Archbishop 'gravely concerned' by LGBT proposals in Ghana

(Photo: Lambeth Palace)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has distanced himself from Anglican bishops in Ghana who have come out in support of a Bill that would make it a crime to be gay, bisexual or transgender.

The Bill would also criminalise campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights and declaring oneself to be an ally. Those falling foul face up to 10 years in prison. 

Gay sex is already punishable in Ghana by up to three years in prison. 

The Anglican Church in Ghana, headed by Archbishop Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith, has publicly backed the Bill.

In a statement of support, Anglican bishops in Ghana called homosexual practice "unbiblical and ungodly". 

"We see LGBT+ as unrighteousness in the sight of God and therefore will do anything within our powers and mandate to ensure that the bill comes into fruition ... Leviticus 20:13 clearly declares that a male lying with a fellow male is an abomination and punishable by death," the statement reads.

It adds: "The church does not condemn persons of homosexuality tendencies but absolutely condemn the sinful acts and activities they perform."

In a statement on Tuesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury said he was "gravely concerned" by support for the Bill among his Ghanaian colleagues and that he planned to be in touch with the Archbishop of Ghana to raise his concerns directly.

"The majority of Anglicans within the global Anglican Communion are committed to upholding both the traditional teaching on marriage as laid out in the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution I:10, and the rights of every person, regardless of sexual orientation, before the law," he said.

"In Resolution I:10, the Anglican Communion also made a commitment 'to assure [LGBTQ+ people] that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.'

"Meanwhile on numerous occasions the Primates of the Anglican Communion have stated their opposition to the criminalisation of same-sex attracted people: most recently, and unanimously, in the communiqué of the 2016 Primates' Meeting.

"I remind our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church of Ghana of these commitments.

"We are a global family of churches, but the mission of the church is the same in every culture and country: to demonstrate, through its actions and words, God's offer of unconditional love to every human being through Jesus Christ."