Uganda’s Anglican leader says anti-gay law still needed

By Fredrick Nzwili
Posted Aug 5, 2014

[Religion News Service] Uganda’s top Anglican leader criticized the constitutional court for striking down the country’s controversial anti-gay law on a technicality, saying the law is still needed to protect children and families from Western-imported homosexuality.

Ugandan Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali

A five-judge panel on Aug. 1 declared the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014, null and void since it was passed by parliament without the required quorum. Dismissing the law on a technicality maintains the possibility that it could be revived in a different form.

The law punishes homosexual acts with life imprisonment. President Yoweri Museveni signed the measure in February, drawing harsh criticism from Western nations and cuts in foreign aid.

Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali called the decision a disappointment for the Church of Uganda, religious leaders and many Ugandans.

“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,” Ntagali said on Aug. 4.

Uganda’s religious leaders had widely supported the law, but opposed an earlier clause threatening the death penalty for some homosexual acts. Most Ugandan church leaders say homosexuality is against God’s order and African cultures. Such a law was needed to protect families, children and youth, the leaders stressed.

“I appeal to all God-fearing people and all Ugandans to remain committed to the support against homosexuality,” said Ntagali, whose church cut ties with the Episcopal Church, the United States-based branch of Anglicanism, after the election of an openly gay bishop in 2003.

Gays and lesbians celebrated the verdict as their victory and a sign of freedom, but analysts view it as a start of a long battle for gay rights in the country.

“I am no longer criminal,” Kasha Jacqueline, a prominent gay activist, tweeted. “We have made history for generations to come.”

David Bahati, the member of parliament who authored the bill, said the government’s attorney general will petition the Supreme Court over the ruling, giving the greatest sign that the law will be revived.


Comments (17)

  1. Rev. Canon Stephen N. Brannon says:

    If the price of maintaining the Anglican Communion is failing to condemn the hateful message of the Archbishop of Uganda, then the price is too high. Allowing for differing theological views should not properly include the active persecution of others.

    1. Samuel Magala says:

      The Archbishop is supported 99.9% in Uganda. The new law was only to bring the old law (writen by the British) to bear on the modern times. What the world Church leaders write, may be important but will not be important to Ugandans. Those who visit Uganda and tell you otherwise, you will know, are not telling the truth. Ugandan children are to be protected at any cost just like else where in the world. Take off time visit Uganda then write…..sir.
      The this issue has been handled, reminds Uganda of the colonial times when the African was expected to say ‘Ndiyo bwana’ (Yes sir). Later it became Yes…….sir, that is after a pause. Then no…..sir and now its No without the sir. Christians have got a right to say no to anything they know is not consistent with the world of God and share their conviction. Not thinking , or acting the you think is in line with anglican faith and the autonomy of the Province of the Church of Uganda or anyother Anglican Province. What I do not agree with is isolating each other. The Church of Uganda can maintain their no and the western world maintain their position of yes and no but be agreeable on how we build our church building and the sort. The authority of Scripture must be respected for thats why we are christians.

  2. Livingston Prescott Humboldt IV says:

    Sad, very sad. And he apparently considers himself a Christian, though his words and actions are totally unchristian.

  3. Jon Spangler says:

    There is no justification I know of–Biblical or otherwise–for punishing human beings for their sexual orientation. Nor is there a shred of truth to the statement that homosexuality is “Western-imported.”

    The church throughout the world–regardless of denominational affiliation–should be answering God’s calls to stand up against injustice–not to support it. The Ugandan law that calls for imprisoning people who happen to be homosexuals is a reprehensible example of the very injustice that Archbishop Stanley Ntagali and all Christians should condemn and oppose.

  4. Malcolm J Blue says:

    Ntagali and others like him are a disgrace not only to The Anglican Church but to ALL of Christendom, especially since he is speaking as a Primate of the Anglican Church. There isn’t enough hatred, bigotry and discrimination in the world, so he feels the need to speak so horribly against his fellow citizens and in many instances, his own brothers and sisters in Christ! How does someone so ignorant and hateful get to be a Primate in the Anglican Church?

  5. John Neitzel says:

    Disgraceful, hateful, sad and un-Christian. The Archbishop of Canterbury and our Presiding Bishop should issue a sharp rebuke. And Jesus wept…

    1. John McCann says:

      This is disgraceful, I come from a parish with quite a number of Africans, of recent arrivals, I hope that they can influence their OWN countries of origin not to follow this mans example,
      Shameful- and YES where is the Archbiship of Cantebury and the Presiding Bishop????

      Unlike Pope Francis- their leadership is non-existant. Silence equals complicity.

  6. It is a sad thing to see religion being confused with a common social prejudice. True religion calls us to transcend our socially constructed boundaries and see the Other as a child of G_d worthy of our respect and dignity. Prejudices turn our gaze back to within the the confines of the circled wagons and the prejudices of the tribe: Us v. them, us good, them evil. This is precisely the kind of stunted religious vision that Jesus confronted. The question we have to answer is which role we will play: Jesus, breaking socially constructed boundaries; the religious establishment, stuck in self-serving, fearful roles; the Romans, unwilling to deal with any violation of established order. Sadly, I hear a chorus of voices in Uganda shouting “Crucify him!”

    1. Carolyne Ashton says:

      Well said, Harry Coverston, well said. And, what an appalling ignorant view if Bishop Ntagali truly believes that homosexuality is “imported from the west.” Homosexuality has been with us since time began, in all places, in all times. Very sad to think that this man is a leader in the Anglican Communion. Where are the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury?

  7. John Simpson says:

    The Archbishop’s words anger, frustrate, sadden and embarrass me. And yet, I know that he and the Church of Uganda are as fervent in seeking and discerning the will of God as those of us in the western church that condemn them are.

    For Christ’s sake, literally, division is not the answer. The answer, unsatisfyingly, is to continue to question. Consider that the theology he espouses it no unlike the theology of own own church at the turn of the century. Consider that the libraries of many Anglican seminaries throughout Uganda are full of books “we” happily gave them in the forties and fifties.

    The Archbishop has provided us much to struggle with here. We fail to be his brothers and sisters if we don’t provide him something to struggle with as well: a vision of God blessing and being glorified in LGBT relationships. We must remain in communion, or we’ve lost the important Gospel each has to tell the other.

    1. Jeremy Bates says:

      “The Archbishop has provided us much to struggle with here…. We must remain in communion, or we’ve lost the important Gospel each has to tell the other.”


      Let’s not “struggle with” the soft bigotry of low expectations. Let’s not assume that 21st-century Ugandans are capable only of 19th-century ways of thinking.

      There is no “important Gospel” that requires life imprisonment for gay people. Merely to suggest this is to slander the Good News, to give Christ a bad name, and to fulfill the worst expectations that the secular culture has about Christians.

      If being in the Anglican Communion requires that we accept that some Christians think it is Christian to imprison gay people for life, then the Anglican Communion is nothing more than a suicide pact, and The Episcopal Church should let it go.

      1. John Simpson says:

        Whoa, John and Jeremy. Who here is arguing for acceptance of ideas we don’t believe? We all need to use whatever prophetic voice the Holy Spirit grants to speak and act out boldly against this. John-Albert’s right. Write the Church of Uganda. Go there and witness. Whatever we do, don’t sit still or be quiet.

        But we aren’t the church of right-thinking. We are the church of the resurrection, of the body and blood, the church of deep and profound reconciliation, between us and God and one another. It’s in the catechism, I promise. We can leave, or ask “them” too, but if God is the God of the nations and the Holy Spirit is in all the baptized, we’ll be less for it.

        1. Jeremy Bates says:

          John S, you said that “The answer, unsatisfyingly, is to continue to question.”

          I don’t think the matter admits of any question whatsoever. The Episcopal Church is diminished by association with Anglican anti-gay bigotry.

          1. John Simpson says:

            Yes of course, Jeremy. Bigotry, like sin of any kind, separates and diminishes us. But our communion is not with brother Stanley’s bigotry (or any of his moral, doctrinal, or theological views), but with his (and his church’s) interminable status as a child of God.

        2. Jeremy Bates says:

          John S., I grant you that Archbishop Ntagali is a child of God. He is therefore a member of the Human Communion.

  8. Michael Grear says:

    Replace the word “gay” or “homosexual” in the Uganda law’s wording with “woman, Jew, or handicapped” and the Communion would howl with righteous indignation. For the Anglican Communion to allow this type of hatred in its ranks is to negate all Jesus taught. I also love their view homosexuality is “western-imported.” Yes, it is a “fact” homosexuals have never existed on the African continent since the beginning of time….right. You do not have to look only to Islamic fundamentalists for religious insanity…some “Christians” are just as insane and both are 500 years behind all others in education, thought, and compassion.

    1. John Neitzel says:

      I couldn’t agree more with Michael Grear. Today I sent an email and letter to both the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and our Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with the content below. I hope you will join me in raising your voices.

      I am writing to urge you to speak out against the un-Christian, hateful bigotry and call to violence spewed by Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, which was reported by the Episcopal News Service here:

      He is essentially saying that LGBT people should be imprisoned for being whom God made them to be, as well as tacitly inciting and approving violence and murder against them. This is a man of God??? I have no communion, Anglican or otherwise with such ignorant savagery.

      Please speak out against his proclamation and counter such vicious, disgraceful demagoguery with what the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion know to be the truth.

      Yours in Christ,
      John Neitzel
      Vestry member of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral
      Seattle, Washington

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