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