Monday, January 24, 2011

Integrity allies in Ireland call for Primates to confront homophobia

The Anglican Primates’ Meeting will be held in in Dublin, 25th-31st January 2011. Our colleagues at Changing Attitude Ireland are calling for the Primates to confront homphobia throughout the Anglican Communion. Here's the story:

As the senior bishops from Anglican Churches worldwide prepare to meet in Dublin for their Primates’ Meeting (25th-31st January) there has been a call on the Irish Government by an Irish Anglican group to request the visiting Archbishops to address the problem of Christian-backed persecution of gay persons.

The call comes from Changing Attitude Ireland and its Secretary the Church of Ireland clergyman Canon Charles Kenny requests Ireland’s new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Brian Cowen, who is also the Prime Minister, “to maintain the interest shown by the Department of Foreign affairs under his predecessor Micheal Martin in the persecution of gay persons in Uganda and Malawi”.

Dr Richard O’Leary of Changing Attitude Ireland called in addition on Mr Cowen “to match the concern of his former British counterpart, Prime Minister Gordon Brown when Mr Brown used the November 2009 meeting of the Commonwealth to speak out about the threat to gay persons from the Ugandan government”.

Dr O’Leary said “In the month that Ireland recognised Civil Partnership for same-sex couples, let us not forget the recent violence against and imprisonment of a gay couple in Malawi”. He continued “Archbishop Rowan Williams and the leaders of the Anglican Communion who are meeting in Dublin this week need to assume their responsibilities in tackling homophobia and the Churches collusion in it”. Canon Charles Kenny added “The Meeting of the Anglican Primates takes place over a whole week so I think they should be capable of finding some time to discuss the scandal of homophobia that exists in the Church, especially in Uganda, Malawi and Nigeria.” The Primates from all the Provinces of the Anglican Communion have been invited to the Meeting in Dublin by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and are hosted by the Primate of all Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper.

Last year the Ugandan parliament was presented with a draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would introduce the death penalty for some behaviour by gay persons. The Irish government is a major development aid donor to Uganda and Malawi and last June the Director of the Human Rights Unit in the Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs was briefed in Dublin by the retired Anglican Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo on the problem of the Christian-backed anti-gay crusade in Uganda. Bishop Senyonjo in his address at Christ Church Cathedral Dublin called for education to counteract homophobia because, "I have found that a lot of the prejudice against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people comes from ignorance." Bishop Senyonjo, a rare courageous voice in the conservative Anglican Church in Uganda, and who speaks in support of gay persons, visited Ireland on the invitation of Changing Attitude Ireland, and urged people in Britain and Ireland to oppose the Bill.

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