He tabernacled among us too

An Open Letter to the Anglican Primates

My good friend Davis Mac-Iyalla is an Anglican Christian from Nigeria. He had to flee Nigeria for his life and has come to the UK. Why? Because he is Gay.

When we sent an Open Letter to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May, Davis joined in on behalf of Changing Attitudes Nigeria.

The Guardian Newspaper published an Open Letter from Davis to the Primates of the Anglican Community in reference to the action of some in Uganda and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The Anglican Primates in the West have been spectacularly, shockingly and inexcusably silent. It isn’t surprising that the African Primates have been silent – but that in and of itself should highlight the true cost of the ‘gay debate’ within the Church.

The letter follows:

To the Archbishop of Canterbury and primates of the Anglican Communion,

I am writing to you to call on the Church of England and the wider Anglican community to condemn Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality bill, which will make gay relations between disabled people and those under 18 a capital offence. “Carnal knowledge against the order of nature” – as homosexuality is termed in Ugandan law – is already punishable with life imprisonment. However, if passed, the new bill will widen the scope, including promoting homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuality and keeping a house “for purposes of homosexuality”. This means that the relatives and friends of gay couples could face execution if they allow them to stay in their homes.

The anti-homosexuality legislation proposed and enacted in Uganda and many other former British colonies has caused misery for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, many of whom are forced to flee their countries due to this persecution. Religion is often cited as a justification for state and non-state violence against LGBT people. As a gay refugee from Nigeria who has faced this persecution, I am well aware of the misery LGBT people can go through in Africa. As a practising Anglican Christian, I believe it is crucial that the Anglican Communion unites to prevent the killing of people on the grounds of sexuality.

I would like to remind you that the Lambeth Resolution 10 in 1978 recognised the need for pastoral concern for those who are homosexual. Resolution I.10 from 1998 commits the communion “to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.” It also condemned the “irrational fear” of homosexuality and called on the communion to assure homosexual people that “they are loved by God.”

Legislation of the kind proposed in Uganda is based on irrational hatred and a desire to entrench the stigmatisation of LGBT people. There is no place for love, understanding or acceptance in such laws. As such, the Church of England has a duty to condemn the anti-homosexuality legislation and put pressure on those MPs who support such laws. Whatever the divisions within the communion about homosexuality as a moral issue, Anglicans should unite in condemnation of violent persecution and discrimination of LGBT people whoever and wherever they are, particularly when it is carried out in the name of Jesus Christ.

Davis Mac-Iyalla