More Anglicans now back gay marriage than oppose it, poll suggests

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More Anglicans in England support gay and lesbian couples marrying than oppose it, a poll has suggested for the first time.

Of more than 1,500 Anglicans polled, 45% said same-sex marriage was right while 37% thought it was wrong.

The Yougov poll also indicates a large increase in support of same-sex marriage over the past three years.

The Church of England's official stance is that marriage can be only between a man and a woman.

Three years ago, a similar YouGov poll found 38% of Anglicans in support and 47% believing same-sex marriage to be wrong.

In the latest poll, support was highest among younger Anglicans, with at least half of those aged under 55 believing it was right and 72% of those aged 25-34 also in favour.

The lowest support rate was found in Anglican men aged over 55, with 24% backing same-sex marriage.

'Out of step'

Support for same-sex marriage was higher among the general population, with 56% of the more than 6,000 British people surveyed backing it, compared with 27% of people who opposed it.

Jayne Ozanne, a gay evangelical Anglican and a member of General Synod - the Church of England's ruling body - commissioned the survey.

She said the figures showed the Church was "seriously out of step" with its members "and even more so with society at large".

"It is deeply worrying that the one group that appears less open to change than any other is Anglican men over the age of 55, who are the least likely to approve of same-sex marriage," she added.

"Unfortunately, this is exactly the profile of those in the senior positions of power and influence power within the Church."

Welby apology

A spokesman for the Church of England said it was holding "shared conversations" on the issue and would continue to do so at General Synod this summer.

Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Canterbury apologised for "hurt and pain" caused by the worldwide Anglican Church to the LGBT community.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby made the comments as he defended the decision to restrict a liberal US branch of the Church for allowing same-sex marriage.