Church of Uganda Explains Support for Controversial Anti-Homosexuality Law

Our relationships with other Provinces in the Anglican Communion have nothing to do with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill/Act. Our relationships within the Anglican Communion are based not on civil laws, but on a common confession of faith and a common commitment to order in the church.

We recognize the difficult position the Church of England is in with respect to being the State Church and the recently enacted Marriage Equality Act. At the same time, we long for the Mother Church to exercise strong domestic and international leadership in extolling the blessings and abundance of life that come from following God's ways and surrendering to God's will. This perspective is at the heart of a regular prayer in the Morning Prayer service in the Book of Common Prayer. The Collect for Peace says, "O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom.'"

uganda gay
Ugandan activists hold placards and chant slogans during an anti-homosexuality rally in the industrial city of Jinja, 43 miles east of the capital Kampala, Feb. 15, 2010. Homosexuality has become a contentious topic in Africa in recent months after a Ugandan lawmaker proposed a bill including the death penalty for some acts. |

What is your opinion of the response by American media and the United States government to the new law?

We honestly don't understand it.

What we don't understand as a church is why there has been such international outrage for a bill that states virtually the same thing as what already existed in Uganda's penal code. Surely, this bill – now Act – is no more "draconian" than what previously existed. In fact, with the elimination of the death penalty, the new law mitigates existing punishments, and it was the church that spoke out about that. Still, Uganda and its churches have been roundly condemned outside of Uganda and most of Africa. To us, it reveals the ignorance of those condemning us because they haven't taken the time or interest to actually research the issue, or they choose to condemn the church and Christians because it fits their ideology.

The United States government has cut funding to Uganda for the tourism sector. According to the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, it is because some of America's citizens would not be welcome in Uganda because of the enactment of the new law. This is a very surprising statement because the provisions in the new Anti-Homosexuality Act, which would presumably cause LGBT Americans to not feel "welcome" in Uganda, are exactly the same as the provisions that existed in Uganda before the bill was signed into law and when the United States government agreed to fund tourism in the first place. In reality, nothing has really changed.

So to withdraw funding for that reason is to demonstrate a lack of awareness about what already existed in Uganda's legal framework, and seems to be solely a politically-motivated decision. So maybe the misreporting in American media about the law and the Church of Uganda is for similar reasons. We really don't know.

Finally, it probably depends on what your point of reference is. If your point of reference is the Western world's rapid adoption of same-sex marriage and the generally prevailing ideology that goes with it, and you have no idea what Uganda's laws were at the time, then the Anti-Homosexuality Bill may seem "draconian."

But if your point of reference is Uganda's existing laws at the time the Bill was proposed – which seems to be a more reasonable starting point – then you have to acknowledge that the new Act codifies most of the existing laws in one place, without substantially changing them, and actually mitigates the punishment for aggravated homosexuality/defilement.

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