Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Rick Warren Speaks Out While Uganda Reportedly Drops Death Penalty Clause

I don’t often agree with the Orange County megachurch leader, pastor Rick Warren, on gay rights issues. Credit where credit is due though, because he’s formally denounced the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill which, amongst other stringent penalties, calls for a death sentence for gay HIV positive men should they be convicted of the crime of “aggravated homosexuality”. Or it did, but that was before the Ugandan government decided to “refine” the bill. More on that below, but first:

For those who don’t have time to watch the video, Warren gives his reasons as to why he believes the law is “evil”, “unjust” and “un-Christian”.

Here’s a short excerpt:

There are thousands of evil laws enacted around the world and I cannot speak to pastors about every one of them, but I am taking the extraordinary step of speaking to you — the pastors of Uganda and spiritual leaders of your nation — for five reasons:

First, the potential law is unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward homosexuals, requiring the death penalty in some cases. If I am reading the proposed bill correctly, this law would also imprison anyone convicted of homosexual practice.

Second, the law would force pastors to report their pastoral conversations with homosexuals to authorities.

Third, it would have a chilling effect on your ministry to the hurting. As you know, in Africa, it is the churches that are bearing the primary burden of providing care for people infected with HIV/AIDS. If this bill passed, homosexuals who are HIV positive will be reluctant to seek or receive care, comfort and compassion from our churches out of fear of being reported. You and I know that the churches of Uganda are the truly caring communities where people receive hope and help, not condemnation …” (Excerpt from The Guardian.)

It’s taken a while for Warren to denounce the bill, and this speech comes just a week after political and media commentator Rachel Maddow ran several segments on her show highlighting possible connections that tie Warren, and other American religious and political figures, to legislators in Uganda who devised and tabled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. So, one has to ask, is this a self serving measure designed to distance himself from events in Uganda?

Responding to Warren’s video, Maddow ran another segment on her show this week, highlighting how, in spite of his claims to the contrary, Warren’s influence in Uganda continues to be powerfully felt:

Nevertheless, Warren has publicly denounced the bill, which is more than the can be said of the head of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who refuses to comment, even though he did find the time to issue a statement regarding the nomination of a lesbian Bishop-elect in Los Angeles last weekend, saying that the ordination would have “serious implications” for the Anglican community.

In fairness, Williams is said to have been in “intense” but “private” talks over the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Yet some have accused the Archbishop of putting Church politics over the welfare of Uganda’s gay citizens. More on this here

Regardless, a seismic change may have occurred concerning Uganda’s legislators and their view on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. It had previously been noted that the MP who tabled the bill, David Bahati, was under pressure from Ugandan church leaders to drop the death penalty clause of the proposed legislation. He’s still defending it, but other lawmakers may have relented.

It has been reported that the death penalty aspect of the law has, indeed, been deleted from the draft that will come before the Ugandan parliament in the next two weeks. Further to this, the punishment of life imprisonment for homosexuality is also said to have been struck off.

If the death penalty aspect of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is deleted, what is it to be replaced with? Well, here’s the thing: PinkNews is reporting that, instead of the death penalty, Ugandan Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo now wants to use more “refined” methods where gay Ugandans are concerned.

He’s indicated that they will try to “cure” homosexuality instead.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions over this, but to say that this echos certain elements of America’s own Evangelical community would, perhaps, be understating things.

Notably, Scott Lively, one of the Americans implicated by Rachel Maddow’s investigation, today released a statement saying that, while he condemned the death penalty, he thought that adding conversion therapy to the bill would “represent an encouraging step in the right direction” for Uganda. Read more here.

It’s no small matter that the Ugandan parliament have reportedly dropped the death penalty clause. But, even without this, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is so severe and so deeply against human rights that even when blunted it continues to be a threat, especially with the addition of mandatory conversion therapy.

One often cited example of the proposed law’s power is that a property owner may be subject to a prison sentence for offering to rent an apartment or home to a homosexual man or woman, because they might somehow be enabling homosexual activity by providing a place for a couple to be alone.

Another example is that, if a doctor treats a man for an AIDS related illness, and learns that the man contracted the disease through homosexual contact, or even suspects it, he too becomes complicit under the law if he doesn’t report the man to the authorities.

Should a homosexual Ugandan move abroad to live with his or her partner, the law would then call for their extradition so that they could face charges of “homosexual conduct”. People often say, “If you don’t like the law, then leave”. Uganda’s gay men and women won’t even have that option if the Anti-Homosexuality Bill comes into force, and while countries like the U.S. might offer asylum to such persons, this demonstrates the truly awful reach of this pervasive piece of legislation.

Meanwhile, statements against the proposed law continue to roll in.

The Vatican has released a carefully worded statement that, while not mentioning Uganda specifically, says that:

The Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person.

You can read the rest of the Vatican’s statement here.

GOProud, a Republican gay group, have condemned the bill, while Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has also released a statement strongly opposing the bill, a part of which reads:

“I am deeply saddened and troubled that such blatantly ignorant and hate-filled legislation would see the light of day anywhere in today’s world. It needs to be stopped in its tracks immediately.” Read the full statement here.

Finally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to a letter sent several weeks ago by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and other concerned legislators, formally condemning the bill, and adding:

“…The United States has urged Uganda to take all necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, harassment, or discrimination.”

In the United Kingdom there has been a protest outside of the Ugandan embassy this week, where around 100 people gathered holding signs that called for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to be stopped. More on that here.

We’ll continue to update you on this issue over the coming weeks.

To find out more on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, here are some related Care2 posts:

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Steve Conover.

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Monica M.
Past Member 5 years ago

I think people nee to give Rick Warren a break. Just because we disagree with him on the gay marriage thing doesn't mean that everything he does is wrong. This right here: GOOD. Don't just continue attacking him for "taking too long" or because you think he's only doing it to make himself look better. Who knows why it took so long. It doesn't matter. He did it now. Be happy.

Theme Wedding Planner

Dusty D.
Past Member 5 years ago

Dusty Cont. 4= You do not have to agree with me..that's okay. We can agree to disagree. But for me to fight what I was "a Lesbian" nearly destroyed me. I had to come to accept that this is the way that God made me until HE tells me otherwise. I didn't want to be Gay because of the way that the Worldly people treat you....not because of the way that I was. I am happy now and I have found a relationship with my God. I love Him and I know that He loves me. I try to be honest, I don't gossip ( that's a sin also), I don't cheat (that's a sin), I don't steal (sin), I don't drink (drunkedness in a sin) the list could go on and on if we want to judge but this is not what this is about. It just that when you point a finger at someone else there is always three pointing back at you. Look at the skeletons in your own closet first before you go looking at someone elses closet. Bigger men have fallen! Look at Jimmy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart...there's more! They Preach good and condemn Loud...but sometimes the way we live our lives is the only Bible that anyone will ever read!
I apologize for taking up so much space. Have a Blessed Day!

Dusty D.
Past Member 5 years ago

Dusty Cont. #3= All this in trying to find some answers to why I have such strong feelings toward women and men turn me off. There's NOTHING there when it comes to men. Do you really think that ANYONE would want to be born Homosexual? Families disown you, Churches kick you out, Society wants to beat you down & up & jail you & kill you. I stay abstinate for over 10yrs. to be obedient to God and all I got was lonely. What I don't understand it this. How can "CHRISTIANS" be so Heavenly minded that they become NO Earthly good? They are so quick to want to take one or two scriptures here and there out of the Bible to "JUDGE" someone with and condemn them with but they seem to forget that the Bible is a book about LOVE. It constantly speeks about, "Love your neighbor as Christ LOVED the Church". Am I not your neighbor? "Judge not lest YE be judged". You don't condemn someone into coming to love them into coming into Church. You live the example of Christ. The last I knew...God was going to be the Judge in the end...not man! He said, "For Who so ever Believeth On me Shall Not Perish, but have everlasting Life" so who are any of you-for there are many LGBT people that "Believeth On Him" that will have Everlasting Life...for we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God and still and will continue to do so. God is the ONE that made US and HE KNOWS our hearts. It has took me a long time to come to accept me as I am and to not fight it and to not

Dusty D.
Past Member 5 years ago

Dusty Continues= I had a love for and a yearning for God but I didn't want to displease Him either. I had these strong feelings deep within myself and I didn't know where they came from. I was from a rather small town at that time and had never really even knew just what homosexuality was- I just kinda knew that you weren't supposed to be with your own kind, so to speek but I did't know why. Then I went to College and found my first love. I had feelings for this person for well over 8 months before she ever even knew and I was going to a Church trying to understand God's will and what He wanted for my life. I was trying to live a Godly life in all areas of my life. I ended up talking to the Pastor and sharing my "sinful" thoughts who later and without my permission and knowledge got the Decons & Elders of the Church together to do a Demon deliverence on me. Now that was something else. They ended up throwing me down on the floor and holding me down against my will and doing all of this speeking in tongues and all and I managed to bite one of them and slug another and free myself and get away and run out of the Church NEVER to go back again. A yr. later I tried again cuz as I was saying...I was searching for answers but this time, I ended up in an occult that ended up with my parents literally having to get the cops involved in order to get me out of there and arrest were made and I ended up in the nut ward and on mental medication after a suicide attempt. (Continue

Dusty D.
Past Member 5 years ago

Mary Woeste I am not going to mouth off and condemn Rick Warren for the way that he believes, okay...but here is what I have to say. I am a 52yr. old always have been lesbian female. I have LITERALLY been put thru HELL over this "Gay" ordeal in my life by the, " so-called-loving Christians" that claimed to in the name of HIS LOVE want to show me the the end had me hating God and running as quickly as I could away from Him. I found myself a very very early young age attracted to women. At first, I just thought that I was looking for that "Mother" figure that I never had. I lost my mother when I was 11 due to suicide and my father due to drug addiction and was put in an Orphanage along with my brothers & sisters. As I grew older these feelings grew stronger and stronger. Society (this was back in the 70's) was not all too willing to accept LGBT at all back then and their influences made me feel that something was dreadfully wrong with me. I was not as yet acting on these feelings. I then got adopted to a "Conservative Christian" family along with one brother. They believed that Homosexuality was a sin, so I never told them about my feelings. I stuffed and stuffed them down. I ended up leaving their Church as I could no longer deal with hearing just one Preachers Version of what the Bible had to say so decided to go and try to find some answers for myself as I had been baptised and I did believe in God and didn't want to go to hell either . (read continuance 2)

James Carpenter
Past Member 5 years ago

One last word

Its is said that God made us -- if this is right then he lets some people be gay too!

James Carpenter
Past Member 5 years ago

"If you don't like the law, then leave". Uganda's gay men and women won't even have that option if the Anti-Homosexuality Bill comes into force, and while countries like the U.S. might offer asylum to such persons, this demonstrates the truly awful reach of this pervasive piece of legislation.

Sorry to point this out but if you try to get asylum in the USA by saying this you would be return back to your counrty as the US have done with gay men before!.
Abo Ahmed r. More None Gay people are spreading the diseases HIV, hepatitis C and B, its ignorance people like you which they know not a thing about homosexuality, and then show their fear and loathing that seem to accompany it.

Carsten R.
Carsten R.5 years ago

I wonder , what Jesus would have said about all this. Beware the Jezebel , etc , etc , .......

Mary Woeste
Past Member 5 years ago

I think people nee to give Rick Warren a break. Just because we disagree with him on the gay marriage thing doesn't mean that everything he does is wrong. This right here: GOOD. Don't just continue attacking him for "taking too long" or because you think he's only doing it to make himself look better. Who knows why it took so long. It doesn't matter. He did it now. Be happy.

Also: PLEASE don't call him hateful because of the gay marriage thing. I am a liberal, very devout Christian who attends a conservative church in Iowa. The thing about the conservative view on homosexuality is, it's more complicated that it seems. It's easy to call it hateful when you look at it from a liberal perspective. But look at it from theirs: they view the act of two men or two women sleeping together as a sin. They haven't come to the point yet to realize that it's more complicated than that. They think the most loving thing to do is to protect people practicing homosexual lifestyles (they don't agree with science, they think they can change, just get used to it) by trying to prevent the legality of gay marriage. Through this they ARE loving, because they know the rest of America hates them for it and they are doing it in what they believe to be the best interests of homosexuals in the long run. So when people say Rick's a hypocrite when he says he loves gays, well, he's not. I disagree with him, but I respect him regardless. It's just a matter of time until christians understand homosexuality

Mervi R.
Mervi R.5 years ago

It´s a really good thing that he´s spoken out against this.