Uganda's Christians appear to be split over the recently proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, with some clergy protesting to the government while others are writing in favour of it. A committee of the Ugandan Parliament has this week begun debating the Bill.
The Bill has attracted opposition from Christians and others around the world, with Christian leaders such as the Archbishop of Canterbury under pressure to speak out against it. If passed, it would introduce life imprisonment for any sexual activity with someone of the same sex, and the death penalty for anyone whose same-sex partner is disabled or aged under 18.
However, a number of Ugandan clergy of various denominations have written to the government to oppose the use of the death penalty. They ask for capital punishment to be removed from the Bill and replaced with life imprisonment.
Meanwhile, Christian groups such as Integrity Uganda, which promotes respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people, continue to be at the forefront of opposing the legislation.
Joseph Abura, Anglican Bishop of Karamoja in Uganda, described opponents of the legislation as “lovers of evil”.
In a long article published online yesterday (25 November), he accused Christians in the West of seeking “to coerce African parliaments like the Ugandan one to condone and legitimise the vice [of homosexuality]”. However, he failed to mention the Bill's many African critics.
He concluded by urging the Ugandan Parliament to “go ahead and put the anti-gay laws in place”.
Christians in Britain continue to urge church leaders to condemn the Bill. Yesterday, campaigners applauded the United Reformed Church (URC) for expressing its opposition to the Bill, becoming the first major UK denomination to do so.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has still not commented on the issue, despite daily pressure.
The petition urging Christian leaders to speak out against the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Uganda_Christians/index.html .