Archbishops have apologised for the ‘damage and hurt’ caused to the LGBT community as the Church of England yesterday paved the way for same-sex marriages after three years of behind-closed-doors arguments on the issue.

Leaders admitted ‘talk of truth, holiness and discipleship has been wielded harshly’ and promised to make a decision within two years on changing Anglican rules that say gay sex is sinful.

A group led by the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Sarah Mullally, will devise a ‘way forward for the Church in relation to human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage’.