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Archbishop Of Canterbury Launches Campaign Against Homophobic Bullying In Schools

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced a campaign to stamp out homophobic bullying in Church of England schools as he warned the faithful of a "revolution" in attitudes to sexuality in society.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the Church of England was not changing its teaching on gay relationships but pretending that nothing had changed in social attitudes was "absurd and impossible".

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The Archbishop of Canterbury addresses the General Synod in York

"We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality and we have not yet fully heard it," he told members of the Church of England's General Synod.

"The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it and sometimes they look at us and see what they don't like."

The Most Rev Welby said the Church of England was developing a programme for use in its schools targeting homophobic bullying.

"With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying but we must also take action," he said.

In his first presidential address to General Synod members, the Most Rev Welby, who opposed the gay marriage Bill in the House of Lords last month, said he had been "struck by the overwhelming change of cultural hinterland" while listening to the debate.

"Predictable attitudes were no longer there. The opposition to the Bill, which included me and many other bishops, was utterly overwhelmed, with amongst the largest attendance and participation in a debate and majority since 1945," he said.

"There was noticeable hostility to the view of the churches. I am not proposing new policy but what I felt then, and feel now, is that some of what was said by those supporting the Bill was uncomfortably close to the bone," he said.

The Archbishop was speaking as the General Synod opened at the University of York.