The Methodist Church in Ireland has issued an apology for its failures in providing pastoral support and care to the LGBTQ+ community and their families; however decided to uphold its ban on same-sex marriage.

The church, which also condemned all forms of homophobia within both the church and the broader community, decided that marriage would remain defined as a relationship between one man and one woman, opting not to follow the Methodist Church in Great Britain in allowing same-sex marriages.

The Methodist Church in Ireland (MCI) comprises about 200 churches across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Despite the apology, it remains unclear whether individual Methodist churches in these regions will have the authority to permit those in same-sex relationships to hold leadership roles.


Steven Smyrl, a member of the Methodist Church in Sandymount, Dublin, and in a same-sex marriage, welcomed the apology but questioned its scope, highlighting ongoing concerns about the recognition and dignity of same-sex relationships within the church.

Smyrl, who was previously dismissed from a Presbyterian church leadership role due to his relationship, hopes for future acceptance of same-sex marriages within the MCI.

During their 2024 conference in Belfast, MCI members debated human sexuality, resulting in a report recommending standards for membership and leadership. Concerns were raised about inconsistencies in the church’s approach to same-sex relationships compared to opposite-sex relationships. The report suggested that individual churches could decide on the eligibility of those in same-sex relationships for leadership roles. However, this did not imply a blanket acceptance of all behaviours.

The debate on sexuality drew varied reactions. Some members opposed the recommendations, citing concerns about deviating from traditional boundaries set by God, while others supported the inclusivity of the gospel. The report on human sexuality was ultimately backed by 148 votes to 64.