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Church in Wales to vote on blessing same-sex marriage

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Same-sex couples will be able to have their civil partnership or marriage blessed in Church in Wales churches for the first time if new church legislation is passed next month (September).

A Bill to authorise a service of blessing will be considered by members of the Church’s Governing Body at its meeting on September 6.

It proposes that the service be used experimentally for five years and that it will be up to individual clergy to decide whether or not they wish to lead it.

The service is for a blessing only as same-sex couples are unable to marry in church.

The Bill is being introduced by the Bishops, following an indication from Governing Body members that it was now “pastorally unsustainable” for the Church to make no formal provision for those in committed same-sex relationships.

In the Explanatory Memoradum they say, “Approval of this rite would be stating that the Church in Wales accepts that the loving and faithful commitment of two persons of the same sex, aspiring to life-long fidelity and mutual comfort, and who have made a commitment in civil partnership or marriage, is worthy of acceptance by the Church by asking God’s blessing upon their commitment.”

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While recognising that the Bill is controversial, they describe it as a “step on the way towards repentance of a history in the Church which has demonised and persecuted gay and lesbian people, forcing them into fear, dishonesty and sometimes even hypocrisy, and which has precluded them from living publicly and honestly lives of committed partnership.”

The bishops are urging Governing Body members to debate the Bill in a respectful and dignified way, acknowledging that it will raise difficult issues of faith and belief. They have issued a set of ‘Pastoral Principles’ intended to guide people towards thoughtful and considerate discussions.

Introducing them they say, “There can be no room for seeking to undermine sincerely held views. Neither should we seek to walk away from each other. Our union in Christ is at the heart of our life and the bonds and character of our baptism hold us together; sharing a commitment to each other as together we seek the Kingdom of God. We hope these materials will stimulate this quality of engagement.”

The Bill will be voted on in all three orders of the Governing Body – the Bishops, the clergy and the laity. It will need to achieve a two-thirds majority in each order for it to be passed.

The discussion and vote will be held on the first day of the Governing Body meeting which takes place on September 6 at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport and will be live-streamed via a link on the Church in Wales website and Youtube channel. The second day of the meeting will take place online only, via Zoom, on Wednesday, September 8 and will also be live-streamed.

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LGBT

Swansea Pride returns on Saturday 30 April

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This bank holiday weekend (30 April) sees the return of Swansea Pride which is back after a gap of 2 years due to the pandemic.

The organisers have promised a weekend of celebration, including a city centre parade and events at the National Waterfront Museum and Museum Green.

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The weekend kicks off on Friday 29 April with the official pre-Pride party hosted by “queer dance party for every body” PYNK at the Elysium gallery, bar and nightclub on High Street.

Talking about the event, a spokesperson from PYNK said: “We have 3 amazing DJs lined up and a night full of dancing, cocktails and celebrating how fabulous we all are.” Doors open from 8pm with tickets available online.

Saturday (30 April) is jam packed full of activities, with a parade working its way through the city centre.

The last Swansea Pride was held two years ago before the pandemic (Image: Swansea Council)

A spokesperson from Swansea Pride said: “As the big pride event hits the city centre this Saturday, we want to encourage the whole of Swansea to join us in celebrating inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community.

The pride parade starts at the top of Wind Street at 11am. It will snake up Castle Street, the Kingsway, Oxford Street and will finish on the Museum Green at the National Waterfront Museum. This is where people can enjoy music, drag shows, food, entertainment, and feel-good-fun for the whole family.

“We can’t wait to welcome the whole region to this event of celebration.”

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The official Pride afterparty takes place at Fiction & Vinyl nightclub on Little Wind Street promising late night dance action from 6pm until 4am.

Cardiff based gay bar Mary’s is also coming to the city with a special pop-up event at Popworld on Wind Street from 6pm till late.

Drag Queen Story Hour are returning to Swansea for Mini Pride (Image: Drag Queen Story Hour)

Sunday (May 1) sees the launch of Mini Pride at the National Waterfront Museum. The family friendly event features Drag Queen Story Hour who promise to share some wonderful stories in a thrilling storytime show.

As well as crafts, face painting and a mini-parade, the Mini Pride also features a showing of children’s film Trolls World Tour.

For more information about Swansea Pride, visit www.swanseapride.co.uk.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Conversion therapy ban moves forward in Wales

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women with gay pride body paint

Deputy Minister for Social Partnership Hannah Blythyn has outlined the next steps the Welsh Government is taking towards banning conversion practises across Wales.

Ms Blythyn also announced that NHS Wales has signed up to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to ban conversion therapy in Wales, working towards achieving the Welsh Government’s ambition to become “the friendliest LGBTQ+ Nation in Europe”.

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Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn said: “As a government, we’ve committed to ensuring that we become the friendliest LGBTQ+ nation in Europe, where no one is left out or left behind.

“Today I am announcing several further steps Welsh Government is taking towards making conversion therapy a thing of the past.

“In addition to seeking legal advice to determine all the levers we have in Wales to end the practice of conversion therapy unilaterally; we will educate and raise awareness of the horrors and ineffectiveness of conversion therapy practices by establishing a dedicated campaign in Wales.

“Alongside this, work will be undertaken to better understand the impact of conversion ‘therapy’ on survivors to enable support services to be improved and we will establish a working group of experts, to include representatives from faith communities; the health and social care sector; and children and young people’s representatives, alongside LGBTQ+ people to help with this work and advise on key elements as a ban is developed.”

The Minister also announced that the Welsh Government and NHS Wales have signed up to a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) with the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy. Organisations who sign the Memorandum and work in the provision of mental or psychological health delivery or commissioning, such as the NHS, will commit to ensure they do not commission or provide conversion therapy in Wales.

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Dr Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales and Judith Paget, Chief Executive of NHS Wales said: “The Welsh Government and NHS Wales fully support the banning of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, witnessed through our signing of the MoU with the Coalition Against Conversion Therapy.

We stand united in our desire to make this abhorrent practice illegal and believe this will offer an important opportunity to support those at risk of conversion therapy as well as victims and survivors.”

Finally the Deputy Minister said: “Through the measures I have announced and by engaging with partners across crucial sectors, I am confident that together we can and must rise to the challenge to make Wales the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe, where every corner of our country is a safe place for LGBTQ+ people to live openly and authentically as themselves.”

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Gower College Swansea celebrates Rainbow Week

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Students and staff at Gower College Swansea are taking part in Rainbow Week, an event dedicated to raising awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and celebrating inclusivity and the safe and supportive environment of the College.

The week was officially launched by hugely successful boxing manager and promoter Kellie Maloney who visited the Tycoch Campus to share her personal story of transitioning – an event which was livestreamed across the College for those who could not attend in person.

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Rainbow Week will also see the launch of Gower College Swansea’s Staff LGBTQ+ Network which aims to embrace the unique and diverse workforce, whilst providing a safe space where staff can connect with others, feel supported and raise any concerns.

“We pride ourselves on being an inclusive organisation and hold the Gold Corporate Health Standard Award in recognition of our policy for maintaining and promoting a high quality of health and wellbeing in the workplace,” says the College’s Director of HR, Sarah King.

“We are delighted that so many staff and students have responded so positively to our plans for Rainbow Week with many saying the planned activities and training will make them feel even more comfortable in talking about LGBTQ+ issues.”

Across the campuses, Pride flags are flying and among the many activities being held are competitions for the best rainbow cake decoration and best-dressed rainbow team.

Other highlights of Rainbow Week include a workshop on allyship training and a pre-recorded talk from Chad Cloete about his experience as a gay man within the LGBTQ+ community – both of which are delivered in partnership with Stonewall, the signing of Pride flags across the College, and the distribution of pronoun badges which have been designed by Art and Design students and endorsed by the College’s Equality and Diversity Committee.

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(Lead image: Gower College Swansea)

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