THE Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed his “grief and dismay” at the Church of Uganda’s support for the Anti-Homosexual Act ratified by the country’s President last month, which criminalises homosexuality and allows for the death penalty in some cases.
The Archbishop of Uganda, Dr Stephen Kaziimba, above, announced in May that his Church was “grateful” for the passing of the Act.
Lambeth Palace released a statement in which Archbishop Welby said there was 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”.
“Supporting such legislation is a fundamental departure from our commitment to uphold the freedom and dignity of all people,” Archbishop Welby wrote. You can read the full statement here.
Archbishop Welby responded to Dr Kaziimba’s claim that the Act was a repudiation of foreign concepts being forced on Uganda by “outside, foreign actors against our will, against our culture, and against our religious beliefs”.
“I am deeply aware of the history of colonial rule in Uganda, so heroically resisted by its people,” Archbishop Selby said. “But 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.”
Archbishop Welby also said that Resolution 1.10, passed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference, rejecting “homosexual practice as incompatible with scripture” did not justify the position of the Church of Uganda.
He told Dr Kaziimba that he was “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 1.10”, which also “calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”.
“These statements and commitments are the common mind of the Anglican Communion on the essential dignity and value of every person. I therefore urge Archbishop Kaziimba and the Church of Uganda — a country and Church I love dearly, and to which I owe so much — to reconsider their support for this legislation and reject the criminalisation of LGBTQ people.”
The Archbishop challenged the conservative Anglican groups GAFCON and the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches “to make explicitly and publicly clear that the criminalisation of LGBTQ people is something that no Anglican Province can support”.
The Archdeacon of Sturt in Adelaide, the Ven. Sophie Relf-Christopher, welcomed Archbishop Welby’s statement.
“Many of us lamented the news that the Archbishop of Uganda, Dr Stephen Kaziimba had expressed gratitude that an Anti-Homosexuality Act had been passed into law,” she said.
“As Archbishop Welby points out, the extraordinary support for the Ugandan legislation by Archbishop Kaziimba is counter to the Anglican position which has hitherto been opposed to the criminalisation of LBGTQ+ people.”
She said the appeal to acknowledge that every person is a loved child of God is “no more than a recognition of one of the most fundamental understandings of Christians in relation to the creator”.
“We are all God’s children, and no, we shalt not kill any of them,” she said. “I join Archbishop Justin in challenging my fellow Adelaide Anglicans to loudly, frequently, and unashamedly, claim dignity for all people and condemn homophobia as un-Christian and un-Anglican”.