Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit snubs services conducted by a gay dean he has branded a ‘sodomite’
PUBLISHED: 21:54 13 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:50 14 May 2018
Former Tory party chairman Lord Tebbit is standing by his comments that he will snub services conducted by a gay dean he has labelled a “sodomite”.
Former Tory Party chairman Lord Tebbit is standing by his comments that he will snub services conducted by a gay dean he has labelled a “sodomite”.
The 87-year-old Conservative Party grandee said yesterday he will not be attending St Edmundsbury Cathedral, in Bury St Edmunds, when the recently appointed Rev Canon Joe Hawes is officiating.
Lord Tebbit said he discovered from a newsletter in March that the canon, 52, who is in a civil partnership with another cleric, the Rev Chris Eyden, was to become the cathedral’s most senior official.
He told this newspaper: “The cathedral has taken this decision and I disapprove of it but what I do wish to impress is that I shall not cease my financial support to the Cathedral as it’s going to be there long after the dean and I are gone.
“I just don’t see how he can decently read the marriage service. I stand by what is written in the Bible, which is the basis on which the Cathedral was built. It says the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God. It cannot be a sin to be born homosexual. It is what one is. What I can’t accept is the activity. I use the expression sodomite.”
But John Howard, spokesman for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: “Under pastoral guidance issued in 2005 it has been clear for more than a decade that clergy are entitled to be within civil partnerships.”
Lord Tebbit and his wife Margaret have been regular attendees at the Cathedral, which is close to his home, but has told a national newspaper he will no longer go there when the Rev Canon Hawes is officiating.
Lord Tebbit is adamant that the canon is a “sodomite” – a biblical term seen as unacceptable by gay people.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “I find it difficult to accept a sodomite as a member of the clergy who will, for example, be called upon to conduct marriage services. I will struggle to attend if he is officiating.”
But a prominent gay Conservative called for him to be thrown out of the party.
Ivan Massow, the gay former Tory London Mayoral hopeful, called on Lord Tebbit to be expelled from the Tory Party.
He said: “Theresa May needs to do that. You can’t hold Jeremy Corbyn to account for anti-Semitism and not hold your own party to account.”
Tory MP Crispin Blunt, who is gay and chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, added: “I expect St Edmundsbury Cathedral will bear its loss with equanimity. Lord Tebbit may have a disagreeable surprise at how many cathedrals he has self-excluded himself from.”