URC condemns Ugandan anti-homosexuality legislation

The United Reformed Church says it is “appalled” at the “draconian” measures being proposed in Uganda’s anti-homosexuality Bill.

The Bill proposes life imprisonment for adults of the same sex who engage in sexual activity and the death penalty for anyone whose same-sex partner is disabled or under the age of 18.

If passed, the Bill would also see priests and church ministers imprisoned for up to three years for failing to report any homosexual activity within their churches.

The Bill, up for debate in the Ugandan Parliament in January, has been met by strong opposition internationally and calls for the Archbishop of Canterbury to break his silence.

URC spokesman Simon Loveitt said the draft legislation represented a “clear infringement of human rights” and was “morally repugnant”.

“It also infringes on the African principles of ubuntu (the concept that one’s humanity can only be expressed through the humanity of others) and we add our voice to the many calling for the immediate withdrawal of this discriminatory Bill,” he said.

The URC passed an anti-homophobia resolution at the General Assembly in 1999 condemning violence against homosexuals and urging all URC members to oppose homophobia.

While the Bill has horrified human rights advocates, it has won some support from Christians in Uganda.

The Anglican Church of Uganda said earlier in the month that it could not support the death penalty while noting that “homosexual behaviour is immoral and should not be promoted, supported or condoned in any way”. It added that it did not yet have an official position as it was still studying the Bill.

Writing in Spero News on Wednesday, Anglican Bishop Joseph Abura condemned opposition to the Bill, particularly from human rights advocates in Western countries.

He said: “Christianity in Africa is under attack by Gays and Christians in Europe and the Americas. Africans do not need Europeans to teach them what the Gospels say ... The vice of homosexuality through the necessary laws in place can be checked."

The bishop dismissed strong opposition from the Anglican Church of Canada, which the Anglican Church of Uganda has severed ties with.

The Canadian Church said earlier this month that the Bill would “impose excessive and cruel penalties on persons who experience same-sex attraction”.