The debate on homosexuality within the Anglican Church shows little sign of abating, despite gay canon Jeffrey John stepping down as bishop of Reading to preserve church unity. Gay protests, the outing of a bishop, a leaked report and an impassioned plea from the archbishop of Canterbury have marked an eventful week.

Last Friday gay activist Peter Tatchell nailed an appeal on the door of David Hope, archbishop of York, urging the clergyman to tell the truth! and come out! The Lutheresque Tatchell released a statement explaining he had been told by people that Archbishop Hope had gay relationships in the past.

Given the current homophobic witch-hunt within the Anglican Communion, David Hope’s candour and courage would be a powerful challenge to the voices of prejudice and intolerance -¦ Tatchell said. Canon John needs the support and solidarity of the archbishop of York.

On Saturday at the Ang-lican Church’s general synod, Tatchell stormed the stage with six other members of the OutRage! activist group, carrying signs reading Church of Hate! Stop Crucifying Queers! and Anglicans! Re-pent Your Homophobia. Tatchell accused archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams of appeasing homophobes by pressuring Canon John to withdraw his nomination.

The archbishop of Canterbury has kissed the ring of ecclesiastical bigots like the archbishop of Nigeria, Tatchell said. Although other church leaders left the hall, Williams stayed to listen. Tatchell also told the assembly, If you are Bible-believing Christians, Leviticus Chapter 20, Verse 13 -¦ says that homosexuals shall be put to death. If you believe your Bible, then put us to death.

Police were called to the scene but the protesters left of their own accord, after speaking to the assembly for 30 minutes.

Adding to the furore this week was the leaking of an Anglican Church report entitled Some Issues Into Human Sexuality, which argues for greater tolerance of gay sexuality. The report is to be published later in the year and, according to the Sunday Times, states Christians do not necessarily need to share beliefs about sexual conduct. A church spokesperson told BBC News the report did not contain any conclusions but merely provided discussion points.

Not surprisingly, Archbishop Williams called again for unity at a sermon at the general synod, stating that to appeal or speak in the name of unity in the church is very easily capable of slipping into the search for an appearance of meaningless unanimity. Unity has become a flaccid word, a default option, denial of pain and work and real difference.

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