The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, spiritual heads of the worldwide Anglican Communion, have called upon Church leaders and the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda to support and care for all people “regardless of sexual orientation.”
In a letter, sent to Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan and Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, and primates of churches in the Anglican Communion, Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu spoke out against the “victimisation or diminishment” of LGBT people.
They also stated that church leaders should be “committed to the pastoral support and care” of gay people.
The action follows an online petition by Nigerian LGBT rights advocate Davis Mac-Iyalla, who urged the Archbishops to speak out against the harsh new anti-gay law signed earlier this month in Nigeria, and appealed to them to advocate against anti-LGBT legislation in Uganda.
Religious leaders throughout Nigeria’s churches and mosques have recently made anti-LGBT statements in support of Nigeria’s anti-gay law, which Mac-Iyalla said is “incentivizing violence and ‘mob justice’ against LGBT people.”
While the Archbishops’ letter stressed that gay “people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him,” it did not mention directly the anti-gay law of Nigeria nor Uganda’s harsh anti-LGBT bill.
“In recent days, questions have been asked about the Church of England’s attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalizes people with same-sex attraction,” they wrote. “In answer to these questions, we have recalled the common mind of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, as expressed in the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005.”
“We wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of moral appropriateness of specific human behaviors, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people,” the letter said.
Mac-Iyalla tells LGBTQ Nation that he welcomes “Archbishops of Canterbury and York letter, and their call for pastoral support and care of LGBT people.”
“A number of leading Anglican clerics in Africa, and in particular in Nigeria, have been making statements that amount to incitement to violence against LGBT people,” he said. “The statement is a step in the right direction as it clarifies the pastoral duties of important religious figures, like the primate of Nigeria’s Anglican Church, Okoh, towards LGBT people in Nigeria.”
Mac-Iyalla also criticized British Prime Minister David Cameron, who “said he is not going to Sochi but has remained silent on Nigeria’s anti-gay law and its resulting persecution of LGBT people.”