Uganda – Lord have mercy upon us.

As many will be aware Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni yesterday (February 24) signed into law an anti-gay law. It was done with a flourish in front of a battery of media cameras. The new law gathers lesbians into the ‘criminal category’ for the first time.

There seems little doubt that this shift in law is about hatred. It is designed to increase the persecution of people and destroy the love they feel for one another.

Making homosexuality illegal will make the vital HIV/AIDS education, and the honesty and openness about sexual behavior that work requires, extraordinarily difficult.

Policing and prosecuting the law will be corrosive to private life and loves and will demean those who do the policing.

 Archbishop Tutu compared the law – which could see gay people facing lifetime prison sentences – to Nazism and Apartheid.

Our own Archbishops have (so far) been unable to come up with anything to say publically. They had press releases ready to go for a number of events recently like the death of Nelson Mandela. This event has been no less predictable.

 Of course, it would be hypocritical for them to say anything. Difficult for me to say anything, for that matter. Our own church law is no different in its discrimination. Moreover, some nations in Polynesia, part of our Province, have similar laws – although without the same excessive punishment. From both angles we are could be accused of not setting our own house in order.

 It is time for us to recognize what we have become and with whom we are now aligned. Lord have mercy upon us.

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15 comments

  1. Good to see you in the blogosphere, +J!
    As for hypocrisy, yes we minister within a church that manifests hypocrisy, but that’s why it’s all the more important to comment publicly via social media so people realise we disagree even if we haven’t yet managed to change the system!
    We got rid of slavery, we managed to get a woman elected as Bishop in Waikato, we have gay marriage in our country if not in our church, all because people challenged the status quo and registered their dissenting opinions until the minority became the majority.

  2. Nice post Bp Jim !

    I think that the time has come when Churches need to speak out against these laws. Even if we aren’t always perfect ourselves. The apostles weren’t perfect either. We should never let our imperfections stand in the way of doing what is right and just, is standing up for justice and in solidarity with the oppressed.

    God Bless

  3. Thank you for these comments. I wonder if there are some Anglican bishops in Uganda who may share your thinking but are unable or unwilling to speak out. Perhaps they may gain encouragement from bishops like yourself (and Desmond Tutu) who provide a Christian vocabulary for criticising the new law.

  4. Hi Jim,
    Do you know how far back in Ugandan history this attitude to homosexuality existed? I recently read an opinion piece that suggested it was a reflection of missionary work and not a part of indigenous philosophy. If that is correct, what is the role the church now has in addressing the safety concerns for people at risk under the current laws?

  5. Thank you Bishop. As a gay man, almost 70, I have seen tremendous changes in gay acceptance in my time and it saddens me that the only place where I still face official discrimination today is in my church.

  6. From today’s Christchurch Press, it seems that already the hatred of Gays implicit in the Ugandan Government’s new law against homosexuality is bearing bitter fruit. The Ugandan tabloid newspaper ‘Red Pepper’, under the glaring title ‘EXPOSED’, has published photographs of targeted Ugandans, together with this description: “Uganda’s top homos named”.

    It is significant that this pogrom against homosexuals has been assented to by the Anglican Church in Uganda – one of several African Anglican Churches that have joined the call for the marginalisation and prosecution of homosexuals, their friends and families, on that continent. One might ask, is this a campaign that we Anglicans in New Zealand should dissociate ourselves from? I, for one, think it is.
    Jesu, mercy. Mary, pray!

  7. +Jim, an interesting post. I agree with one of your points, and disagree with another.

    I agree about the hypocrisy in our Church, can you believe that some clergy deny the bodily ressurection of Jesus Christ from the dead? One wonders how they might ever stand and celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or expound anything meanignful from the Bible.

    I disagree regarding the change of law in Uganda that it ‘is about hatred.’ It is very easy to compare things we dislike with Nazism and Apartheid, and really that approach is rather cheap.

    I believe the Anglican Church of Uganda had a large part in tempering the law which is outlined here http://onesmallsqueakycog.blogspot.co.nz/ This will no dounbt give a rather different opinion especially in reagrds to setting our own house in order and what action needs to be taken to ensure a Jesus-like Anglican Church.

    1. Thanks for your comment Zane.
      I used the comparison with Nazism and Apartheid advisedly and not cheaply. I did so taking my lead from Archbishop Tutu who used those words. I bow wisdom and clarity of vision in these matters. But more significantly I take the comparison as entirely apposite as the last programmatic hunting down and excessive punishment of homosexuals was carried about the Nazi regime. Apartheid is unjust discrimination on the basis of God given identity with the power and force of law behind it.
      Lastly, I did not critique the church in Uganda but, rather, asked us to look at ourselves and our own discriminatory laws (and canons) and with whom we are actually aligned. Again, it is apposite consider the role of the German Church and the way it is compromised the Gospel in its complicity with the Nazi regime.

  8. Fr Bp Jim, I am glad to see bishops like you on the blogosphere. Thank you for this article! I didn’t even know that you existed, but now I can only rejoyce to see an orthodox progressive Anglican bishop on internet.

    Keep on blogging!

    George (from Belgium)

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