Sunday 29 November 2009

The Rt Revd Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol, comments on the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

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.”

I am un-African

Yesterday I asked gug, my gay Ugandan friend if he could you write something which challenges the constantly repeated claim that homosexuality is a western import (a disease according to one bishop), un-African, not known before the white man came. I asked him, a gay Ugandan, if he could challenge the false ideas and describe how the desire of men to love other men is something natural to him and to the gay men he knows, something which is indigenous to Africa, and which has been known in African cultures from way before white colonisation. He has posted his response in full on his blog: Below is an edited version.

I am un-African

Yes, that is what they say.

Note how I have stated it. Not that I am NOT African. But, that I am un-African. Like I have an attribute which is not of my people. Not of my continent.

In essence I am a sell out, a traitor, a ‘collaborator’. I deserve death, and the infamy of social ostracisation and legal limbo. My people have the right to write a law that puts all like me in prison and to death. Because I am un-African.

It is a breathtaking assertion. A lie so incredible that, in this day and age, the reaction should be, ‘shame upon you, liar’. But, in this day and age, we tend to respect such assertions. Like ‘Recruiting European homosexuals’. And, maybe Africans are dumb. Or all the problems that we have come from ‘colonialists’. Or many other ridiculous things which do not deserve accreditation.

I have learnt to isolate the anger these thoughts pull out in me. It is like I have formed a cocoon, which I don’t touch most of the time. An isolated part of my mind, that is like a nuclear reactor. An anger and motivation that I can tap on in case of need. But it is a danger, like a malignancy. There is always a leak, a tenuous, almost imperceptible leak of it into the rest of the mind that can, and is like the fury of the Hulk. It can posses my mind.

So, I have learnt to weave my thoughts into the incredible beauty of my world. To dull the pain, to remind myself that though life can be incredibly unfair, creation is incredibly beautiful.

I was saying that they say I am un-African. Some go as far as to state I am not African. Others think it, when they say I am un-African.

See, I have made an incredible discovery. The language we speak, it is English. That is the language that most of my country mates share. Most Ugandans. I can go anywhere in the country, and the ‘educated’ people will be speaking English. So, I will most likely be able to speak with them in that language.

But, English is not African. Isn’t it? Yet, according to our constitution, English is our ‘national language’ Or, is the wording ‘official language’?

Nevertheless, I must allow that we don’t speak it like they do in America, or England, or Australia. We don’t speak it like they do in West Africa even. We have our own meanings to the words, our own insinuations, our own emphases. Damn me, I actually speak it fairly better than my mother tongue! I am indeed not African.

I feel so African, that I don’t have time to waste on those who want to prove my un-African ness. Matter of fact. I am gay. Of course I am. But, why should I go into the convolutions to prove that I am African?

For those of you who would like to go into that academic exercise, you can check out a text on African Homosexualities. Boy-Wives and Female Husbands, by Murray and Rosco. To some, something becomes real because someone took the time to research it and canonize it in a book.

To me, my Africanness is something which I was born with, which I had to accept. It was as real and natural as the cold breeze that is playing on my black skin this particular moment. When I first saw a person with a white skin, it was an albino. I was a child, I stared, and stared, fascinated. To my childish mind, I was not seeing a human being.

Sadly, when I first came to know my sexuality, I was taught that it was not normal. I learnt in church that I was abnormal. I learnt in society that I was an outcast. I tried to ‘pray away the gay’. I lost my faith, I lost many years, as I searched and sought to exercise demons in my minds. Demons of normality which my world was insisting were abnormal. Demons which those who should have been in the know in faith and knowledge insisted were not African, were foreign. Were bad.

Till the liberating time that I came to accept myself. The time that I found out, to my incredulity, that I was as normal and natural as I was born. If I knew any god at that time, I would have asserted that he or she had created me that way. I am a human being. I am a gay human being. I don’t need to beat my head by reasoning that I am an African and thus cannot be gay. I don’t have to go into learned treaties to prove that I am normal (Oh, forget the fact that I actually did. I had to. My world was presenting all these ‘evidences’ of my ab-normality that I had to.) But, now that I know, how can I deny what I am? How can I say that I am not African? How can I lie that I am not gay? How can I lie that an African cannot be gay? I am living proof of that. How can I deny the breeze dancing on my dark skin, the chill that I am standing up to as I write this? It is. I can ignore it, but I know it is. It is there. No amount of clothing will take it away. And, I can glory in who and what I am, and assert it, or I can slink off and hide.

But, I will admit, I am gay and African. I am a Ugandan who is gay. And, despite the ignorance and false stories, the incredible stupidities which my people are displaying in exorcising people like me from themselves, I will remain what I am.

They don’t understand. That is the reason why we will always win, even when they persecute us in the name of God. Because we are, we are what we are. We have always been. We will continue to be. Historically, there have always been efforts to purge populations of us weak minorities. And, they have fought back. Always, because, to the majority, it is nothing more than a nuisance once in a while to pay attention to. To us the persecuted, it is a fact of life, everyday life, which, perforce, we have to live with. We need to adapt to, to learn.

Now, today, I am not going to any church to listen to how un-African and evil homosexuality is. I hear that is the major topic these days. Well, the Bishops are welcome to their sermons. I hear they also preach against the other religions…

Curious, isn’t it? They use a decidedly ‘European’ religion, Christianity, to rail against us homosexuals. But, I am told, Mwanga the Second of Buganda, he was at least bi-sexual. That is why he killed the so called Uganda Martyrs. History is written by the winners. That is why those sell outs, the ones who embraced the foreign religion and refused the un-refusable advances of the demi-god, the Kabaka and were rightfully punished by burning at the stake are now held up as stellar examples of our Ugandan Christianity. They were collaborators with colonialists for God’s sake! They were selling out our country!

But, if homosexuality was acceptable and right at the Buganda Royal Court, at that time, and there was no protest when these disobedient young men were burnt at the stake for their disobedience to their rightful sovereign and king, why is it considered that homosexuality is un-African? Surely, even history says that homosexuality was here, in Uganda, even before Christianity as a faith came to Uganda?

But you see, we humans are very adept at holding onto our beliefs. So, Uganda is under attack by the ‘Homosexual International’. And, we are going ahead and resisting. We are showing the whole world what true Christian leadership is. We are going to imprison and kill all our homosexuals. And show the world how Christian and upright we are.

We gay Ugandans are un-Ugandan. Arent we? Well, Michael Jackson was a white man. That is a very cruel statement. Isnt it?


Friday 27 November 2009

The deafening silence over Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill continues

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

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.

Thursday 26 November 2009

Bishop Abura in Uganda reveals the dangerous, prejudiced, inhumane, ignorant theology which underpins Global South attitudes

Bishop Joseph Abura’s article encapsulates thinking and theology which helps us see with clarity the ignorance and prejudice which is destroying the Anglican Communion under the pretext of defeating liberalism and homosexuality.

We are confronted by a ruthless and destructive campaign being waged by sectors of our Communion who initially came together under the title Global South and issued the Kuala Lumpur Statement in 1987. This provided the foundation for an assault at Lambeth 1998 which developed into a campaign against churches which have been or are developing a culture of respect for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The fault lines revealed by Bishop Abura are far more fundamental to the future of our Communion. Bishop Abura’s theology and teaching about the nature of creation and humanity is unrecognizable to me as Christian. It is certainly not a theology I share. I suspect most western Christians think it is infantile and barbaric.

Theology of humanity and the fall

The bishop deplores the fact that humanity “has or is nearing extinction just like the time of Noah and the flood.” He believes that “humans have (a) natural evil bent.” He believes this is fundamental because he repeats it twice more: “They are bent to evil by nature…”; “…the fallen man who has natural evil bent.”

What happened to the good that God saw in creating the world? What happened to the resurrection, the victory of the cross and the triumph of good over evil? Is homosexuality to blame for the destruction of the world? Bishop Abura is a faithless Christian, believing that evil is about to triumph over good.

In history, the bishop says, people “believed the Word to the letter, walked by faith and not by feelings or sight. The results were that God honored; gave them wisdom, intelligence and wealth.” The bishop reveals his lack of historical awareness – it is untrue that Christians have always believed the Word to the letter and untrue that walking by faith does not also entail engaging emotions and sight in the process. He also seems committed to a gospel of wealth rather than poverty.

He believes that people “fell prey of the devil who found access into their solitary lives” and were “inhumane, looking at own self, own feelings, and not the feelings of others.”

It is a characteristic of adherents of the Global South/Gafcon/FoCA coalition to claim that people in other parts of the Communion live by their feelings rather than the ‘plain word of Scripture’. At the same time they fail to respect the feelings of others. The coalition doesn’t understand, acknowledge or respect the feelings of LGBT Christians in the Communion, and not only in the west but in their own Provinces and congregations.

The bishop says that gays and their sympathizers “tend to make a big deal of our own feelings and our own fulfillments.”

Our feelings are a gift from God, the essence of what makes us human. Any person who has no feelings or disengages from his or her feelings diminishes their God-given self and becomes a potential danger to others, suppressing feelings and unable to empathise. Lack of empathy results in abuse of other people and the ability to project blame and guilt onto faceless others across the Communion. This, for me, is where sin is truly at work.

Teaching about homosexuality as sickness and disease

The bishop believes that homosexuality (gayism as he calls it) is a sickness, a disease, which can be fought like any other disease and should have antidotes to correct it. There should be a search for drugs or vaccines to treat and prevent it and “to eliminate such anti-human behavior.” This is terrifying, both because of the bishop’s ignorance and the prejudice he displays, and because he has no awareness of the Nazi regime and the direction taken by people and regimes which think in this way.

Further terrifying dangers are set loose by this kind of thinking – the danger of thinking that a cure can be found for homosexuality which could be used to eradicate all lesbian and gay people from the world.

Homosexuality in Africa

The bishop also believes that this “infectious disease” has its origins in the West but is less prevalent in Africa. Homosexuality and lesbianism is now being exported to the rest of the world, to Africa and Latin America, he claims. If Africans are homosexual it is because they have contracted it from the West or from acquaintance with people who have it. He repeats that “it is infectious and it can be fought and defeated.” Homosexuality must be kept away from children, who are “are ignorant of the vice. He thinks that gays and their sympathizers want to appeal to the psyche of children, to their consciousness that they be infected too.” He claims that “our ancestors didn’t know it, we do not know it, our children must not know it.”

Bishop Abura, you may not be aware of the published research about same-sex attraction in Africa, but the evidence is there, and the terms for same-sex activity are there in African languages. Lesbian and gay people are there in Africa, people who have never met another gay person. It is natural and innate for a minority of the population of our world. Conservatives dispute this, of course, allowing the bishop to develop his prejudiced thinking.

Theology of judgment

The bishop believes judgment is coming upon the world because of homosexuality, and the world then has to be punished. Persecution of the church is on the loose. The powers and world forces of wickedness are now in real play. Christianity indeed is under attack; attack from within herself and by her very own. The bishop presents a doomsday scenario in which Armageddon is about to erupt. However, the Ugandan parliament will soon pass a motion to check its growth.

The bishop’s thinking is encouraged by western supporters of the Global South, members of GAFCON and FoCA, suppliers of falsehood and prejudice. They are responsible for cultivating a Christian theology which far from standing firm to the truth in the mainstream of Christian theology, teaching and practice is ignorant, prejudiced, and lethal – lethal to the health, well-being and freedom from persecution of LGBT people and lethal to the health and well being of the Anglican Christian community.

Anglican leaders are failing their call from God to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God if they do not speak out and denounce this Bill, both for the protection of LGBT people and for the health of our Christian life and witness.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Bishop Joseph Abura of Karamoja Diocese, Anglican Church of Uganda, writes about the Anti-homosexuality Bill

For some Anglicans, Vices are now Virtues

Christianity in Africa is under attack by Gays and Christians in Europe and the Americas, claims Bishop Joseph Abura of Karamoja Diocese (on the right in the photograph) in an article on Spero News:

I’m going to post most of his article below, so this will be a long blog, but the Bishop’s views deserve to be read in full. The diocese of Karamoja in North-Eastern Uganda is linked with Alton Deanery in the Diocese of Winchester. A report on the web site of St Andrew’s Medstead says the church in Karamoja plays an important part in unifying and reconciling communities and it is growing. The church is both a tool for development and encourages faith. The Karamojan church is marginalized geographically and socially so the link is tremendously important to them.

The Deanery welcomed the Rev. Joseph Abura in 1999 before the diocese was divided into two in June 2006 when he became the bishop of South Karamoja. Two Deanery clergy attended the inauguration ceremonies.

The bishop says it is appalling to read of global opposition to the Anti-homosexuality Bill and the agitation being stirred against legislation that would allow Priests and Ministers to be imprisoned for up to three years if they failed to report any homosexual activity of which they become aware.

It is indeed deplorable, writes the bishop, that humanity has or is nearing extinction just like the time of Noah and the flood in the Book of Genesis chapters 6 and 7. Yes the Lord Jesus prophesied of the last days that people will be lovers of self. Truly, humans have natural evil bent. They are bent to evil by nature. Laws, rules, commandments are in place geared towards saving man from own direction and destruction.

After the honor was bestowed upon them, the West and the North degenerated into individualism, began to walk alone and shut their doors to all except himself even on to Churches on Christian days like Sunday, they declined to set foot in. This way they became spiritual idlers, they fell prey of the devil who found access into their solitary lives. Also they espoused the benefits of knowledge and wealth and applied it to or against anything including God and His Word. Mammon became the new god.

Due to the discovery of iron, gold, and knowledge in the 13th through to 18th centuries, man took center stage and sat on the throne of his own life. He became self-centered and not God-centered. He looked to self and conceived of personal traits which now have misled him, have put him to the situation of being inhumane, looking at own self, own feelings, and not the feelings of others. They devised own and individualistic rules now called “rights”; they did exploits on rights accepted globally and now misused or even misinterpreted or misappropriated them. These are rights called so by the disoriented and their sympathizers as they were/are developed from defiant and deviant spirit.

As a result of sin the vice of homosexuality and lesbianism caught up with them and they practiced and popularized it in the name of own rights. They became animated and contracted it from the sower of evil. "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father, he was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him, whenever he speaks a lie he speaks from his nature for he is a liar and father of lies" (John 8 : 44).

Today, it is about blood and flesh, not the Word of God; gays tend to make a big deal on own feelings, own fulfillments, their sympathizers too tend to do the same. They are now swimming in their own ways and gone back to the situation Apostle Paul is describing in his Epistle to Ephesians Chapter 2 vs 1 – 2, ”And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formally walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of Disobedience.” Indeed they have become dead in their transgressions and sins being led by the prince of air and have become sons and daughters of disobedience. They no longer believe in the Word of God, they believe what they think, feel, and do what they say is their right, not what God or society want; they have nothing to do with good and accepted norms.

They now want to legitimize lesbianism and homosexuality even when they know it is wrong and is against the Word of the Lord. Yes, there are those who are sick from it, that they have been overwhelmed by it. Yes, if and since it is sickness, it should have antidotes to correct it. Indeed, we understand them and pray for healing upon them. The world over should be on the search for drags or vaccines to treat and prevent it but not to make it acceptable.

The Episcopal Church in Canada has already departed from the truth. The Anglican Province of the Church of Uganda and some other African Churches including some from the very northern America, Europe, have already cut relations with Episcopal Church of Canada and any who have resolved to pursue the gay agenda. The Ugandan government and parliament should not listen to such which want to uproot or bend our cherished traditions and values.

In Africa and the world over, there were many wizards, every village had at least one. Being a wizard was as much a vice as homosexuality and lesbianism. It would overwhelmingly possesses the victims and enslaves them just as homosexuality does to its victims since it is a spiritual and moral matter. It was the case of being disoriented. Wizards would kill people, play with dead bodies, molest animals sexually, did many dirty things. They possessed unexplained drive, they were disorientated. But with the coming of the light of the Gospel of Christ. such tendencies have been wiped out or tremendously reduced much as communities and societies fought to eliminate such anti-human behavior. Today's "Rights" activists would love us respect them and legitimize such vices: what blindness! What a fallen race!

If rights groups are looking at man - the fallen man who has natural evil bent - and are protective of every sin, every evil man does, every abnormal tendency, for the sake of human rights, then they are leading this world into limbo. Behold, every single nation be they acts or actors, are going to be judged by God: they will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to answer for their deeds, deeds to the flesh "the temple of the Holy Spirit." Homosexuals and worshippers of the vice are all going to face their creator; let the world not be deceived, judgment is coming upon the world.

Homosexuality and lesbianism is now being exported to the rest of the world, to Africa and Latin America, and elsewhere. They want to coerce African parliaments like the Ugandan one to condone and legitimize the vice. They want it to become a virtue. God forbid. But, should lesbianism and homosexuality be left to thrive and invite God’s judgment upon the world? Can’t this illness like HIV/AIDS be fought? AIDS/HIV is not against the Bible and the Word of God, but homosexuality does because it is spiritual. Why accept to compromise and destroy self and entire human race? Yes, God punishes sin, He punishes all sin. “The wages of sin is death”” (Romans 6:23), eternal death. The world then has to be punished.

Gays tend to understand God and His Word differently. They think Africa misinterprets the Bible, “that Africa reads the Bible the wrong way”. Such of course are perverted mind as St. Paul writes, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock: and from among your own selves, men will rise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them (”Acts 20: 29, 30). Gays or their sympathizers who many of them are Christians no longer see God as the answer, or they don’t understand homosexuality and lesbianism as disease. That is why they can dedicate a day as an international day of prayer, more over to God, with a hope to perpetuate it, against the Ugandan parliament who soon may pass a motion to check its growth. This means the gay love their thing, they like it, and they want it to grow. It is no longer an abnormality or vice, it is now a virtue and they want it so.

Christianity indeed is under attack; attack from within herself and by her very own. Persecution of the church is on the loose. The powers and world forces of wickedness (Ephesians 6. 12) are now in real play.

Yes, laws if in place can help put on check any vice including this one. Like HIV which breads among others, in disco halls and night drinking sprees, which can be stopped or reduced by laws if put in place, like the wizard spirit which society and the Gospel of Christ shunned, the vice of homosexuality through the necessary laws in place can be checked. We must keep it away from our children. Our ancestors didn’t know it, we do not know it, our children must not know it.

Our children are ignorant of the vice; but gays and their sympathizers want to appeal to their psyche, to their consciousness that they be infected too. They are spreading it in our institutions of learning. They want to condition every penny that comes to our government or churches or Non-Government Organizations. If you are dinning with such evil plan, come out of it; the Province of the Church of Uganda, as you know, is leading the way, let’s join the way. Homosexuality is infectious, it is a disease in the West and not so much in Africa and that is why they want to influence any agenda in order to entrench it. If it is inborn as they say, then it is transmitted and conceived in the mind, that it actualizes itself in one. Africans who have it have contracted it from the West or from acquainting with people who have it. Yes, it is infectious and it can be fought and defeated. It is a vice which has multiplied in the recent decades in the West; it can be fought and stopped.

Africa, run away from gays, let us save our continent by refuting the vice; practice, and preserve our heritage, that is our traditions and culture believing and trusting in the Almighty God. “”Rise and shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you”” (Isaiah 60 : 1). Gayism can be fought like any other disease against the people and the Word of God. It is a sickness so we can fight and defeat it. One of the ways to fight it should be by prevention of its spread, by putting laws in place, preach the Word and pray to God to heal and orient those disoriented; there is need for a commandment(s) to enforce. Christ is the answer, feelings or sympathies, especially on evil, are not! Ugandan Parliament, the watch dog of our laws, please go ahead and put the anti- Gay laws in place. It is then that we become truly accountable to our young and to this country, not to Canada or England. We are in charge! We have our entrenched birthrights, Ugandans should not accept to sell or mortgage these God given birthrights.

The Cutting Edge Consortium and Christian opt-outs to the Equality Bill

From coffee with Davis Mac-Iyalla at London Bridge I went to Committee Room 5 in the House of Commons, meeting Revd Tina Beardsley, CA trustee, in the security queue. We were there for the launch meeting of the Cutting Edge Consortium chaired by Clare Short MP. The meeting discussed the religious exemptions to the legislation on sexuality and gender identity in the Equality Bill.

The presence of the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, Unison, Changing Attitude, LGCM, Sibyls, Ekklesia and the Muslim Women’s Network working together demonstrated (to the shame to many in the church) how people of different faiths and no faith can work creatively together for LGBT equality.

One message was reiterated several times – that the exemptions granted to the church in the original Equality Act were very narrowly drawn and religious organizations have repeatedly pushed the boundaries beyond where they should rightly be. The new Bill does not further narrow the boundaries but re-emphasises where they should have been from the start.

Two groups in particular have been campaigning against the equality legislation as it applies to LGBT people – the Christian Legal Centre and Christian Concern for Our Nation. They were described as fabulously well organized - the briefing documents they produce for their followers show what we are up against. The organized conservative religious groups have been very successful in carving out exemptions for themselves, totally unregulated islands of prejudice.

One speaker had researched the source of the significant funds needed to take Lillian Ladele’s case against Islington Council to the Court of Appeal. It was with some surprise that I learnt the appeal is being well-funded by a US-based conservative evangelical Christian group.

Fundamentalist speakers and organizations are NOT speaking for the religious majority in this country but the Government is frightened by their pressure tactics (as is the church). The reality is chilling – when the Equality Bill was first debated in the House of Lords not one religious speaker spoke in favour of strengthening protection for LGBT people, including the Church of England Bishops who spoke in the debate. The exemptions granted were the direct result of lobbying and pressure from the Archbishops’ Council – the power of the Church of England in Parliament is a big part of our problem.

The Church of England is unafraid of lobbying, and lobbying successfully, for exemptions which allow the church to continue to discriminate against equality in ministry for lay and ordained LGBT Anglicans. The Church of England has become a less safe place for LGBT clergy and an island of homophobia and prejudice. As one speaker said, the view of religion which has been foisted on us in the discrimination law has come from the most powerful, conservative, reactionary religious groups, including the Archbishops’ Council.

This helps explain why Archbishop John Sentamu can express views about young people on the church which he is unable to apply to LGBT people (even if in private he might wish to) and why Lambeth Palace says it can’t issue a statement about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. Not only would it be seen as intruding in the affairs of another Province, it would incur the wrath of the powerful conservative lobby in the church. You can be sure they are putting pressure on church leaders to say nothing against the Bill.

Primatial Silence on Uganda Part 2

If only Bishopthorpe and Lambeth Palace understood just how important it is at the moment to respond to the experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as much as to young people and to communicate the Christian gospel of love and hope to us.

A two hour conversation yesterday revealed why neither Bishopthorpe nor Lambeth Palace are likely to make a public statement about the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The argument from within Lambeth Palace as to why the Archbishop can't make a comment about the Uganda Bill at the moment was rehearsed at length. It was explained to me why it isn’t right that the Archbishop of Canterbury should make a public statement about a legislative matter in another country, another Province of the Anglican Communion. It is the responsibility of the Primate and church in that Province (even if, as we know, African Primates may hold deeply prejudiced, hostile views about homosexuality, fuelled by conservative American money and influence).
What Archbishops can do is exert pressure and influence behind the scenes, using the agreed Anglican policy as agreed in Lambeth 1.10 and the Windsor Report to underpin the Christian standards by which the Bill should be judged. I understand the argument, and I had no option but to acquiesce even if I didn’t agree.

Except that an hour later I met Davis Mac-Iyalla and he reminded me that Archbishop Peter Akinola didn’t hesitate to comment on the English House of Bishop’s Pastoral Statement about Civil Partnerships. Archbishop Akinola said: “,,, that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his church should now face disciplinary action.” Bernard Malango said: "If Rowan has approved of this, it is very unfortunate. It makes me sick. They have to explain what they mean by being married and having no sex. This is the final nail in the coffin of the entire Anglican Communion". Drexel Gomez predicted yet another Anglican split: "I don't see how civil partnerships will work. "I will have a difficult time explaining this; my people will take it in a negative way. This is an added threat at this moment of tension within the communion. Two-thirds of the communion will not be able to accept it".

Dalits are being persecuted in India, I was told, and Moslems persecute Christians in Nigeria because of Bishop Gene Robinson’s consecration, but Lambeth doesn’t make public statements about these acts of persecution, so why should an exception be made for the Uganda Bill? Because, I said, conservatives have made homosexuality the issue over which they are tearing the Communion apart. Because the Communion is being driven by an anti-homosexuality campaign and (although Canon Phil Groves and others are working creatively and patiently behind the scenes on continuing Indaba), all that LGBT people are hearing is homophobic prejudice from conservatives and a deafening silence from senior figures.

I think Lambeth’s argument is faulty, and it certainly makes the church look as if it condones the legislation rather than vehemently objecting to it. Yesterday afternoon’s conversation was very frustrating. I know that many supporters of LGBT Anglicans in the UK and Uganda are angry and can’t understand the silence of Archbishops. The good news is that behind the scenes, contact is happening with Archbishop Henry Orombi and he seems to be responding by rethinking the church's stance. But will he ever come out and denounce the Bill? I doubt it.

Primatial silence on Uganda Part 1

On Monday the Guradian carried an interview with John Sentamu by Stephen Moss. The Archbishop chose to focus on the trust he has set up to help young people in the diocese of York and threatened to cancel the interview the previous day when Stephen said he wanted to talk about schisms in the Church of England, racism, the lack of cohesion in British society, Robert Mugabe and maybe even God.

With the Uganda Bill and the refusal of Archbishop John to make any public statement about the Bill in my mind, I wondered how some of his comments would read if I inserted ‘LGBT’ in place of ‘young people’. So:

“I have found [LGBT] people will respond,” he said, “if you use a language which is not one of condemnation, which is not one of judgment without understanding, which is non-doctrinaire but actually speaks of love and compassion, of goodness and kindness.” Quite so.

Stephen asks the Archbishop whether the church really can speak to [LGBT] people, or is now so marginalized as to be irrelevant. John Sentamu responds:
“I think that, for a very long time the message has been, ‘Come and see what we can give you,’ instead of: ‘We come to you and together we’ll find out what’s the best way of doing it,’” he admits, “So are we connecting with [LGBT] people? All I can say is this man is trying his best.” If only.

If only... If only Archbishop Sentamu were trying his best to respond to LGBT Anglicans not only in England but in places in the Communion where LGBT people are threatened with humiliation, brutality, life imprisonment and death.

Gug, the gay Ugandan - the Uganda where John Sentamu studied law in Makerere Universtity where last week’s debate was held, where he became a barrister and was appointed a judge aged 24 – gug has written today of the war, fuelled by Christian extremists, that he, a non-believing gay man, finds himself in the middle of:

“I am in a war. It is not my choice. I have not asked for it. Just that I was born at a time and place and of a sexual orientation that is different from the rest of the world. I don’t understand why the enemy fights me. True, I don’t really understand. But, my understanding goes as far as knowing that they really will stop at nothing to win their war.

“They say that they love me. So all that they do in the name of their god, they do for love of me. I didn’t ask them for their love. What I see is that I am a fellow human being, a citizen of this earth, but they say they are the inheritors. And they want to drive out all those who are like me, in the name of love and Christ and religion.

“They have lots of justifications. I do not claim to understand all their logic, all the long winded arguments. What I understand is that they are persecuting me.

“I am gay. I cannot deny being a human being like you. You look too much like me for me to deny we are related. I don’t understand your hate. But it still hurts. I am in a war, not of my choosing. And an arrow into my chest hurts as much as it would hurt, shot into yours. I am in a war to the death. I will not hold back, because I don’t understand your hate of me.”

And neither Lambeth Palace nor Bishopsthorpe nor 815 will make a public statement condemning the Bill as antithetical to Christian practice and Anglican teaching. I will write more about this in the next post.

Monday 23 November 2009

Should the Archbishop’s of Canterbury and York comment on the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

I have no doubt that behind the scenes, in a delicate Anglican way, feelers are being put out and contacts made both in the UK and Uganda to discern what might be an appropriate reaction to the Bill, and how Church of England leaders might exert and influence.

One of the reasons advocated for saying nothing in public is that western outsiders, and ex-colonial rulers to boot, have no right to comment on legislation and morality and church teaching in Uganda. Gug, one of Changing Attitude’s gay Ugandan contacts, begs to differ.

He writes:

“Funny, I am a Ugandan, desperately worried because of this Bill in parliament. If it passes, which most likely it will, I and my partner will face life imprisonment, or death, once caught.

“Is it surprising that I don’t mind anyone, even a 'foreigner' speaking out for me? Especially when I cannot speak out myself in my country about this bill? I used to like political correctness until I realised that life does not follow its rules. My country mates plan to kill me, and you fear to say no, because you don’t think you as a foreigner should comment?

"It happened in Nazi Germany, for Jews, and homosexuals; it happened in Rwanda as recently as 20 years ago.

"When, I pray, do you as a 'foreigner' plan to challenge my murderers that they have gone beyond the pale of humanity? When I am dead? Do you really think that will help?"

“I believe it is actually an opportunity for the Archbishop of Canterbury to take back the moral high ground from the Church of Uganda leaders. They have made it abundantly clear that they support the Bill. They support it in its terribleness. And now they have started back peddling. They are in a dilemma. It is almost impossible for them to recant, but the Bill is so terrible that they must recant! These guys have gone too far, and they realise it. They are on the back foot.

“Let the Archbishop just be gracious and negotiate with them. I am sure they don’t have a clue on how to retake their international standing. Besides now not having an 'official' stance on the bill, they are stopping the comments. On the day of the debate, the representative of the Church of Uganda who was supposed to support it did not appear. Yes, the pressure is working. Instead, his place was taken by someone else who was sadly funny. Except, the blood they are baying for is mine. They are not in danger!

“Uganda is contemplating gay genocide. And yet, the people who are behind it are also adamant that they love gay people. They are just fearful of the spread of the gay disease. Not AIDS but homosexuality. They fear for themselves, they fear for their children, and their fear has translated into a fight for life, the lives of people like me. And we are losing.”

Gug reports on the Public Dialogue on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda

Gug, one of Changing Attitude’s gay contacts in Uganda, attended the public dialogue on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill at Makerere University on 18 November and reported the event on his blog.

it was interesting. On my part, to learn what the ‘other’ side thinks. And, of course, to see reason weighed down by the burden of unthinking emotion. Afterwards, a friend commented that, it was frightening. That, 2-300 years ago, that was how a ‘court’ judged summarily a witch.

He arrived at 13.00 hours when the debate had been advertised to begin there was only a handful of people inside. At 13.45 when the dialogue was supposed to start the uditorium was about half to two thirds full. At 14.00 the ‘moderator’ arrived and said that knowing the time keeping habits of their audience, they had put the ‘official’ time forward by a full hour, but, even then the speakers hadn’t arrived. At 14.30 Dr Tamale had been seated for a while on the front bench with Major Rubaramila. The room was now overflowing with people standing at the doors. Of Mr. Bahati there was no sign. At 14 40 MP Bahati arrived and the crowd settled for what was to happen.

The fourth speaker, Stephen Langa, the Provincial Secretary of the Church of Uganda, organizer of the three day anti-gay seminar earlier in the year, did not arrive. Gug said he was really waiting to see what the good Reverend was going to say. The audience was not told why he didn’t arrive. Gug speculates freely - The Church of Uganda is still seriously studying the bill and has no ‘official’ position, therefore the Church of Uganda cannot have the official Church spokesperson giving the as-yet unmade church position (as he has done more than three, four times previously). More nails in the coffin, says gug.

MP Bahati gave the first presentation, on why the Bill is necessary.

He is a young man, an accountant by profession, who has one son who he is very fearful can be ‘recruited’ into being a homosexual.

He gave the usual reasons why the bill is necessary. Homosexuality is un-natural, abnormal, un-African. There is a threat from outside the country, the imposition of ‘outside values’, etc. He talked about the threats that he has been receiving though he didn’t say from where. He is dull, as a speaker, and didn’t impress gug with his intelligence.

Stephen Langa spoke second

Stephen Langa is an Electrical Engineer from the University of Nairobi.
There followed, says gug, the most hopelessly illogical and inconsistent reasoning that he has ever listened to. Langa presented a conspiracy theory - The ‘Gay Agenda’ - supported from outside Uganda. European Homosexuals are going to recruit unsuspecting Ugandan youths. The conspiracy theory tries to upset the opposition point of view by claiming they are going to lie, cry, say they are human. It was sad and scary but the audience lapped it up.

Stephen Langa talked of science, but showed the most unscientific evidence - morality taught as a science. Gug said he had heard of the term fear mongering but had never really seen someone do it so effectively. Langa quoted The Pink Swastika by Scott Lively.

In the middle of the Langa presentation, Pastor Martin Ssempa made a grand entrance. The audience clapped, drowning out the speaker. He swaggered up the auditorium to where the most noise was being made. His brown shirts were all seated together. It was his place, his crowd, and they showed it.

Associate Prof. Sylvia Tamale spoke last.

She took the bill apart in a few concise words, using the same arguments from an article she had written and elaborating on them. She concluded with a recommendation to the Honourable MP - he should either withdraw the bill as an embarrassment to Uganda or leave it to die quietly in committee. The full text of Sylvia Tamale’s address can be found on the Changing Attitude web site:

The Q&A.

Gug was embarrassed. This is supposed to be the premier university of Uganda and most of the people present and peeping in through the windows were students. But the clear logic of Tamale had not made any impression – the students commented and commented - and showed their ignorance. Gug was acutely embarrassed at the reasoning capacity, the logic behind what people were commenting.

These university students were ready to take in the ‘here is the information, believe it’ preaching of the preachers. Logic was left behind and it was extremely ‘village meetingish’ - a University dialogue in the Faculty of Law. Those students who are the bright future in Uganda are no more than ‘believers’ in something illogical.


Dialogue? No, it certainly wasn’t a dialogue. It was a kangaroo court. But gug was impressed by the logic, and illogic, of the opposing sides. He wonders whether the fact that he is gay and Ugandan makes him more susceptible to being critical.

Gug stood in the middle of the debate and listened to some very hateful statements made by good Christian people and couldn’t point out that they were less than Christian because he is gay and not a Christian himself.

Bahati boasted, “'We have the numbers; this bill will become law.”' And that “If I were to have a vote at the end of this forum, I know we (the bill proposers) would have won.” Yes says gug, it is true. But that would have been not a win for logic but for hate. Langa, after going on and on about how bad homosexuality is, had the gall to say, “To all the homosexuals here, I must say that I love you.”

Another person present at the auditorium wrote that he was hugely disappointed. Knowing his Kenyan history and knowing that many of the intellectuals in Kenya’s struggle for independence studied at Makerere where they learned to think for themselves and recognise oppression and fight it, he felt so sad to watch the current students of Makerere swallow the hogwash preached by Bahati, Ssempa and Langa and then listen to them spew it out verbatim. He knew then that African has lost its capacity to nurture revolutionaries.

The proposers of the Bill are vulnerable, says gug, because, their biggest justification is that they are doing it in the name of religion. So, what happens when other Christians say, no way. Not in the name of our God. Please, keep up the pressure, he says, and CA is doing what it can, despite the now deafening silence from bishops and Archbishops.

Brussels says churches must lift ban on employing lesbian and gay people

On Friday the European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to the United Kingdom for incorrectly implementing EU rules prohibiting discrimination based on religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation in employment and occupation. The Commission pointed out that exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for religious employers are broader than that permitted by the directive.

The ruling is the result of a complaint from the National Secular Society which argued that the opt-outs went further than was permitted under the directive and had created "illegal discrimination against homosexuals".

The original exemptions were granted as a result of intensive lobbying by conservative Christian groups which claimed to represent Christian opinion in this country. In reality, they represent the opinion of a small minority who oppose the full inclusion of LGBT people in the Church of England and other denominations, groups which make a lot of noise but are so blinkered as to be totally out of touch even with the majority in their own congregations.

Conservative evangelical Anglican organisations hailed the exclusion clauses as a success for their fiercely conducted campaign against recognition by churches of LGBT people as equal in God’s order of creation with heterosexuals. They have claimed their ability to discriminate against LGBT people as a victory for Biblical values, God, and traditional Christian morality. Changing Attitude disagrees.

God does not discriminate on the basis of our sexuality. LGBT and heterosexual people are created by God and enjoy equally the holy, infinite and indiscriminate love of God for creation. Heresy to some, I know, and certainly to those who think the church is an institution which employs ministers to police the rules.

Changing Attitude breaks the rules consciously, rules that are already being broken in every part of the church – rules that supposedly prohibit the ordination and appointment of intimately loving, partnered, lesbian and gay people.

What will the conservatives do now? Make a lot of noise, outraged that the State (forced by the National Secular Society, to make matters worse), is going to remove one more plank in their ability to discriminate.

This welcome development leaves the next discriminatory prejudice untouched – the freedom the Church of England enjoys to discriminate against LGBT people in lay and ordained ministry (although as we all know, this prohibition is ignored by many bishops, and other, naïve or ignorant conservative bishops, who ordain and license single and partnered LGBT people because they can’t tell who we are).

Under new proposals being drafted by the government, religious organisations will be able to refuse to employ lesbian and gay people only if the job involves actively promoting or practising a religion. A blanket refusal to employ any homosexuals would no longer be possible. I expect there to be further fierce argument about exactly who is exempted by this clause.

The original exemption allowed religious groups to refuse a position to a lesbian or gay person "so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion's followers".

Change is coming slowly for the supporters of Changing Attitude who long for a church fully inclusive of the gifts of women in ministry as well as LGBT Anglicans whose lives are already fully open and dedicated to God. Barriers are slowly being removed, and the work goes on, patiently and impatiently, reforming the church into a community which embodies Jesus’ Kingdom of love, justice and truth (with some help from secular sources).

Saturday 21 November 2009

Lessons to be learnt from the report on Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia

The report Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia by Political Research Associates (PRA) Project Director Reverend Kapya Kaoma presents evidence of the relationship between the domestic conflicts and culture wars being waged by US conservative evangelicals and the growing criminalisation of homosexuality and the infringement of the human rights of LGBT people in Africa.

The findings of the report have serious implications for the campaigns being fought across the Anglican Communion, including those groups and individuals campaigning against the blessing of Civil Partnerships and equality in ministry for LGBT Anglicans.

Key findings of the report include the following:

Conservatives have successfully recruited a significant number of prominent African religious leaders to a campaign seeking to restrict the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

The campaign has had the effect of slowing, if not stopping altogether, the recognition by the Anglican Communion of the full equality of LGBT people.

As a direct result of the campaign, homophobia is on the rise in Africa— from increased incidents of violence to antigay legislation that carries the death penalty.

Conservatives are in the minority within Anglican Provinces in the west and are depending on African religious leaders to legitimize their positions.

It is the intensity of the conflicts created by the conservatives which promotes the very real threat of schism in the Anglican Communion.

A radical reversal of positions has taken place. The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), a neoconservative think tank that opposed the African liberation struggles is now one of the main organizations promoting homophobia in both Africa and the United States.

Conservatives present mainline denominations' commitments to human rights as imperialistic attempts to manipulate Africans into accepting homosexuality—which they characterize as a purely western phenomenon.

The report finds that conservative evangelicals have built relationships with African bishops and Provinces to oppose progress on LGBT issues —sometimes through deception but always through substantial financial incentives.

Traditionally, evangelical African churches have been biblically and doctrinally orthodox but progressive on such social issues as national liberation and poverty, making them natural partners of the politically liberal western churches. However, their religious orthodoxy means that Africans resonate with the denunciation of homosexuality as a postcolonial plot. Their homophobia is as much an expression of resistance to the West as a statement about human sexuality.

Right-wing groups have enticed African religious leaders to reject funding from mainline denominations—which require documentation of how the money is spent—and instead to accept funds from conservatives. This money usually goes to individual bishops without accountability or oversight for how it is used.

Christian Right activists use rhetoric about "family values" to foment homophobia in Africa with disastrous consequences, such as the proposed antigay legislation in Uganda.

Conservatives have engendered an insidious, inverse relationship between LGBT rights in the West and in Africa. Evangelicals portray victories for equality for LGBT people as evidence of the encroaching gay conspiracy, exciting bigotry and violence among their African audiences.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

Progressives should confront major figures in the conservative campaigns and call upon them to stop their promotion of homophobia.

African activists and scholars should be given support to lead the struggle for LGBT rights and the study of sexuality in Africa.

Work on LGBT issues in Africa should be led by Africans themselves.

Western scholars and journalists should promote research by Africans into sexuality.

Progressives should build relationships with the next generation of Anglican African leaders. We should seek out, support, educate, and network with young church leaders committed to human rights, rather than focusing on dialogue with the entrenched reactionary leadership.

Disseminate reliable information and continue the research. The destructive campaigns of conservatives against LGBT people are not widely known. A robust and sustained research and communications effort is needed.

Changing Attitude England will continue to work with out partners in Australia, Canada, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, UK and the USA, in building church in which equality of place in church and society is granted to LGBT people. We will follow the commitments made by Lambeth 1.10 and the Windsor Report to oppose all legislation which criminalizes and dehumanises LGBT people.

Thursday 19 November 2009

News of the new Kenya constitution from Michael Kimindu, Changing Attitude’s Kenya contact

Changing Attitude supporters in England have responded with great generosity to the request for money to enable the gay Kenyan Anglican who was attacked and driven from his home with his partner four weeks ago. We have sent them nearly £200 to enable them to recover their belongings and begin to create a new life elsewhere. With Michael, they thank everyone who responded so quickly and generously.

Less positively, Michael Kimindu reports that the Bishop of Nairobi seems to have grown cold feet. The Bishop had offered Michael an appointment to meet him last week, but when Michael arrived at his office on the agreed day he was told the Bishop was away on a pastoral visit. Michael was asked to return last Monday. He called the bishop’s secretary before leaving home. She talked to the bishop who said Michael should wait for an appointment on another day, which will be communicated to him later. Michael is still waiting to hear.

In the same vein, a reporter from The Nation newspaper who interviewed Michael has withheld from publishing the article until, as Michael says, ‘God knows when’. The media in Kenya supports the evangelical stand against homosexuality.

New Kenyan constitution rejects gay marriage

Michael directed my attention to the draft of the new constitution which is now being discussed in Kenya and which has so far failed to respond to the needs of LGBTI Kenyans.

Same sex marriages will not be allowed if proposals in the harmonised Kenyan draft constitution become law. Only marriages between opposite sex will be recognised despite attempts by the gay community to have their relationships legalised. Those wishing to marry partners of the same sex still have to seek countries where such marriages are allowed.

The proposal by the committee of experts comes a month after two men became the first Kenyan gay couple to openly wed in London, sparking a huge debate on morality issues in the country. It elicited sharp responses from religious organisations, who described the union between Chege Ngengi and Daniel Chege Gichia as “unacceptable and unnatural.

During the drafting of the proposed law, Otiende Amollo, a member of the committee had revealed that they had rejected suggestions by British MPs to recognise and protect the rights of homosexuals in the draft. “We told them that such a thing cannot happen because if we did so, a majority of Kenyans would reject the draft during the forthcoming referendum,” Otiende Amollo told journalists last month.

Michael told me that he called the General Manager of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition this morning to find out what they are doing. He told Michael they are going to have a meeting with a constitutional expert to decide on the way forward. Pray for us, says Michael.

US Catholic Bishops are a danger to LGBT people and to the health, happiness and holiness of human society

US Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued a pastoral letter warning about the dangers of same-sex marriage and partnerships, saying they will affect everyone. The letter restates the church's opposition to gay rights, contraception, cohabitation and divorce.

The letter says that legal progress to recognise gay relationships poses
"a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society, striking at the source from which society and culture come and which they are meant to serve."
"Such recognition affects all people, married and nonmarried: not only at the fundamental levels of the good of the spouses, the good of children, the intrinsic dignity of every human person and the common good, but also at the levels of education, cultural imagination and influence, and religious freedom.
"To promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman is itself a matter of justice. In fact, it would be a grave injustice if the state ignored the unique and proper place of husbands and wives, the place of mothers and fathers and the rights of children, who deserve from society clear guidance as they grow to sexual maturity."
Well excuse me, Catholic bishops of the US, but you are totally, 100% wrong. The attitudes expressed in your letter are a threat to the health and well-being not only of LGBT people but to marriage, family life and Christian communities.

Bishops, you are completely wrong in thinking that same-sex marriage and relationships are dangerous. Heterosexual people are perfectly capable of sabotaging the well-being of marriage and the health of children.

LGBT people are born of heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents. We grow up in families, some of us become parents, all of us continue to be woven into family life. Same-sex relationships do indeed affect everyone in society, and ignorant church attitudes such as those paraded by the bishops also affect everyone.

So, we are a multifaceted threat, we strike at the source from which society and culture come, do we? Our unions affect the intrinsic dignity of every human person? We affect religious freedom? Promoting and protecting marriage is a matter of justice? Protecting the lives and dignity of LGBT people where we are persecuted, humiliated, killed – this isn’t a matter of justice?

I feel incredible rage reading the Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter and want to write words which are appropriate to the ignorance and prejudice of the bishops but not appropriate to the blog. Oh boy, do we have a lot of work to do to change church attitudes. Sad that those who should be holy and wise are the purveyors of homophobic and dangerous teaching.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Day of Prayer about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda

Today, Tuesday November 17th has been designated as a day of prayer about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed in Uganda.

Changing Attitude is encouraging people to follow the request sent by Andrew Marin and Warren Throckmorton to take at least 30 minutes to pray for the following:

1. That this legislation be thrown out

2. For protection and peace for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters living in this oppression in Uganda and around the world

3. That the Ugandan Church realize this legislation is not morally or Scripturally correct – as there has been disturbing news recently coming from some of my contacts in Uganda and Parliament that the Ugandan Church is starting to make official statements in favor of this bill. I will be posting those as soon as they are official.

The world will feel this impact! This is a virtual gathering, so let your prayers reign from where ever you are located around the world. I know that on the evening of November 17th I have assembled a large group gathering in Chicago that will be focusing our time in prayer for the aforementioned three requests. If you know of others in your local area, feel free to get together with them as well.

Throughout the day, post on the Wall about your prayers, thoughts and events to encourage others doing the same around the globe.

Thanks again.

Much love,

Andrew Marin
Warren Throckmorton

Sunday 15 November 2009

Hope in God, despair at the conservative mindset

Reading the Church Times and Church of England Newspaper (CEN) on Saturday morning, an article by Harriet Baber offered sanity when I had been reading madness.

Let’s start with the madness, and first the Church of England Newspaper, which reports that the Rev Graham Taylor, former vicar of Cloughton, Scarborough is converting to Roman Catholicism. Commenting on why he is leaving the CofE he says that if more preached a gospel of salvation “that would cure the ills of this society overnight if properly embraced.” Note that – “cure the ills of society overnight.” Overnight? Do people like Graham Taylor really believe that more preaching according to his understanding of truth and reality will achieve this dramatic result? Madness.

In a letter to the Church Times a Mr Duncan Reeve writes about opposing world-views – he presents a polarity – is the Bible reliable or do modern scientific fads have more authority than the Word of God? He says: “It hard to imagine how the Bible could have been written to make it more clear that Genesis contains a historical account of recent six-day creation.” More madness.

Back to the Church of England Newspaper which reports that the rector of the Sunyani Polytechnic Institution, Prof Kwasi Nsiah Gyabaah, warned that the Anglican Church is losing members to the Catholic and independent churches, blaming the Communion’s divisions over gay bishops and blessings, though he admits that the Church also competes with sports, popular culture and other recreational activities in vying for the attention of people. He admits that a return to an authoritarian model of church governance is not the answer. Instead, he urges the church to be both culturally relevant as well as firmly tied to the unchanging word of God. There it is again, that unchanging word of God, the ‘plain teaching of scripture’, which justifies ignorant attitudes about both creation and human sexuality.

Lastly to the Church Times once again, where Harriet Baber, Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego, California, writes about the Pope’s recent approach to Anglicans.

She asks is: “How will the ongoing realignment of religious identity play out? For now, conservative churches are growing. Religious belief and practice thrive in “traditional cultures” — in developing countries, among immigrants, and within the American working class. There, churches that promote gender roles and “family values” provide a refuge from modernity. But, whatever the short-term benefits for conservative churches, in the long run they will lose.”

“Conservatives have bought time for Christianity by identifying it with a conservative social agenda that still sells, but, in the end, they will lose out for the very same reason: because Christianity is not a moral agenda or social programme, but a revelation of the nature of God, beside which all social arrangements are parochial and trivial.”

Conservatives think they are defending God and protecting Christianity whereas in reality they are doing exactly the opposite, in the UK and North America as well, ultimately, in Africa, Asia and South America. The world does not need more biblical fundamentalism, back to basics or ‘the clear Word of God’ which will transform society overnight. It needs people with prophetic vision and a passion for truth and love, people whose lives are rooted in prayerful awareness of the revelation of God in Scripture, through Jesus Christ, and in myriad, mystical, tender ways in creation and the practice of the presence of God in daily life.

Friday 13 November 2009

Islington couple campaigning for gay equality in marriage and civil partnerships

Two civil servants, Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, both heterosexual, living in Islington, are campaigning for full equality in civil partnership and marriage, whether people are straight or gay. They plan to give "notice of their intention to form a civil partnership" at Islington Town Hall on November 24 as part of their campaign for equality. They have been together for nearly four years, want the same legal rights as a husband and wife – but do not want to enter an institution that is closed to lesbian and gay people.

They say that marriage and civil partnerships are exactly the same, duplicated in law, with identical effects, legal processes, rights and obligations. In all but name civil partnerships are equal to marriage– so why not have equality? They do not believe in marriage because they say it is "an apartheid" that segregates straight and gay people.

The implication of their campaign, which the article I read doesn’t refer to, is that the law should be changed to allow lesbian and gay people to marry, and that includes allowing gay marriages and civil partnerships to be contracted in church. If or when that happens, civil partnerships would become redundant (and so might the work of Changing Attitude).

Tom and Katherine believe that Civil Partnerships are an insulting compromise for lesbian and gay couples, forced on the state by the attitude of Christian conservatives “who feel offended by having gay people in their precious institution.” "Marriage is patriarchal. The whole idea of dressing up in a big white dress and being given away by your father and taking your husband's name is a bit old fashioned."

Peter Tatchell is supporting them, and has said: "The ban on heterosexual civil partnerships is heterophobic. It is discriminatory and offensive. I want to see it ended so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership. I applaud their challenge to this unjust law." That has been Peter’s line from the start and he believes equally passionately in marriage for lesbian and gay couples.

The Reverend Andy Pakula, minister, and the congregation of Newington Green Unitarian Church, is so disgusted by the “abhorrent” way that marital law discriminates against same-sex couples that the church refuses to carry out any weddings in protest until the law is changed to allow gay couples the same religious marriage rights as heterosexual couples.

Dr Pakula says that: “It is illegal to hold same-sex partnerships in a place of religion and they can’t involve religious language. It’s outrageous - how can I explain that to gay couples in my church?” The church leaders are now looking toward a plan to take their protest one step further - by challenging the law on the basis that it contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights.

I hope they are serious about this and that they succeed. The law must be changed one day to allow lesbian and gay couples either to contract civil partnerships or to get married in church.

Thursday 12 November 2009




Time: 1pm-5 pm

Venue: Faculty of Law Auditorium


Hon. David Bahati, MP Ndorwa East and Sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Assoc. Prof. Sylvia Tamale, Coordinator, Law, Gender & Sexuality Research Project, Faculty of Law.
Rev. Canon. Aaron Mwesigye, Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Uganda

Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS Activist

Wednesday 11 November 2009

The Service of my Love - Jim Cotter's liturgy for the blessing of Civil Partnerships

Jim Cotter has written a liturgical and pastoral handbook as a resource for the celebration and blessing of Civil Partnerships. It’s available for £10 from Cairns Publications, Gernant, Aberdaron, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 8BG: tel/fax: +44 (0)1758 760296:

Jim introduced the book at a meeting I attended on Monday. This is the second book published this Autumn filling a critical gap in the LGBT Christian market place, the other being 'Living It Out'.

The Service of My Love contains:
A working text for a ceremony of commitment and blessing
A text for a celebration of Holy Communion in the context of a blessing
A service of prayer in church
Supplementary resources, including prayers and hymns

Jim begins the book with a pastoral perspective, followed by some excerpts from the personal experience of Jim’s own life story. The next chapter, ‘A vicar’s dilemma: a ministerial perspective’, describes Jim’s recent experience in Aberdaron where he is now the parish priest, successor to the poet R S Thomas.

Jim writes that in recent months he has tried to put himself in the shoes of a Christian in Northern Nigeria, in Kaduna or Kano, cities he visited in 1965 during a year with VSO. Christians there have had their churches burnt down because of the increasing acceptance in western societies, and more slowly, in the institutions of Christianity, of lesbian and gay relationships, something inconceivable to people whose identity is found in a close-knit, patriarchal, hierarchical extended family.

In ‘A Communion at odds, Jim explores an ecclesiastical and theological persective. He writes that: “When an archbishop tells me that, as an ordained member of the Church, I cannot celebrate and bless a civil partnership in a church, but that I can argue for a change that would allow that, it frankly feels both patronising and chilling.” The archbishop in question is, I think, Barry Morgan, patron of Changing Attitude.

A brief chapter, ‘An undoubted good? An ethical perspective’, follows, and then the material that most people will buy the book for, the liturgical material for blessing Civil Partnerships. Much of it has been published previously in various places by Jim, but it is here gathered together and rewritten as a resource from which people can construct their own liturgy.

Changing Attitude is among the many individuals and groups who helped sponsor the book. The list of sponsors towards the end, and the list of couples to whom the book is dedicated, are roll calls of Christians who are faithful followers of Jesus and courageous prophets to the church, following in Jim’s own footsteps.

Vote on the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

The Monitor, a Ugandan paper, is running a poll about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The question posed is: Some rights activists say the Anti-Homosexuality Bill violates human rights? Should it be passed?

The results won’t be scientific, but what surprised me is how comparatively close the voting is. When I voted at 14.00 UK time on Wednesday, 1941 votes had been cast, 1103 or 56.83% for the Bill and 838 or 43.17% against.

To vote, go to, scroll two thirds the way down, and the poll is in a black box the centre of the page. VOTE NOW!

Saturday 7 November 2009

Is it possible to be Gay and Christian in Uganda?

I find myself bursting to write about this. Yet, how can I be qualified to do so? I am not a believer.

So, how can I do it without letting my feelings of bitterness through? I will do this. I will share the stories of a few of us. They are my friends and lovers, so they will remain anonymous. Like I am.

For me it has been a bitter journey. A journey made bitter by betrayal. Because I believed with the whole of my heart.

I was born and baptized in the Church of Uganda, Anglican. Well, apart from the Catholic church, it commands the allegiance of most Ugandans.

We are a very religious people. Discount our hypocrisy. We are still religious. And very, very partisan about our religious views. A Christian is a Christian. A protestant is a protestant, etc. I grew up knowing firmly my identity as a Christian of the Anglican faith.

My journey has been long. I became ‘saved’. Maybe at that time I should say I was a Pentecostal. At that time, I believed, with all my heart, and mind, and soul. I believed in the goodness of the values of Christianity. But, growing up, I also started understanding that I was different. I was gay. Well, at least homosexual!

How is it like growing up gay in Uganda? The closeting, the lack of information, the lack of company, the belief that you are alone in the world… all those are facts.

The personal search, the fumbling for truth. What about the incessant condemnation and hate speech from prominent religious leaders of all faiths? If there is a universal evil according to Uganda’s religious leaders, it is homosexuality.

Well, I lost my faith. I will not justify or defend that. I am a non-believer. Period. Of course that increases my pariah status. But I am a bit of a rebel. I like watching the double take when I mention that I don’t believe.

Yes, anyone who follows my blog will detect my partiality to Christian ideals. That is a matter of fact. I defend myself by saying those ideals are human, universal. Not only Christian.

My boyfriend is Christian

He was baptized a catholic. His mum was a protestant. The dad is catholic. Their marriage was not formalized for a long time because at that time here, one or the other had to convert to the other’s religion. Yes, this is fact.

My mother-in-law converted to her husband’s religion, and had her children all baptized Catholic. She is a very staunch Christian and Catholic. A leader. My boyfriend, being a mother-doting son, followed her in her devotion to the church. He was a very, very strong Catholic. A leader. At one time, he wanted to become a Catholic priest.

As he tells it, my boyfriend didn’t have the luxury to think that he could be heterosexual. He knew what he was, as a child, and thought that he was the only one in the world. A celibate life seems to be a blessed life in Catholic teaching here. And he followed that.

When we met, more than eight years ago, I was careful to tell him that I didn’t believe. Truth to say, I hated Christianity at that time. But I was also honest enough to tell him that I respected his right to believe.

So, he would leave me in bed to go to church, every Sunday. He was very, very regular. We would joke that we would make love, and he would go to confess it to his priest. Was a joke. I don’t think any Ugandan Catholics who are gay actually confess that they had gay sex! That (in my view of course) would be suicide! Not in Uganda.

We used to joke that we never, ever discussed religion in our family. Because we were poles apart.

But over the years, the country has become increasingly homophobic and open about that. I don’t think homosexuality has always been such a big deal. I mean, the homophobia was tolerable just a few years ago. We stayed hidden and no one complained. We hid right out there in the light. None saw us. None complained.

But over the years, there has been an increase in homophobia in the country. I used to wonder who the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda was fighting. There were no homosexuals in Uganda. But it was this huge evil that they became louder and louder in condemning - the Pentecostals also and the Catholics. Homosexuality started to feature more and more in the sermons in Church.

Two, three years ago, I suddenly realized that my partner was not as fervent in his Church going as before. Even his mum noticed. I asked him about it, and he told me he was still Catholic, but he was not happy with what was being discussed in church.

When Pope Benedict came out with a Christmas statement condemning gay people, my boyfriend lost his temper. He raged about this for some time. And since then, he has never been reticent showing his contempt of the Church leadership. And he happens to have followed me into activism. There are no ideals in a church that persecutes him. He doesn’t really like the cut-throat business of gay activism. It leaves a hole in him. But he does it.

He says there is no Christianity in Uganda. The leaders are just after money and political power. And he doesn’t like them for condemning him without trying to understand him. But he still identifies Catholic.

Another lover…

Yeah, I can’t lie that I have been without lovers. I had a lover, about my age. He is an AIDS orphan brought up by a Church of Uganda Reverend.

I admit that I had a hard time accepting my sexuality. But, I had it easy, compared to this guy.

By the time we met, he had not really accepted his sexuality. He knew what he was. It was way out there, impossible to ignore. But he was celibate, not admitting his thoughts, hiding out there and persecuted.

He is Anglican. And we used to make love in his tiny room, with a poster that said, ‘I am a Proud Anglican’. I asked him about that, and he told me that his sexuality didn’t stop him from being proud of that. His faith was strong. But, I argued, we are having gay sex. He never answered that adequately. I know sometimes I delve too closely into other people’s business. At that time the Church of Uganda was forming something called the Global South or something like that to counter the evil of the West’s promotion of homosexuality in the Anglican Communion. He was in the thick of it. I thought he was being hypocritical.

Sadly, he was caught.

Yeah, an e-mail of mine was seen on his computer. Gossip started. His guardian was informed. What followed was the worst kind of farce.

The guy was informed that it was time to get married. A girl was introduced to him - in his guardian’s home. Like, here is your bride to be. According to him, he couldn’t say anything. Before the nuptials, he came to me, desperate. He had tried to make love with her and had failed. I couldn’t offer any advice he could take. He was a man and, according to me, he needed to come right out and say what he was. Maybe I was putting myself in his shoes. I don’t know. I cannot judge.

He got married to the lady - and invited me to his marital bed. I was not amused, and not ready to step into that kind of problem. He came to me, desperate again. He couldn’t have sex with his wife. I referred him to a doctor.

He was very happy when the wife got pregnant. And, he was no longer obligated to fulfill marital duties. But, he was getting desperate. He couldn’t deny himself. He was what he was. Before the wife gave birth, he looked for and got a job outside the country. He was at peace, away from home.

When he came back, the problems recurred. This time, I had to tell him what I thought. He is gay. Hiding from that fact doesn’t help. He decided to leave the country again. Leave his young family.

How will he resolve this? I don’t know. Yes, I do care. But, his choices in life have not been mine.

I have another friend

He is Christian, a protestant, Anglican. He comes from a very religious family, a very religious family. He is not out to them. Impossible to be. And he is a very, very tortured soul.

He has compromised by living an almost celibate life. He believes that having a relationship and living like he is married with a lover would offset the sinfulness of having gay sex. But that is a very difficult thing to do. Not in Uganda. Who would like to expose themselves as gay by living as a couple? Well, we have done it, me and my lover. But we are the exception rather than the rule.

This third friend of mine is still deeply conflicted. He knows he is gay, without a doubt. But he believes his sexual impulses are evil, sinful. He goes to church, and comes back conflicted when the sermon is about his sexuality.

What can I do for him? Just to hope that he comes to respect himself.

So, is it possible to be Christian and Gay in Uganda? I don’t know. All those I know are people who are struggling with the depth of their faith and the fact that their sexuality is taken as a very, very big evil.

Where is the famed love and counseling of the Christian family? Well, as a non believer, I will say, truthfully, that what I have seen so far is condemnation, and more condemnation, and more condemnation.

I am told Father Musaala, the Catholic priest who was condemned as homosexual (it was front page news here, earlier in the year), that he was actually counseling some gay Ugandans. That was why he was labeled gay. Maybe it was true. Maybe not… I cannot swear to that.

I can say as a matter of fact that Bishop Ssenyonjo is one person one can talk to. I will have to remember to refer my third friend to him. But you know that the Bishop is no longer a Bishop because he does not follow the official Church of Uganda (Anglican) position on homosexuality? I even heard that he was excommunicated. But, I am not very sure of that. But he can talk to my friend. If I can get him there.

Christian and gay in Uganda? I am sincerely glad I am not that. The conflict would tear me apart.


My Blog, The Gay Uganda Blog;

GayUgandan comments on the statement issued by the Church of Uganda

Gug points out that the Church of Uganda is furiously backpeddling in issuing this statement, and, that is a good thing. His comments and the statement itself are at:

Pilate washes his hands...
That was a comment that I have lifted from somewhere. The comment was on the Church of Uganda, Anglican statement on the 'Anti-Homosexuality' Bill.

Yes, they have come out with a statement. The statement says that they are still studying the Bahati bill, and for that reason, they have not yet come up with a position of the Church. Very nice words.

Now, how many times have I quoted, from the press and other pronouncements of Church officials, bishops and such like over the previous two, three weeks? The Bishop who condemned the death penalty, and I quote, 'we must emphasize life imprisonment'. Or was that the official Church spokesperson, who is the signatory to the Church of Uganda statement?

What of the time that these guys sent representatives to the Parliament Committee on Presidential affairs? I believe it was the official who has actually signed the statement.

I dislike hypocrisy. I dont like double talking. Church people are not supposed to be politicians. They are supposed to be people who look out for the best interests of other people, who show love for those who are hurt, and lift up those who are down trodden. It is duplitious of them, it is hypocritical, after all the statements that they have made, to come up with a statement which starts with the words that the Church of Uganda has not come up with an official position on the bill.

Oh, by the way, just as a matter of observation. This thing, this statement could not have come up but for the fact that their have been complaints, and outrage from the rest of the world. Christian groups all over the world have called the Murderous Christians of Uganda to account.

This is no court of law. I see what I see, and, I write my conclusions. They may be wrong, but I try to write what is correct. What is logical.

The Church of Uganda, Anglican, has been supporting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 since it was tabled in parliament. This bill was made with the input of the Church of Uganda. That was a matter of fact. From the statements that the church made, bishops of the church, the official spokesman who, incidentally has signed this statement. The church has supported this bill.

They first backpedalled on the death penalty provision. Yes, they did. Trying to look a bit merciful. They hypocritically supported life imprisonment. So that we poor homosexual sinners could stay alive as they proselytyze us. But not in freedom.
Alive in prison.

Pharisees. Hypocrites. Pilate washes his hands....

But, I for one, will not allow them to abdicate their responsibility for hate speech, for pursuing gay Ugandans with the worst possible of things. They are liars and hypocrites.

I no longer mince words. And, what I see, that I say. The Church of Uganda Statement below shows that they are liars and hypocrites. And, they hide behind their robes the hate that they have for Ugandans who happen to be gay like me.

Liars and Hypocrites