Sunday 1 November 2009

Fulcrum and a gay Ugandan journalist comment

I returned home on Saturday evening after an overnight residential meeting with the Changing Attitude trustees in Derby. The meeting focussed on our experience and relationship with God, our vision and strategy, and our relationships with the church and other organisations.

I read the comment from Simon Caldwell on the Fulcrum web site. Simon wants to correct the misconception that Fulcrum is doing nothing and says that Fulcrum has in fact replied to me. An email from Andrew Goddard had arrived at 14.00 on Saturday.

In the email sent on Friday 23 October I asked each organisation to respond by Tuesday 27 October. I didn’t receive a single reply, which I interpreted as either discourtesy or disagreement with the idea of sending a joint, open letter. Simon could have emailed me to acknowledge receipt of my message and even more helpfully, could have told me that Fulcrum was taking time to do a significant amount of independent research on the position and were consulting amongst themselves as to the best way to address the issue. He didn’t.

Jeremy Pemberton had alerted the Fulcrum team to the Ugandan legislation on Tuesday 20 October, well in advance of half-term, in a detailed post on the Fulcrum Forum. Subsequent comments asked Fulcrum to respond, but nothing was posted until Simon commented critically about me yesterday evening, 11 days later.

I agree with Simon that megaphone diplomacy is not always an effective diplomatic tool. Changing Attitude and Inclusive Church are not involved in diplomatic negotiations with the Ugandan Government nor with the Anglican Communion. We invited groups to sign an open letter because the policy of the Anglican Communion is to oppose the demonising or ill treatment of gay people. We believe that policy should be implemented when Bills such as this are tabled. We believe all Anglicans are committed to this policy though we know this is far from true in reality. Groups claiming to represent the majority of Anglicans proudly and loudly maintain attitudes which contravene church teaching and policy.

Simon might have meant that diplomacy conducted in the public arena is not appropriate. I should be emailing Andrew Goddard personally, and I will. I hope Changing Attitude, Inclusive Church and Fulcrum will work creatively together as we have in the past.

Meanwhile, I have not received acknowledgments of the email about the Open Letter from the Church Society, Anglican Mainstream or Reform. A reply would have been courteous. How should I interpret their silence?

While writing this blog I was corresponding with a gay friend, a journalist resident in Uganda who worked in Kenya for two years. He says the proposed legislation will be passed anyway, that this is Uganda, and the law will not work when it is passed because “the entire system is messed up” and the police and courts won't enforce the law. We have a lawless country; if our own traffic rules can’t work how will a Bill further criminalizing homosexuals work? How do you get to arrest someone because they knew their son was gay but didn’t tell the police? Neither Ugandan justice nor the law works properly to defend or protect people or implement legislation. The law is weak.

Having written that, he added that we should nevertheless try and oppose the Bill because hate crime has increased and he has been beaten up many times for being gay. But that’s life - you deal with it - welcome to Africa and the real world, he concluded.


  1. sorry, discretion...the ABC´s discretion is invisible (except for blaming the ¨Americans¨ which is wearing thin)...does our ¨first amongst¨ have any reason to speak out against the murdering of innocent LGBT Anglicans/Christians and others? Did ++Rowan join Prime Minister Gordon Brown in denouncing violence against LGBT people at THE ANTI-HATE MARCH? The Church of England must take this man to task for his LACK of moral soundness and leadership at HOME and ABROAD!

  2. I agree with Leonardo and the testimony from Uganda really is horrible.

  3. Jeremy Pemberton1 November 2009 at 20:30

    I have posted further on this on Fulcrum. I am very disappointed that some have taken this line with you, Colin. An email of acknowledgement at least would have alerted you to the fact that a more substantial response was on its way.

    As for Church Society, Anglican Mainstream and Reform - well, at the least they are plain discourteous. I suspect they are worse than that. But it is hard to tell unless they open their mouths. I wonder what it would take to get them to respond. Of course, Anglican Mainstream offers no way for anyone to comment on what they post on their site - comments are always closed. A bit like their minds?

  4. Colin, I am sorry you have interpreted my Fulcrum forum comment as an attack on you, as per your blog above. That was certainly not my intention. That was merely to state the factual position of what was going on, and is going on as you now are aware. I am pleased you will be in touch with Andrew as you say.

  5. Jeremy Pemberton1 November 2009 at 22:20

    Simon - you have to be joking!! Of course what you wrote was a back-handed way of criticising Colin's style - what else was the comment about megaphone diplomacy meant to be taken as? At least have the grace to admit it. If people hadn't been junping up and down on Fulcrum would you have bothered? - I rather doubt it.

    I really think you owe Colin an apology.

  6. Itis amazing how blinkered both sides of this issue are.the Gay and lesbian community that does not live in Uganda is the first to comment on the rights of Gays and lesbians. The country has many faults no question but it is essentially a christian country. According to the bible being gay or lesbian is prohibited by the bible. this is the basis of this law. The extreme response from both sides is what is causing the problem. the "christians" want to (to coin a phrase used by a nother blogger "demonise" the practise. the bible teaches love and not hatred. We are taught to love the person and hate the sin in them. On the otherside the Gays and lesbians view this as a right that they are being deprived of and as a result are mobilising to (maybe) force acceptance of the practice.
    Get some perspective on this. in many countries wsharia law theft is punishable by cutting off of the hand and adultery by stoning(to death) of the parties involved. I have heard no outcry by nymphomaniacs or kleptomaniacs against the extreme laws that related to these practices.
    The parliament of Uganda, with all its faults is a democratic institution. Let Ugandans decide what is right for them and not people who are not citizens.

  7. Muzaazi
    "mobilising to force acceptance of the practice". No, this is about stopping another far more destructive practice - the death penalty. How any modern democratic nation can see the introduction of a death penalty for making love, even if you see the object of that love as misguided is beyond me. And of course the decision is for the Ugandan parliament - but everyone else has the right to make it clear what the consequence for aid and trade will be if this policy is adopted. You may choose to pass an evil bill in the name of Christ but don't expect us to support you or fund your doing it.

  8. Muzaazi
    There is, of course, a lot of Western opposition to cutting off people's hands and to stoning them to death and many organisations lobby strongly against it.
    But as you say, they are Sharia practices, whereas what we are condemning here are supposedly Christian practices.

    A sin is not the same as a crime, and even if Ugandans believe that homosexuality is sinful, by what theological argument do Ugandan Christians turn it into a crime punishable by death? Where's the love for the sinner in this that Jesus demands of us?

    We cannot stop Unganda from enacting this law. But we can voice our absolute disgust that Ugandan Christians should be supporting it.
    And we can definitely voice even more disgust that Western Christians don't speak out loudly against it.

    I suggest you read Colin's most recent post on this blog to see what response to lgbt people the churches of the Anglican Communion committed themselves to at that infamous Lambeth Conference. That is: all churches in the Communion, including the Ugandan one.

    How are Ungandan Christian honouring their committment?

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