully discriminated against by the bishop.

He was joined by supporters including broadcaster Reverend Richard Coles as the Nottingham Employment Tribunal heard final submissions from both parties.

Thomas Linden QC, representing the church, said: “The state should not be saying to a religious organisation you can or can’t choose this person as your priest.

“The tribunal should say it’s clear on the evidence what the church thinks of same-sex marriage.”

He argued Mr Pemberton went against the doctrine of the church when he entered his same-sex marriage in “a blaze of publicity”.

Sean Jones, representing Mr Pemberton, suggested the church would not have had an issue with Mr Pemberton if he was in a civil partnership, even though he claimed they were nearly the same.

He said: “They are saying it’s not the substance, it’s the label. (The doctrine of marriage as one man and one woman) was not drawn up to prohibit same-sex marriage.”

He added that nothing stopped clergy from entering into civil partnerships, and questioned why it should be different now another type of “civil union which the state calls marriage” has been introduced.

A final conclusion is not expected until next year.