Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told members of the National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) legislative caucus on Jan 13 that he was going to block the gay genocide bill. George Conger of Religious Intelligencer wrote:
“I [Museveni] told them that this bill was brought up by a private member and I have not even had time to discuss it with him. It is neither the government nor the NRM Party’s” bill, he told legislators, according to Ugandan press reports.
“This is a foreign policy issue and we have to discuss it in a manner that does not compromise our principles but also takes care of our foreign policy interests,” the president said.
Xan Rice of the Guardian reported today:
Uganda has indicated it will bow to international pressure and amend draconian anti-homosexual legislation that includes the death penalty for HIV-positive people convicted of having gay sex.
. . .
,p>The proposed law, which has been pushed by local evangelical preachers and vocally supported by senior government officials, also threatens life imprisonment for anyone convicted of gay sex.
While broadly supported domestically, the legislation has caused a storm of protest abroad and consternation from western donors who fund a large chunk of Uganda’s budget.
The Ugandan foreign minister denies the government is backing away from proposed anti-gay legislation because of foreign policy implications, saying the government is still discussing its position on the issue. Gay rights activists express caution over reports the president has backed away from the bill.
Jim Burroway foresees a move toward compromise legislation.
Repudiated Rick Warren friend Martin Ssempa, Pastor of the Makerere Community Church, has issued a video response [segments with analysis] which includes all of the errors and distortions of the earlier United National Task Force letter.
“As a Christian organization, Focus on the Family Action (the political arm of the family group) encourages pro-family policies. As such, we respect the desire of the Ugandan people to shield their nation from the promotion of homosexuality as a lifestyle morally equivalent to one-man, one-woman marriage. But it is not morally acceptable to enact the death penalty for homosexuals, as some versions of the bill are reported to require.”
“My reaction is to denounce this. It sets a horrible precedent and has a potential for developing hatred.”
Moreover, it’s unfair to single out American evangelical leaders and organizations for not condemning the bill when many world leaders, including President Barack Obama, and human rights groups have also been silent on it.
- The White House issued a statement of opposition to the legislation on Dec. 11.
- Human Rights Watch opposition dates to the introduction of the legislation on Oct. 14.
- Amnesty International’s opposition also dates to the inception of the legislation.
- Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a stand against the legislation in November.
- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown denounced the legislation in November.
- Sweden’s stand against the legislation includes a threat to cut off aid and dates to November.
- The European Parliament adopted a denunciation of the legislation on Dec. 17.
- Australia’s denunciation of the legislation dates to Dec. 21.
Focus on the Family is a welcome and unexpected late-comer to the family of opponents, not yet joined by the Southern Baptist Convevtion Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
This without defending Barna’s failed attempt to exonerate the Christian Right for its well-documented role in fostering the law and to cast belated opposition as pioneering.
He told BBC:
I’m opposed to the death sentence. I’m also not happy when you describe people in the kind of language you find in this private member’s bill. … [It is] a diminishment of the individuals concerned.
About a third of the Ugandan population considers itself to be affiliated with the Church of Uganda (Anglican).
Sentamu’s measured, authoritative voice is an important counter on this issue to the counterfactual, poorly written letter directed by the hastily organized Ugandan National Task Force Against Homosexuality at Saddleback Community Church pastor Rick Warren. The Task Force demanded an apology from Warren, who urged his “fellow pastors in Uganda” to oppose the measure.
About 40% of Uganda’s population is Roman Catholic.
The recent tabled Anti-Homosexuality Bill does not pass a test of a Christian caring approach to this issue.
A video report of Archbishop Lwanga’s message:
Monday the very new Ugandan National Task Force Against Homosexuality shot back at Rick Warren, demanding an apology for his letter to fellow pastors in Uganda condemning the proposed Uganda law that would imprison and in in some cases execute homosexuals.
Your letter has caused great distress and the pastors are demanding that you issue a formal apology for insulting the people of Africa by your very inapropriate (sic) bully use of your church and purpose driven pulpits to coerse us into the ‘evil’ of Sodomy and Gaymorrah (sic).
It is a rewrite of a letter sent to Christianity Today last week by the group’s chairman, Ssempa (a “former Bush Administration favorite“). Parts of Ssempa’s letter are included verbatim in the Task Force letter.
For example, both letters say:
As you yourself say about evil, – “the Bible says evil has to be opposed. Evil has to be stopped. The Bible does not say negotiate with evil. It says stop it. Stop evil.”
The task force letter shares errors and misleading language with Ssempa’s original, whose claims are compared to the text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill by Warren Throckmorton.
Both letters say that the purpose of the bill is to protect “the boy child” in the same that the law protects “the girl child.” As Throckmorton points out, that overlooks the opening section of the bill, “which states the purpose.” The law is intended to eliminate homosexuality from Uganda by eliminating practice or speech intended to support homosexuals.
Ssempa’s letter is properly castigated by GayUgand for “Lying,” and the Task Force letter is vulnerable to essentially the same criticisms.
If factual accuracy were the principal issue, the debate would be over and the Ugandan pastors would have helped consign the anti-gay legislation to a permanent spot on the trash heap of history.
Tony Cartledge gently comments on the letter:
The intemperate use of bad puns like “Sodomy and Gaymorrah” and the suggestion that Warren is trying to coerce anyone into a homosexual lifestyle says a lot about the level of discourse, which has apparently been encouraged in part by visiting U.S. evangelists other than Warren (according to this article at Time.com), folks who echo the same tired mantra that tolerance of homosexuality will be the death of civilization.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) chief is so sad and so busy (like Mike Huckabee) lamenting legislator support for health reform that he still doesn’t have time to say a word or two against Uganda’s gay genocide legislation.
The letter was signed by Reps. Frank Wolf of Virginia, Chris Smith of New Jersey, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, Trent Franks of Arizona and Anh “Joseph” Cao of Louisiana.
They call the gay genocide legislation antithetical to the Christian belief in the “inherent dignity and worth” of all human beings, and there are reports that he agrees and has assured U.S. officials that he will block the bill.
Mark Silk covers the Ugandan anti-homosexuality act.
Richard Land’s passion for foreign policy should not be confined to his current call for trade sanctions against Iran. Nothing should stop Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, from joining fellow Southern Baptist evangelical Rick Warren and a long list of other Christian leaders in opposing Uganda’s gay genocide legislation.
“In the spirit of John the Baptist’s cry,” a Facebook group admonishes Rowan Willams to take forceful stands for homosexual rights. They ask all Anglicans who agree with the following statement to join the group:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has failed to exercise moral leadership to protect gays & lesbians in Uganda and has instead exercised political pressure to attack a bishop-elect in Los Angeles because she is a lesbian.
As Anglicans who treasure their Communion and expect more from their Archbishop, in the Advent spirit of John the Baptist’s cry to the religious leaders of his time, we call on+Rowan Williams to repent of his earlier statement and issue this one instead:
“The proposed legal actions that would make homosexuality punishable by death in Uganda, and the lack of outrage regarding this proposed action by the Church of Uganda, raises very serious questions not just for the Church of Uganda and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.
The proposed legislation has not yet become law, and could be rejected, with the Anglican Church of Uganda leading the opposition. That decision will have very important implications. The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that offering pastoral care and listening to the experience of homosexual persons is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.”
We believe with God all things are possible — and we pray together during this Advent season of repentance and new beginnings for the revitalization of our Communion on behalf of the Gospel and for the liberation of all held captive by homophobia.