Sandi Toksvig says Church of England is causing ‘severe mental health problems’ for LGBT+ people

Sandi Toksvig has spoken out against the Church of England’s stance on same-sex marriage, saying that it is “causing severe mental health problems for the LGBTQ+ community”.

On Wednesday (8 February), the Church’s national assembly will vote on a proposal that clergy will be given the option to adopt blessing prayers for couples in same-sex marriages.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that, while he “joyfully” welcomed the blessings proposals, he would not personally carry them out.

Speaking to BBC News, QI host Toksvig said that she had met with Welby last month to discuss the topic, but found the conversation “very disappointing”.

“So what we have is two very polarised sides of this argument. The problem is, there’s only one side that is impinging on the lives of others,” she said.

“And I’m afraid the very conservative people, who interpret the Bible with less love than I would hope, are causing severe mental health problems for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Asked why she’d felt inspired to speak out, despite not being an active member of the Church of England, Toksvig said: “I really never wanted this. There are lots of other things I’d rather be talking about. Trust me, being gay is just a normal life and we want to be allowed to get on with it.

“But every time somebody condemns you, somebody somewhere in the LGBTQ+ community gets hurt, and I can’t sit by and let that happen.”

Should the proposal go through, clergy will be able to decide whether they personally want to deliver them or not. Welby’s decision not to carry them out stemmed from his “pastoral responsibility for the whole communion”, he claimed.

While more conservative members of the church have criticised the proposal, others have said it doesn’t go far enough.

Toksvig – who is a humanist – joined in a civil partnership with her wife Debbie in 2007. The couple renewed their vows on 29 March 2014, the same day that same-sex marriage was made legal in the UK, with their civil partnership being converted into a marriage later that year.

Last summer, the former Great British Bake Off host published an open letter to the Archbishop on Twitter criticising the decision to reaffirm a 1998 Anglican declaration rejecting same-sex marriage.