On Tuesday evening the Church of England’s Synod voted against changing the Church’s rules to allow for the consecration of women as bishops. The proposed legislation needed to gain two-thirds majority in each of the synod’s three houses. But it fell short by just six votes in the House of Laity, despite overwhelming support for the change being voted for by the vast majority of diocese. The Church of England, as with other religious organisations, enjoys exemption from some provisions in the Equality Act 2010 which effectively means they are not breaking the law by barring women from holding certain positions in the Church.
In response to the vote Frank Field MP, a former member of the Synod, today tabled a Presentation Bill in Parliament which seeks to remove from the statute book the exemptions from the Equality legislation that the Church of England enjoys. If passed, the Bill would make it illegal for the Church of England to discriminate against women when appointing bishops, as they currently do.
Frank Field said: “This is a terribly disappointing result, which goes against the firm wishes of the vast majority of Church of England members. Parliament has a role in agreeing to or rejecting the Synod’s decisions, and I believe that MPs should now use this role, in a helpful way, to ensure those firm wishes are complied with.”
The Bill is supported by Diana Johnson, Natascha Engel, Elfyn Llwyd, Andrew George, Nicholas Soames, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Eleanor Laing and Helen Goodman.
The second reading of the Bill will take place on January 18th 2013.