Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blessed are the...Persecutors?

By Craig Young - 24th January 2009

Gay US Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson was a speaker at Obama's inauguration last week. However, as a whole, global Anglicanism is still a communion in crisis.

While most of New Zealand Anglicanism is sane and liberal, the same cannot be said for Uganda and Nigeria.

However, Ugandan Anglicans aren't all vile fundamentalists. Former Ugandan Anglican Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo describes gay people as 'oppressed and marginalised.' This straight grandfather has seven children of his own, but he became chair of Integrity Uganda, which supports the rights and human dignity of Ugandan lesbians and gay men. Banned from Ugandan Anglican churches by current Archbishop Henry Orombi, Ssenyonjo has started the Charismatic Church of Uganda as an inclusive alternative. He comes strongly recommended by the saintly former South African Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, himself a strong voice for reason, compassion and inclusion.

Orombi has joined with other social conservative fundamentalist Christians, Muslims and Bahai in an (ironically named) "Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality." This outfit harrasses progay journalists, and unfortunately has the support of current Ugandan fundamentalist President Yoweri Museveni, scurrilous Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper, and Cabinet "Minister for Ethics and Integrity" James Butero, also known for trying to ban miniskirts and a belief that decriminalising homosexuality would lead to sex with animals.

Fortunately, though, Ugandan journalists are known to criticise this perspective and continue to take risks and support media freedom in this context. The Sexual Minorities Uganda Group speaks up for the rights of Ugandan lesbians and gay men, and Silvia Tamale, a noted Ugandan feminist legal scholar, has published Homosexuality: Perspectives from Uganda (2007) to provide an alternative perspective to fundamentalist hijackers of the Ugandan "Anglican" Church.

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