United Reform Church first to speak out on Uganda’s anti-gay bill

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The United Reform Church has become the first major Christian denomination in the UK to criticise Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality bill.

A statement released yesterday by the church said it was “appalled” at the “draconian measures” in the bill, which include life imprisonment for consenting adults who have gay sex.

The statement added: “This draft legislation represents a clear infringement of human rights and is morally repugnant. . . We add our voice to the many calling for the immediate withdrawal of this discriminatory bill.”

Liberal church group Ekklesia has been calling for church leaders in the UK to speak out about the proposed legislation.

It has asked Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who grew up in Uganda, to condemn it. As yet, neither have responded.

A petition calling for religious leaders to condemn the bill has received more than 1,000 signatures. It was set up by Ekklesia and is supported by others such as the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitudes..

A number of human rights groups have criticised the bill, while the US, France and UK have expressed their concern.

It was tabled by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati and means that those convicted of having gay sex with disabled people and those under the 18 would face the death penalty.

The bill also imposes life imprisonment on those who have homosexual sex. Although this is already the case in Uganda, the new law widens the definition of the offence.

Other offences include promoting homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuality and keeping a house “for purposes of homosexuality”.

Bahati has argued his bill will protect children, youths and the “traditional family”.

It will come before parliament in January 2010.