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.