Ugandan bill back in the spotlight

Coincidence or not, the anti-gay environment in Uganda is back in the world's spotlight while the All African Bishops Conference continue in Entebbe, hosted by the Anglican Church of Uganda.

Jeff Sharlet was on Fresh Air yesterday. The program was entitled Finding The Root Of Anti-Gay Sentiment In Uganda: Sharlet recently traveled to Uganda to speak with Bahati, the bill's author. He writes about that meeting in a September 2010 Harper's Magazine magazine piece, "Straight Man's Burden.

" He describes how gay Ugandans are struggling to survive — and recounts his meetings with Bahati — in a conversation with Terry Gross on Fresh Air.

"Bahati said: 'If you come here, you'll see homosexuals from Europe and America are luring our children into homosexuality by distributing cell phones and iPods and things like this,' " Sharlet recounts. "And he said, 'And I can explain to you what I really want to do.' "

Sharlet accompanied Bahati to a restaurant and later to his home, where Bahati told Sharlet that he wanted "to kill every last gay person."

In this context, the behavior of the bishops at the All African Bishops Conference is irresponsible.

Consider what Ugandans are reading about the conference in the state influenced newspaper New Vision:

Anglican bishops attending the All Africa Bishops Conference in Entebbe have reiterated their firm stand against homosexuality.

In speeches, most of which received standing ovations, the prelates said the practice was alien and an “innovation of the truth”.

Present was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, whose open support of the practice has made him the centre of attraction for the media at the conference.

The seven-day conference, at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel, attracted over 400 bishops, a quarter of whom are from Nigeria. Participants were excited by the attendance of bishops from the Muslim countries of Sudan and Egypt.

As most clergy stood to clap at speeches critical of homosexuality, Archbishop Williams and two aides, who sat in the front row, were the only ones who remained seated.

More (irony alert - the article also cover the Ugandan's speech on tolerance):
Addressing a press conference later, Orombi said they had met the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, over homosexuality which has split the Anglican church.

“He recognised that he has complicated work to do. We impressed it on him that he had totally gone in a different direction and he has to sort it out,” Orombi said.

“We sympathise with his (Williams) position. It’s like having unruly kids in his house and he can’t sit down to eat food. We told him no more diplomacy on that matter,” he said.

Experts on family issues, maternal health and HIV/AIDS also made their presentations.

There is no report of what Williams had to say in response. Did he point out the anti-gay rhetoric he had heard during the conference was wrong or dangerous? Will he?

What do you think? Williams has said nothing clear about the treatment of homosexuals during his time in Uganda. Is sitting and not clapping a sufficient expression of disagreement?

Addendum. CNN Belief Blog adds, African bishops chide Anglican leader on homosexuality

Journalists who tried to question Williams on the subject at the conference were rebuffed by aides who surrounded him. The archbishop returned to England Thursday, but CNN calls to his office were not immediately returned.
Addendum 2. Church Times, Dr Williams warns African bishops to listen and take risks
In his sermon at the opening eucharist on Tuesday, at the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) gathering in Entebbe, Uganda, Dr Williams said: “We listen to Jesus, and then we must learn to listen to those we lead and serve; to find out what their own hopes and needs and confusions are. We must love and attend to their humanity in all its diversity, so that we become better able to address words of hope and challenge to them. We cannot assume we always know better.”

Although he did not mention homosexuality, many of his audience interpreted his words in that context.
The country’s proposed Bill against homosexuality has met with wide spread criticism in the West. It pro poses the death penalty for “aggra vated homosexuality”.

Delegates heard many speeches critical of homosexuality. While most bishops stood to applaud, the Arch bishop of Canterbury and his two aides stayed seated throughout, it was reported by the New Vision news website in Uganda.
Some Primates, including the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, are conspicuous by their absence. But seated very publicly among the Primates is the former Bishop of Pittsburgh (News, 26 Septem ber 2008), the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, the Most Revd Bob Duncan.
SIX years ago, all of Africa’s Anglican bishops met in Lagos, Nigeria, and complained that the Archbishop of Canterbury had not accepted their invitation. They are meeting in Uganda this week, with Dr Williams present, but — given the events of the intervening years — not all of them are happy that he is here.

Comments (3)

I urge people to follow the links above, which are utterly shocking: organized Christian rape and murder, funded in the USA!

And oh God, please teach Episcopal Café to stop obsessing about Rowan Williams, whose behavior never changes. The only appropriate response to Rowan is to picket him and hound him and drive him out every time he sets foot on American soil - with a few extra swipes at his American sponsors and enablers, whether bishops, priests or laity.

Josh - RW is the ABC and by tradition the first among equals (tho he seems to want to just be first) - calling him to account on Episcopal Café is one way to address his statements. It is not obsessing - it is reporting.

Ann: John's link about anti-Gay genocide in Uganda turns into a story about the ABC - just like every other story on this blog.

And that "calling to account" sure is working, isn't it? I can see you've had an impact already.

Josh Thomas

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