The reluctance of senior Anglican leaders to make a statement about the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill has yet to change. Having spoken with a member of staff at Lambeth Palace I am aware of their reasoning, even though I think it is wrong.
It is wrong for many reasons, but not least because the Church of Uganda is breaking with the position adopted by the Anglican Communion, a position which has been used repeatedly by the conservative coalition to deny western Provinces the right to grant a full and equal place in the church to LGBT people. This is undermining the effectiveness of mission and ministry of the churches in North America and the UK as well as affecting the lives of LGBT Anglicans everywhere in personal and very painful ways.
In an email to me, gug, the gay Ugandan, says no one in Uganda has any doubts that the Church is supporting the bill, though at the moment it does not serve their purpose to reveal this to the international community. The ‘no official position’ stance was taken up for international consumption but the Church has sent representation to parliament to support the bill and they have issued press statements in Uganda supporting the bill.
And of course, there have been statements from people like the Bishop of Karamoja which we revealed on Wednesday. As significant, in Church of Uganda congregations sermons on homosexuality are frequently preached and are whipping up homophobia and support for the bill.
Andrew Brown comments on the silence in today’s Comment is Free for the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2009/nov/26/ungandan-gay-rights-death-penalty
He says the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Winchester both solemnly denounced violence in the Congo, where they have no influence at all, but on the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill maintain a resolute post-colonial silence.
Andrew speculates that the English Archbishops feel their position is already clear, having signed the Dromantine Communiqué of 2004, along with Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda and all Anglican primates.
Andrew says the official language of Dromantine: “We continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship,” is clearly incompatible with the language and intention of the Ugandan bill. The bill takes the perfectly genuine prejudices of the ignorant, inflames them, and enshrines them in law. The gay-hunting frenzy which is central to the relationship between American right-wingers and some African evangelicals is reaching the point of organised legal killing.
The Anglican Church of Uganda is no longer really a part of the same Communion as the Church of England or the Episcopal Church of the USA, not because we are more inclusive of LGBT people but because we have complied, at deep personal cost, with the requirements of Anglican policy in Lambeth 1.10, Windsor and Dromantine and Provinces such as Uganda and Nigeria have not.
Far from preventing the victimisation or diminishment of lesbian and gay people and providing pastoral care and comfort they are supporting repressive legislation and exacerbating an already intolerable level of prejudice and homophobia.
The failure of Anglican leaders to defend their own teaching, let alone the spiritual and physical safety of her LGBT members is an outrage.