There was news today of three direct statements condemning the Uganda anti-homosexuals bill, and one indirect statement.
Direct statement 1, from concerning a European Union resolution today:
MEPs call on the Ugandan authorities not to approve the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009" tabled in the Ugandan Parliament in late September. The resolution calls on the Ugandan authorities review their laws so as to decriminalise homosexuality. Under this Bill, alleged homosexuals could be punished with life imprisonment or the death penalty.Direct statement 2, from the Church of Scotland:
The Bill could also lead to the imprisonment for up to three years of anyone, including heterosexual people, who fail to report within 24 hours the identities of anyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or who supports the human rights of people who are.
MEPs remind the Ugandan government of its obligations under international law and the Cotonou Agreement, which calls for universal human rights to be respected. They firmly reject any moves to introduce the death penalty and are extremely concerned that international donors, NGOs and humanitarian organisations would have to reconsider or stop some of their activities should the bill become law.
Statement from the Church of Scotland on the proposals before the Ugandan Parliament on HomosexualityDirect statement 3, from the Episcopal Church of Brazil, a province of the Anglican Communion:
Church of Scotland has had a long record of standing against injustice and inequality especially when it is perpetrated institutionally. The Church of Scotland is therefore appalled at the draconian measures proposed by the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
In 2007 The Church of Scotland’s General Assembly received a report which stated that “Theological approaches to homosexuality which present gay or lesbian people as unlovable or less loved by God than any other person are unacceptable”. To discriminate on issues of sexuality is unacceptable in the eyes of God and of the law.
Rev Ian Galloway, convenor of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Committee said “This draft legislation is without question an infringement of human rights. It is morally repugnant. The Church of Scotland wants therefore to strongly add it’s voice to the many calling for the immediate withdrawal of this discriminatory Bill.”
We express, in the light of the Gospel, our deep opposition to legal measures currently being studied in Uganda in order to implement an unacceptable persecution to homosexual people. First of all, such measures take us back to a time of ignorance and barbarity. They are gravely against human rights, and an unacceptable measure in our times. Also, no Christian is allowed to persecute or even threaten other human beings because of the way they live their sexuality. It is acceptable not to agree with someone, but it is an abomination to exert prejudice towards anybody.
An eventual approval of such measures demands a clear and eloquent witness against the imposition of a de facto police state, and for the defense that every person is able to live fully (including their sexual orientation) within the principles of love, mutual respect and commitment to life. In a world where poverty and hunger kill more than wars, governments should be more concerned about fostering a society where there are no excluded people for any reason. Laws that end up promoting discrimination and exclusion, despite being abominable and contrary to human rights, end up masking unsolved problems that Uganda needs to face.
Indirect statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury through the Lambeth press office. As reported in a press release from the UK's Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM):
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s press secretary has told LGCM that Archbishop Rowan Williams is ‘very clear that the private Member’s Bill being discussed in Uganda as drafted is entirely unacceptable from a pastoral, moral and legal point of view.’ The press office went on to tell LGCM that the proposed Bill was ‘a cause of deep concern, fear and, to many, outrage.’The LGCM release says the bill comes before the Ugandan parliament in January 2010. Addendum on date: The Times says the bill will be debated tomorrow, December 18th. Box Turtle says, "If I understand Uganda’s Parliamentary procedures correctly, I believe this would constitute a second reading and debate. A vote comes after the third reading. If it passes (and it is expected to pass with a near-unanimous vote), it then goes to President Yoweri Museveni to be signed into law."
LGCM has spoken recently on its concern that the Archbishop had not spoken out against this Bill, the Archbishops office assured LGCM that ‘the Archbishop has been working intensively behind the scenes (over the past weeks) to ensure that there is clarity on how the proposed bill is contrary to Anglican teaching.’
[Chief Executive of LGCM] Rev Sharon Ferguson said ‘I only hope and pray that Archbishop Rowan Williams will now instruct all Anglican clergy in Uganda to speak out against this Bill and to take whatever action is needed to safeguard the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.'