Ugandan archbishop hints that anti-gay bill goes too far

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop Stanley Ntagali

Perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope for a more humane Church of Uganda now that  new Archbishop Stanley Ntagali has taken over from newly retired Henry Orombi, who was a strong advocate of the repressive Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Don’t be too optimistic. After all, Ntagali said in an interview published in AllAfrica.com,  “I will not do anything different from what my predecessor … did.”

But Ntagali acknowledged that he has reservations about the bill, which failed to reach the floor of the Ugandan parliament this year despite intense pressure from Orombi and many evangelical Christian leaders.

There’s far from any guarantee that Ntagali will take a more moderate position than Orombi did if the bill is again proposed during the parliament’s 2013 session. But Ntagali said of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that he “may not go very far as the bill says. All of us are capable of getting God’s saving grace and forgiveness, including the homosexuals.”

The bill would require people to report suspected homosexuals to police, including parents of gay children. The bill would also provide a life sentence or, in its original form, the death penalty for people convicted of repeated homosexual activity.

Ntagali made clear that he supports laws against homosexual acts. Here are excerpts from his interview in AllAfrica.com:

Your predecessor Orombi stood firm on issues of homosexuality to the detriment of relations with the Church of England. Will you continue with his rebellious approach?

It’s not being rebellious. It is being obedient to the holy scriptures in the Holy Bible which is our constitution as a church. It’s being obedient to the Bible, the teaching of Jesus Christ, the apostolic faith which is our Christian heritage we inherited from the Apostles, the people who worked and lived with Jesus Christ.

I will not do anything different from what my predecessor, the retiring Archbishop Orombi, did. Firstly, I have been a member of the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda and we resolved not to associate with anybody, any church, any province in the world which condones homosexuality or promotes it.

That wasn’t an Orombi position. It was the position of the church of Uganda. The Biblical way and God’s way is one man, one wife. That will remain my position and the position of the Church of Uganda.

Outgoing Archbishop Henry Orombi (left) greets new Archbishop Stanley Ntagali. (Photo courtesy of the Monitor)
Outgoing Archbishop Henry Orombi (left) greets new Archbishop Stanley Ntagali. (Photo courtesy of the Monitor)

So, do you support the anti- homosexuality bill now in Parliament?

Is that the most important part in the bill? What the bill is after is to protect children, family not only today and but the future. Our Constitution says that homosexuality is illegal; so, Parliament is trying to put in place a mechanism to ensure that [some] people will not misuse the people of Uganda and bring them whatever they want. We want to have the law that will protect Ugandans.

The Church, however, preaches grace and forgiveness. That’s where we may not go very far as the bill says. All of us are capable of getting God’s saving grace and forgiveness including the homosexuals but there should be a law so that people don’t do anything as if there is no law.

Uganda as a country respects culture and from that culture, we can’t allow anything evil to come and destroy our culture and our position as people who agreed to heterosexual marriage.

At the service on Sunday that elevated him to primate of the Church of Uganda, Ntagali continued the practice of describing homosexuality not as a natural part of God’s creation, but as one of many horrible evils.

“He pledged to work towards reviving believers’ commitment to God as a way of helping the country fight the rampant evils such as defilement, homosexuality, child sacrifice and domestic violence,” the Ugandan Monitor newspaper reported.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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