House of Deputies president condemns proposed Uganda anti-homosexuality legislation
Integrity USA, Canadian bishops also call for opposition
[Episcopal News Service] The pending Ugandan legislation that would imprison for life or execute people who violate that country's anti-homosexuality laws would be a "terrible violation of the human rights of an already persecuted minority," Episcopal Church House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson has said.
Anderson was responding to a Nov. 16 request that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Archbishop Henri Orombi of Uganda and she speak out against the legislation. Anderson is the first to issue a statement.
Homosexuality in Uganda currently carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. If passed, the bill would extend prison sentences for homosexuals up to and including life imprisonment and introduce the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," which includes assault against people under the age of 18 and those with disabilities.
Opponents fear that people, including family members and clergy, who support and advise homosexual people could be prosecuted and punished under the proposed law, which also would give Ugandan courts jurisdiction over Ugandan citizens who violate the law "partly outside or partly in Uganda."
The proposed legislation is "an attempt to use the authority of the state to deprive individuals of their God-given dignity, and to isolate them from the care and concern of their fellow human beings," Anderson said in her Nov. 25 letter to the co-conveners of the Chicago Consultation, a group of lay and ordained Episcopalians
General Convention in 2006 condemned (via Resolution D005) the criminalization of homosexuality, Anderson noted.
The church's Executive Council, an elected group of 40 clergy, laity and bishops that carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention according to Canon I.4 (1)(a), is expected to meet by teleconference Dec. 7 to consider a possible statement on the Ugandan legislation.
"I hope and believe that a vigorous statement will be forthcoming, and that I will be able to support this statement wholeheartedly," Anderson said.
Meanwhile, Anderson said she would encourage House of Deputies members and first alternates to contact their congresspersons through the church's Office of Government Relations to express their opposition to the bill.
In a related matter, Integrity USA, a group that advocates for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the Episcopal Church, on Nov. 30 called on leaders of the church to speak out against the Ugandan parliament's proposed bill. The group specifically urged Jefferts Schori to make a statement and to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "to work through diplomatic channels with the government of Uganda to quash this bill."
The Rev. David Norgard, Integrity USA president, said in a news release that "it is our moral imperative to take a stand."
"Integrity applauds all those who have spoken out so far, including the Anglican Church of Canada, and those who intend to do so in the future," he said.
Read the rest here ... Sign the Anglican ipetition here ... Email President Anderson and thank her for speaking out here ... Support/Join Integrity here