The bishop of Grantham has become the first Church of England bishop to say that he is homosexual and in a relationship.
A suffragan in Lincoln diocese, Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain, was consecrated last year by Archbishop of
Canterbury Justin Welby – who has said he knew about the bishop’s sexuality.
He was in a “long term and committed” relationship, Archbishop Welby said.
Bishop Chamberlain says he obeys Church guidelines which say homosexual clergy must remain celibate.
The archbishop said: “He lives within the Bishops’ guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office.”
A Church of England spokesman said: “Nicholas has not misled anyone and has been open and truthful if asked. The matter is not secret, although it is private as is the case with all partnerships/relationships.”
Bishop Chamberlain made the disclosure in an interview with the Guardian, and it has been reported that he gave the interview because his private life was about to be exposed by a Sunday newspaper.
“It was not my decision to make a big thing about coming out,” he told the newspaper.
“People know I’m gay, but it’s not the first thing I’d say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it’s my ministry that I want to focus on.”
It is thought no serving bishop has ever before gone public about their sexuality. The former archbishop of York, Lord Hope, said in 1995 that his sexuality was a “grey area”.
The Dean of St Albans, the Very Reverend Jeffrey John, withdrew from the race to become Bishop of Reading in 2003 after an angry reaction from traditionalist Anglicans about his sexuality.
Bishop Chamberlain said he had been with his partner for many years.
“It is faithful, loving, we are like-minded, we enjoy each other’s company and we share each other’s life,” he said.