30/01/2014 07:32 GMT | Updated 01/04/2014 06:59 BST

Leaders of Anglican Church Speak Out Against Anti-Gay Violence and Laws

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, spiritual heads of the worldwide Anglican Communion, called upon leaders of the Church, as well as the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, to support and care for all people "regardless of sexual orientation."

It follows an online petition by Nigerian LGBT rights advocate, Davis Mac-Iyalla, who urging them Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu to speak out against the harsh new anti-gay law that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed earlier this month, as well as appeals for them to advocate against anti-LGBT legislation in Uganda.

Religious leaders throughout Nigeria's churches and mosques, have recently been making anti-LGBT statements and come out in support of Nigeria's anti-gay law, which Mac-Iyalla said is "incentivizing violence and 'mob justice' against LGBT people."

In the letter, which was sent to President Jonathan and Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, as well as to all primates of churches in the Anglican Communion, the Archbishops Justin spoke out against the "victimisation or diminishment" of LGBT people.

They also stated that leaders should be "committed to the pastoral support and care" of gay people.

While the 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.

Their statement said:

"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."

Mac-Iyalla has reacted to the statement, telling me 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.

"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.

"I look forward to further work with the Archbishops in clarifying that true gospel of Christ is not only about love and care towards LGBT people, but most importantly, standing against violence and persecution of people because of their sexuality.

Mac-Iyalla added: "The British Prime Minister, David Cameron has said he is not going to Sochi but has remained silent on Nigeria's anti-gay law and its resulting persecution of LGBT people.

"While I welcome the Cameron's promise to increase aid to Nigeria, I hope he can be true to his words saying he would act against countries who abuse their LGBT citizens, and join now the Archbishops and other world leaders and speak out against Nigeria's anti-gay law that is an abuse of fundamental human rights."