Monday 14 December 2009

Archbishop of Canterbutry - Ugandan legislation is of "shocking severity"

In an interview with George Pitcher in the Telegraph the Archbishop of Canterbury commented publicly about the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. The report says:

“Overall, the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades,” says Dr Williams. “Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible – it seeks to turn pastors into informers.” He adds that the Anglican Church in Uganda opposes the death penalty but, tellingly, he notes that its archbishop, Henry Orombi, who boycotted the Lambeth Conference last year, “has not taken a position on this bill”.

I am relieved at last to see the Archbishop recognize that the Ugandan Bill would make pastoral care impossible and cannot be supported by Anglicans who are committed to Communion statements about the death penalty and homosexuality. I have been saying this for several weeks and the Archbishop’s comment is a very important confirmation of the elements of Anglican policy which give spiritual affirmation to LGBT people and recognize that we are children of God and have a place in the Anglican Communion.

Gug believes that it is right to put pressure on religious leaders to condemn the bill because they have the moral authority to do so and are listened to in Uganda. The bill is being justified in the name of God and religion and religious leaders and community who oppose such draconian laws against LGBT people need to state their opposition. From gug’s perspective the condemnation by the Archbishop of Canterbury will have a positive effect in Uganda, even though Lambeth and other English bishops think public condemnation risks being counter-productive with the Ugandan hierarchy.

Gug speculates that the caution and delay may have given the Archbishop protection from being accused of 'neo-colonialism' by his Anglican brothers in Uganda, which is certainly the reason I was given by Lambeth Palace and by others with links to Uganda.

The engagement which is going on behind the scenes between Ugandan and English bishops and dioceses and the comment by the Archbishop add to the pressure to force a re-think of the Bill by country-mates whom gug thinks are genocidal. He says they believe they are more Christian than any other person, more morally upright, more faithful to God and to the Anglican tradition. For gug’s safety and the safety of other gay Ugandans, the defeat of the Bill is crucial. If the Bill isn’t defeated, at least the moral authority of the preachers of hate might be dented.

George Pitcher’s report says the Anti-Homosexuality Bill now looks set to become law in February 2010 if it passes through parliament unfettered. Gug wants the bill to be thrown out, of course. If it isn’t, he is confronted with the choice of settling for no death penalty while accepting that he will still be criminalised and legally hounded in his own country. With his partner, he wants the freedom to live at peace in his homeland.

1 comment:

  1. True and I am glad he has said something!

    What about that "overall" though? "Overall the legislation is shocking and severe" - which bits aren't shocking and severe then?

    Also he doesn't see how it could be supported by anyone "who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent years." How about saying it couldn't be supported by anyone with a shred of human decency or Christian love?

    "Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible."

    Tell me I am just being bitter and twisted -but I am concerned about a Christian leader who seems to care more that LGBT people are "helped" than that LGBT people are murdered!

    What is termed "pastoral care" covers a wide remit and encompasses the most appalling abuse.

    Also, this was a question answered as part of an interview, not an independent public statement as requested.

    Finally it was made after international condemnation has caused Uganda to say they will think again.

    Oh, I forgot, he's been working intensively behind the scenes - saying nothing very condemnatory if the pusillanimous statement above is anything to go by.

    Tell me I am being bitter and unreasonable, I really would love to be able to vindicate him.