Church of England bishops have rejected calls to allow clergy to conduct same-sex marriages, despite it being legal in the country since 2013.

Instead, they have proposed that couples who get married in a civil ceremony may have their union blessed in church.

This suggestion will be debated at the Church’s equivalent of a parliament, the General Synod, in February.

It comes after bishops met on 17 January to finalise their recommendations on same-sex marriage after five years of consultation and debate.

Several of the bishops at the meeting are believed to have said that Holy Matrimony is only between one man and one woman and changes to this view would not be put to a vote, BBC News reported.

This is despite same-sex marriage being legal in England and Wales since 2013 and the Church of England beginning an extended consultation period called ‘Living in Love and Faith’ four years later.

Jayne Ozanne, a gay Christian activist who chairs the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, described the refusal to support same-sex marriage as “an utterly despicable outcome.”

“There is absolutely nothing ‘radical’ or ‘inclusive’ about these proposals,” she told GAY TIMES.

“The bishops have made a complete mockery of the Living in Love and Faith process, which thousands chose to trust and make themselves vulnerable in.

“Just as in 2017, the Bishops’ focus on ‘unity at all costs’ has thrown LGBT+ lives cruelly under the bus and sacrificed our God-given cry for equality on the altar of compromise.

“Just as in 2017, this paper will be thrown out by the Synod, but this time the Archbishops should consider their positions. Enough is enough!”

“This is a kick in the teeth for LGBTQ+ Christians”

There is also growing frustration among MPs over the Church of England’s refusal to back same-sex marriage.

Conservative MPs Penny Mordaunt, Peter Gibson and Alicia Kearns were joined by Labour MPs Nadia Whittome, Lilian Greenwood, Alex Norris, Sharon Hodgson and Lyn Brown in writing to local bishops about the issue.

In an open letter to the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Right Rev Jonathan Frost, on 16 January, Mordaunt, who represents Portsmouth North, wrote: “I hope you will back reform, allowing parishes to conduct weddings for same-sex couples or, at a minimum, enable authorised blessings.

“I want all of my constituents and others to be able to have the right to have their relationships solemnised in their local parish in England.”

Leading LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall said it was “really disappointed to see Church of England bishops vote down proposals to allow same-sex marriage.”

“This is a kick in the teeth for LGBTQ+ Christians who deserve for their love to be recognised and respected within their faith community,” its statement continued.

“Faith is an important part of many LGBTQ+ people’s lives, and this move shows the Church to be out of step with the inclusive values that define modern Britain, and moves by Anglican communities outside of England who now recognise our community’s love as equally valid.”

Same-sex marriage is backed my a majority of Church of England members

Despite the Church of England’s position, a majority of members believe that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right.

More than half (55%) of respondents to a YouGov poll commissioned by the Ozanne Foundation said same-sex marriages should be allowed in the Church.

Less than one in 10 (9%) believed same-sex marriage to be “wrong” in some capacity – a decrease in comparison to recent years.