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Leading figures in the Church of England are set to debate homosexuality and same-sex marriage today.

Activists – led by the former bishop of Worcester – have gathered in peaceful protest on the steps of Westminster’s Church Hall, London, in support of LGBT rights within the Church.

A recent report by the House of Bishops calls for the Church to adopt a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for gay people – but not to change its opposition to marriage equality.

It also suggests both gay and straight men and women training to join the priesthood should face the same questions about their lifestyle – a move which has been likened to a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The proposed changes have been criticised for failing to recognise gay people’s “authentic voices” in an open letter signed by 14 retired bishops.

The Synod will discuss the content and recommendations of the report to inform future work, but the proposals will not be formally rejected or approved.

Campaigner Peter Tatchell said he was “appalled” by the church’s treatment of LGBTI people, adding: ” The Bishops’ report defends heterosexual superiority and opposes same-sex blessings and marriages.

“The church blesses dogs and cats but it refuses to bless loving, committed same-sex couples.

“It treats LGBTI clergy and laity as second class, both within the church and the wider society

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