UK

Archbishops Of Canterbury And York Write Powerful Letter In Protest Against Nigeria and Uganda Anti-Gay Laws

30/01/2014 14:07 GMT | Updated 30/01/2014 15:59 GMT
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LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 20: The Archbishop of York John Sentamu (L) talks to The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during the General Synod at Church House on November 20, 2013 in London, England. The Church of England's governing body, known as the General Synod, is holding meetings this week where the issue of the ordination of women bishops will be debated. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, in protest against the countries anti-gay laws.

Nigeria and Uganda have both passed legislation penalising homosexuals – sparking worldwide condemnation.

The powerful letter said homosexual people were loved and valued by God and should not be victimised or diminished.

It comes as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, begins a five-day trip to Africa.

The letter is also addressed to all primates (heads of national Churches) in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Archbishops Justin Welby of Canterbury and John Sentamu of York said the letter was a result of "questions about the Church of England's attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalises people with same-sex attraction".

Earlier this month, the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law a bill which bans same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague all criticised President Jonathan’s decision.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay described the Nigerian law as "draconian".

In Uganda - Archbishop Sentamu's native country - a bill allowing for greater punishments for gay people, and those who fail to turn them in to police, has been passed by parliament, but blocked - for now - by President Yoweri Museveni.

He will reportedly only sign Uganda’s anti-gay bill into law if he has proof that gay people are "made" and "not born" into their sexuality.

In their letter, the archbishops said they continue "unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people.

"The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us.

"We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give - pastoral care and friendship."

The full text of the joint letter is as follows:

"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

In recent days, questions have been asked about the Church of England's attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalises people with same-sex attraction. 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.

The Communiqué said;

'….we wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people.

The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give - pastoral care and friendship.'

We hope that the pastoral care and friendship that the Communiqué described is accepted and acted upon in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We call upon the leaders of churches in such places to demonstrate the love of Christ and the affirmation of which the Dromantine communiqué speaks."

Yours in Christ,

+Justin Cantuar +Sentamu Eboracensis