In the News

Letter to Anglican Primates on Ugandan and Nigerian Legislation

June 10, 2014 |

Dear Archbishops,

We write to you today as members of the Chicago Consultation, a gathering of Anglican bishops, theologians, clergy and lay leaders from across Africa and the United States, that meets to pray, to study issues of gender and sexuality as they are presented in the pages of Holy Scripture, and to learn how God is at work in each of our unique contexts.

As you may know, on June 12, a gay man and a transgender woman will go on trial in Uganda for “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” Kim Mukisa, 24, a market vendor and Jackson Mukasa, 19, a student, were arrested in January and held for almost five months without trial before being released in May.

Their prosecution will be the first since President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law in late February. The legislation was supported by Archbishop Stanley Ntagali and many other leaders in the Anglican Church of Uganda supported. Nigeria passed a similar law with the vocal support of Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and the leaders of his church. In both countries, the publicity surrounding the legislation precipitated a wave of violence, extortion, loss of housing, loss of employment and ongoing harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, many of them Christians.

In Uganda, Human Rights Watch reports “a notable increase in arbitrary arrests, police abuse and extortion, loss of employment, evictions and homelessness” since the law was passed, and says that at least one transgender person has been killed in an apparent hate crime.

In the northern Nigerian state of Bauchi, police allegedly entrapped and tortured four gay men to turn over the names of dozens of other gay men, of whom 38 have been arrested. State officials deny using torture, but the head of Bauchi’s Shariah Commission said 11 gay men had been arrested and “we are on the hunt for others.”

Even social service agencies that work with LGBT people are in danger. On April 3 Uganda police raided the University Walter Reed Project clinic, a non-profit clinic run by Makerere University in Kampala and the U.S. Military HIV Research Program, claiming that the clinic was “carrying out recruitment and training of young males in unnatural sex acts.”

The leaders of the Anglican Communion cannot remain silent while leading figures in the Communion are complicit in acts of violence and widespread human rights violations. What is the rest of the world to think when the Communion convenes high-level panels to express their disapproval when a gay man is elected bishop in the United States but makes barely a sound when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are beaten and imprisoned in Africa?

We believe that Christians who read and reason from the same Bible can arrive in good faith at differing conclusions about the moral legitimacy of same-sex relationships. But we also believe that there is no religiously rooted justification for perpetrating violence against innocent men and women who, whatever their sexual orientation or identity, are created in the image and likeness of God. There is no legitimate Christian rationale for denying lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people the human rights bestowed upon all of God’s children.

Whatever their political or theological opinions, faithful Christians are called to offer sanctuary to the persecuted, not encouragement to the persecutors. We urge you to use the occasion of the trial that begins in Uganda next week to speak out against the persecution of LGBT people in the provinces of the Anglican Communion and in the wider world.

Yours in Christ,

Ms. Paula Abuor

The Rev. Jennifer Adams

The Very Rev. Brian Baker

The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows

Ms. Ruth Frey

The Rev. Lowell Grisham

Dr. Ragies Gunda

The Very Rev. Gary R. Hall

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings

The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee

Dr. Dora Mbuwayesango

The Rev. Ernesto Medina

The Rev. Emily Mellott

The Rev. Dr. Ruth A. Meyers

The Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge

The Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry

The Rev. Jon Richardson

The Rev. MacDonald Sembereka

The Very Rev. Jane Shaw

The Rt. Rev. Brian Thom

Dr. Fredrica Harris Thompsett

Professor Gerald West

Steering Committee of the Chicago Consultation