Don’t demonise gays and lesbians, Archbishop of Canterbury warns

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Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has warned against “demonising” gays and lesbians.

The Anglican leader was speaking on Friday, two days after the murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato.

Local police say Mr Kato was killed in a robbery, but his photo, name and address had been published in a newspaper last November, under a banning calling for the hanging of gay people.

Speaking in Dublin at a bi-annual Anglican meeting , the Archbishop said Mr Kato’s murder showed that “words have results”.

According to the Irish Times, he said: “You cannot go around sharing information about the identity of proposed lesbian and gay persons and urging people to ostracise them or worse ‘Hang Them’ as in the headlines of one of the Ugandan newspapers.

“You cannot do that without taking responsibility for the consequences. Language which demonises gays and lesbians has consequences.”

Yesterday, most Anglican leaders signed a statement in support of his comments.

It said that clergy should “minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and condemn irrational fear of gay people”.

“We would like to express our support for the statement of the Archbishop of Canterbury in response to the horrific murder of David Kato in Mukono, Uganda,” it said.

“We join him in saying that no one should have to live in fear because of the bigotry of others.”

One cleric who did not join the Anglican meeting or sign the statement was Ugandan archbishop Henry Luke Orombi.

Rev Orombi has not commented on Mr Kato’s death and has strongly criticised homosexuality in the past.

At the press conference on Friday, Archbishop Williams defended him, saying that his position concerned “exclusion from ministry on grounds of behaviour, not orientation”.