Thursday, July 9, 2015


Some DSC communicants and friends are euphoric at three statements recently coming out of Africa condemning the Episcopal Church's resolutions for same-sex marriage. A close examination of these three, however, shows us there is more here than meets the eye at first glance. In the first place, while GAFCON opposes homosexuality, there is a division in their ranks on how society should treat homosexuals. In the second place, the equatorial African prelates are continuing their campaign to criminalize homosexual behavior and punish homosexual persons under the law even in defiance of the Anglican Communion.

Nine Global South primates issued "Statement in Response to the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church resolution regarding same sex" on July 4 ( ). Predictably it condemned TEC's action that "contradicts the Holy Scriptures and God's plan for creation..." Then, it goes on to declare "We are against any criminalization of homosexuals, they are like the rest of us..." Three of the nine signatories were from equatorial African nations Kenya, Burundi, and Rwanda. In Kenya, homosexual behavior is criminal under the law and punishable by up to fourteen years in prison. In Burundi, the national Constitution specifically bans same-sex marriage and the Penal Code punishes homosexual behavior with up to two years in prison and a fine of 100,000 francs. One can only wonder at how hard the Anglican primates of Kenya and Burundi have worked "against any criminalization of homosexuals."

Two days later, two members of the GAFCON primates' council issued "A Response to The Episcopal Church of the United States' (TEC) decision to make 'Same-Sex Marriage' official" ( ) These two happened to be the archbishops of Kenya and Nigeria. As in Kenya, Nigerian law criminalizes homosexual behavior across the board. In northern Nigeria under Muslim law, it is punishable by death. In southern Nigeria, it is punishable by up to fourteen years in prison. In their statement, the two archbishops warned TEC of "a mistake with serious consequences" but did not elaborate on what those consequences might be. Most of the statement is a rather benign reaffirmation of the Anglican Church in North America.

The third came three days later. On July 7 appeared a statement of one primate, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda ( ). It should be recalled that the Anglican province of Uganda cut off all ties to the Episcopal Church in 2003 and subsequently established episcopal intervention in the U.S. and became a strong supporter of the Anglican Church in North America as the replacement church for TEC.

Ntagali's was the strongest reaction of all three, condemning the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court as "grievous" and that of TEC as "even more grievous." It blasts TEC and reasserts the sole legitimacy of heterosexual marriage. Then, in the last paragraph, Ntagali inserts a sentence that was perhaps the whole point of the statement: "...we despair at the path TEC has taken and their imperialist commitment to export it to the rest of the Anglican Communion..." As it had happened, a few days earlier General Convention passed Resolution AO51 "Support LGBT African Advocacy" ( ). It directed TEC "to work in partnership with African Anglicans who publicly oppose laws that criminalize homosexuality and incite violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex people."

Ntagali is on record as an advocate of strengthening anti-homosexual laws in Uganda, a country well-known for its harsh policies, some would say persecution. All eyes in the world turned to Uganda in early 2014 as it debated a new anti-homosexuality law that would impose the death penalty in certain cases. Critics commonly called it the "Kill the Gays" bill. To Ntagali's credit he did campaign to remove the death penalty (it was removed from the final bill) but he still spoke out prominently for the new bill that was passed and signed into law in February of 2014. Practically every human rights group on earth protested the law. The archbishops of Canterbury and York told Ntagali and the world: "The victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us...We call upon the leaders of churches in such places to demonstrate the love of Christ..." Nearly every political leader of the First World loudly denounced the new law. The United States and many other countries drastically cut aid to Uganda in protest.

On August 1, 2014, the supreme court of Uganda declared the new law null and void since it had been passed without a quorum in the parliament. Ntagali publicly registered his disapproval of the court's action: "I appeal to all God-fearing people and all Ugandans to remain committed to the support against homosexuality." He went on, "The 'court of public opinion' has clearly indicated its support for the Act, and we urge Parliament to consider voting again on the Bill with the proper quorum in place." ( ). In March of 2015, the authors of the original law announced they were going to reintroduce it with more muted language but still clearly criminalizing homosexual acts and imposing stiff prison sentences. In the meanwhile, numerous grass roots human rights groups have organized in Uganda to resist the bill. Perhaps Ntagali's real concern now is that TEC's Resolution AO51 will strengthen the opposition movement in Uganda against the anti-homosexual bill that apparently is still in the works.

There may be other factors too driving Ntagali's rallying cry on homosexuality. Early this year he was sued before the high court of Uganda jointly by four senior priests and by the trustees of the Anglican Church of Uganda claiming that Ntagali had unlawfully forced the bishop of Kitgum diocese to retire and was planning the same for other bishops at odds with him. ( DAILY MONITOR, Feb. 5, 2015, ). Obviously there are clergy and officials of the Church of Uganda who are not happy with their archbishop's policies and procedures. The issues of homosexuality and American imperialism could be handy distractions from his troubles in court.

There are two points to take away from the three statements described above. The first is that GAFCON is divided on whether homosexuality should be treated as criminal under state law. In their statement of July 4, the Global South primates said it should not be criminalized. In contradiction, some Anglican primates in the "South" are campaigning for criminalization. The second point is that the Anglican archbishops of equatorial Africa have encouraged and supported legal persecution of the homosexual minorities in those countries. In spite of pleas from virtually the rest of the world, they seem resolved to promote their anti-homosexual views in their Anglican provinces. How much support they will get from the rest of GAFCON is an open question now. Will Global South back up its stand against criminalization?

The good people of South Carolina who are now thrilled at the certain Anglican archbishops' denunciations of the Episcopal Church really should ask themselves whether they want to be allied with people who are campaigning to deny human rights to all people. The freedoms that we take for granted in the U.S. are not found everywhere. While democracy is spreading around the world, there are still places that refuse to recognize the basic human rights that come with democracy. Does the independent diocese want to be allied with Anglican provinces that are working against human rights?
For information on anti-homosexual laws in Africa see the Wikipedia articles on Homosexuality and the Anglican Communion and "LGBT Rights in Nigeria, in Rwanda, in Burundi, in Kenya etc.
On Archbishop Ntagali and the anti-homosexual laws of Uganda see: "Homosexuality is tearing fabric of Anglican union, says Ntagali," ( ); "Uganda's Anglican Church Threatens Split Over Anti-Gay Law," Mar. 3, 2014 ( ); "Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014," Wikipedia (,_2014 ); "Uganda's Anglican Leader Doubles Down on Anti-Gay Law," Aug. 4, 2014 ( ); "Uganda Planning New Anti-Gay Law Despite Opposition," Nov. 10, 2014 ( ); "Uganda's 'Kill the Gays' Bill is Back," Mar. 1, 2015 ( ).