The Anglican church has suspended the US Episcopal church for three years over its support for same-sex marriage.
The US branch of the Anglican church voted to allow its clergy to perform same-sex marriages last year, after same-sex marriage was legalised across all 50 US states.
As a result, the Anglican church has now decided to exclude the more liberal US branch from representing them or voting on strategies and doctrines for the next three years.
The punishment comes after a “painful” four days of discussion at a meeting of archbishops, which was called in an effort to avoid a split in the Anglican church over disagreements about homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
In a statement, the Anglican church said: “Recent developments in the Episcopal church with respect to a change in their canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our provinces on the doctrine of marriage.
“It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years the Episcopal church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies.”
The meeting was called by the Archbishop of Canterbury after receiving a letter signed by more than 100 senior Anglicans, which asked the church to apologise for its mistreatment of the LGBT community.
A vigil, supported by the Peter Tatchell Foundation, will be held outside Canterbury Cathedral at 1pm today to protest the decision.
Peter Tatchell said: “The Primate’s decision is intolerant, cruel and devoid of Christian love and compassion. It gives comfort and succor to homophobic pastors in the church who are already leading witch-hunts against LGBTI people in countries like Uganda and Nigeria.
“Instead of being a Good Samaritan to persecuted LGBTI people, the Anglican Communion is siding with the persecutors. Its defence of homophobic injustice echoes the church’s defence of slavery and its opposition to votes for women in past centuries.”