Archbishop of Canterbury urges Anglican Church of Uganda to reject anti-homosexuality law
By DANICA KIRKA Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — The archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Anglican Church of Uganda to reject the country’s new anti-homosexuality law, saying its support for the legislation was a “fundamental departure” from the global Anglican movement’s commitment to protect the dignity of all people.
Archbishop Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said Friday that he had written to Ugandan Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba to express his “grief and dismay” over the Ugandan church’s position on the law.
“Supporting such legislation is a fundamental departure from our commitment to uphold the freedom and dignity of all people,” Welby said in a statement. “There is no justification for any province of the Anglican Communion to support such laws: not in our resolutions, not in our teachings, and not in the Gospel we share.”
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni late last month signed legislation that includes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” defined as sexual relations involving people infected with HIV. Those convicted of “promoting” homosexuality, a broad category covering everyone from journalists to human rights campaigners, face up to 20 years in prison.
While Welby joined world leaders such as U.S. President Joe Biden and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in opposing the legislation, his intervention highlights deep divisions within the global Anglican movement over its teachings on marriage and sexuality.
Many Anglican leaders in the Southern Hemisphere continue to teach that homosexuality is “contrary to God’s design” and oppose moves to recognize same-sex marriage. That has created tensions with more liberal churches in Europe and North America.
The Anglican Communion is the umbrella organization for 46 autonomous churches that trace their roots to the Church of England, a Protestant denomination that split from the Catholic Church in the 16th century.
While there is no central authority, the member churches recognize the archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England, as their spiritual head and take guidance from periodic meetings of archbishops and other church leaders.
Anglicans account for about a third of Uganda’s population, making it the country’s second-biggest religion behind Catholicism, according to the most recent census.
Welby said he was “deeply aware” of the history of colonial rule in Uganda and wasn’t trying to impose Western values on the people of Uganda.
But he said that despite their disagreements, Anglican leaders worldwide had agreed to condemn homophobia and oppose criminal sanctions against LGBTQ+ people.
“These statements and commitments are the common mind of the Anglican Communion on the essential dignity and value of every person,” Welby said. “I therefore urge Archbishop Kaziimba and the Church of Uganda – a country and church I love dearly, and to which I owe so much – to reconsider their support for this legislation and reject the criminalization of LGBTQ people.”