UK cleric decries Uganda’s antigay bill
LONDON - A top Anglican cleric who was born in Uganda spoke out yesterday against a proposed law in his native country that would impose the death penalty on some gays.
Archbishop of York John Sentamu - who along with the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is one of the global fellowship’s most senior priests - condemned the antigay bill being considered by the East African nation’s Parliament.
“I’m opposed to the death sentence,’’ he told BBC radio.
Although Sentamu seemed to suggest he was the first to attack the proposed law, Williams has spoken out against it, telling The Daily Telegraph this month that it was “shocking in its severity.’’
The issue of homosexuality has triggered a debate that has divided the global 77 million-strong Anglican fellowship, including in the United States, where it has splintered the Episcopal Church.
African churches have been at the forefront of the Anglican backlash against the blessings given to same-sex marriages and the ordination of gay bishops in the West. Uganda, whose population is nearly 40 percent Anglican, has become a rallying point for conservatives, with some US Episcopal denominations switching their allegiance to the Church of Uganda after the 2003 ordination of openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson in New Hampshire.
In yesterday’s interview, Sentamu chose his words carefully, restating the content of a 2004 Anglican statement that condemned “the victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex.’’
The bill would mandate a death sentence for sexually active gays living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. Anyone convicted of a homosexual act would face life imprisonment. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda will not try to block the bill, his spokesman, Tamale Mirundi, said yesterday.