Take a stand against homophobia, says Ugandan bishop

By staff writers
March 8, 2011

An Anglican bishop in Uganda has urged the Anglican Communion not to "keep quiet" about the abuse and violence faced by gay, lesbian and bisexual people in his country and elsewhere.

Christopher Senyonjo, the retired Bishop of West Uganda, made the remarks in the wake of the murder of the Ugandan human rights activist David Kato. Kato, a gay Christian, was brutally killed earlier this year shortly after winning a court case against a newspaper which called for him to be hanged.

Several Christian leaders in Uganda have been accused of implicitly encouraging homophobic abuse or violence.

In an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, along with other Anglican primates and leaders, Senyonjo insisted that "a loving Anglican Communion should not keep quiet" when the media stir up hatred. "Silence has the power to kill," he argued, citing as an example "the tragic and cruel murder of David Kato".

Senyonjo wrote, "If Anglicans in one country dehumanise, persecute and imprison minorities, we must be true to the Gospel and challenge such assaults on basic human rights".

Critics suggest that Anglican leaders internationally have at times failed to condemn homophobic violence in an attempt to avoid controversy and division over issues of sexuality.

In 2009, Ugandan politicians backed an Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would introduce the death penalty for a second "offence" of homosexuality. There was widespread criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who failed publicly to condemn the bill for several weeks, by which time over 3,000 people had signed a petition urging him to do so.

However, Williams was quick to condemn the murder of David Kato earlier this year, describing it as "profoundly shocking". He said it was time to "address those attitudes of mind which endanger the lives of men and women belonging to sexual minorities".


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