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.