Uganda Anglican Church and the anti LGBTQ law
On 28th May, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, approved and passed a law that criminalizes LGBTQ people . An action hailed by the Anglican church in Uganda in a statement released by the Church of Uganda communications office,with a disturbing headline: “Church of Uganda grateful for Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023”.
Uganda has a history in drafting anti gay laws since 2013 and being hostile to the LGBTQ community. This time, however, the President did sign the law compared to the past. An insensitive action that was celebrated by national lawmakers and many religious leaders.
The Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Dr Stephen Kaziimba, expressed his Church’s gratitude for the anti-LGBTQ law approved at the end of May. A law that attracted the attention of International organizations and political figures across the world for its rigidity, harshness and setback for human rights.
Dr Kaziimba who signed the statement praises the work of the parliament and the president : “The Church of Uganda welcomes the diligent work of Parliament and His Excellency, the President, in crafting the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023.”
The failure of the church of Uganda
He is convinced that the law offers “greater protection of children through strong anti-grooming measures, strong restrictions on promotion, and protection of children by not allowing those convicted under the act to be employed in organizations that work directly with children.”
What he seems to not understand is that the law is actually going to do more harm to many families:LGBTQ ugandan boys and girls, women and men. The fear of being discovered or reported and the violence they will encounter on a daily basis will be enormous. This appreciation from the Anglican church makes the church not even safer for the LGBTQ anglicans, who hoped to find support and a safe place within the church in this particular moment.
Rev. Jide Macaulay, newly appointed patron of One Faith One Body, founder of House of Rainbow and Vice Chair of One Voice Network responded to the news release on his Instagram account saying that “the Anglican communion can do more to protect LGBTQ people around the world. The failure of the church of Uganda is more likely to lead to family rejections, societal violence and more harm to LGBTQ people”.
Dr. Kaziimba justifies his church position by agreeing with other politicians in the country who believe that homosexuality is a western enforcement. He stated that homosexuality is “currently a challenge in Uganda because it is being forced on us by outside, foreign actors against our will, against our culture, and against our religious beliefs.
The religious belief to which he refers is the one spoken of by the apostle Saint Paul in his letters to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 12-13:’’ …Love Is Indispensable. Love is patient, love is kind… Love does not delight in evil …It always protects,…” Where is the love of the Ugandan church for LGBTQ people, for human beings? Is the Anglican church in Uganda denying the image of god in them?
Regardless of his appreciation for the new law, the Ugandan Anglican church does not support the death penalty and recommend life imprisonment. Nevertheless, the two are the faces of the same coin. Life imprisonment kills the soul before the body follows. Clearly, life imprisonment is another form of capital punishment when inflicted on people who are on trial because they have decided to be honest with themselves and others.
A general remark on sexuality closed the statement: a set of double standards on how the Anglican church of Uganda reacts on sexual issues. Though he describes them as “immorality” the same way as homosexuality and affirms that they are against their religious belief, no harsh law enforcement is asked by the church to protect children: he only chooses to recognise those other forms of sexual immorality as “challenges in our families and communities”:
”We must recognise we also have major challenges in our families and communities with heterosexual immorality. . . Many of the people loudly protesting against homosexuality are quietly fornicating or betraying their spouse through gender-based violence, adultery, or defiling their own children.”
Reaction of the Archbishop of Canterbury
The wave of homophobia started in the Anglican church in Uganda has affected the Anglican church in Rwanda which is trying to back up the position of the Uganda Anglican church. A shameful position that puts the lives of people, christians, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters in danger. We are witnessing a wave of churches with no humanity and compassion.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby reacted to this strong position of Uganda. He reminded the Archbishop of Uganda Dr.Kaziimba that the Anglican Communion has long been united in its opposition to the criminalisation of LGBTQ people and its condemnation of homophobia.
“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.”
Not all Anglican leaders in Uganda are against LGBTQ people
Rev. Gideon B. Byamugisha showed another side of Uganda Anglican church on 6th July, in an article published by the Monitor. He did not hide his concern by the virulent hate and anger that accompanies the anti LGBTQ law in the society and in christian community.
“I find the moral language used, the emotions generated and the levels of psych aggregations and spiritual aggression generated around this community unreligious and uncultured too. There are big societal; dangers that come with encouraging the politics of sexual identity to override our personal and collective spirit of love and grace”
He believes that the selfishness and self_righteousness attitude of the society is excluding homosexuals (LGBTQ people) as it is doing for people living with HIV/AIDS.”Instead of selfishly blaming, shaming and harassing these people. We should extend to them our repentant hand love and heart of care. We should pray for (and with) them empathically.
To end some of these inequalities,parents, guardians,spiritual and cultural monitors should showcase principled morality of compassion and solidarity, and advocate for politics of equity and justice, forgiveness and reconciliation. We should aim for harmonious living and unity of purpose in diversity as pillars that should shape our character and beliefs.”