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A German protestant bishop has asked for forgiveness from the LGBTQ+ community during a recent service.

According to a report from The Irish Times, bishop Christian Stäblein spoke about the church’s previous abuse towards queer congregation members and staff.

Stäblein is the bishop of Berlin-Brandenburg, which is part of Germany’s Evangelical Church federation (EKD).

During the service, Stäblein discussed the harmful discrimination that LGBTQ+ people endured which included abusive questioning, dismissal from church jobs and forced celibacy.

The prominent religious figure went on to say that he was “appalled by the stigmatisation” that the church inflicted on the queer community.

“We excluded them and made them pariahs,” he said. “We have to assume that many more people were harmed by these practices than we are aware of or can document.”

Towards the end of his service, Stäblein asked the LGBTQ+ community for forgiveness “knowing that it is God’s alone to give and that we bear responsibility as a community for these wrongs.”

This is also not the first time that Stäblein has shown his LGBTQ+ allyship. Last year, he posthumously reinstated gay pastor Friedrich Klein to his position as a clergyman.

Back in 1942, Klein was a gay man living in Germany during the Nazi era. After a Third Reich military tribunal charged him with homosexual activity, he was defrocked.

“Revoking the ordination rights of Reverend Friedrich Klein on January 20, 1943, has been recognized as an injustice and is declared null and void,” Stäblein exclaimed.

Over the years, the EKD has also been making strides in LGBTQ+ acceptance and inclusivity. In 2002, the German organisation started blessing services for same-sex couples and eventually introduced same-sex marriage in 2017.

Related: Sharon Stone calls on Catholic Church for LGBTQ+ acceptance: “Listen to your pope.”