The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on the Anglican Church of Uganda to “reject the criminalisation of LGBTQ people” following its support for an Anti-Homosexuality Act recently signed into Ugandan law by President Yoweri Museveni.
In a statement released today, Most Rev Justin Welby describes his “grief and dismay” at the Church of Uganda’s support for the new laws and says : “There is no justification for any province of the Anglican Communion to support such laws: not in our resolutions, not in our teachings, and not in the Gospel we share.”
The Archbishop also calls on the leadership of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) movement and the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) to make “explicitly and publicly clear that the criminalisation of LGBTQ people is something that no Anglican province can support,” adding: “That must be stated unequivocally.”
The statement explains that the Archbishop recently wrote privately to the Primate of Uganda Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba, to make clear that the Church of Uganda’s support for the Act is “a fundamental departure from our commitment to uphold the freedom and dignity of all people.”
Archbishop Welby reminded Archbishop Kaziimba that the Anglican Communion has long been united in its opposition to the criminalisation of LGBTQ people and its condemnation of homophobia.
In his statement the Archbishop says: “This is not about imposing Western values on our Ugandan Anglican sisters and brothers. It is about reminding them of the commitments we have made as Anglicans to treat every person with the care and respect they deserve as children of God.
“Within the Anglican Communion we continue to disagree over matters of sexuality, but in our commitment to God-given human dignity we must be united.”
The Church of Uganda, like many Anglican provinces, holds to the traditional Christian teaching on sexuality and marriage set out in Resolution i.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. In his statement, Archbishop Welby says :
“That resolution also expressed a commitment to minister pastorally and sensitively to all – regardless of sexual orientation – and to condemn homophobia. I have said to Archbishop Kaziimba that I am unable to see how the Church of Uganda’s support for the Anti-Homosexuality Act is consistent with its many statements in support of Resolution i.10.
“More recently, at the 2016 Primates Meeting in Canterbury, the Primates of the Anglican Communion "condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation." We affirmed that this conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. We also “reaffirmed our rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people” – and stated that “God's love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.”
Uganda’s anti-gay law is seen as one of the world’s harshest, with a potential death penalty for homosexuality. Human rights groups have denounced it as dangerous and discriminatory but earlier this week President Museveni defied international calls to rescind the law.