Former Conservative party chairman Norman Tebbit came under fire in May after saying he would not be attending services in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, in Bury St Edmunds, conducted by the newly-appointed Rev. Canon Joe Hawes, who is gay.
Canon Hawes, 52, who will be installed in post as the new dean at the Suffolk town’s cathedral this month, is in a civil partnership with Rev. Chris Eyden, vicar of All Saints in Putney.
Lord Tebbit, 87, who, with his wife Margaret, has attended the cathedral for nine years, told the Ipswich Star that he disapproved of the decision taken by the cathedral but would not withdraw his financial support.
He said, ‘I just don’t see how he can decently read the marriage service. I stand by what is written in the Bible, which is the basis on which the cathedral was built’. He added: ‘The cathedral has taken this decision and I disapprove of it, but I do not wish to damage the cathedral in any way. I will maintain my financial support for it every year because it will be there long after the dean and I are gone’.
Canon Hawes said he felt ‘absolutely no ill will’ towards Lord Tebbit. A spokesman for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich said: ‘It has been clear for more than a decade that clergy are entitled to be within civil partnerships. Lord Tebbit is welcome to his views’.