Southern African Anglicans to LGBT people: Welcome

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba: LGBT people are "welcome members of our body as sisters and brothers in Christ."  (Photo courtesy of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business)
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba: LGBT people are “welcome members of our [church]as sisters and brothers in Christ.” (Photo courtesy of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business)
In sharp contrast to the Anglican churches of Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa is moving to welcome LGBT people as full members of the church.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa represents about 3 to 4 million people in South Africa and nearby countries. Most of those countries — South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho and the British overseas territory of Saint Helena — have repealed or never had laws against LGBT sexual activity.

But the church also is active in three of the world’s 76+ countries that criminalize homosexuality:

  • Angola, which has a law allowing up to three years of internment for “people who habitually practice acts against nature”
  • Namibia, where sodomy remains a common-law crime on the basis of legal precedents, although no specific law has been passed against same-sex intimacy.
  • Swaziland, where intercourse between men is a common-law crime.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has not endorsed same-sex marriage.

According to eNews Channel Africa in an article published Feb. 22:

Anglican Church says yes to homosexuals

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Photo via WikiCommons Media)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who formerly led the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, has long been a supporter of LGBTI rights. (Photo via WikiCommons Media)

JOHANNESBURG – Anglican bishops from across southern Africa have resolved that gay and lesbian partners who enter same-sex civil unions under South African law should be welcomed into congregations as full members of the church.

This is according to a letter issued by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town on Monday. The letter stated that a document outlining guidelines on members living in same-sex unions would be sent to the church’s Provincial Synod, its ruling body, which meets later this year.

In the statement, Makgoba says, “I believe that its adoption by Provincial Synod would be an important first step in signalling to the LGBT community that we in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, through our top deliberative and legislative body, see them as welcome members of our body as sisters and brothers in Christ.”

“We are of one mind that gay, lesbian and transgendered members of our church share in full membership as baptised members of the Body of Christ…”

Some practical implications of the guidelines are that congregations would not be able to baptise children of same-sex couples, while also not allowing stigmatising of the parents.

These new guidelines however, do not extend to that of marrying same-sex couples or allowing its clergy to enter them.

 

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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