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Anglical Church head Rowan Williams condemns Ugandan ‘gay genocide’ legislation

Dr. Rowan Williams

Buried in an interview with the London Telegraph is Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ first public declaration of opposition to the Ugandan gay genocide legislation. His wording implied that all members of the Anglican Communion, obviously including those in Uganda, should oppose the legislation. He stopped just short of calling out Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi.

The Telegraph’s George Pitcher wrote [emphasis ours]:

“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”.

Williams’ hand was apparently forced by the dramatically announced opposition of similarly reluctant Saddleback Community Church pastor Rick Warren (Williams interview is dated Dec. 11, shortly after Warren’s statement), and a parade of other religious leader opposition, including the implicit opposition of the Vatican. Ekklesia reported that several British Christian organizations had also expressed opposition, “including Accepting Evangelicals, Changing Attitude, Courage, Ekklesia, Fulcrum and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.”

Williams became a focus of criticism when he remained silent on Uganda yet issued a sharp, immediate rebuke to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles for on Dec. 5 choosing as bishop the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, a lesbian who has been in a partnered relationship for two decades.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori took a stand against “the pending Ugandan legislation that would introduce the death penalty for people who violate portions of that country’s anti-homosexuality laws,” in effective contrast with Williams’ silence.

The effect of growing international pressure on the legislation is still unclear. It is part of an Africa-wide slide toward repression of homosexuals, the Guardian reported today (12/13) [emphasis ours]:

There is wide support for [Ndorwa West, Uganda, MP David] Bahati’s [anti-homosexuality] law which, while being an extreme piece of anti-gay legislation, is not unique. As far as gay rights are concerned, it would appear that much of Africa is going backwards. Nigeria has a similar bill waiting to reach its statute books and already allows the death penalty for homosexuality in northern states, as does Sudan. Burundi criminalised homosexuality in April this year, joining 37 other African nations where gay sex is already illegal. Egypt and Mali are creeping towards criminalization, using morality laws against same-sex couples.

. . .

He [Bahati] denied reports that international pressure might result in parts of the bill being toned down. “We are not going to yield to any international pressure – we cannot allow people to play with the future of our children and put aid into the game. We are not in the trade of values. We need mutual respect.”

That is a contradiction of the earlier Bloomberg News (12/9) report that both the death penalty and life imprisonment would be dropped from the legislation.

December 13, 2009 - Posted by | Law, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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