Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill challenges all in the Communion

The Anglican Communion and its leaders have reached a critical moment of judgement in its attitude to homosexuality. It is now 19 days since the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 was tabled by David Bahati, the MP for Ndorwa West in Uganda but the leaders of the Communion have remained silent. The only Anglican groups to have responded are those working for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Let’s speculate on two possible reasons for the silence. The Communion leaders might say we are focussed on bigger issues – poverty, climate change, conflict zones, for example. They might say that homosexuality and a Bill proposed in Uganda are peripheral to the concerns of the Communion – homosexuality isn’t important to us.

This is clearly not true and might even be categorised as a lie. For over 11 years homosexuality has been centre-stage for the Anglican Communion.

The proposed Bill legislates for capital punishment, will criminalize anyone who responds in any way to a homosexual person in Uganda and increases prejudiced attitudes towards homosexuals. American conservative Christian groups are complicit in encouraging the tabling of the Bill.

We know that the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) actively supports the proposed Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008 in Nigeria. Church leaders and busloads of church members attended the hearing in Abuja on 11 March 2009. http://www.changingattitude.org.uk/news/newsitem.asp?id=413.

We have no evidence that the Church of Uganda or other member churches of ACNA or FoCA are directly involved in supporting the Uganda Bill. Anglican Communion policy demands that they actively oppose the Bill.

Lambeth 1.10 acknowledged the presence of homosexuals in the Church. It acknowledged that many homosexual people seek pastoral care and moral direction from the church and acknowledge God’s transforming power for the living of our lives and the ordering of relationships (I might interpret this to mean something different from the conservatives who formulated it). The Communion assures us that we are loved by God and are full members of the Body of Christ. This is the official position of the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Communion MUST therefore, oppose the proposed Ugandan and Nigerian legislation. There is no possible alternative position. It must do so in Uganda because the legislation proposes the death penalty (to which the Communion is opposed) and in both countries because the Bills will oppress members of the Ugandan and Nigerian churches, members both churches are committed to care for pastorally by Lambeth 1.10.

The Anglican Communion has made these commitments at the highest level of the Councils of the Church, the Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primates via the Windsor Report (‘…any demonising of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care. We urge Provinces to be pro-active in support of the call of Lambeth Resolution 64 (1988) for them to “reassess, in the light of study … and because of our concern for human rights, its care for and attitude towards persons of homosexual orientation.”’ Windsor #146). Note that the Lambeth Conference introduced the language of human rights into the narrative. This is what the Communion is committed to – NO DEMONISING, NO ILL TREATMENT, CARE FOR HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS.

The Anglican Communion MUST, I repeat again, oppose legislation which dehumanises, fails to protect, makes pastoral care impossible for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

People’s lives, the lives and security of my friends in Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya, are daily at risk from pernicious attitudes and legislation. Changing Attitude has campaigned patiently for change within the parameters set by the Anglican Communion.

I now realise that these same parameters demand that everyone, at every level, in every part of the Communion, must oppose the Ugandan and all other similar legislation. This includes countries where legislation against homosexuality remains on the statute book.

Let’s be clear – one strand of Anglicanism wants to split the Communion into two groups. One group wishes to maintain prejudice against LGBT people (and a very extreme minority which wants to ‘heal’ homosexuals and return them to heterosexual ‘normality, or even more extremely, deny that homosexuality as an identity has any reality).

The other group wants to respect the place of LGBT people in the Communion and respond pastorally and appropriately (and some of us want full inclusion and equality). The second group are faithful in respecting and responding to the Councils of the Church. We are faithful Anglicans. The first group betray the Councils of the Church and betray God by putting the lives and safety of LGBT people at risk. The majority in both groups are failing to act on Lambeth 1.10 in opposing legislation.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Please can anyone tell me whether, when he a Justice in Uganda, Sentamu himself ever passed the death sentence on someone who appeared in his court? I think it is worth knowing the bakcground here.

  2. Anonymous says

    The institutional church isn't very good at opposing tyranny. It is is so much better at honoring the individuals who suffer at the hands of tyrants.

  3. Leonardo Ricardo says

    It´s a major religious day here in Central America…everyone will go to the graves of departed relatives and decorate them and take food and celebrate with them…they will spend the day together with the living and dead, meanwhile hundreds of thousands of kites will reach up to the heavens like vast boquets of flowers of tribute….meanwhile, finally, there is a statement of denial regarding Rick Warrens support of ANY Anti-LGBT Legislation in Uganda:

    ¨Martin Ssempa does not represent me, my wife Kay, Saddleback Church, nor the Global PEACE Plan strategy. In 2007, we completely severed contact with Mr. Ssempa when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own. Our role, and the role of the PEACE Plan, whether in Uganda or any other country, is always pastoral and never political. We vigorously oppose anything that hinders the goals of the PEACE Plan: Promoting reconciliation, Equipping ethical leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation.¨ Rick Warren (refuting anti-Gay religious ring leader Ssempa)

    STRONG words of condemnation from the American Embassy, Kampala:

    An official with the US Embassy in Kampala, Uganda, has said that the new Anti-Homosexuality Bill, if enacted into law, would “mark a major setback in the promotion of human rights.”
    We urge states to take all necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests, or detention.¨

    NO WORD FROM ANY OF THE PRIMATES OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION…Archbishop Orombi sent out a ¨spokesperson¨ quote here by Ultimate Media:

    The Provincial Secretary of the Church of Uganda, Rev. Aaron Mwesigye has called for a lighter punishment for homosexuals.

    He says the proposal to kill the people engaged in homosexuals and lesbianism is against the God’s gift to life.

    He was addressing a press conference today at Namirembe Protestants Cathedral in Kampala.

    Rev. Mwesigye also told Parliament on Wednesday that the church supports homosexuals to be imprisoned for life but not to hang them.¨

    Clearly, +Orombi is once again having his underclergy do his dirty work…be reminded of the case of Heterosexual Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo, Retired bishop of West Buganda, Uganda, who was excommunicated by ¨archbishop Orombi¨ after establishing a ministry for gay and lesbian believers in his community of marginalized/persecuted LGBT Anglicans.

    Archbishop Orombi is a coward who operates in the background and sets up anti-lgbt
    Anglican/other outcasting both in Uganda and abroad…his behind-the-scenes manipulating at the Anglican Communion must be CONFRONTED and ADDRESSED! Peoples lives are at stake!

    Where is ++Rowan and the rest of the dangerous Primates who would have us allow them decide our futures (and our families and friends and spiritual counselors) with ¨punishing instruments¨ , part four, Anglican Covenant? What punishment? Life in prison or death at their descretion or simply MORE OUTCASTING and damnation? Don´t be silly, who would put themselves in the hands of such wreckless clergypeople? Who could trust the ABC who is busily fretting over his own dangerous missteps at The Body of Christ (and trying to find someone else to blame).

  4. Anonymous says

    Death is an extreme punishment. BUT, get the facts straight. The legislation is not for anyone caught in homosexual acts but is for what the governmetn has termed "aggravated homosexuality" e.g rape and child molestation that is of a homosexual nature. This is not for all homosexuals as you would like to lead people to believe.

  5. Merseymike says

    And you really believe that a government as deeply homophobic as that of Uganda would be able or willing to differentiate?

  6. Anonymous says

    Why would you even think ACNA might be involved? Seems paranoid to even suggest it. Clearly you think ACNA is made up of people who just hate other people which is as far from the truth as it gets. Consequently I've heard plenty of non-ACNA members of the anglican communion saying incredibly racist things about the Africans.

    As to the actual bill, we should fight it. But don't attempt to use this to make underhanded remarks about what you expected ACNA would do. I still can't believe ACNA was even mentioned.

  7. Anonymous says

    Let's be clear – one strand of Anglicanism seeks to split the Communion (by operating out of its own autonomy without making a VERY important decision with the council of the rest of the church and other christians–in other words displaying arrogance and pride and absolutely no humility) into two groups and replace the teaching of scripture and the tradition of the church for a lie. The other group believes all prejudice, including that against LGBT people is wrong, but that this is no excuse for condoning acts. Similarly they would not condone unwed sex simply because the two parties involved have a biological desire to have sex. Our nature is fallen. Just because something is in our nature does not and never will make it right.

    It is your branch of the church that is unwilling to submit itself in humility to the rest of the church. You are the small minority. You may be the majority of Anglicanism in America, but you are the minority in Anglicanism, and the majority in Christianity, and you are making decisions without the consultation or approval of the rest of the church. There is a term for such belligerent hate-filled (yes hate, if you loved your brothers and sisters in the rest of the world you would respect them and the church more than you clearly do) activism: heresy.

    Balls in your court, post this or not?

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