Gay clergy will no longer be forced to vow celibacy under new proposals to be announced by Church of England bishops, Sunday Times reports.
Current rules mean lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) clergy promise to be sexually chaste, even if they are in a long term relationship, whenever they apply for a new role or seek promotion.
But changes thought to be put to the Church’s parliament, general synod, next month, would remove this requirement.
Gay clergy would still be expected to adhere to the Church’s teaching that intercourse should only be in heterosexual marriage, but their superiors, according to the Sunday Times, will not question them on it.
It follows similar claims by the Mail On Sunday in December.
The Church’s House of Bishops will meet on Monday and are expected to finalise the proposals before they are bought before synod in February.
They are thought to emphasise that gay Christians must be fully welcomed but not move to change the current ban on gay blessings on marriages in church.
The proposal comes as the next stage in a long and divisive debate over sexuality after Parliament legalised gay marriage in 2013.
In comments to the Sunday Times, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, a Christian in a civil partnership, threatened parliament could intervene if change does not come soon.
“It is progress for them to stop asking the celibacy question but it still leaves the Church of England policy based essentially on dishonesty and encouraging its clergy to lie,” he said.
“There is a growing sense that if the church can’t sort this out for themselves, then parliament may have to do it for them.”