Archbishop of York Denounces Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill

Jim Burroway

December 24th, 2009

The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu

The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu

The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, who was born in Uganda and has a brother who is a prominent Pentecostal there, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today to denounce the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act that is now before Parliament. Among its many draconian provisions, the proposed bill would provide the death sentence for LGBT people under certain circumstances (including so-called “serial offenders” or where the accused is HIV-positive), outlaw all advocacy on behalf of LGBT people (with seven years’ imprisonment) and criminalize the failure to report LGBT people to police within 24 hours (with three years’ imprisonment).

Archbishop Sentamu said:

I want to go back to the Dromantine communiqué of 2004 by the Primates of the Anglican Communion when we said we wish to make it clear that our discussion and assessment of moral appropriateness of specific behaviors, we continued to be unreservedly committed to pastoral support and care for homosexual people. The victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered toward people of the same sex is anathema to us. “We assure homosexual people that they are people of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.”

…I am fully opposed to the death penalty. I am also quite unhappy when you describe people with the kind of language you find in this private member’s bill which seems also not only victimizing but diminishment of individuals.

The Archbishop also talked about the growing gulf between the Church of Uganda and the rest of the Anglican Communion:

The gulf can actually grow when it seems as though we’re having a dialogue with the deaf, and the reason why Canterbury and I haven’t actually come out publicly with anything is not because we don’t want to say anything because the position is very clear, but rather because we’re trying to help. And we’re trying actually to listen.

…And I’m absolutely committed that the church of Uganda — and I can only speak about the church of Uganda — is committed to the pastoral care which is in the Dromantine Communiqué, and is also committed to the listening process with the experience of homosexual people. And people may have clear, what I call “traditional” views about sexuality, but we as a Communion actually committed to listening to the experience of homosexual people. You can’t do that on one hand and then have language which in many ways seems to suggest all these people are not children of God. I mean, they are valued by God, they deserve the best we can give in pastoral care and friendship, and I’m quite sure that the response the Church of Uganda will make in due course will have to take account of all these realities.

The interview is available on the BBC web site.

Click here to see BTB\’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

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