Where to begin? So much has happened since I last blogged and there a several stories which I want to write about.
Let’s begin with Uganda and gug’s latest blog.
“At last the Anglicans in Uganda have decided that a good Anglican cannot support the Bahati bill.
“Thanks to all people who pulled and pushed for us. Changing Attitude England, Leonardo pushing and pulling and ranting and reving, and all Christians out there. Archbishops of York, Canterbury. Cant forget you guys. You weighed in late, but you did.
“You may wonder what it does for the bill? Just remember, the bill is only a symptom of the homophobia in Uganda. It has to be undercut. Uganda must be safe for those of us who will live there. And, never again to Genocide, which this bill is.
“Here, at long last, is the absolute about turn from Uganda’s Anglicans.”
The Church of Uganda associates itself with the concerns expressed in the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 but instead of a completely new Bill, recommends a Bill that amends the present Penal Code. The Church of Uganda does not support Bahati’s Bill.
The stance of the Ugandan Church distances itself from support for the present Bill and would effectively kick the whole process into the long grass. They propose amending existing provisions by means of a new Bill which might be called “The Penal Code Unnatural Offences Amendment Bill” and recommend that a comprehensive legislative and literature review of all the laws and literature related to the subject at hand be undertaken in order to identify the actual gaps in the existing legislation.
The position statement is cleverly worded. It doesn’t explicitly state opposition to the Bill but effectively does so by recommending the introduction of a completely new Bill. If the Bahati Bill is passed, the Church of Uganda will be on record as not having supported it. If the Bill fails to pass, will there be any traction behind the proposal to amend existing legislation? I doubt it.
The Church of Uganda proposals for the new Bill addresses three loopholes: protecting the vulnerability of the boy child; proportionality in sentencing; and ensuring that sexual orientation is excluded as a protected human right.
Changing Attitude welcomes the first two proposals. Girl children are protected under existing legislation against abuse by adults. Boy children are not and must be. The paper doesn’t explain what is meant by proportionality in sentencing, but I understand it to mean opposition to the death penalty, which we also clearly welcome.
We disagree with the proposal to exclude sexual orientation as a protected human right. This is in contravention of Anglican Communion policy. Lambeth 1.10 recognises the reality of homosexual orientation and assures us that we are full members of the Body of Christ. The Church of Uganda has yet to accept Lambeth 1.10 in its entirety. Likewise with Dromantine which unreservedly commits the Communion to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people and describes the victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex as anathema.
To its credit, the Church of Uganda commits to ensure that the law protects the confidentiality of medical, pastoral and counselling relationships, including those that disclose homosexual practice in accordance with the relevant professional code of ethics. There are members of the Church of Uganda engaged not in the counselling approach advocated by ex-gay ministries but are in accord with professional, non-judgmental practice.
This part of the position statement is clearly in conflict with other recommendations. It uses the phrase ‘homosexual disorientation’ which a professional counsellor would never use. It would prohibit and penalise homosexual behaviour and links homosexuality with sexual perversion.
But this is a dramatic change from the Church of Uganda and Changing Attitude welcomes their opposition to the Bahati Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009.