A right-wing evangelical group that works to change the sexual orientation of lesbian and gay people has written to the President of Uganda, expressing concern over proposed legislation which would introduce the death penalty for some of them.
The news comes as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of York who grew up in Uganda, face growing criticism for continuing to stay silent on the issue.
US group Exodus International, which believes that homosexuality is "not what God intended", sent a letter to Uganda's president on 16 November 2009 saying: "The Christian church…must be permitted to extend the love and compassion of Christ to all. We believe that this legislation would make this mission a difficult if not impossible task to carry out."
The letter is signed by Alan Chambers, president of the Orlando-based Exodus International; Randy Thomas, the group's executive vice president; Christopher Yuan, professor at Moody Bible Institute; and Warren Throckmorton, a member of the Clinical Advisory Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors.
Homosexuality already is illegal in Uganda, punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, introduced in October, would expand the punishment to include life imprisonment, and some cases would constitute a capital offence. Gay men and women who have HIV would receive the death penalty under the new legislation.
On Sunday (15 November), the Executive Council of the Anglican Church of Canada voted unanimously to oppose the Bill as a “fundamental violation of human rights”. Several groups dedicated Tuesday (17 November) as an international day of prayer on the issue.
An online petition was also launched yesterday calling on Rowan Williams “to end his silence on the matter, to condemn the bill in public and to urge Ugandan Christians to oppose it”. It has already been signed by several hundred people including clergy and church leaders from around the world.
While several Christian leaders in Uganda are sympathetic to the proposals, other Christian groups, such as Integrity Uganda, are campaigning strongly against them.
The bill has been condemned by a number of African organisations which promote equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people, including Sexual Minorities Uganda, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) and The Rainbow Project of Namibia.
Sexual Minorities Uganda said that the legislation “goes against the inclusive spirit necessary for our economic as well as political development” and described it as “profoundly undemocratic and un-African”.
Christian groups in Britain opposing the Bill now include Accepting Evangelicals, Changing Attitude, Courage, Ekklesia, Fulcrum, Inclusive Church and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM).
The evangelical group Fulcrum, who have issued a detailed briefing on their website, have described the bill as “fatally flawed from a Christian perspective”. While Fulcrum consider sexual activity between people of the same sex to be unethical, they condemn the Bill as encouraging “irrational fear of homosexuals”.
The online petition urging Rowan Williams and other Christian leaders to oppose the Bill can be found at: