The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who is currently in Dublin for the Primates’ meeting, has made the following statement regarding the murder of the gay human rights activist David Kato Kisulle in Uganda:
“The brutal murder of David Kato Kisule, a gay human rights activist, is profoundly shocking. Our prayers and deep sympathy go out for his family and friends - and for all who live in fear for their lives. Whatever the precise circumstances of his death, which have yet to be determined, we know that David Kato Kisule lived under the threat of violence and death. No one should have to live in such fear because of the bigotry of others. Such violence has been consistently condemned by the Anglican Communion worldwide. This event also makes it all the more urgent for the British Government to secure the safety of LGBT asylum seekers in the UK. This is a moment to take very serious stock and to address those attitudes of mind which endanger the lives of men and women belonging to sexual minorities.”
I had mixed feelings when I read this statement by Rowan Williams. I am glad that he has made a statement promptly condemning this action, I found it enormously difficult when he took so long to speak out against the Ugandan death penalty bill last year. However it simply is not true that such violence has been consistently condemned by the Anglican Communion worldwide, many voices have been silent that should have spoken out and in many places in the Communion a climate of hatred and condemnation is supported tacitly or openly by the church and its representatives. I do not like half truths on matters such as this; the Church desperately needs to confront its own complicity and collusion and this is not openly acknowledged in this statement. It is indeed a moment to take very serious stock, especially for those Primates who will not be in communion with those who support the rights of LGBT people because they see this support as more heinous than their own hatred. It is time for the Church of England to also take stock of the ways in which it betrays LGBT people, in society in general and those who remain - often invisibly - within its own ranks.
It is time for change, it is time to have the courage of our convictions, it is not a time to say that others must take stock when we have no intention of doing so ourselves. I blogged yesterday on the importance of words and the danger of a them and us attitude ; I would like the Archbishop to apply his words to us and not just to them. The Church is culpable. The Church itself needs to address those attitudes of mind that endanger the lives - and the emotional and psychological wellbeing - of men and women belonging to sexual minorities.