Anglican Archbishop Makgoba appeals to Ugandan president to abandon anti-gay hate bill

Anglican Archbishop Makgoba appeals to Ugandan president to abandon anti-gay hate bill
Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba has appealed to Uganda's president about the anti-LGBTQ+ bill. (Photo: Gallo Images / Nardus Engelbrecht)

‘We are all God’s children regardless of the dignity of our sexual differences’ said Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, in an appeal to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, to decline signing into law a bill that makes homosexual acts punishable by death.

The Anglican Archbishop of Southern Africa Thabo Makgoba has asked his Ugandan counterpart for the church to promote inclusiveness and “care for all God’s people”. In a message sent on Thursday 23 March, the archbishop said he read the anti-LGBTQ+ bill with pain. “We are all God’s children regardless of the dignity of our sexual differences.” 

The country’s parliament passed an anti-LGBTQ+ bill on Tuesday 21 March that has to be signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni. Aside from a ban on same-sex intercourse, the law will ban “promoting and abetting homosexuality as well as conspiracy to engage in homosexuality” according to a Reuters report published in Daily Maverick. Violations would carry “severe penalties, including death for so-called aggravated homosexuality” and “life in prison for gay sex”.

In a statement, the archbishop says he sent a message to his Ugandan counterpart on Thursday about the bill. “It is our prayer that as your country lives with the implications of this discriminatory bill, that the Church will promote inclusiveness and care for all God’s people,” said Makgoba. 

“It is our sincere prayer that the President will not sign this bill into law and we pray that the church will urge him not to do so,” he added. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: The US Christian right and Vladimir Putin bring culture wars to Africa 

Reuters said Museveni had not commented on the current proposal, but had long opposed the rights of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) and signed an anti-LGBTQ+ law in 2013, which was struck down by the courts on procedural grounds.

The Cape Town Pride Festival celebrates cultural diversity, creates awareness of LGBTQI+ issues in South Africa and beyond, and celebrates the progress of LGBTQI+ rights in South Africa. (Photo: Brenton Geach/Gallo Images)

Violating multiple fundamental rights

Human Rights Watch said if a bill that criminalises same-sex conduct, and sexual and gender identity, is adopted, it would violate multiple fundamental rights. “Among others, such a law would violate the rights to freedom of expression and association privacy, equality and nondiscrimination,” the organisation said earlier this month, when the bill was first introduced. 

“One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalises people simply for being who they are, as well as further infringing on the rights to privacy, and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda,” said Oryem Nyeko, a Uganda researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Makgoba spoke out on the Ugandan hate bill weeks after Anglican bishops in Southern Africa failed to reach consensus on blessing same-sex unions during church services, ruling out church marriages for same-sex couples, as reported by Sowetan Live. The bishops instead resolved to craft special prayers to provide pastoral care to same-sex couples. DM


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