Pro-LGBTQ bishop who championed equal marriage dies unexpectedly

The Right Reverend Dr Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham and a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights within the Church of England, has died unexpectedly at the age of 68.

Wilson was one of the few senior Church of England leaders to publicly endorse equal marriage during the debate that led to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 – making his support known through a video for the Out4Marriage campaign.

In the video, he courted controversy by saying: “It all comes down to how we see gay people and how we see God.

“We don’t actually believe gay people are sick or stunted or criminal. We don’t believe God is an angry old man out to get us. Let us stop behaving as though we did.

“Recognising gay people are equal means they won’t dilute or spoil marriage but potentially enrich it.”

After recording his video for Out4Marriage, Wilson described the letters he had received in an article for PinkNews.

He revealed that while 80% or so had been supportive of his pro-LGBTQ+ stance, others had been shockingly homophobic, stating: “I have been told that gay people are lice, animals, insects, should be aborted before birth, disgusting, perverted, sexually voracious, mass murderers and sub-human.”

His advocacy didn’t stop at marriage equality: he was a regular presence at the PinkNews Awards and various other LGBTQ+ events, using his platform to champion LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity within the church.

The Right Reverend Dr Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham (far right). (PinkNews)

Tributes have poured in from across the Church and LGBTQ+ community. Bishop Steven Croft of the Diocese of Oxford remembered Wilson as a “dear friend and colleague,” praising his leadership in education and church schools, and his advocacy for survivors of abuse.

“Alan had been a friend and advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community for many years,” Croft said, highlighting Wilson’s passion for God and dedication to serving the people of Buckinghamshire.

I am devastated by the loss of Bishop Alan Wilson, who was a constant source of support and encouragement during my darkest times.

He provided pastoral care and comfort, guiding me through challenges with unwavering kindness. His sudden passing has left me profoundly saddened.… pic.twitter.com/bp8BkKCuBy

— Revd Mother Jide ‘Emeka’ Macaulay HHH (@RevJide) February 18, 2024

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, praised Wilson’s legacy, noting his fearless advocacy for marginalised communities.

“He was a man of prophetic spirit, reaching out where he saw injustice and speaking up where he witnessed the abuse of power,” Welby remarked, acknowledging the significant gap Wilson leaves behind.

PinkNews CEO and Out4Marriage co-founder Benjamin Cohen paid tribute to Wilson, saying: “I first met Alan in the garden of Number 10 just before the debate for same-sex marriage began. Through the battle for same-sex marriage, he was fearless, ignoring the risks to his own career by standing shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ+ community.

“He will be missed by so many for his jolly nature and eagerness to help people regardless of their own faith.”

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