Ugandan anti-LGBTQ law deepens Anglican Church rift on gay rights

The latest split in the Anglican Church comes after recent comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury on Uganda’s new law.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addresses the United Nations Security Council during an open debate on maintenance of international peace and security at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., August 29, 2018. [Andrew Kelly/Reuters]
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at the UN headquarters in New York City, August 29, 2018 [Andrew Kelly/Reuters]

The chair of a conservative group of Anglican church leaders on Wednesday accused the church’s global head of perpetuating colonialism with his criticism of one of the world’s harshest anti-LGBTQ laws, introduced by Uganda last month.

The new legislation imposes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts and a 20-year prison sentence for “promoting” homosexuality.

“It seems the history of colonisation and patronising behaviour of some provinces in the northern hemisphere towards the South, and Africa in particular, is not yet at an end,” said Bishop Laurent Mbanda, chair of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and head of Rwanda’s Anglican Church.

He was referring to Justin Welby, head of the Church of England and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion’s 85 million members, who said last week that he had written to Ugandan Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba.

The letter expressed “grief and dismay” at Kaziimba’s support for the law.

Welby had said last week that he was aware of the history of British rule in Uganda and his statement was not about imposing Western values, but a reminder of the commitment “to treat every person with the care and respect they deserve as children of God”.

In response, Archbishop Kaziimba said last week that Welby “has every right to form his opinions about matters around the world that he knows little about first-hand”.

Mbanda’s statement mentioned but did not explicitly offer support for the Ugandan law.

The law has triggered widespread Western criticism including threats by United States President Joe Biden and others to cut aid to Uganda and impose other sanctions.

Issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights have sharply divided Anglicans, with the church’s GAFCON coalition of conservative adherents among the most critical.

Anglicans created GAFCON in 2008 in response to what the group says was Western churches’ abandonment of Bible-based doctrines. GAFCON claims to represent the majority of all Anglicans worldwide.

In February, another splinter group, the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches, said it no longer recognised Welby’s leadership of the Anglican Communion after the Church of England announced it would allow priests to bless same-sex couples.

The Church of Uganda says 36 percent of Uganda’s population of around 45 million are Anglicans.

Source: News Agencies