01/02/2014 06:51 GMT | Updated 01/02/2014 06:59 GMT

Uganda Responds To Archbishops Of Canterbury And York On Anti-Gay Laws

Some of the thousands of children are seen demonstrating against homosexuality in Uganda's capital city Kampala, Friday, Jan. 22, 2010. The UN Special Rapporteur on health, Anand Grover, warned Friday that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill being considered by the Ugandan Parliament is "not only a violation of the fundamental human rights of Ugandans, but will also undermine efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support." Homosexuality is already criminalized throu

The head of the Anglican Church in Uganda has responded to a letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who warned that gays and lesbians should not be penalised.

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

But Archbishop Stanley Ntagali responded that "homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture."

He said he hoped the Church of England would "step back from the path" it had set itself on "so the Church of Uganda will be able to maintain communion with our own Mother Church".

"The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing," said Archbishop Ntagali.

The original letter was sent to the presidents of Uganda and Nigeria, and was 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 it 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".

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."