The Church of England's ruling body has thrown out a House of Bishops report on homosexuality
Homosexual and bisexual people are up to 12 times more likely than heterosexuals to experience mental health difficulties, according to a report by the Oasis Foundation.
The study, In the Name of Love: The Church, exclusion and lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) mental health issues, claims church leaders and churchgoers are responsible for negative messages about same-sex relationships fuelling poor mental health in the LGB community.
Every major denomination, apart from the United Reformed Church, discriminates against LGB people, according to the report.
It is no secret that the negative stance taken by the Church, and so many individual local churches, has a hugely distressing impact on large numbers of LGB people
Rev Steve Chalke
Oasis Foundation founder Rev Steve Chalke said: “It is no secret that the negative stance taken by the Church, and so many individual local churches, has a hugely distressing impact on large numbers of LGB people and leaves countless numbers of them living lives of forced secrecy and dishonesty.
"Tragically, it is also common knowledge that the resultant anguish and distress often leads to spiritual, mental and physical harm, and in the worst of cases to people making the desperate decision to take their own life.
“Too often however, these powerful testimonies are dismissed by those that don’t want to hear them – those who are not yet ready to face up to the scale of the damage that we collectively have unintentionally caused. My hope is that this report is the beginning of a sea change to this approach.”
The report says 74 per cent of signatories listed on the campaign against same-sex marriage site, Coalition for Marriage, can be publicly identified as Christian.
It also claims 54 per cent of MPs who voted against the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2013 “self-identify as Christian and many others may privately consider themselves people of faith”.
LGBT campaigners protest outside Church House during the debate
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People listen to a discussion at the General Synod at Church House
The study says: “In the UK, local churches are one of the biggest ‘organised discriminators’ of LGB people. Christians are also the biggest grouping of people who fuel negative attitudes about same-sex relationships in media and society.
“The Church must take a disproportionate share of the blame for the mental health issues of people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual. The church must accept the role it has, however unintentionally, played in the in the poor mental and physical health of LGB people, including anxiety, depression and ultimately a risk to their physical health and even their lives.”
The study comes as the Church of England's ruling body throws out a controversial report on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
More than 400 Church leaders gathered for a "take note" debate on the issue
The report by the House of Bishops, which was presented to the General Synod today, had called for the Church to adopt a "fresh tone and culture of welcome and support" for gay people – but not to change its opposition to unions between same-sex couples.
Church leaders were asked to debate the report which said all potential clergy – straight or gay – should be questioned about their sexual activity before joining the priesthood.
More than 400 Church leaders gathered for a "take note" debate on the issue at Church Hall in Westminster, where they voted to symbolically reject the recommendations.
The Archbishop of Canterbury had urged the Synod to approve the report, describing it as a "good basis, a road map" for moving forward.