Mike Hill, the Bishop of Bristol, reported to Bristol Diocesan Synod on Saturday on ‘where we are at in the Anglican Communion at this point of time’. He delineated six things and commented on them and concluded by talking about Uganda, which he described as “a situation which at the moment is absolutely no threat to the Uganda Link but is a potential cause of difficulty in relation to our relationships with the Church of Uganda.”
Bishop Mike is the only one of the six bishops to whom Changing Attitude and Inclusive Church wrote who has made a public statement on the Uganda Bill. He said:
“What I just want to inform Synod of is a development in Uganda which is not a church development as such. A Private Members Motion for an Anti-Homosexuality Bill has arisen that will come before the Ugandan Parliament sponsored by a Member of Parliament in Uganda called David Bahati.
“Whatever view we take of the issues on the Human Sexuality debate, this piece of legislation is so pernicious and so unpleasant, that I hope that Christians on both sides of the debate would stand as one and say that this is unacceptable. I think, for example, the application of capital punishment to gay and lesbian people is wholly, totally and bizarrely unacceptable. Now there is some debate as to whether this Bill, as it is at the moment, will get into the Ugandan Parliament in the immediate future. We have been working in the background, Chris Dobson, has been doing some sterling work trying to find out exactly what is going on here and we think that the Ugandan Church would oppose the legislation partly on the basis that in former times they have disassociated themselves from capital punishment. You don’t need me to sketch in that if the law allows that kind of thing then it will just legitimise violence against gay and lesbian people. Whichever side of the debate, we must stand together in the face of that and resist that.
“Now, our assumption is that the Ugandan Church will not go down this route and support the legislation, though there are aspects of the legislation which previous statements of the Ugandan House of Bishops would appear to support. My view is that I hope they will oppose it lock, stock and barrel rather then purely the capital punishment clause in it. So we have been trying to contact the Archbishop, who has been in the Karamajong of late and not contactable. They put out an interim statement which is partly good that it ratified their view that capital punishment was unacceptable to Christians. But it did contain a quotation that I would think would be inflammatory, because there was no evidence supplied with it, attributed to the Archbishop that says something like, ‘I am horrified to learn that homosexuals are trying to convert people to homosexuality in our schools’. I hope that, in our own diocese, those of us who take a more conservative line on this will be extremely careful in the kind of language which we use. Because the language we use can be used by some people to legitimise violence against lesbian and gay people. As Christians if we can’t stand up against violence then we need to think again.
“So there is a rather complicated situation. That is where we are and what we are working with and we regard your prayers as really important in all of this. I was at the Uganda Link Committee meeting recently. It was a great, encouraging meeting with a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm and at this stage I think it is fair to say that the hope and prayer and effort of everybody in the Uganda Link Committee would be placed in the area of making sure that, if we can, our link is maintained and is in good shape.”