The LGBT+ Staff Network will not take part under the banner of the University of Kent in this year’s Canterbury Pride parade. This is in protest at the University’s decision to host the Lambeth Bishops’ Conference 2020 despite the Church’s decision to exclude same-sex spouses.
Official statement from the University of Kent’s LGBT+ Staff Network in response to the University’s decision to host the Lambeth Bishop’s Conference 2020:
Network members are deeply disappointed and hurt by the University’s decision to host the Lambeth Bishop’s Conference 2020 despite the Church’s decision to exclude same-sex spouses (see statement from 25 April 2019). The University should have cancelled hosting the Conference, because specifically excluding same-sex spouses is homophobic from the side of the church, and hosting the event on University premises facilitates this act of institutional homophobia. The Staff Network calls on the University to reconsider its decision to host Lambeth 2020 and to prioritise its commitment to LGBT+ students and staff alike on issues of equality, diversity, and inclusivity.
Should the University of Kent maintain its decision to host, the Staff Network calls on the University to withdraw its facilities and support for the discriminatory “spouses programme”. Those events should take place off campus. The University cannot uphold its commitment to values of equality, diversity, and inclusivity while allowing the discriminatory stream of the Lambeth Conference to go ahead.
The University’s statement from 26 April acknowledges “the hurt experienced by many people because of the decision to exclude same-sex spouses”. Cancelling support for the exclusionary and homophobic spouses programme would not only recognise that hurt, but actively mitigate it. It would be one very important and material step that the University of Kent can take to support its LGBT+ staff and students and to uphold its commitment to the values of equality, diversity, and inclusivity that the University says it stands for.
Lambeth Conference petition
There is now a petition calling on the University to cancel hosting the Lambeth Conference. If you want to put your name to it, here is the link: http://chng.it/Pc5zNV2pF5
Staff Network Meeting – Thursday 16th May
The next formal LGBT+ Staff Network meeting is on Thursday 16th May between 12.00pm-2.00pm.
As usual, you are welcome to join us any point during this time and are not obliged to stay for the full 2-hours.
There is only one agenda item, and that is to discuss the Lambeth Conference. It is important for the Chairs to get feedback from Network members about your views on the University hosting this event, so that we can make a formal response to the University’s latest statement (https://www.kent.ac.uk/news/uncategorized/22152/statement-on-the-lambeth-conference). In addition, Professor Karen Cox, Vice Chancellor of the University and EG Champion for the LGBT Staff Network, will be joining us from 1.00pm to take your questions about the Lambeth Conference.
The meeting will be chaired in Canterbury (Darwin Board Room) and there will be a video link at Medway (room M1-16).
Statement from Christin Hoene, Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network, to Council
The following statement was read by the VC to Council at their meeting in April:
Given that I don’t know the details of yours and David’s meeting with the Archbishop and the ensuing developments of the discussion within and between the CoE and UoK, it is difficult for me to raise any practical positions at this point in time or formulate concrete advice to Council, as per the Network’s Terms of Reference. I trust that our meeting tomorrow will help us to clarify that.
But something has been on my mind these past few weeks that I would like to share with Council. And it is around the issue of hospitality. In its official statement from 26 March 2019, the University extends an invitation to the spouses of gay bishops; an invitation that the Church, as far as I know, has so far officially and explicitly declined. As Network Chair, I appreciate that.
However, that same invitation and that same offer of hospitality and welcome has been issued to bishops who either tacitly condone or openly support the persecution and criminalisation of LGBT+ people. In recent years, the Anglican churches in Uganda and Nigeria, for example, have actively supported the introduction of new, fiercer anti-homosexual legislation. As Dr Adriaan van Klinken from the University of Leeds outlines, they could do so without facing any ‘consequences’ for their role in the Anglican Communion.
Lambeth 2020 will take place over 11 days, from 23 July to 2 August 2020, and many of the events will be on campus. I ask Council to imagine what it must feel like for LGBT+ staff to go to work during the time of the conference; to share our place of work with people who passively or actively support anti-homosexuality laws, and who have been invited to our place of work. And I ask Council to consider the following: how will the University ensure that LGBT+ staff, and in particular LGBT+ staff involved in the hosting and catering of the Conference, will feel safe from discrimination at their place of work? What actions will the University undertake to commit to the values of diversity, equality, and inclusivity towards its LGBT+ staff?
In its official statement from 26 March, the University also states that we “place great value on diversity of opinion, open, respectful debate, recognition of difference, and the central role of constructive engagement and dialogue”. Personally, I believe that a debate about the validity of my identity as a gay woman is neither open, nor respectful. It is demeaning and dehumanising.
Thank you for your time.
Dr Christin Hoene
Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network
Official statement from the University of Kent’s LGBT+ Staff Network:
The University of Kent’s LGBT+ Staff Network is deeply concerned about the University’s hosting of the 2020 Lambeth Bishop’s Conference. The Archbishop of Canterbury has explicitly chosen to single out bishops’ same sex spouses for exclusion. In a recent statement, the University has defended its decision to host the event despite this clear instance of institutional homophobia (https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2019/03/18/lambeth-conference-university-kent-defends-excluding-same-sex-spouses/). The University’s stance, as quoted in the article, is unacceptable and needs to be challenged. As Staff Network we believe that the University should prioritise its commitment to students and staff alike on issues of equality, diversity, and inclusivity. Specifically targeting same-sex spouses and excluding them from the Lambeth Conference is homophobic from the side of the church, and hosting the event on University premises facilitates this act of homophobia.
Gay as in Happy
We’re here, we’re queer, and we want to hear your stories!
The University of Kent’s LGBT+ Staff Network is looking to publish Gay as in Happy, a collection of interviews and personal stories that focus on LGBTQ+ members of staff, students, and the wider community. Gay as in Happy will be published as a book and excerpts will be featured on social media platforms.
We want to provide a positive outlook on coming out and on being queer in a predominantly straight world. Why? Because it is crucial to live in hope and to know that a fulfilled life as a queer person is possible (and, dare we say it, desirable). Sharing positive stories gives us hope and allows us to imagine happy endings for ourselves and for our loved ones. Thus, hope becomes a radical act. Because to imagine a better life is an important step towards creating a better life.
In order to make this happen, come and speak to us! We are looking for contributors who want to share their positive experiences about coming out and being out. If you would like to get involved, or to simply find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Medway Informal Network lunches for spring/summer 2019:
The following dates have been set:
Tuesday 12th February 2019, 12:00-14:00, No1 Bistro
Wednesday 20th March 2019, 12:00-14:00, Pilkington
Thursday 25th April 2019, 12:00-14:00, No1 Bistro
Friday 14th June 2019, 12:00-14:00, Pilkington
Canterbury Informal Network lunches for spring/summer 2019:
Monthly lunches will take place every first Thursday of the month in the Gulbenkian, from 12noon-2pm. People can bring their own lunches or get food from the Gulbenkian, or just join in for a cuppa.
No need to attend for the whole time. These lunches are meant as informal social get-togethers.
Formal Network meetings:
- Tuesday 15th January 2019, 12:00-14:00
- Thursday 16th May 2019, IDAHOT
- Wednesday 3rd July 2019, 12:00-14:00 (AGM)