There are no gay people in Uganda, and more on homosexuality and the African church

One of the more inventive analysis of Uganda's dreadful anti-gay legislation, which the country's parliament seems to dangle over the heads of the international community to watch that community jump, comes from the Rt. Rev. Godfrey Makumbi, Anglican Bishop of West Buganda. He doesn't see a need for the law because he doesn't believe there are any gay people in Uganda.


“I also don’t condone it, but sincerely it is overshadowing other problems,” he said, according to the Ugandan Observer. “Our prime problems are on everyone’s fingertips; corruption, dishonesty, impudence and impunity, human [child] sacrifice, poor service delivery and absolute poverty.”

It seemed that at last there was a voice of reason in the conversation about homosexuality in Uganda — that someone with real influence was pointing out that the law is absurd and at best a waste of time and resources.

But then he continued.

“Realistically this is not in our culture,” he said, “Because our African sexual values are completely heterosexual, I personally have never seen people fancying it here.”

By denying that homosexuality in Uganda exists at all, he’s taken it beyond thinking that there’s something wrong with a person who’s gay, to thinking that there’s something wrong with a society in which it’s possible to be gay.

Meanwhile, the Primate of Kenya has issued a terse statement on the Church of England's decision to allow gay men who do not have sex with other men even if they have entered into a civil partnership, to become bishops. As Jerome Taylor reports in The Independent, he's not keen on it.

“It is common knowledge that active homosexuality on the part of Church of England clergy is invariably overlooked and in such circumstances it is very difficult to imagine anyone being brought to book,” Dr Wabakula stated. “It cannot be right that [gay men] are able to enter into legally recognised relationships which institutionalise and condone behaviour that is completely contrary to the clear and historic teaching of Scripture.”

Here's a ten cent bet that not five percent of the Kenyan church cares about this issue. Conservatives in the Church of England, who lead the organization that Dr. Wabakula chairs, however, care about it very much.

Comments (7)

At some point in the mid-1980s - while I was in the process of being kicked out of the US Navy - I went to Confession with an older Serbian Orthodox priest in San Francisco. He was a very kind man, but seem stumped when it came to the topic of homosexuality. He said that he didn't have any counsel or advice to give, because there were no gay people in Serbia (!). I'm sure there are plenty of cultures and nations in which most people are completely clueless about the existence of gay people - hell, I bet there are plenty of people in the red states who think they have never met a gay man or lesbian.

There's no homosexuality in the Bible, either. Where no social role is available for same-sex relationships, expression is seen as individual behavior -- disruptive and stigmatized behavior at that. Much of the church's problem nowadays is dealing with relationships on which tradition is silent. Gays have escaped the confessional and are out and proud, coupling, forming families. Society is adapting; tradition is bewildered. As RC prelates keep saying, It is not wrong -- it is impossible! Hermeneutics is playing catch-up.

The idea that there’s no homosexuality in Africa, or that it is imported, is long standing. I saw a piece on the Martyrs of Uganda. You may recall that among other things, the Buganda king was allegedly forcing homosexual advances on some of the young men. This had to be explained. Whoever wrote the hagiography said: “Although homosexuality is abhorred among the Baganda, it was unheard of for mere pages to reject the wishes of a king. (It is alleged that Mwanga learnt or acquired homosexual behavior from the Arabs).” Do they really believe this stuff? Apparently they want to, at least. http://www.buganda.com/martyrs.htm

This may be an apocryphal story, but I recall reading gay Westerner saying he had a relationship w/ an African man, while in that country (don't remember where).

The western gay man spoke of homosexuality, and his lover said "We don't have homosexuality in our country." When challenged on the (to us!) obvious by his western partner, the African man exclaimed "But we're not like that---we LOVE each other!"

People believe what they want to believe [And/or "Divided by a common (?) language"]

JC Fisher

What is happening in Africa is outrageous. Either this is just plain ignorance of human sexuality or pride so strong, as to admit to a reality, that in their culture, is apparently, appalling.

Statements coming from high Anglican clergy and civil officials are condoning hate, crimes against humanity, and a seemingly lack of the concept of social justice and the reality of the human condition.

Thank God, we have the voice and civil and religious wisdom of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

It is apparent that the lack of education is just as prolific with the clergy and civil leaders as it would be among the common citizen.

Does the Anglican communion think this is just perfectly fine to stand by with their high brow heads in the sand while this garbage goes on.

And what about the AIDS epidemic, how are they alleviating that crisis?

Homosexuality has existed since humans have been humans. Every culture, in every age has had homosexuals. Just because you repress your sexuality and are secretive about it does not mean it doesn't exist. Are they teaching this at Oxford? If the educational requirements were as strict for the ordained clergy in third world countries as in TEC then perhaps some real progress would be made. Then again, England who heralds some of the finest universities and seminaries still appear to make no impact on ignorance of human sexuality as has, is and will be explored by science.

Perhaps, the church is relying on these ignorant fools to foot the bill to keep this corporation of the Anglican church in Africa going.

It keeping up appearances is important in England, then perhaps they need a longer linger in the looking glass.

Is being gay and denying sexual expression God's plan for this "condition". Is this gay "problem" being allowed to "afflict" certain poor souls because that's how God intended it? This condition of being gay and celibate is the exact same requirements by the Roman Catholic Church.

Meanwhile, let's let straights get married in Vegas in a drunken haze, have infinite adulterous extramarital affairs, abuse children, divorce and repeat all over again, because this is "human nature" as God intended it. Get real. Being straight in no way implies any more sanctity in sacred relationships.

Meanwhile gays that want to enter into relationships that are committed, faithful, personally healthy and fulfilling are being denied because? Because we have such a great example of how well the straights are doing it. Give me a moment to recovery from the utter laugh ability of that logic.

Its okay to eat just don't swallow. Its okay to taste just don't chew. It's okay to be gay just deny every natural part of your sexual reality. They're right being gay is a "cross to bear" and the Church is not making this any easier. This begs arguments for why certain "afflictions" happen to some and not to others and even greater philosophical and religious questions of how a good God allows bad things and why evil harms the innocent.

What is so flipping hard for the Anglican church, as well as most of Christendom, to deal with the reality of homosexuals. Being homosexual does not equal a denial of the divinity of Christ, a denial of the Nicene creed, a denial of the sacraments, and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Being gay and Christian could and is a great blessing to many people. Let's get our noses out of people's bedrooms and focus our hearts and minds on the midrash of the Lord, our savior Jesus Christ's life and what that really means. In the 1 book of John it says in essence, if you claim to love God and hate your neighbor, you're a liar. How can you love a God you've not seen and hate your brother whom you know?

The ideas of commitment, loyalty, and monogamy, couple with Christian belief is a thing that gay Christians want and it poses no threat to society, the church, or the world.

When will this ever end and the day come when peace and unity as embodied in the Christ's Good News will be known?~Ben Miller

Ben, in terms of polity, the Church of England/England has little to do with what's going on in the church in Africa. Each of Africa's archdioceses is autonomous, and set their own policies, and have done so for many years.

According to the article in the Guardian here, though, much of the increase of homophobia is due to an deliberate stoking of the fires by American conservative Christians, who are campaigning in Uganda and other places to spread their ideology.

http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2012/jul/24/evangelical-christians-homophobia-africa

Rita, thank you for your comment. However, I disagree with you on several points. Firstly anyone who is truly Anglican is connected to the See of Canterbury. While autonomy may exist, there is an undeniable link to the C of E and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Now, I would like to focus on abuse of power. There have been more than one Anglican primates and clergy around the world, and particularly, Africa who are promulgating hate crimes by either standing by and doing nothing, or by adopting anti-gay church laws, which may be illegal, in the sense of civil law. Yes, American Evangelicals may be preaching hate and condemnation, however, the C of E is not issuing statements or using It's position of power to resolve this issue to Her fullest. Particularly, with new church laws regarding bishops in the C of E and other English civil laws, regarding same sex inclusion in the C of E and English society.

The issue of abusing power is rampant in our world today. Those who are high profile regardless of profession or religious persuasion, hold so much ability to do something positive for this broken world. It is not my intent to condemn, but to get us ALL thinking, how can We bring the "kingdom of God" to this suffering world. It is too easy to play the blame game and get involved in a war of egos. However, are we not to challenge things just because that's the way it is.

I am reminded of Christ in the gospel story, where He says, in essence, "I have come not to bring peace, but a sword". And from that I realize Jesus was a revolutionary. Jesus was a "boat rocker" and, indeed, a sword. We we let the sword of Christ change our world?~Ben Miller

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space