Church of England votes on special services for transgender people

The Church of England's General Synod has voted on and approved a proposal to create special services to welcome transgender people during their transition.

(REUTERS / Nigel Roddis)Members of the Church of England's Synod attend the session during which they will discuss and vote on the consecration of women bishops, in York, July 14, 2014.

The Church of England's ruling body debated and voted on a motion to welcome and affirm transgender individuals as part of their process of transition. The vote followed the bishops' decision to support a move to ban conversion therapy for gay Christians, The Guardian detailed.

"As the world listens to us the world needs to hear us say that LGBTI+ orientation and identity is not a crime," said Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, during the debate. "LGBTI+ orientation and identity is not a sickness. And LGBTI+ orientation and identity is not a sin."

Based on the Church of England's fundamental belief, a person can only receive baptism once and re-baptizing them in their new gender is not possible. The motion to welcome transgender individuals was initiated by Rev. Chris Newlands of Blackburn.

While Rev. Newlands' motion acknowledged that ministers cannot be required to take part in transgender services if they are opposed to it, it also relies on the "generosity" of the clergy to refer the person to another church that is willing to accommodate him or her.

In the end, the motion was approved. Thirty bishops were in favor of it while two of them were against it. For the lay ministers, the motion won in a vote of 127 to 48. It also won amongst the clergy, 127 to 28.  

Last month, the Scottish Episcopal Church's Synod in Edinburgh voted in favor of an amendment to the canon law on marriage to allow the union of same-sex couples. The church was the first institution of its kind to allow gay marriages, the BBC noted.

The vote meant that ministers who are willing to officiate same-sex marriages can "opt-in" for the ceremony. On the other hand, those who disagree with it will not be forced to participate and violate their personal belief.

Right Rev. Dr. John Armes, the Bishop of Edinburgh, applauded the vote. However, it has been met with opposition by an international group of traditionalists who announced a plan to send a missionary bishop who will minister to congregants who do not agree with same-sex marriage.