Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ELCIC National Bishop Speaks Out Against Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The Rev. Susan Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), has written a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada urging the Canadian government to oppose a proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Act” in Uganda.

Lutherans Concerned/North America thanks Bishop Johnson and the ELCIC for their witness to the continued need to work for the civil rights and dignity of all.

See the full text of Bishop Johnson’s letter below.

The bill is particularly draconian. As summarized by Jim Burroway on the blog Box Turtle Bulletin, the proposed bill would: 
  • Reaffirm the lifetime sentence currently provided upon conviction of homosexuality, and extends the definition from sexual activity to merely “touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
  • Create a new category of “aggravated homosexuality” which provides for the death penalty for “repeat offenders” and for cases where the individual is HIV-positive.
  • Criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years.
  • Criminalize the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
  • Add a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
    • Add an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
See the full text of the Ugandan “Anti-Homosexuality Act.

For additional info, see the Amnesty International report.

See also Lutherans Concerned in Canada.

-----------------------------------

The Right Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
 
November 26, 2009

RE: Proposed Ugandan Anti-homosexuality legislation
Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
 
I am writing to express dismay and concern over the draft proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before the Parliament of Uganda.
 
The proposed Bill would severely restrict the human rights of Ugandan citizens both at home and abroad by infringing freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, freedom of organization, and legitimate advocacy of civil rights. It would impose excessive and cruel penalties on persons who experience same-sex attraction as well as those who counsel, support, and advise them, including family members and clergy.
 
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada affirms that our baptismal covenant requires us to respect the dignity of every human being and to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbour as ourselves. We note a 2005 motion by the ELCIC in convention asking “that our church's leaders, congregations and Pastors ‘seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Ephesians 4:3) rejecting all words and actions hostile to gays and lesbians in our churches and communities,” (NC-05-27). We recall the 1978 Lutheran Social Statement on Human Rights: Doing Justice in God’s World, states that “Although persons differ as to endowments and circumstances, they are of equal worth before God. They are equally entitled to the things and protections they need to live in meaningful relation to God and neighbour.”
 
In the Winnipeg Free Press today, I read the following statement from Peter Kent, minister of state for foreign affairs,  
Our position is that the proposed Uganda law is reprehensible, vile and hateful and it's appalling that such legislation would be brought to the parliament of a Commonwealth democracy," said Kent, who's scheduled to leave for the meetings Thursday. 
At the Commonwealth summit, we'll convey Canada's position that if that law is in fact passed, Canada would consider it unacceptable and a gross infringement of human rights in Uganda.
As Bishop of this church, I support the position stated above. I encourage the Government of Canada to carry on with its intention to convey to the Government of Uganda a deep sense of alarm about this fundamental violation of human rights and, through diplomatic channels, to press for its withdrawal.
 
Yours in Christ,
 
The Rev. Susan Johnson
National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

 

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