Second of two posts on Roman Catholic responses to issues of HIV and LGBT rights in Uganda and elsewhere.
Religious opposition to homosexuality does not justify oppression of homosexuals, Thomas Patrick Melady writes in an article for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, an association of Catholics focused on social justice.
A former U.S. ambassador to Uganda, he urges Catholics in the U.S. to get involved in ending persecution of gays and lesbians, to live up to the call issued by the bishops to condemn such persecution “wherever it occurs.”
It is occurring in Uganda and it must stop, Melady says:
The persecution of gays in Uganda is appalling, not least because those doing the persecution often hide behind a misunderstanding of the Christian faith.
… The groups supporting the recent efforts to criminalize homosexuality in Uganda use Christian rhetoric. This is an unfortunate use of Christian terminology and does not authentically reflect the Christian traditions of Uganda. All Christians know the basic teaching that sexual activity of any kind outside of marriage is contrary to the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith.
On the other hand, it is also known that Christians are active in their prayers and thoughts about producing a positive atmosphere that will encourage Christian living.
… But the new tranquility in Uganda is being threatened by a determined effort in the legislature to criminalize homosexuality. Gay Ugandans are being demonized. A recent bill would have enforced lifetime prison sentences and even the death penalty for gay acts. Neighbors could be punished by prison sentences for not reporting gay and lesbian neighbors to the authorities.
It is unfortunate that the campaign for these actions has been inspired by American missionaries and others. As I stated in a previous article on this matter, I urge U.S. faith leaders of all denominations to speak out against the campaign to demonize gays in Uganda.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that “every sign of unjust discrimination” against gays should be avoided. As a layman I would like to observe that the legislation being advocated by a few, which emphasizes severe punishment, runs contrary to the Christian tradition.
In view of the high numbers of Christians of all denominations in Uganda, this represents and opportunity for American faith leaders, especially Christians, to urge their co-religionists to respond more correctly to Christian teachings and traditions.
For his full comments, see the article “Contemporary Challenges to the Christian Faith in Uganda.”
- American Christian leaders oppose ‘Kill the Gays Bill’ (76crimes.com)
- AIDS panelist: Disagree on theology, but shun genocide (76crimes.com)
- Uganda president: I’ll block ‘Kill the Gays’ bill (76crimes.com)
- In reversal, Catholic Church backs ‘Kill the Gays’ bill (76crimes.com)
- Uganda’s new archbishop is homophobic, maybe less harsh (76crimes.com)