A retired Anglican bishop in West Uganda is calling on fellow Anglicans to speak out against the homophobia in his country.
Christopher Senyonjo's comments follow the bludgeoning to death in January of Christian gay activist David Kato.
Kato had recently won a court battle against a Ugandan newspaper that published the names of gay people. Rolling Stone (which has no connection to the music magazine of the same name) came in for international criticism when its editor, Giles Muhame, published lists of names of gay men and urged his readers to report them to the police.
Kato was the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda. He and other activists said there’d been more harassment of gay people since a high court injunction against Rolling Stone on January 3. The ruling prevented the magazine from identifying gay people in its pages.
The UK Christian think tank Ekklesia says that several Christian leaders in Uganda "have been accused of implicitly encouraging homophobic abuse or violence."
Basic human rights
Ekklesia continues: "In an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury [Dr Rowan Williams], along with other Anglican primates and leaders, Senyonjo insisted that 'a loving Anglican Communion should not keep quiet' when the media stir up hatred."
It quotes him as saying: "Silence has the power to kill," and he used as an example "the tragic and cruel murder of David Kato."
"If Anglicans in one country dehumanise, persecute and imprison minorities, we must be true to the Gospel and challenge such assaults on basic human rights," says Senyonjo.
Archbishop Williams failed to condemn Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which calls for harsh sentences for gays.
The member of parliament behind the bill, David Bahati, told CNN last October: “We are very confident, because this is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa, and also protect the future of our children.”
Williams did, however, condemn the Kato's murder, saying it was "profoundly shocking" and that it was time to "address those attitudes of mind which endanger the lives of men and women belonging to sexual minorities."
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill also brought protests from the top scouting chief in Britain, Derek Twine, who said the proposed legislation was “discriminatory” and “incompatible” with scouting values.
Twine’s comments – relating to the fact that Bahati is also chairman of the Scout Association of Uganda – followed representations to the UK and international scout movement by the London-based gay human-rights organization, OutRage!.