LONDON, (Reuters) – The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Anglican Church of Uganda to reject the country’s new anti-LGBT law, saying there is no justification for Anglicans anywhere to support legislation that goes against the Christian teachings of the Gospel.
Under the law, approved by President Yoweri Museveni in May, gay sex is punishable by life in prison while “aggravated homosexuality”, including transmitting HIV, attracts the death penalty.
Justin Welby, leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said he had written to Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba, the Primate of Uganda, to express “grief and dismay” at the church’s stance.
“There is no justification for any province of the Anglican Communion to support such laws: not in our resolutions, not in our teachings, and not in the Gospel we share,” Welby said in a statement on Friday.
Kaziimba said in May he was grateful for the new law. He said homosexuality was being forced on Uganda by “foreign actors … who disguise themselves as human rights activists” and went against Ugandans’ religious and cultural beliefs.
The Church of Uganda says 36% of Uganda’s population of around 45 million are Anglicans.
The Anglican Communion, which numbers tens of millions of people across 165 countries, is deeply divided over the ordination of gay clergy by some churches in some Western countries, and attitudes towards same-sex marriage.
The Ugandan church has been at the forefront of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), a conservative group. In April, GAFCON said it no longer had confidence in Welby because of his comments in support of the blessing of same-sex unions in churches.
Welby said in Friday’s statement he was deeply aware of the history of colonial rule in Uganda but “this is not about imposing Western values on our Ugandan Anglican sisters and brothers”.
“It is about reminding them of the commitments we have made as Anglicans to treat every person with the care and respect they deserve as children of God,” he said.