Gay mayor Pete Buttigieg might be running for US President in 2020

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg (Official photo) Pete Buttigieg, the out-and-proud Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is reportedly planning a long-shot bid to become President of the United States.

The 37-year-old gay Afghanistan veteran is one of many Democrats planning to throw their hats into the ring for the Democratic primaries, as candidates vie for the right to challenge President Trump in 2020.

Buttigieg has given all the signals of a candidate exploring a run for high office—announcing he would not seek a third term as Mayor of South Bend, making visits to key Presidential primary state Iowa, and writing a book that is set to be published in February 2019. First openly gay US President? Pete Buttigieg hints at run

The Democrat all-but-confirmed his plan in recent interviews with the Washington Post and Associated Press , in which he discusses the prospects for 2020. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (right) with husband Chasten at the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for GLSEN) On January 18, he told AP: “I think most people are thinking: ‘Why not?’ They think all the rules have been broken, that anybody can run… I think some of the rules have been broken, but there’s only one way to find out which ones.”

The official made the case for a new progressive face in 2020, telling the Post : “I get the urge people will have after Trump. ‘Look at the chaos and the exhaustion: Wouldn’t it be better to go back to something more stable with somebody we know?’ But there’s no going back to a pre-Trump universe.

“We can’t be saying the system will be fine again just like it was. Because that’s not true; it wasn’t fine. Not if we could careen into this kind of politics.”

He added: “The discussion in Washington has gotten so abstracted from reality.

“What makes a country great, really? We like to talk about ‘freedom’ and ‘security’ and ‘family values’ or whatever. But the measure of a country’s greatness is whether it helps people lead better lives, with less worry.” Pete Buttigieg’s bid ‘won’t hinge on’ being first gay President

Although Buttigieg is married to husband Chasten , the Post notes that he “won’t be hinging his long-shot bid on the prospect of being the first openly gay president,” instead attempting to forge a message of unity.

Buttigieg told the newspaper: “Along the way, the party fell into this pattern of thinking we should have a message for each constituency.

“But the reality is that people care about issues that aren’t ‘their’ issues, quote unquote. Elderly residents care about education. Suburban women care about racial justice. Young people care about social programs for the elderly.”

Buttigieg would be an extreme long-shot candidate in the race, with much of the mainstream discussion focused on former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris
and Elizabeth Warren, and progressive challenger Beto O’Rourke.

The United States has never had an openly gay President, though there have been plenty of rumours about gay affairs over the years.

LGBT hub for 18 to 25-year-olds to launch in Thanet

Just Like Us will launch the Thanet hub this month Just Like Us,the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) charity for young people, is launching a new initiative in Thanet.

The hub is funded by The People’s Postcode Trust and is for LGBT young people aged 18-25. It will be a safe and fun space for LGBT young people to socialise twice a month. The format and venue of each session will vary, whether drop-in sessions to make new friends, workshops on coming out or planning this year’s Pride parade.

Those attending will also benefit from employability training and mentoring in London from the charity’s corporate partners, alongside volunteering opportunities to work with local schools to tackle prejudice.

One new member from Thanet said: “From what I know, there is no support for young adults in Thanet. I moved away from Thanet to study at university where I joined the LGBT+ society and I’ve made lifelong friends from it. “Coming back home has been hard, but this group will hopefully help lift the weight off, even if only for an hour. We deserve a place to be ourselves, share our stories, figure out who we are and just be, with others like us”

The Hub will also help to address the potentially life-long consequences a lack of support can have on young people’s well-being and achievement. LGBT young people are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers, and more than half say homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying has a negative impact on their future education plans.

Margate Pride organiser Amy Redmond said: “ We were very excited to hear Just Like Us are bringing their ace work to Thanet. The community, social, sharing and togetherness of groups like this are essential for Thanet’s next generation to grow up comfortable and proud of who they are. We are over the moon with pride that this is happening in town.” Photo Frank Leppard Just Like Us CEO, Tim Ramsey added:“We’re incredibly excited to launch our Just Like Us Hub in Thanet. I know the transformational impact a group like this would have had on me growing up; it would have given me hope that being gay would not be the worst part of my life, but something to celebrate. We’re excited to meet this new group of young people and support and empower them to be confident in their identity.”

The Hub will be launching on Thursday, January 31, at The Tom Thumb Theatre in Cliftonville with a free pizza night and screening of Love Simon, the acclaimed coming out movie of 2018.

LGBT young people in Thanet can find out more about getting involved by visiting www.justlikeus.org/events .

Russia website calls for ‘gay hunters’ to attack LGBTIs across the country

A screengrab from Saw-inspired Russian website. A website that gamified hunting gay men in Russia has been reactivated and is now calling for ‘gay hunters’ in several regions.

In April 2018, Saw-inspired website пила (Russian for ‘saw’) came under fire as it encouraged homophobes to report LGBTI people for torture.

The website seems to be active at the moment of writing. It includes a call to action for ‘athletic, aggressive and strong in spirit’ men to assault LGBTI people to get monetary rewards.

Organizers pay up to 300,000 rubles for each ‘task’, a little less than $5. Furthermore, they will provide the hunters with legal protections. ‘You can do everything except the killings’

‘We are already working and we invite you to hunt for gays in 12 regions of Russia,’ the website reads.

‘These are the Stavropol Territory, the Chechen Republic, the Republic of Dagestan, the Samara Region, the Sverdlovsk Region, the Republic of Bashkortostan, the Republic of Tatarstan, the Republic of Udmurtia, the Chelyabinsk Region, the Perm Territory, the Saratov and Orenburg region.’

Vile actions these gay hunters will need to perform include identify and beat LGBTI people, kidnap them and deliver men to Chechnya.

Ever since December 2017, Chechen authorities have been rounding up people on their actual or perceived sexuality. LGBTIs have been illegally detained, tortured and executed.

‘You can do everything except killing them,’ the website also clarifies.

Moreover, the description provides an email address where hopeful hunters can send a short bio. If hunters pass their first task, they will be hired for a second. ‘Fight against this scum’

An update posted on 18 January explains hunters are already active in the mentioned regions.

‘Our future without smelly homosexuals and pedophiles depends on you,’ the website reads.

‘We are not averse to new like-minded people who are ready to fight against this scum.’ What can you do to help LGBTIs in Russia?

The Russian LGBT Network is helping to evacuate people from Chechnya. They are sheltering them in safe houses, providing them with food, clothing and psychological support.

But most importantly, they’re trying to get them out of Russia. GSN has rounded up a few simple ways to help LGBTIs in Chechnya and across Russia. Read also:

Homeless people of color started our revolution, so why we forget about them?

Carla and her wife Heather. | Photo: Twitter I got married in June 2016 on a beach in Hawaii and it was the most beautiful day of my life.

Two days later the Pulse shootings happened. This was the first attack on my community that I had been conscious of and the worst in my lifetime. 2016 would turn out to be the deadliest year for the LGBTI community on record.

We spent the morning reading and crying. When I opened the curtains I saw two rainbows across Pearl Harbour.

Later that summer my wife and I visited New York for Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival. My first time in NYC

We stayed on the Lower East Side, St. Marks Place. Ada Calhoun called the street ‘like superglue for fragmented identities’ and wrote ‘the street is not for people who have chosen their lives… it is for the wanderer, the undecided, the lonely, and the promiscuous.’

We picked up ice creams from The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop and walked to Tompkins Square Park. There, punks and homeless people had rioted in 1988.

Around the corner was the first building of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a radical house for homeless queer youth and sex workers set up by trans, POC, homelessness activists Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. They’d originally parked up a trailer in Greenwich Village as the first shelter for homeless queers.

We climbed the Rockefeller Centre and had a picnic in Central Park. Out of respect for those that have gone before us, there are places you must take yourself to and emotions you must feel as a member of a marginalized community in such a historic place.

We visited the Art AIDS America exhibition at the Bronx Museum of Art, knowing that it would be the most devastating exhibition we’ve seen. There wasn’t a Stonewall Inn in London

In the same afternoon, we visited Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village , the site of the Stonewall Riots.

I stood in Christopher Park at the Liberation monument, where so many queer homeless people had slept together and visualized that night. A community rising up against the police, their oppression exploding as a crew of outsiders against the system and indeed their own community, who had been ostracising them to this dive bar.

I remembered the nights I’d climbed the fence of Soho Square, stayed up all night with buskers and street drinkers, drifters I’d met in bars that were passing through Soho. Sometimes we’d find an after party. When the party was over, I’d head to a lovers place or a squat in south London.

There wasn’t a place like the Stonewall Inn or Christophers Park in London.

I wondered how many homeless queers were hiding out there being barflies like I had, squatting, faking relationships, faking that they had great places to stay, barely holding down a job and raving their minimum wage away through a 4-day weekend. After being homeless myself, I got a job in the homeless sector

After several years of raving and squatting, a crisis daycenter put me onto a college course that led to a job in the homeless sector.

I managed to hold this down throughout my late twenties. But standing in Christopher Park looking at the Stonewall Inn, I felt the contrast between LGBTI homelessness and the heteronormative homelessness services I had been working in back in London.

I also understood why I’d never asked for their help and the anxiety of queer people that had come out to me secretly in squats, daycenters and hostels.

That’s when I connected to my younger self, my homelessness, and chaos. I connected with the history and oppression of queer people and all of this tied together in that spot.

We walked back to St.Marks Place through Greenwich village, stopping at the Pulse memorial. We were quiet for most of the day. My first proper home in London

I moved onto a boat with my wife that autumn, my first proper home in London. From my new found life stability of a married home, I became increasingly concerned about the experiences my younger self had and that this was a shared, hidden and taboo experience of our community.

I talked about it with queer colleagues. Moreover, I started researching using contacts within the homeless sector I worked in and activists I knew.

Thoughts slowed down over winter as I focused on getting my clients into winter shelters. Largely run in church halls, I felt for my queer siblings who had the same fractured relationships with their religion.

That Christmas saw the death of George Michael. As an 80s child, George Michael was the first gay person I ‘knew’ when I came out.

His arrest and response with the song Outside was my introduction to homophobia and queer activism at 13 years old. I felt grief for this queer person that had been there, empowering in the background of our lives. How The Outside Project helps homeless people

These collective experiences, centered by me standing in Christopher Park, would be the catalyst for The Outside Project , a collective of LGBTI ex-homeless, homelessness professionals, activists, and artists.

Our goal was to create the UK’s first LGBTI Community Winter Shelter and grow into a year-round shelter and community center. Like STAR, we started out on the back of a bus over winter 2017.

The work Sylvia and Marsha did at STAR for queer youth was driven by the fact that they had needed a safe place for themselves as homeless youths, but as adults, they were still homeless. Therefore, we make sure to tell people that we are for all ages. In fact, the majority of our guests have been over 25.

This year we are finally in a building, still growing into the 24/7 space desperately needed by our community. People tend to forget what Pride was all about

On our first birthday after a successful winter shelter pilot, my wife designed a t-shirt that screamed the words of Sylvia Rivera at the 1973 Gay Liberation Parade: ‘y’all better quiet down… I will not put up with this shit’.

We sold them to raise money for homeless LGBTI people seeking asylum. They wanted to attend London Pride as part of our block, Outsider Pride.

Our campaign was totally ignored by Pride in London organizers. On the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we booked space in the Pride in London pop-up shop in Soho. We shared our table with LGSMigrants.

Pride in London didn’t write us up anywhere. We sent them our press release that morning, announcing our partnership with Stonewall Housing and funding from the mayor’s office for our shelter. But we never heard from them.

They had a panel discussion about homelessness that evening and wouldn’t give us a seat on the panel. They hadn’t thought to include us and it was too late now.

We shot a film to highlight the ignorance when it came to LGBTI homelessness. It was infuriating to see how the movement that started this Pride ‘celebration’ is so far from people’s minds today. Read also:

Coming out in Lebanon was my own act of rebellion, but the fight isn’t over

NBA player Reggie Bullock speaks about the murder of his trans sister

Reggie Bullock #25 of the Detroit Pistons reacts during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 11, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty) NBA player Reggie Bullock has spoken about the murder of his transgender sister.

Bullock, who plays for the Detroit Pistons, has become one of the most vocal voices for LGBT+ equality in the NBA in the wake of his sister Mia Henderson’s 2014 murder .

Speaking to Vice , he said: “I lost a sister that was a part of the LGBT+ community.

“I didn’t know how many lives get taken within that community until my sister’s life was taken. Looking at the numbers for what goes on with the transgender community, and particularly African-Americans, it’s a super high [murder] rate.

“When she passed, it was a slow process for me, trying to recognise her death and understand what exactly went on.” Reggie Bullock is educating himself about LGBT+ issues

Bullock continued: “When I was a kid, I really didn’t know too much about it. The beginning of my high school is when she started dressing in female clothes.

“I didn’t know, I just knew she was trying to be something else. That’s all I thought in my head, she was just trying to be something else. “I would still call my sister the name she was born with, because I wasn’t knowledgeable of it. Once I became knowledgeable, I started addressing her in a different way – as Mia Henderson, the name she wanted to go by.” Reggie Bullock #25 of the Detroit Pistons poses for a portrait during Media Day at Little Caesars Arena on September 24, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Gregory Shamus/Getty) The player now regularly appears at events promoting LGBT+ equality within sport.

He added: “I’m still not all the way there yet, but I’m trying to get educated on it and use my platform to do whatever I can do to save lives and bring equality.”

Gay former NBA player Jason Collins praised Bullock’s engagement on the issue, adding: “It’s credit to him that he’s using that pain and the platform he has to speak up on these issues. We need more athletes to speak up to change the culture of sport.” Mia Henderson’s killer still remains unknown

No-one has ever been convicted for Mia Henderson’s violent murder in Baltimore in 2014.

A man was charged with the crime in 2015, but was acquitted on all counts. Mia Henderson was killed in 2014 The Detroit Pistons player previously said he wants to play in a rainbow-coloured jersey.

“Just woke up out a dream and thought about playing in a [rainbow] colored jersey to incorporate #LGBTQ into sports,” he tweeted.

Bullock then tagged the National Basketball Association directly, urging the league to “make it happen in [his] lifetime.”

Scottish Episcopal Church faces split after equal marriage row

Scottish Episcopal Church (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty) An Aberdeenshire church has voted to break away from the Scottish Episcopal Church, because of its teachings on equal marriage.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has been facing a backlash since a 2017 decision to embrace same-sex marriage , angering evangelicals and conservatives by becoming the first mainstream branch of Christianity in the UK to allow same-sex weddings

The body faced a controversial ‘punishment’ from the global Anglican Communion , while a number of local churches have moved to break away to maintain their anti-gay marriage teachings and traditions.

The fallout continued this week, as Westhill Community Church in Westhill, Aberdeenshire overwhelmingly voted to break away from the Church. Westhill Community Church in Westhill, Aberdeenshire voted to break from the Scottish Episcopal Church On January 17, 87 percent of parishioners voted for a break from the Scottish Episcopal Church, in a decision supported by Rev. Ian Ferguson. Split caused by ‘direction’ of Scottish Episcopal Church, says pastor

Speaking to The Press and Journal , Rev. Ferguson said: “I’m deeply sad that this stage as arrived it breaks my heart. I have been in the SEC for a number of decades and I certainly didn’t want to be in this position.”

He added: “It’s too early to say at the moment what’s going to happen next. We’ll continue to be Orthodox Anglicans and we will not be creating another denomination. “We are just trying to get our heads around the vote because it’s still very fresh.”

Ferguson, one of the more vocal opponents of same-sex marriage within the church, stressed there were multiple issues behind the decision.

He said: “People have different kinds of concerns about all kinds of things, and it’s not just one thing.

“This has been an ongoing matter where a number of us throughout Scotland have been concerned about the direction the SEC has been going in.”

Ferguson had also opposed the 2018 appointment of Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney Anne Dyer, who is the church’s first female bishop and a supporter of equal marriage. Scottish Episcopal Church ‘saddened’ by vote for split

Bishop Dyer said in a statement : “The congregation of Westhill Community Church is a much loved and valued part of our diocese, and I am deeply saddened that they have indicated that they want to pursue potential separation from the Scottish Episcopal Church.

“I will continue to work with Westhill as we begin discussions to enable this potential separation, and will continue to pray for the Rector, Vestry and congregation members in the weeks and months ahead.”

The Primus of Scotland, Bishop Mark Strange, said: “I have been informed that Westhill Community Church, Aberdeen has voted to prepare to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church, and therefore the Anglican Communion. I have received that news with great sadness and will pray that, painful though this process will be for the Church and for the local Diocese and wider community, we will all remember that we are all striving to serve as disciples of Christ.

“We will continue to pray for unity and understanding as we strive to further the mission of God to our nation and around the world.”

Australian politician Mark Latham pledges to gut transgender rights

Mark Latham talks during the launch of his book on October 5, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.(Cameron Spencer/Getty) Australian One Nation politician Mark Latham has unveiled a series of new anti-transgender policy pledges.

Latham was once the leader of Australia’s centre-left Labor Party, but is now a member of the nationalist One Nation party, which he leads in New South Wales.

Ahead of state elections in March, Latham has focused on transgender children, pledging to support a ban on them transitioning at school without permission from a doctor. Mark Latham attacks ‘attention-seeking’ transgender children

In a January 20 policy announcement , Latham claimed: “One of the problems with gender fluidity in schools is that students can participate in it simply by ‘identifying’ as transgender.

“This leaves the system open to abuse, with some students milking transgender identification for special treatment or attention-seeking reasons.”

The politician added: “This problem is increasingly common in NSW high schools, urged on by Left-wing political activists.

“Schools made a big mistake when they stopped being places of learning and ventured into the world of mental health assessment and radical gender theory.” Mark Latham poses for a portrait on October 5, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.(Cameron Spencer/Getty) He continued: “One Nation supports teachers who want a stable, productive learning environment in their school, avoiding the Mad Hatter situation and the powerlessness of staff.”

“Any student wanting to change their gender should have to present specialist medical advice and support to the school.

“This takes the matter out of the hands of students and gives teachers the State Government support they need to deal effectively with disingenuous and disruptive behaviour concerning gender.

“It also addresses the real mental health issue: bringing confusion and harm to young people by telling them gender is ‘socially constructed’ and ‘fluid’.” One Nation’s Mark Latham wants to gut gender recognition laws

Latham also vowed to gut laws that allow transgender people to gain legal recognition in their chosen gender, and end easy legal recognition on all government forms.

Mirroring the policy stance taken by US President Donald Trump , he said: “In reality, with very few exceptions, people are born either male or female. To move away from this biological truth later in life is a serious matter requiring specialist medical evidence. It should not happen because of Leftist ideology, individual whims or novelty factors.

“One Nation does not believe that gender changes should be self-identified on NSW Government forms, permits and licences, such as those processed by Service NSW: agencies including Roads and Maritime Services, Department of Fair Trading and Births Deaths and Marriages.” He added: “One Nation supports the introduction of a government rule across-the-board prohibiting individual self-identification.”

The politician claims he would allow some limited forms of gender recognition, provided trans people could provide “specialist medical evidence.”

As the current system of gender recognition requires medical evidence, it is unclear what exactly Latham is proposing.

NSW Labor politician Graham Perrett told the Mail : “He has nothing constructive to say about about Australian society.

“This is simply a shock tactic to extract more votes. I’m one of the parliamentary convenors for LGBTI and we take matters like these very seriously.”

Latham was a strong opponent of same-sex marriage during the country’s 2017 postal vote on the issue, claiming he was worried the law would allow transgender people to get married to people of the opposite sex.

The politician was sacked as a Sky News pundit in 2017 after he refused to apologise for describing a school child as “gay” on-air.

Once a fringe party, One Nation has seen a national growth in support in recent years.

The party’s national leader Pauline Hanson claimed in 2017 that same-sex marriage could lead to people marrying children.

Why did these two women turn up to the Australian Open in wedding dresses?

Two brides attended a tennis match at the Australian Open. | Photo: Twitter Twitter lost its collective mind when two brides holding bouquets just casually showed up at an Australian Open match.

The tennis tournament takes place in Australia during the last fortnight of January every year.

While Danielle Collins was playing Caroline Garcia at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne on 18 January, two brides sat side by side. The episode caused quite a stir, with the crowd wondering what it was really about. Two women in wedding dresses sitting together in Margaret Court Arena, which bears the name of one of the loudest and most vitriolic voices on the losing side of Australia’s gay marriage debate. #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/i7oPQy9MAe — Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 18, 2019 ‘Two women in wedding dresses sitting together in Margaret Court Arena, which bears the name of one of the loudest and most vitriolic voices on the losing side of Australia’s gay marriage debate,’ tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg tweeted. This is iconic! Margaret Court has been vocally homophobic and anti gay marriage. Two women in wedding dresses in this stadium is such a clapback ! #AusOpen https://t.co/QUOUwcer53 — Asmita (@asmitaghosh18) January 18, 2019 ‘This is iconic! Margaret Court has been vocally homophobic and anti-gay marriage. Two women in wedding dresses in this stadium is such a clapback!’ another tweeted. Who is Margaret Court?

The arena bears the name of Margaret Court, a player who came under fire for her views on marriage equality.

When Australia was on its way to grant same-sex couples the right to legally marry in 2017, Court actively campaigned against the vote.

She claimed that a gay lobby was trying to get into the minds of children, and also that transgender identity was ‘the work of the devil’.

Her comments triggered a fierce backlash from a number of leading figures in the game, such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. King also called for the arena to be renamed . The brides were promoting a reality show

Despite the understandable LGBTI excitement, however, the two brides seem to be part of a publicity stunt.

Channel 9’s reality show Married At First Sight, in fact, claimed responsibility for the incident. MAFS follows four – straight – Australian couples who get to know each other on their wedding day.

A Channel 9 spokesman released a statement to confirm the channel wasn’t trying to make a political statement.

‘To promote the upcoming series of Married at First Sight we had two promotional models dressed as brides at tonight’s Australian Open, who were moved to various parts of the Melbourne Park precinct,’ a Channel 9 spokesman said in a statement.

‘Their seating at Margaret Court Arena was in no way meant to be interpreted as a political statement.’ Read also:

Ask the Aunties: Are you ever too young to realise you’re LGBT?

Can you ever be too young to realise you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender? Is there a right time to come out as LGBT?

In a new episode of PinkNews series Ask the Aunties , our fabulous queer agony aunts answer your LGBT-related dilemmas.

Queer agony aunts Lee Gray and Karnage Kills respond to a dilemma sent in anonymously by a reader worried about whether there is ever a good time to come out as transgender or non-binary. When do most people realise they’re LGBT and is there such a thing as being too young or too old? Is there a right age to come out as LGBT? How old should you be?

The anonymous dilemma to the Aunties said: “Do you think you can ever be too young to realise you are trans or non-binary?” Ask the Aunties: Their response

Lee said: “I would probably say no–obviously I’m a cisgender man so I’ve never had that experience but speaking to people who are trans and non-binary and are friends of mine, I would say the answer is no.

“Everybody has their own journey. Some people might identify as trans and non-binary at a very early age and some might identify very late. “You’re never too young or too old to have a self-realisation moment.”

“But I don’t think you can ever be too young.”

Karnage agreed, adding that parents should allow children to express their gender in whatever ways they feel comfortable.

He said: “I was always thankful of that, my mum never did that to me.

“I don’t think we should suppress anybody. Children should be able to express themselves, I just think it makes for a happier individual.

“You’re never too young or too old to have a self-realisation moment and think: ‘This is who I am.’” Watch the video above to see all of the Aunties’ stories and advice

Ask the Aunties is an original PinkNews series. From dating to telling your pals your pronouns , no dilemma is left unanswered.

The previous episode answered a dilemma from a young person considering coming out .

Subscribe to PinkNews on YouTube so you never miss an episode.

Aberdeenshire church breaks away from denomination after same-sex marriage row

Scottish Episcopal Church sign An Aberdeenshire church has broken away from the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) following a dispute over same-sex marriage.

Members of Westhill Community Church voted overwhelmingly to leave the denomination over concerns about its ‘future trajectory’.

The move comes after Rev. Ian Ferguson of the Westhill church expressed concern about the Episcopal church’s acceptance of same-sex marriages.

The split also comes less than a year after the consecration of the Right Rev. Anne Dyer, Scotland’s first female bishop and a supporter of same-sex marriage.

Rev. Ferguson described the appointment of the Right Rev. Dyer as ‘insensitive and disrespectful’.

But the church leader also said that marriage equality was just one part of the decision to leave, the Press and Journal report .

‘People have different kinds of concerns about all kinds of things, and it’s not just one thing,’ Fergurson said.

‘This has been an ongoing matter where a number of us throughout Scotland have been concerned about the direction the SEC has been going in.’

The split was heavily supported by the members of Westhill Community Church, with 87% voting to secede from the SEC on Thursday (17 January). Allowing same-sex weddings since 2017

The SEC voted to allow same-sex weddings in June 2017, becoming the first mainstream Christian faith in the UK to open marriage to all of its members .

Then-Primus the Most Rev. David Chillingworth described the decision as ‘momentous’.

The move was condemned by Global Anglican church leaders , who went on to impose sanctions on the SEC for allowing same-sex weddings , according to the BBC.

Later in the year, tensions were further heightened following the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Anne Dyer, a vocal supporter of marriage equality.

Two senior clergy members, including Rev. Ferguson, resigned from the Cathedral Chapter in protest.

In his resignation letter, Rev. Ferguson wrote: ‘Our Bishop at the time publicly stated his opposition to such a revisionist agenda, which reflected not only his own personal view but that of our Diocese.

‘Yet, despite all of that, you have put into position a new bishop who not only supports same-sex marriage but has conducted same-sex weddings.’

Westhill is not the first church to secede from the SEC because of a dispute over same-sex marriage.

In August 2018, one of the largest churches in Edinburgh, St Thomas’, announced that they would be splitting from the SEC for the same reason , the Telegraph reported. ‘It breaks my heart’

Rev. Ferguson spoke of his anguish in breaking from the SEC. ‘I’m deeply sad that this stage has arrived, it breaks my heart,’ Rev. Ferguson said.

‘I have been in the SEC for a number of decades and I certainly didn’t want to be in this position. It’s too early to say at the moment what’s going to happen next,’ he added.

In response to the secession, Rt. Rev. Dyer said: ‘The congregation of Westhill Community Church is a much-loved and valued part of our diocese, and I am deeply saddened that they have indicated that they want to pursue potential separation from the SEC.

‘I will continue to work with Westhill as we begin discussions to enable this potential separation, and will continue to pray for the rector, vestry and congregation members in the weeks and months ahead,’ Rt. Rev. Dyer added.

The Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness and Primus of the SEC, the Most Rev. Mark Strange, also spoke of his regret at the Westhill church’s split.

‘I will pray that, painful though this process will be for the church and for the local diocese and wider community, we will all remember that we are all striving to serve as disciples of Christ,’ he said. Not the first split

This is not the first instance of LGBTI issues causing a split among Scottish church groups in recent years.

In February 2013, Rev. Dominic Smart of Gilcomston South Church announced his resignation in protest at the Church of Scotland moving to allow gay people in leadership roles.

This followed the appointment of Rev. Scott Rennie to Queen’s Cross Church in 2009, who was at the time the only openly gay minister in Scotland.

In June of the same year, more than 200 members of the Stornoway High Church left the Church of Scotland due to a row over gay clergy. The members cited the denomination’s ‘continuing departure from Biblical teaching on various issues’.

In 2011, Trinity Church in Aberdeen left the Church of Scotland, going on to join the International Presbyterian Church, in what was reportedly another row over allowing gay clergy.