Ugandan religious leaders speak out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

There are many problems still here but this statement represents some movement. The consensus for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as written appears to be waning.

Position of ICRCU

Tuesday, 9th March, 2010

IRCU is an initiative that brings together different religious institutions to address issues of common concern.

Its membership comprises of the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, the Church of Uganda, the Uganda Orthodox Church and the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Vision: A divinely Peaceful, prosperous and HIV/AIDS free Uganda

We the Council of Presidents of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) gathered this 10th day of February, 2010, at IRCU Secretariat;

Having read and considered carefully the provisions in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill yet to be debated by Parliament;

Aware of our mandate to nurture and protect the moral fibre of our society, guided by the Holy Scriptures of the religions we subscribe to;

Hereby state that:

1. The Bible, the Quran and other Holy Teachings treat homosexuality as a sin. Both the Bible and Qur’an are  categorical in their objection to same sex relationships (Lev. 18:22; Surah Ash’shura 26:165-166). Homosexual acts are contrary to the natural divine law, and under no circumstance can be approved.

2. The IRCU Council of Presidents, therefore, condemns homosexuality as an undesirable evil that should not be allowed in our society.

3. Our religious teachings promote respect, compassion and sensitivity. We, therefore, condemn the sin but welcome the sinners to confess, repent and seek a new beginning. This is based on the belief that all people are called by God to fulfill His will in their lives; IRCU, therefore, decries the proposed death penalty and life imprisonment in the proposed Bill as unwarranted. We believe homo-sexuals need conversion, repentance, support, and understanding and love in order to abandon their practices and return to God fully.

4. Since the proposed death penalty and life imprisonment do not provide the sinner an opportunity to repent, hence falling short of compassion to those who need conversion, repentance, support and hope, they are unnecessary.

5. Even the proposal to prosecute those who fail to disclose information regarding homosexual acts is inconsistent with the trust, confidentiality and professional ethics of persons such as parents, priests, counselors, teachers, doctors and leaders, to whom the sick, troubled and repentant sinners turn in search of support and advice for rehabilitation. The proposed law does not provide for the rehabilitation of repentant homosexuals. Yet as Religious Leaders, we are mandated to reach out to all people of God in a show of love and compassion (Mt. 9:10-13). The proposed Bill also has the potential to destroy the family as it is likely to undermine the important role of parents in providing guidance to their children.

6. Additionally, in our view the proposed Bill may not be called for considering that acts of sodomy are already condemned under section 145 of the Penal Code. However, we recognize the need to improve on the Penal Code as it has gaps which can be addressed by some provisions contained in the proposed Bill.

7. We the Council of Presidents of the Inter – Religious Council of Uganda, therefore, advise government, and all well-meaning groups and individuals to take remedial measures against this evil that has crept into our society by:

a. Exposing the people and organizations funding homosexuality in the country;

b. Providing enough information on recruitment and funding to the public in the interest of transparency and accountability;

c. Establishing facts on homosexuality and gay activities in Uganda and publishing a brochure which IRCU can distribute through its structures;

d. Emphasizing our core cultural and religious values and undertaking moral education in schools; and

e. Counteracting the distortion and misrepresentation of the debate on homosexuality by the media.

SIGNED:

His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga: Archbishop of the Uganda Orthodox Church; Chairperson, IRCU Council of Presidents

His Grace the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi: Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda/Member IRCU Council of Presidents

Pr. Dr. John Kakembo

President, Seventh-day Adventist Uganda; Union/ Member IRCU Council of Presidents

His Eminence Sheikh Shaban R. Mubaje: Mufti of Uganda/ Member IRCU Council of Presidents

His Grace Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga

Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese/

Member IRCU Council of Presidents

13 thoughts on “Ugandan religious leaders speak out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill”

  1. This whole idea of homosexual, gay, gay identified, v the behavior is going to be a long contentious battle over semantics and self identification. Maybe it is just best when meeting a person who is in the conversation to let them decided for themselves how they will be identified and respect that identification. Cumbersome, I know, but seems the only fair way to parcel out the real meaning of most anything.

  2. Warren-

    I understand. I don’t like the word ‘homosexuality’ because of the various confusions it presents. Wish that all religious folks would stop using it (including myself!) and simply speak to ‘homosexual behavior’. It wouldn’t clear up all confusions but some.

    While they were speaking forthrightly to their objection to homosexual behavior, I do not believe it was their intent to say that homosexuals do not have a right to participate in society. I’m sure they object to lying and likely speak out strongly against it…but with the terms ‘homosexuality’ and ‘homosexual orientation’, comes the presumption that it’s not just something you DO but WHO YOU ARE.

    (Even the term ‘homosexuals’ identifies unique and complex individuals only by their sexual attraction and/or behavior when, in reality, there is so much more to each and every one.)

    I daresay that I’ve wrestled with many a sin in my life and there were those I committed far more often than engaging homosexually but neither I nor the world around me actually identified me, labelled me by those other behaviors or desires.

    I believe I’ve read elsewhere over the course of these dialogues that Ugandans, as a whole, don’t buy into the notion of orientation. For this reason, I don’t believe that they meant to speak to the whole of the person but rather to the homosexual behaviors. I understand that the message would still be objectionable but I don’t believe it runs to the extreme of rejecting the people or their rights to participate in society.

  3. Eddy – This is what I was referring to in particular.

    The IRCU Council of Presidents, therefore, condemns homosexuality as an undesirable evil that should not be allowed in our society.

    Whatever one thinks of homosexual behavior, gays exist and have a right to participate in society.

  4. Wondering if it’s their language or what they believe that is objectionable.

    They used the word ‘sin’ or ‘sinners’ several times…dictionary translates that ‘as transgression of divine law’. They are religious; they believe in the divine; they believe in transgressions; they call them ‘sin’.

    They used the word ‘evil’ twice. I realize we don’t use that one much in our culture. Primary definition is ‘morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked’. To know whether these religious folks have a specialized vendetta against homosexuals, I’d have to hear how often they use that word ‘evil’ in respect to other moral conditions.

    They speak to the sin creeping in. This too has a dark and ugly spin except when you consider that it’s been one of the primary objectives of both the religious and the non-religious throughout the ages. When we consider something to be morally objectionable and as a potential threat to morals or general well-being, whether we are religious or non, we guard against it’s creeping in. (I don’t believe it’s only the religious who desire that casinos and such don’t exist in our neighborhoods.)

    They speak to this also when they say ‘our mandate to nurture and protect the moral fibre of our society’.

    Conversely, don’t those who hold to more liberal values engage in a campaign against ‘creeping conservatism’? Don’t we all see ‘the other’ as something that needs to be guarded against? The issue would be whether either side engages in that campaign fairly and without deception.*

    So, they’ve clearly separated themselves from the agenda of Sempa and Bahati while declaring their belief that homosexual behavior is sinful and immoral. They spoke in a clear voice consistent with their beliefs and didn’t appear to ‘supercharge’ their words.

    Is it their language that is disturbing or is it 1) their belief that homosexual behavior is immoral and/or that 2) they believe they have a ‘mandate to nurture and protect the moral fibre’ of their society?

    *If we anticipate deception from those who sponsored this statement, on what basis do we do so? Have they given us any reason to believe that they are deceptive? Or, because they are ‘others’, do we not see them clearly enough…do we see them somehow through the Sempa/Bahati filter although they’ve clearly distinguished themselves from that mindset?

  5. Some of the language is no doubt painful for LGB people but I hope this signals a willingness for continued discussion and a move away from criminalization.

    I’m not going to hold my breath, especially given the language in the position statement above, but I hope you are right Warren.

  6. I agree that this is a better sign. I think it actually is a basis for dialogue that could lead to a more balanced stance. Some of the language is no doubt painful for LGB people but I hope this signals a willingness for continued discussion and a move away from criminalization.

  7. This is the most hopeful sign I’ve seen to date that Sempa and his cronies will not succeed with their proposed bill. I appreciate that it is clear in addressing the most serious offensive characteristics of the bill.

    I further appreciate even the parts of their statement that speak quite candidly to the negatives. I hope and pray that their vision of exposing, providing, establishing, emphasizing and counteracting will be reasoned and just. None of these speak to criminalization, in themselves, although the first two do suggest the ultimate goal of ‘accountability’ which I presume is ‘legal accountability’. However, the funding of an agenda can rightly be determined to be a cultural threat and I’ve yet to hear anyone defend recruitment; the premise has been that it’s pretty much non-existent. If it exists and if it’s exposed, then truth will be served.

    The phrase ‘core cultural and religious values’ gave me pause initially but the fact that this religious group does cross denominations and even includes non-Christians alleviates some of my concerns.

  8. The IRCU Council of Presidents, therefore, condemns homosexuality as an undesirable evil that should not be allowed in our society.

    Are you kidding me?

  9. The consensus for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as written appears to be waning.

    Let’s hope so — and pray it wanes somemore.

  10. The proposed Bill also has the potential to destroy the family as it is likely to undermine the important role of parents in providing guidance to their children.

    Criminalization of homosexuality is anti-family? Gotta get that out to the AFA, FotF, FRC, FRI, CWA, AFTAH, etc.!!

    .

    Ok… not literally meant. On the other hand….

    7. We the Council of Presidents of the Inter – Religious Council of Uganda, therefore, advise government, and all well-meaning groups and individuals to take remedial measures against this evil that has crept into our society by:

    a. Exposing the people and organizations funding homosexuality in the country;

    b. Providing enough information on recruitment and funding to the public in the interest of transparency and accountability;

    c. Establishing facts on homosexuality and gay activities in Uganda and publishing a brochure which IRCU can distribute through its structures;

    d. Emphasizing our core cultural and religious values and undertaking moral education in schools; and

    e. Counteracting the distortion and misrepresentation of the debate on homosexuality by the media.

    The first question is what do they mean by “distortion and misrepresentation of the debate on homosexuality by the media?” If it is Langa (where is he?), Ssempa, et.al. then I the previous points don’t appear to be all that bad. The facts on homosexuality might actually be facts and not the rants of Ssempa. Although the idea that such “remedial measures against this evil that has crept into our society” are needed seems to speak in favor of an attitude such as Ssempa’s. Albeit, however, the use of terminology like “this evil” is common enough a phraseology by Catholic clerics. My natural skepticism leads me to think point ‘7’ isn’t necessarily meant to be looking for the truth but more of the needful lies that have populated Ugandan speech about homosexuality these last years.

  11. Good luck on finding evidence of the International Gay Conspiracy providing iPods, Laptops, and cash to “recruit” schoolkids.

    But what does not exist may be manufactured, with enough show trials. Stalin showed that. Look at the number of people in Uganda who swear they’ve seen witches fly.

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