Taking aim at anti-LGBT laws dating back to Henry VIII

England's King Henry VIII (Painting by Hans Holbein the Younger courtesy of BBC)
England’s King Henry VIII (Painting by Hans Holbein the Younger courtesy of BBC)

The buggery law in many former British colonies can be traced back to King Henry VIII, the Rt. Rev. Alan Wilson told today’s opening day of the Intimate Conviction conference in Jamaica, which seeks to repeal such anti-LGBT laws. “It had nothing to do with morality. It had to do with property,” Wilson said.

Henry wanted to accuse monks of homosexuality and seize control of their monasteries.

Before 1553, when the king turned the “detestable and abominable vice of buggery” into a capital offense, “it was a sin, not a crime,” said Wilson, , who is the area bishop of Buckingham in England.

That was one of many insights at today’s opening session of the Intimate Conviction conference,  which seeks to make a start toward repairing damage done by churches’ past role in passage of anti-LGBT laws in dozens of Commonwealth countries. A few other quotes from the conference are below, with more to follow.

Anglican priest the Very Rev. Fr. Sean Major-Campbell, host of the conference, explained that speakers would review the history of criminalization of LGBTIQ people, identify the current position of different Christian groups, analyze anti-LGBT attitudes, and -- he hopes -- propose an international approach to ending the criminalization of LGBTIQ people.
Anglican priest the Very Rev. Fr. Sean Major-Campbell, host of the conference, explained that the conference’s speakers would review the history of criminalization of LGBTIQ people, identify the current position of different Christian groups, analyze anti-LGBT attitudes, and — he hopes — propose an international approach to ending the criminalization of LGBTIQ people.
Lord Anthony Gifford, Q.C., who won a 1981 decision by the European Court of Human Rights that a Northern Ireland buggery law violated a gay man's rights. "I am not a member of any church, but a passionate believer in the need for love to triumph over hate. ... The law should protect the unpopular people, not just the popular people."
“The law should protect the unpopular people, not just the popular people.” — Lord Anthony Gifford, Q.C., who won a 1981 decision by the European Court of Human Rights that a Northern Ireland buggery law violated a gay man’s rights.
Winnie-Varghese
“We’re still struggling in the Episcopal Church. We’re creating ghettos: some places where it is safe to be gay, some places where it is not.” — The Rev. Winnie Varghese, director of justice and reconciliation at Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, New York.

All the proceedings of the morning session and the afternoon session were videotaped, livestreamed and uploaded to YouTube for viewing in the future.

The keynote address by the Rt. Rev. Dr. John Holder, the Anglican archbishop of the West Indies, provided detailed expert analysis of Bible verses that are typically cited by anti-LGBT Christians. His talk included a discussion of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, which Holder called “a favorite hunting-ground for those who want to use the Bible to condemn homosexuality.”  His talk will be presented on this blog shortly.

Related articles about the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah:

Related articles about the conference:


Videos of the conference are available online:

The schedule of speakers at the conference can help you find the section of the videos that will interest you the most.

 

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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