Reactions to the proposed Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 from CA trustees, conservatives, ex-evangelicals and others has persuaded me that Changing Attitude has been too generous towards those oppose the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in every province of the Anglican Communion. There are understandable reasons why, and I’ll deal with them in a moment. My re-reading of Lambeth 1.10 and the Windsor Report has been strengthened by developments over the past week.
Conservatives have claimed that the Windsor Report and Lambeth 1.10 give them authority to react to LGBT expectations in a negative way. I argue that they are committed to exactly the opposite.
The Anglican Communion has already given full support to the inclusion of LGBT people in every Province of the Communion – not full inclusion in every order of ministry and with equality in relationships, obviously, but inclusion nevertheless. We LGBT advocacy groups have been slow to see this.
Lambeth Resolution 10 in 1978 recognized the need for pastoral concern for those who are homosexual. There can be no debate in the Communion about whether homosexuals exist. I know that seems to be a statement of the obvious but some groups advocating ex-gay ministries still believe that there is no such thing as a homosexual identity. The Anglican Communion decided otherwise in 1978.
Lambeth 1.10, in all its confusion, actually commits the Communion to:
• assure homosexual people that they are loved by God
• assure homosexual people that they are full members of the Body of Christ
• minister pastorally and sensitively to homosexual people
• condemn irrational fear of homosexuality
The Windsor Report recognizes:
• the reality of committed same-sex relationships
• the debate on the issue cannot be closed
• the demonizing of homosexual persons or their ill treatment is against Christian charity and the basic principles of pastoral care
Windsor committed the Communion to self examination and:
• urged provinces to be pro-active in reassessing the care for and attitude towards persons of homosexual orientation
We don’t like the terms homosexual, homosexual practice and sexually active which the resolution and report use. As a result, we with the whole Communion failed to see what a decisive commitment Lambeth 1998 made to the inclusion of LGBT in the church and to equality of pastoral care for us.
The Communion has never understood what it committed itself to in the fullness of resolution 1.10. Conservatives think they won a victory over any accommodation for gay people in the Communion. That isn’t what Windsor, Lambeth 1.10 and Lambeth 1978.10 committed the Communion to. All three documents provide absolute authority and support for the inclusion and pastoral care of LGBT people in every Province.
This is why the proposed Ugandan and Nigerian legislation should be opposed by the Anglican Church in both countries with support from every Province and Primate.
The Communion should be working to revoke all residual colonial legislation which criminalizes homosexuality.
If I had been more alert to the authority given by Lambeth 1.10 and Windsor, I would have been challenging the Communion to respond to words spoken, action taken and legislation proposed which failed to protect the safety and pastoral care of LGBT people.
The delay, prevarication and silence over the Ugandan and previously the Nigerian legislation, I now see as a deliberate failure to act on the commitment voted for by a majority of bishops in 1998 and by the Primates in endorsing the Windsor Report.
We failed to pay attention to what Windsor actually says because we were defending ourselves from attack and trying to protect Jeffrey John when he was forced to withdraw from Reading and Bishop Gene when he was elected in New Hampshire. The demands of the Global South and later, GAFCON and ACNA, display no respect for the Windsor Report, let alone the care of LGBT people in the Communion.
My stance has changed significantly this Summer and Autumn. The Ugandan legislation confirms my resolve. Life becomes more and more intolerable for the growing numbers of people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Africa and elsewhere in the Communion, where daily life is risky and sometimes violent. They live in secrecy against a background of prejudice.
This becomes normative. The gay Ugandan journalist I spoke with on Sunday afternoon said the Bill will pass and it will have no effect. But then he said that he had been subjected to repeated attacks. What he means is, that kind of life will continue and the Bill will have little effect on what is normative for him.
Windsor and 1.10 have committed the Communion to an affirming attitude to homosexuality. This must be the basis of Anglican policy.