‘I’m wearing a rainbow collar to take a stand for gay rights’

Stephen wears the rainbow collar with pride
15 Mar 2014 @ 12.04 pm
| Opinion
Stephen wears the rainbow collar with pride
Stephen wears the rainbow collar with pride

rev-stephen-sorby-headshotChaplain Stephen Sorby explains why he’s ditched his white collar for something altogether brighter

From the earliest age there has been deliberation and debate about human sexuality and the church. Yet now, more than ever it has become a real hot potato.

Many evangelicals will quote the scriptures from both Old and New Testaments condemning same sex relationships as sinful and an abomination.

What many don’t know or see, is that Christ himself never once made reference to such issue – yet he often both spoke and acted on “love”.

Here in 2014, after many years of campaigning and lobbying for equal rights, we will see the first marriages of same sex couples in England and Wales. Many will also convert their Civil Partnerships (CP) to marriage when able to do so.

This is where the divide between church and its clergy is more transparent than ever with the recent Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England (CoE)

The bishops have made it very clear that any clergy in a same sex relationship cannot marry their partner – despite this being the law of England and Wales in the Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Act.

Inquisition has already commenced as clergy have been summoned to meet with their Bishop and many feel “witch hunts” will prevail.

This may sound odd given the the provisions of the act specifically exclude the Church of England from conducting same sex marriages.

The bishops however appear to see themselves above the law of the land in decreeing their clergy can not exercise their legal civil right to marry.

Hence, Rainbow Sunday has been born – this year March 16, where clergy across the land are being encouraged to wear a “rainbow clerical collar” to celebrate diversity and the right to equality as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) individuals.

I’m wearing mine as a firm advocate and campaigner of LGBTI rights, alongside hundreds of other clergy – standing against the ruling of an established church of 600 years which is rollercoasting into demise.

The CoE needs to reflect and retract on this issue. The Archbishops must stop the inquisitions by their Bishops and prohibit such meetings with clergy.

As Christ was crucified on the cross, so I fear without acting positively on this issue, the CoE could indeed crucify itself.


  • Rev Dr Stephen Sorby is an inclusive minister and interfaith advisor, campaigner and advocate of LGBTI rights
  • Rev Sorby is also Railway Chaplain, based at York Railway Station
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