As the Lambeth conference in Canterbury was drawing to a close, Michael Causer died. He was not an Anglican bishop, but an 18-year-old hairdresser, a popular lad described by his family as "definitely a 'people's person'. Our world will never be the same without him." He was the victim of a homophobic attack.
In other countries too, during the conference, virulent hatred of gays and lesbians continued to take its toll – sometimes in spectacular fashion. A gunman in Tennessee shot two people dead during a children's performance in a Unitarian church he thought too "liberal" before being overpowered. A Ugandan gay and lesbian rights activist was kidnapped by police in Kampala and tortured. A wave of homophobia swept Indonesian capital Jakarta, and arrests were reported.
In many countries, repressive laws fuel bigotry. All too often in schools and workplaces, temples and churches worldwide, people learn to hate or despise lesbians and gays. To Christians, this is tragic, not just for the victims: those who do not love their neighbour are spiritually dead. Yet talk among Anglican Communion leaders about homosexuality seemed oddly disconnected from the world in which most of us live, and the challenge to make it more just and loving.
Every decade or so, the Lambeth conference has urged bishops to champion human rights for all and enter into dialogue with the gay and lesbian community. But this has been widely ignored: blessing same-sex couples is apparently a far greater offence than allying with repressive governments to hunt them down.
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