Homosexuals around the world have faced frequent condemnations1, political campaigns and vitriolic statements against them from Christian organisations, Christian communities and individual Christian preachers and activists.2,3,4. From the 1980s, a resurgent form of powerful, political, well-funded and fundamentalist Christianity has rose to gain influence in many Western countries5, especially the USA5. Similar groups have surfaced in the UK, although they've face tough battles against established Human Rights norms. They fight against societal acceptance of homosexuality3,6, decriminalisation of homosexuality7, equality laws that outlaw discrimination based on sexuality, against gay marriage, against homosexual parents adopting children8,9,10,11, against sex education that includes any positive commentary about homosexuality, and sometimes against the provision of social services to open homosexuals. The results of promoting discrimination includes violence, sometimes murder. In some countries, entire communities of devout Christians can rise up in mobs against perceived homosexuals and almost everywhere, gay clergy are expelled, shamed and ousted (even celibate ones in liberal churches12). All tolerance towards homosexuals in the West has been obtained despite the campaigns of Christian institutions. Some do now preach tolerance, but their voices are too little, too late, and they are generally shouted-down by the larger majority of Christian organisations that continue to shun anything sounding like gay tolerance or equality. The poor state of Christian institutional morality can be highlighted with a question: How many non-religious large organisations would struggle so much to fairly employ a homosexual? Shame on them all, for the needless pain they've caused.13
Since inception, organized Christianity has rallied against homosexuality. The religious scholar Mojan Momen is normally very positive about religion in every way he can, but still talks negatively of Christianity's attitude towards sexuality in general, and notes its condemnation of homosexuality in particular1.
“In the political arena, the activism of the Christian Right has generally been the source of the most vehement opposition to gay rights campaigns, especially in America. As a social movement, the Christian Right draws primarily from Evangelical Protestant groups which aim to defend and restore 'traditional values' against the 'moral decay' of the rise in sexual permissiveness, and perceived threats to the patriarchal, heterosexual family [...].”
“Many Western countries have Christian support groups for gay men and women that depict homosexuality as a misguided lifestyle choice, and undertake to 'help' those who wish to lead a 'proper' heterosexual lifestyle. Among the largest of these, EXODUS International, for example, promises 'freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.”
Obnoxious Christian preachers have proclaimed that AIDS is God's revenge on homosexuals and on those communities that accept homosexuality4.
The internal debates within Christendom are painful to watch. Every decade Anglican bishops from around the world meet at the Lambeth Conference. Homosexuality (and certainly) sexuality, has always been a hot topic there. The president of the pontifical council for promoting christian unity, who is an official from the Catholic church called Walter Cardinal Kasper said that "homosexuality is a disordered behaviour that must be condemned" and said that anti-homosexual teachings are traditional because they are the teachings handed down by Jesus. He told the Anglican Communion to issue a "clear declaration" that homosexuality must be condemned, and warned that the Anglican's slightly-more-tolerant approach on homosexuality and women had caused serious compromises between Anglican and Catholic branches of Christiandom.15. In 2003, the powerful Evangelical wing of the Anglican churches forced out one gay Bishop (Jeffrey John) and then targeted the sole remaining one, the popular Gene Robinson16.
Tolerance. There are groups within Christianity that are concerned with the Human Rights of sexuality, however such groups are much quieter and less numerous than those that oppose any element of tolerance towards gay people. They are drowned out by larger, noisier, more numerous and better funded anti-gay Church groups. Despite the decline of established churches in the West, fundamentalist groups that are offensively anti-gay are still growing numerically, although some liberal Churches may accept homosexuality it is likely that the most zealous Christian groups will still be of the anti- kind for the foreseeable future.
Adoption of Children by Same-Sex Parents. This has been hotly and angrily opposed by Christian institutions. For example in 2011, the Catholic Church was faced with several legal losses in the UK after refusing to place deprived children in care into same-sex homes. Despite the clear evidence that having homosexual parents does not harm to children, and the urgent evidence that children benefit hugely if they are placed into families earlier rather than later, they still refused. Dogma trumped welfare; when they lost their legal challenges, the collection of Catholic charities threatened to close (doing even more harm) rather than treat homosexual parents equally.8,9,10. In the same year, exactly the same battle was being fought in Illinois, USA11.
Christians have been particularly demanding in their use of blasphemy laws to censor homosexuality, even in modern times. The USA continues to suffer from many successful campaigns by Christian lobby groups seeking to ban material in schools that promotes tolerance of LGBT folk or that mentions homosexuality. In Greece in 2012 three actors were arrested for playing parts in a play that featured a gay Jesus18. The UK's blasphemy law - famous for its disuse - was abolished in 2008 after a Christian pressure group tried to revitalise it in their fight against homosexuality19. In Brazil in 2019, a protest by millions of Catholics saw a Netflix film banned for portraying a gay Jesus20 - this came after homophobic president Jair Bolsonaro's long campaign against homosexuality, encouraging many Christians to become more extreme: the film producers' offices were attacked with molotov cocktails20. Things have changed over the previous two generations: since the establishment of Human Rights, Christian communities in most developed countries are finding it harder to censor material, and public opinion is moving towards the rejection of the concept of blasphemy and the acceptance of non-heteronormative media.
In the USA there are a great many evangelical, powerful and well-funded fundamentalist outfits (the 'religious right') that campaign on a number of issues, but none so bitterly as their campaigns against homosexuality5 (and the theory of evolution). For example the political researcher Andrew Heywood notes the Christian group Moral Majority founded by the famous bigot Jerry Falwell: "since the 1980s its principal energies have been devoted to the campaign against abortion [, ...] homosexuality, pornography, premarital sex and, in the USA at least, the teaching of Darwinian theories of evolution rather than Biblical 'creationism'"13. Other Christian "religious right" organisations and Christian activist individuals follow similar agendas against abortion and gay rights21. Establishments, courts, entire states and other portions of the social structure frequently succumb to Christian pressure, leaving many LGBT folk with only unpredictable recourse to the law when it comes to seeking equality and tolerance.
In the UK as in many other counties, the established Christian church had its hand in making homosexuality illegal, and campaigned strongly against its de-illegalisation in the Homosexual Law Reform Act (1967)22. This public and active oppression continued heavily throughout the 70s and 80s (before which homosexuality was simply illegal, and very much taboo) and even in the 90s this attitude continued, with strong, rich and well supported organized Christian groups defeating several attempts by the Government to accomplish equal gay age of consent, gay rights and gay marriage. In 2007 Richard Kirker reported of "several instances in the last 10 years" when mainstream Christianity has forced the government to recede on matters of equality for gay and lesbian folk23. The most surprising element of all this is the failure of the otherwise liberal and tolerant Church of England to support gay communities.
The UK is seeing the slow emergence of similar groups to the USA: well-funded, organized, influential, right-wing, extremist, and active political lobbyers. With CARE24, Christian Concern, Christian Legal Centre, the Christian Institute and the Evangelical Alliance representing some of the most active groups that oppose legal equality for gays. Some groups are more civil than others - a recent EA publication genuinely sounds like it is trying to be nice to those ungodly gays, especially those who remain abstinent. Although it still says that "homoerotic" activity is against God's will, and they cannot accept legal equality when it comes to gay marriage and recommends Church discipline for those who are positive about homosexuality, especially in public25. Alongside many other Christian organisations, the EA and CARE campaigned against the repeal of the infamous anti-homosexual Clause 28 of the Local Government Act (1986)26. Teachers, for example, have a duty to verbally negate prejudice when it surfaces, but, Clause 28 was preventing them from doing so for fear of appearing to "promote" homosexuality. Thankfully, common-sense prevailed over religious tradition, and it was duly repealed.
A few other modern cases I've stumbled across:
2012 Apr the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) wrote to all secondary schools, urging them to promote an anti-marriage-equality petition and to tell the children at their schools to sign it. Even though investigations by public prosecutors found that any school that followed these instructions broke the law, Catholic authorities continue to engage in such anti-equality activism.27
2012 Feb: Catholic schools in Lancashire distributed a booklet to pupils entitled "Pure Manhood: How to become the man God wants you to be", which states that contraception and homosexuality are evil (against god, "disordered")28,29.
In 2011 the Catholic Church went into overdrive in Scotland when the government began to move to accept gay marriage. Catholic Bishop Tartaglia threatened Scotland with a rift from Church. Cardinal Keith O'Brien said it would be a 'betrayal' - although there were no signs that anyone was about to force those people to marry anyone, let alone someone of the same sex. It is unclear why they opposed who other people should be allowed to marry.
The Catholic Church's campaign saw it send 100,000 "protest cards" to its parishioners, asking them to send them to those in the Government involved in the heinous move towards equality.
“Archbishop Conti of Glasgow issued a statement complaining about "the modern preoccupation with human rights". The religious group Solas and the Free Church have joined them.”
“14,000 of the postcards have now been received at Holyrood and the Catholic Church is hailing this as a great success and demanding that the Government must now drop its plans. Except that it only represents less than 14% of the cards they provided. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the RCC's bigotry.”
Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, warns that "religious campaigners are trying relentlessly to reverse hard-won equality rights or [to] give religious employees carte blanche to exempt themselves from the laws and regulations that apply to everyone else"30. The point of equality laws is that they protect all people. There's no point encoding the morality of tolerance into law if you then exclude Christians because they happen to be a member of a religion that frequently discriminates against gays. The moral case is made and discrimination on grounds of sexuality is now illegal as well as wrong.
In the UK many of these claims are funded and managed by (1) the Christian Institute and (2) by the Christian Legal Centre behind which is lawyer Andrea Minichiello Williams (related to Christian Concern). Many cases are dismissed quickly and receive little attention, for example:
"The case of the family court judge in Sheffield who didn't want to deal with gay couples was thrown out" (2009)30.
Unfortunately, some out-of-court settlements have gone in favour of Christian prejudice. For example:
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service didn't fight against "a case brought against them by a Catholic firefighter who refused to provide fire safety literature to gay people. Instead of seeing the case through, the Council settled out of court"30. If they had fought it, they would have won.
Tolerance, equality and human rights prevent the immoral abuse of unpopular minorities, but, when it comes to homosexuality, Christian institutions are conducting a world-wide battle to make themselves exempt from the growing tide of democratic fairness towards those of all sexualities. The Catholic Church itself is the most powerful campaigner for anti-gay discrimination. In response to the long stream of failed cases in Europe, a Vatican Radio broadcast the Vatican's foreign minister Archbishop Dominique Mamberti saying that "everyone in Europe should have the right to object to issues they find immoral"31. The problem is, if your idea of "immoral" means removing the free and equal rights of others, then, such dogmas will, and should, remain firmly illegal. The Catholic Church is going to have to get used to a world that no longer adheres to its prejudiced dogmas.
In 2003 March two Sefton Council workers refused to take part in adoptions for gay parents, because they say it is against their Christian beliefs. As it is part of their job to perform this civil function, they have been fairly enough been threatened with dismissal for not doing their job. The Christian Institute fought for the two Christians' cause "based on Christian principles".
"However, during the consultation on the Employment Directive [...] the Christian Institute - and other faith groups - fought for the right to sack non-Christian workers who didn't support the "ethos" of faith-based organisations that employed them. Now, it seems they think it is OK for Christian employees to undermine the ethos of secular employers and get away with it".32
The Christian Institute wants employers to be able to sack people for not having the same beliefs as themselves, Christians, but also wants Christians to be able to remain in companies despite having religious beliefs that undermine the job the employees are supposed to do. The Christian Institute is not fighting for morals, but supporting sectarianism and discrimination based on religion, and therefore undermining the stability of equal and democratic society.
You simply can't discriminate against gays, even if you do believe they're "immoral". It is illegal to discriminate, even if you do so out of religious conviction. If employers such as Sefton Council bend to the wishes of those who wish to discriminate, then, those employers are encouraging illegal (and hurtful) behaviour.
National Secular Society's Terry Sanderson summarizes the Christian Institute's story-making, and the fact that some national newspapers report these attention-grabbing distortions. Newspapers include the Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and the Daily Mail (2009 Feb 20).
Registrars in Town Halls arrange marriages. They are government employees whose wages are paid for by the public, via taxes. They must therefore, treat everyone equally and without prejudice or discrimination, because they perform a service as a part of a democracy. Lillian Ladele felt that such lofty ideals were below her but lost her legal case after refusing to officiate for same-sex civil partnerships since 2005 Dec. Her battle against homosexuality caused additional complaints from her work colleagues, and by 2007 the office atmosphere was described as "deteriorated", at which point disciplinary action was brought against her. She took it to the Employment Tribunal and ironically claimed that she was being directly discriminated against and it was taken to an appeal court: "Lillian Ladele, the Islington registrar who refused to conduct same-sex Civil Partnerships on religious grounds, has been refused leave to appeal against the decision of an Employment Tribunal that she did not suffer religious discrimination at work. She has also been ordered to pay costs". Her case was funded by the UK evangelical political lobbying organisation The Christian Institute.The National Secular Society report that "Islington was also battling against considerable odds. These cases are being fought with huge determination and massive funds from evangelical Christian groups".30
In 2009 the UK Court of Appeal upheld the ruling that she had not been subject to religious discrimination and BHA's Andrew Copson said "As the judgment made clear, in a modern liberal democracy, there can be no “opt out” for those who say they are unable to do their jobs because they wish to discriminate, even when that desire to discriminate derives from a religious belief. This judgment is extremely welcome"33. She then appealed yet again, now to the Supreme Court, but was refused on 2010 Mar 04. But it wasn't the end of the story! Lillian Ladele contined to fight, and the case eventually went to the European Court of Human Rights, where, on the 15th of Jan 2013, they also found that anti-gay bigotry was not excused in the public sector, not even by domineering Christians. She reinforced her irrational and prejudiced opinions with constant references to her belief in Christian beliefs, and the press have widely reported it as "Christian persecution".34
The Christian Institute's news article on the loss of the Ladele case said "Five judges rejected her claim, but two believed that she had suffered discrimination because of her Christian beliefs about marriage" which is a skewed perspective; she was not discriminated against because of her beliefs, but because of her behaviour. She was rightly fired because she was refusing to do her job. If her religious beliefs mean she puts herself under additional limits as to who she can treat equally, then, she should not choose to do a public-facing, public-sector job.
Gary McFarlane was employed by Relate to give counselling in sex and relationship issues. His strict Bible-based Christian beliefs were widely known especially that he sternly believed that he could never engage in any action that appeared to support homosexuality. However in 2007 he assured his employer that he would be able to, as Relate's charter states, treat people equally and fairly. He saw two lesbian couples with no problem, but in 2008 it became apparent he had serious issues with male homosexuals, and he was suspended. He stated his views had never changed, and that he still held he could never support homosexuals. He appealed, and then, supported by the Christian Legal Centre35, lodged a complaint with the Employment Tribunal, ironically, claiming that he suffered from direct discrimination because he wasn't allowed to discriminate. He lost the case, and the panel noted in particular how it is not practical to filter away homosexual clients from seeing him in confidence. It is quite easy to imagine that patients may have homosexual concerns that are not raised until they are already sat with Gary McFarlane, and that therefore he cannot be relied upon for counselling.
Catholic Care is a charity ran by the Diocese of Leeds. It stood alongside 12 other Catholic adoption agencies in England and Wales that refused to place children with homosexual parents39, pretending that this was for welfare reasons. Same-sex parents have proven to be as good parents, if not better, than typical heterosexual parents. Public services, or services that are counted as charitable (and therefore tax exempt), must abide by national and European human rights law, which is designed to fight discrimination and prejudice, embodied by The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation Regulations) 2007 (now part of the Equality Act 2010)9. The Catholic adoption agencies faced a choice between helping children (who benefit more the quicker they are placed into homes) or sticking to their prejudices. For the sake of the children, several of these adoption agencies cut their ties with the Catholic Church and changed their policies39. But some battled on against modern equality, seeking instead to hold back human rights laws by seeking exemptions from them.
The Catholic Care's case was thrown out on 2011 Apr 26. Some arguments documented by the Judge are revealing. The charity, being defended chiefly by the RC Bishop Arthur Roche, threatens to close (doing even greater social harm) if it cannot continue to discriminate against homosexuals (Charity Commission 2011).10. This revealed that doctrine is more important than welfare as a motive and the charity was thrown into disrepute.9
It is worth noting that The Catholic Church in the USA in Illinois was involved in the same dispute, and was found forcefully trying to exempt itself from equality law there too after losing several contracts due to their refusal to tolerate same-sex couples seeking to adopt children.11
“ITALIANS GIVE THE POPE A KICK IN THE PANTS
Pope Ratzinger spent most of last week hysterically berating the Italian government for bringing forward a new partnership law that gives legal rights to unmarried cohabiting heterosexual couples and to homosexual couples. Italy's most senior cardinal, Camillo Ruini, then announced that he would issue an 'official note' to Catholics, asking them to make 'a personal commitment to defend marriage and oppose de facto couples'. That was seen as a direct call on Catholic lawmakers to vote against the bill.
But a new poll shows that the Vatican is out of step with public opinion in Italy. The survey for the newspaper La Repubblica found that 67% of practising Catholics support protections for heterosexual co-habitees, a number which falls to 35% who think gay and lesbians should get legal protection. Overall, 80% of Italians are in favour.
Couples will be able to formally register with their local authority, and will have rights over property and inheritance. They will also have the right to visit their partner in hospital.
The poll results are an enormous blow to the Vatican, whose heavy-handed tactics have backfired once again. Even the former Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 88, who attends church on a daily basis, told the press that the Church should not interfere in the political process [and adds] 'a rigid attitude by the Church would be really damaging.'
Despite the national enthusiasm for the new law, it is expected to have a rough ride when it comes before parliament, and the Vatican is expected to intensify its anti-democratic campaign of pressure on politicians.”
A strange contradiction and confusion exists within Christianity. Its general stance on sexuality is highly restrictive, and celibacy is enforced for priests and bishops in many denominations. Christian churches claim the right to educate others on the moralities of sexual behaviour. Yet, sexual abuse in Christian workplaces and paedophilia is rife within Christendom, and homosexuality abounds in the priesthood at a higher rate than in the general population. Politically and socially, Christian organisations have campaigned heavily against any form of gay rights, and have opposed the very idea of the tolerance of homosexuals. In 2002, the UK Government (again) pushed for greater equality for gays under the law, and (again) the principal opposition groups were Christian8. Since then, civil partnerships have been created that allow gay marriage in everything but name. A small minority of Christian institutions support gay marriage, but in history entire regions once did so.
Doctrine clashes with reality. Many parts of Christian scripture are ignored nowadays; take for example the extensive dietary laws laid down in the Hebrew scriptures. This 'old' testament, it is said by many, is now irrelevant and Christians no longer have to observe many of its laws. The anti-homosexual versus come from the same place. The creeping re-interpretation of Scripture to fit in with the known facts of the world is the only way Christianity can survive, but when it comes to homosexuality a strange obstinence emerges. It is about time that Christian authorities applied their own much-haunted 'moral high ground' to its own reality, and formally ceased the continued irrational dislike of homosexuality.
“When [...] is the Church going to have the courage to celebrate the creativity of its homosexual members, who are more discriminated against than black people or women? For those gay people who wish to be ordained there is only one way to get through the initial interviews, and that is the humiliating one of keeping their sexuality concealed. [...] It is painfully easy to remain in the closet ever afterwards, thinking that at some future date there will be an opportunity to come clean, only the day never comes. The Church, of course, encourages this silence. A description of a nervous breakdown, Jim Cotter's book Brainsquall, reveals what a terrible price gay clergy have been required to pay for such a double standard. [...]
Sometimes it seems as if the Church is almost the only body left which cannot deal with homosexuality. It is possible to get elected for Parliament as an openly gay man or woman, possible to be made a cabinet minister, possible for many eminent people to be quite straightforward about living with another man or woman. [...]
Change, of course, is inevitable. Just as the change of the status of women in society pushed the hand of the Church to ordain women; just as the change of the status of black people in Britain makes it imperative that they are seen as full members of the Church with their own distinctive contribution; just as the change in marital habits makes churches accepting of second marriages, so change in this field too is inevitable. Maybe not this year or next year, but before too long, the Church is going to have to get up its nerve (and it is not in a bold frame of mind) and accord homosexuals full status within the Church, because, like blacks or women, they are increasingly refusing the meek and silent status enforced upon them.”
We have mostly been talking about mainstream Christian denominations so far, but the same hostile attitudes obtain in sects, too. Both Mormons41 and the fundamentalist scripturalists, the Jehovah's Witnesses, both maintain an anti-anything-involving-gay-tolerance stance.
There are large numbers of gay priests, but the majority of them are not like secular gays who find solace in their identity. Christian theories of human sexuality and the practice of celibacy among priests have meant that a lack of sexual development curses many priests with an abnormal and underdeveloped sexuality. Many do not consider themselves gay, hide it, deny it, but still practice it. Some even deny that homosexual acts are homosexual simply because they themselves, they say, are not homosexual and do not have homosexual tendencies. It is doublethink, to use George Orwell's famous term42.
Despite the existence of some gay priests, the Christian hierarchy has been particularly intolerant of visible homosexuality. The fear of exposure prevented gay priests and bishops from supporting the gay rights movement, which is itself testimony to the fearsome anti-gay agenda of the Christian community as a whole, both inside and outside official ranks. Even the liberal Church of England operates in the same way, although the ECUSA (Anglican Church in the USA) have finally made some slow and tentative progressive steps over last few decades.
“Generally, 30% of U.S. priests (estimates established from all sources) are either involved in homosexual relationships, have a conflict about periodic sexual activity, feel compelled toward homosexual involvements, identify themselves as homosexual, or at least have serious questions about their sexual orientation or differentiation. Approximately half of these men act out sexually with others.
[For example] A group of priests who gathered to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of their entrance into their religious order were sharing stories about their novitiate experience. One of the men confided that the novice master had a 2-year sexual relationship with him. The news came as a shock to most of his classmates, who considered the master the epitome of all of the virtues for which their religious order stood. But two other members of the group then confided that the superior was also sexually involved with them during the same period. Each one thought he was the only one so involved.
An interesting subgroup of priests is marked by their fear of being homosexual. These men are conscientious and would identify themselves as gay if they could only resolve their internal conflict. But they cannot. They might have had no adult homosexual experience and are relying on their memories of childhood or adolescent sexual play with friends or family. Some have experimented with both sexes briefly in adult life. They are not caught in preadolescent development. They are more like the college student who fearfully asks, "Am I normal?". [...] Many men fear the idea that they may be homosexual. Others are so homophobic that they cannot tolerate the idea of being close to or friendly with a homosexual person.”
“The medieval historian John Boswell records examples of same-sex unions between men that seem to have been sanctioned by religious ceremonies, arguing that such partnerships were "commonplace" in early medieval Byzantine society and that it was only from the 14th century onwards that such practices were repressed by the Catholic Church.”
The Yale historian John Boswell notes as follows that historical gay ceremonies carried out by the church in previous centuries were in the same fashion as heterosexual ones:
“For nearly two centuries after Christianity had become the state religion, Christian emperors in Eastern cities not only tolerated but actually taxed gay prostitution. In 7th century Visigoth Spain, a series of six national church councils refused to support the ruler's legislation against homogenital acts. By the 9th century almost every area in Christian Europe had local law codes, including detailed sections on sexual offenses; none outside of Spain forbade homogenital acts. By the High Middle Ages, a gay subculture thrived, as in Greco-Roman times. A body of gay literature was standard discussion material at courses in the medieval universities where clerics were educated.
Opposition to homosexuality, as in Augustine and Chrysostom, rested on reasons unacceptable today: "natural-law" arguments based on beliefs about supposed sexual practices among hares, hyenas, and weasels; a philosophical Stoicism that was suspicious of any sexual enjoyment; a sexism that saw a degrading effeminacy in being the receptive partner in sex. All-out Christian opposition to homosexuality arose at a time when medieval society first began to oppress many minority groups: Jews, heretics, the poor, usurers. A campaign to stir up support for the Crusades by vilifying the Muslims with charges of homosexual rape also played a part in Christian Europe's change of attitude toward gay and lesbian sex.”
The author lists the original texts and English translations of a number of religious ceremonies: Office of Same-sex Union, (and similar names), 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th & 16th century translations, Greece Office of Same-sex Union, 11th century Christian church in Greece. The Order for Uniting Two Men, 11-12 century, Old Church Slavonic Office of Same-Gender Union, 12th century Italio-Greek. An Order for the Uniting of Two Men [or Two Women], 14th century Serbian Slavonic Order of Celebrating the Union of Two Men, prior to 18th century, Serbian Slavonic.
Christianity has always contained a mix of pro- and anti- homosexual elements. Periods of oppression of homosexuals and celebration of love, homosexual or not, have come and went. Finally, same-sex marriage is not only found in early Christianity - it has existed quite freely in other cultures and civilizations. For example a four thousand year old Tomb belonging to gay married couple Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep exists in Saqqara, Egypt.
It doesn't matter whether Christians "agree" with being gay or not, the actual actions of many Christians who believe otherwise cause hate. I believe this is hypocrisy, or ignorance.
It is ignorance if they do not know they are causing hate - I recommend that they get in touch with gay support groups and Stonewall, and find out the embarrassing and worrying scale of religious anti-gay hatred that gay groups face.
It is hypocrisy if they stand for love, but knowingly cause hate.
It is inconsistent if a Christian, who believes we are all sinners (including Christians and priests) but think that being gay is worse than any other particular sexuality.
Tolerance towards sinners was one of Jesus' most controversial teachings, as was his preaching that those who consider themselves better than others (the Jewish religious rulers) should humble themselves and consider themselves worse. Christians should, like the good Samaritan, help minorities attain equal rights even if those people don't have the same beliefs. Equality in law, of marriage and anti-discrimination should be the prime rules of the Christian who loves his neighbour, and although there are gay-friendly Christian groups, they are sadly underwhelmed by the anti-gay Christian community.
“Abrahamic religions have contributed to the most negative and destructive attitudes towards sexual issues, especially homosexuality. Christian and Islamic communities and organisations are the most vocal assailants on any legal or societal moves towards tolerance and equality. The liberal wings of some of these religions have adapted to the wide (European) acceptance of homosexuality. Many traditional religions reject the scientific, medical and psychological knowledge that we have gained about sexuality and regard homosexuality as "unnatural", a "choice" or a "moral evil". These religions are themselves immoral and evil in their attitude, causing hatred, bigotry, violence and oppression in the name of God. Homosexual communities have become accustomed to the ranting of religious fundamentalists and traditionalists, and this causes a strong anti-religious resentment amongst them.”