They were protesting at the decision by Anglican Primates to suspend the US Episcopal church over its support for gay clergy, LGBTI equality and same-sex marriage, while taking no action against member churches that demonise LGBTI people and support government crack downs on LGBTI communities.
The protesters chanted: “We asked for justice. You gave us rejection” and “African, gay, Christian and proud – Get over it!”
Rally participant, Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said:
“The Anglican Primates have punished the LGBTI-supportive US Episcopal church with suspension but have taken no action against churches that persecute LGBTI people and endorse homophobic laws. They have sided with bigotry. Their decision is intolerant, cruel and devoid of Christian love and compassion. It gives comfort and succour to homophobic pastors who are leading witch-hunts against LGBTI people in countries like Uganda and Nigeria. Instead of being a Good Samaritan to persecuted LGBTI people, the Anglican Communion is siding with the persecutors. Its defence of homophobic injustice echoes the church’s defence of slavery and its opposition to votes for women in past centuries”
Another protester, Edwin Sesange, a gay Ugandan and Director of the African LGBTI organisation, Out and Proud Diamond Group, added:
“We asked the Primates to listen to our voices of suffering. They ignored us and have punished our friends and allies in the US Episcopal church. The Anglican Communion has turned its back on LGBTI people; defending homophobic discrimination and exclusion. As African people, we feel threatened and menaced by the Anglican Communion. Many of the Primates are actively stirring hatred and discrimination against LGBTI people. They support repressive homophobic laws. There is no mercy or compassion in their hearts.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury had hosted 38 Primates in Canterbury to discuss issues concerning the future of the Anglican Communion – a family of churches, spread across 165 countries, with 85 million members.
The picket was organised by the African LGBTI organisation, the Out and Proud Diamond Group, and supported by Peter Tatchell Foundation, House of Rainbow Fellowship and the Kaleidoscope Trust.
The participants called on the Anglican Primates to:
* Listen to LGBTI people.
* Preach a gospel of love for all, including LGBTI people.
* Support LGBTI people inside and outside the Church.
* Oppose the persecution of LGBTI people.
* Revoke their disciplinary action against the Episcopal church.
Juliet Akao, a Ugandan activist with the African LGBTI organisation, Out and Proud Diamond Group, noted:
“Our appeal is for the Primates to listen to LGBTI people. It saddens us that many of them seem unwilling to do so. They made their decision affecting us without inviting and listening to the LGBTI faithful. We are African LGBTI people, many of us Anglicans, who simply want to be heard. We want an opportunity to speak to the Primates. It is a fair and reasonable request which they have turned aside.”
Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation added:
“The Anglican Communion keeps on taking decisions about LGBTI people without listening to their witness and suffering. In some parts of the world, its member churches side with homophobic, tyrannical regimes that criminalise same-sex relations, ban the advocacy of LGBTI equality and outlaw membership of LGBTI organisations. All we are asking is for the primates to invite, hear and respond in a loving, compassionate way to the concerns of LGBTI communities in their home countries and worldwide. To exclude us from their deliberations in Canterbury this week is not a Christian response to our appeal for dialogue and inclusion. “
Edwin Sesange, a gay Ugandan and Director of the African LGBTI organisation, Out and Proud Diamond Group, commented:
“The Anglican church has a responsibility to oppose the badge of stigma, shame and harm attached to homosexuality in many countries. It is their responsibility to bring an end to the inhuman treatment of LGBTI people. In many countries, for example in Uganda and Nigeria, Church leaders are openly spreading very damaging messages about LGBTI people and their allies. Many pastors have lost their ministries in the Church because of either being LGBTI or sympathising with gay equality. This can no longer be the position of the Church towards people who were created in God’s image according to the Bible,”
Rev Jide Macaulay, the gay Nigerian founder & CEO of the House Of Rainbow Fellowship, said:
“It is unfortunate that there is a blatant misunderstanding of homosexuality by the African churches and Bishops; a complete divorce from the theology of inclusion. It saddens me that little time and effort has been given to these issues on the continent (of Africa). We have asked the question: ‘What would Jesus do?’ LGBT people have the right to be called to, and identify with, the church. It is my hope and prayer that the church will have a change of mind. I don’t believe schism is the answer but (we need) a truth towards openness to theology and the Holy Spirit on this matter.”
Photo by Peter Tatchell Foundation