The head of the Anglican Church in Uganda has criticised the position of UK archbishops on homosexuality, saying “homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture”.
Stanley Ntagali was reacting to a letter written by archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu, leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion, in which the clergymen said that “victimisation or diminishment of human beings … is anathema” to the Church of England and that the church was committed to “pastoral support and care of gay people”.
The clergymen addressed their letter to primates of the Anglican Communion, and to the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, saying it was in response to questions raised about the Church of England’s attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalise gay people.
Sentamu, the archbishop of York, is originally from Uganda, whose parliament has passed an anti-homosexuality bill that still awaits presidential endorsement before it becomes law.
Last month, Nigeria enacted anti-gay legislation amid condemnation from rights groups.
Ntagali said the Church of Uganda was encouraged by the work of the Ugandan parliament in amending the anti-homosexuality bill, which had clauses stipulating a death sentence for people convicted of aggravated homosexuality – defined as sex acts committed with children by HIV-positive individuals.
Bur he said the teaching of the Anglican Communion from the 1998 Lambeth Conference “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions”.
“It was the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada’s violations of Lambeth 1.10 which caused the Church of Uganda to break communion with those Provinces more than ten years ago,” Ntagali said.
“We sincerely hope the archbishops and governing bodies of the Church of England will step back from the path they have set themselves on so the Church of Uganda will be able to maintain communion with our own Mother Church.”
Homosexuality is frowned upon by many African clergymen although their Western counterparts continue to urge tolerance and pastoral support for gay people.
The anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda was tabled before parliament in 2009 but was shelved due to sharp criticism from Western leaders who have called it “odious” and have threatened to cut aid to the East African nation if the bill becomes law.
President Yoweri Museveni said last month he needed more time to review the bill, adding that it was passed by parliament without the minimum number of MPs required to be present in the house.