- The (Anglican) Church of Uganda has joined the Church of Nigeria in severing its ties with the Episcopal Church in America after the latter elected a homosexual bishop. Recently, Ugandan Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo also asked Ugandans to reject gays and lesbians.
According to the conservative Archbishop, homosexuality and lesbianism, was now slowly taking root in the country. The Anglican Church of Uganda however joined President Yoweri Museveni - earlier known for making homophobic statements - in condemning these sexual minorities. The Church joins President Museveni in terming homosexuality a "foreign" or non-African practice.
The worldwide Anglican Communion lately has experienced a growing rift between churches in developed and developing countries. With the election of Gene Robinson - a gay priest - to the office of bishop in US Episcopal Church and a similar incident in the Church of England, many Anglican churches in the developing world, in particular Africa, have reacted with outrage.
While the (Anglican) Church of Nigeria has led the campaign against a slow acceptance of homosexuality within the Anglican Communion, several but not all African churches have joined the campaign. Archbishop Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo now has announced that also the Church of the Province of Uganda has severed its links with its US counterpart over the confirmed election of Bishop Robinson.
Recently, also the Primate of the Church of the Province of Central Africa published an encyclical, saying the election of Bishop Robinson had "brought darkness, disappointment, sadness and grief" to his church province. Speaking of "a schism" in the Anglican faith, Central African Primate Bernard Malango said Anglicans were "now experiencing an overwhelming sense of loss of direction of the Anglican Communion."
Archbishop Malango further announced that there would held be a meeting very shortly of all African Archbishops and it would be at this meeting that "the African Church will critically make its position very clear." The Central African Primate represents the Anglicans of Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The churches of Uganda, Nigeria and Central Africa have been noted as the most conservatives in the row over homosexuality within the Anglican Communion. Ugandan church leaders have termed homosexuality "evil" while the Central African Primate used the occasion to warn Anglicans to "shame the devil" in the ongoing conflict.
It has however also been an African Primate that has stood out as the fiercest defender of other churches' rights to make up their own opinion on the issue of homosexuality. Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Southern Africa has criticised his African colleagues for creating an unnecessary conflict while there are too many other pressing issues African churches should devote their attention to - for example AIDS, poverty and hunger.
Archbishop Ndungane however is based in the liberal city of Cape Town, also known as "the gay capital of Africa". Archbishop Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo, on the other side, is located in one of Africa's most conservative capitals, when it comes to the rights of sexual minorities; Kampala.
The situation for Uganda's gays and lesbians has deteriorated during the last decade. In 1999, President Museveni instructed police to lock up and charge homosexuals, an order that has been executed. Convicted homosexuals are reported to be deported to so-called "safe houses" where they, according to human rights groups, often are maltreated and raped.
The fact that several gay and lesbian organisations have appeared in Uganda lately, however shows that the issue of homosexuality is starting to be discussed. One of these new organisations is Integrity Uganda, a chapter of Integrity USA, which represents the gay and lesbian community within the Anglican Church.
Integrity Uganda, which was founded in 2000 by a Ugandan reverend and his wife, Erich and Patricia Kasirye, has caused great controversy within the Church of Uganda. Father Erich and his Bishop are barred from exercising official ministry so long as they support Integrity Uganda and the equal presence of gay and lesbian people in the Church.
This controversial organisation - totally outside the institutional Church - has led the Church of Uganda to take a harder stand on homosexuality. The Church rejects homosexuality as a sinful action and has even explicitly denied homosexuals the right of a Christian burial.
The establishment of Integrity Uganda was aided by the Episcopal Church in America - the same church Archbishop Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo has now severed relations with. The public debate over homosexuality however has come to stay in Uganda - usually being a first sign of growing public acceptance.
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