Ugandans clarify view on gay Bill

11 November 2009

by Pat Ashworth

THE Church of the Province of Uganda says it “does not yet have an official position” on the country’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, but says that it cannot support the death penalty for the offence of “aggravated homo­sexuality”.

Someone convicted of “the offence of homosexuality” would be liable to life imprisonment under the Bill. Human-rights organisations world­wide have condemned the Bill and described it as draconian (News, 6 November). The statement from the Province of Uganda reiterates its stance that “homosexual behaviour is immoral and should not be pro­moted, supported, or condoned in any way as an ‘alternative lifestyle’.”

It also quotes a comment made in April this year by the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Henry Orombi: “I am appalled to learn that the rumours we have heard for a long time about homosexual recruit­ing in our schools and among our youth are true.

“I am even more concerned that the practice is more widespread than we originally thought. It is the duty of the Church and the govern­ment to be watchmen on the wall and to warn and protect our people from harmful and deceitful agendas.”

He made the remarks in the wake of the right-wing Family Life Net­work conference in Uganda in March, addressed by Christian speakers from the United States. Participants publicly “confessed” to bribing school­children to become gay, and the Network petitioned the Ugandan government for new laws against homosexuals.

The government’s Minister for Ethics, James Nsaba Buturo, repor­tedly a committed member of the Church of Province of Uganda, subsequently accused UN member-countries of covertly trying to impose homo­sexuality on other nations. He stated at a press conference in April that people were being “recruited” and children were being “enticed” to become gay.

A smear campaign followed in the Sunday Pepper newspaper, which published a dossier of names. After the increase in harassment and vio­lence against individuals which fol­lowed, the organisation Sexual Minorities Uganda protested, and urged others to protest to President Museveni.

An Inter Press Service report on Monday said that Mr Buturo saw the global condemnation of the Bill as a positive sign. “It is with joy we see that everyone is interested in what Uganda is doing, and it is an oppor­tunity for Uganda to provide leader­ship where it matters most,” he said. He declared that the legislation would “define what the country stands for”.

The report quoted the provincial secretary of the Church of the Province of Uganda, Mwesigye Kafundizeki, as saying: “It is an important law, but the pro­vision related to the death penalty may prevent this law from being pas­sed because death would not be accepted as a punishment. Therefore I pro­pose another punishment instead of death.”

The Revd Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), has appealed to Christians of all back­grounds, regardless of their views on homosexuality, to condemn the Bill.

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