Friday, May 19, 2006

The Guardian puts pressure on the Archbishop of Canterbury to speak up

In what is surely a critical step toward getting the Anglican Church of Nigeria to reconsider their support of the grotesque legislation before the Nigerian Federal Assembly, The Guardian's (UK) Peter Tatchell has started to turn the screws on the Church's titular head, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Says Tatchell:
With the full blessing of the Anglican Church of Nigeria and its leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Nigerian government has begun legislating one of the world's most repressive anti-gay laws.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, leader of the global Anglican communion, has declined to criticise this church-endorsed homophobic persecution. Instead he embraces Akinola and the Nigerian church, appeasing their prejudice in the name of Anglican unity.

For those of you out there who think that the "homophobia" Tatchell speaks of is simply the Nigerian Archbishop's desire to ban gay marriage, consider the following:

This [legislation] will criminalise gay organisations, gay churches, gay bars, gay blessings, gay safer sex education, gay newspapers, gay human rights advocacy and sympathetic advice and welfare support for vulnerable lesbians and gay men.

Newspaper, television, radio and internet discussions supportive of gay equality will become a criminal offence.

The catch-all nature of the new statute means, for example, that it will become a crime to attend a same-sex commitment ceremony, urge understanding and acceptance of lesbians and gays, impart information on HIV prevention to gay people or broadcast a radio interview with a gay person talking about his or her life.

Violations of the new legislation will be punished with an automatic five-year jail sentence.

We're waiting for Williams, and Archbishop Akinola's supporters in the US, to get some b@!!$ and recognize a civil rights tragedy when they see one.


Daniel said...

I think Rowan Williams is too concerned with preserving the Communion to alienate the Global South by criticizing Archbishop Akinola, although I cannot imagine RW in any way supporting the Nigerian proposal. I think Archbishop Akinola has forgotten that the Archbishop of Canterbury is the head of the Anglican Communion and Rowan Williams needs to be reminded that it's he who is AC and not Akinola. But don't hold your breath waiting for Williams to come down on Akinola.

William Courson said...

Archbishop Williams' capitulation to those forces within Anglicanism that would continue the Church's millenium-spanning silencing of its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered children would now appear to be near complete.

So very sad, particularly coming from a man who initially had shown so much promise of reform. Under the guise of 'maintaining unity' (even when that unity encompasses falling into march behind an individual such as the Primate of Nigeria who has called for the continued outlawing of homosexual conduct and whose country's policies of putting gay people to death said Primate ardently supports), Dr. Williams has betrayed not only his LGBT brethren, but has forfeited the prophetic dimension of his important office.

And once again, sadly, we see the axiomatic lack of quality exhibited by "liberal Churchpeople" as long-term allies in the struggle for human freedom, dignity and equality.

I at one time believed that if Anglicanism had any distinctive charism within the Christian tradition, it was that of hospitality. Clearly I erred in this.

When the history of the Church in this period we are living through is finally written, I feel that Rowan Williams will be recalled as someone who willingly sacrificed the call to do justice on the altar of the God of conformity and will emerge as, at best, a tragic figure, and at worst an enemy of human freedom, happiness and dignity.

William A. Courson
Executive Director
The Magnus Hirschfeld Centre for Human Rights