February 17, 2010

African church leaders speak out for sexual minority rights

by Sara Levy

Church leaders in southern Africa have said they are “deeply concerned” by proposals in Uganda to outlaw homosexuality.

The bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa said the proposed law, which introduces the death penalty, violates the biblical commandment “You shall not murder”.

“Though there is a breadth of theological views among us on matters of human sexuality, we see this bill as a gross violation of human rights and we therefore strongly condemn such attitudes and behaviour towards other human beings,” the bishops said in a joint statement following a meeting at Thokoza Conference Centre in Swaziland.

“We emphasize the teachings of the Scriptures that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore must be treated with respect and accorded human dignity,” the statement read.

“We are therefore also deeply concerned about the violent language used against the gay community across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“We thus appeal to law makers to defend the rights of these minorities.

“As bishops we believe that it is immoral to permit or support oppression of, or discrimination against, people on the grounds of their sexual orientation.”

Archbishop Henry Orombi of the Church of Uganda said although he regards sexual acts between persons of the same sex as a “perversion” he is opposed to the proposed laws in his country because they fail to ensure that sexual orientation is a “protected human right”.

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