England

Gay canon Jeremy Pemberton in Church discrimination tribunal

Jeremy Pemberton (right) and Laurence Cunnington Image copyright Quentin Rayner
Image caption Jeremy Pemberton (right) married Laurence Cunnington in a civil ceremony in April 2014

A clergyman barred from working because he married his partner has denied going against the Church's teachings, an employment tribunal heard.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton was refused a licence to work as a hospital chaplain by the then acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.

He brought a discrimination case which started on Monday.

The Rt Revd Richard Inwood argued that the marriage was against the Church of England's teachings.

Although Mr Pemberton was employed by the NHS, he needed a licence from the diocese to work at King's Mill Hospital in Mansfield which was refused.

Image caption Canon Jeremy Pemberton was appointed Head of Chaplaincy and Bereavement Services in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust but the Church declined a licence

At the opening of the hearing at Nottingham Justice Centre earlier, his lawyer Sean Jones said that "equality has reached the door of the Church. Where that boundary lies is for you to decide".

Thomas Linden QC, representing the Church, suggested that Mr Pemberton had gone against the Church's teachings.

He replied: "No, because I have had a civil marriage. I believe that was the moral thing to do."

The Church is arguing that its doctrine makes clear that those in holy orders cannot enter into a same-sex marriage, as the Church still sees marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

Mr Pemberton, who still works as a chaplain for an NHS trust in Lincolnshire, is arguing that the bishop unlawfully discriminated against him under the Equality Act in refusing the licence. He is also questioning whether the Church's view on same-sex marriage is a matter of doctrine.

The action is brought against Bishop Inwood.

The hearing will last all week, although a ruling is not expected until a later date.

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