Catholic bishops of southern Africa denounce laws discriminating against homosexuals

Same-sex wedding in South Africa.
An editorial in the Southern Cross, a weekly newspaper published by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, warned against what it called “draconian legislation" being considered by various African nations that is aimed at criminalizing homosexual individuals. The SACBC represents the Catholic bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland.
 
"Recently the Ugandan and Nigerian parliaments both passed severe anti-gay legislation. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has vetoed it; Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan signed it into law. Other countries, such as Cameroon and Tanzania, are proposing to pass similar legislation," declared the editorial.
 
"These laws are not intended to render same-sex acts illegal — they already are, and punishable, in most African countries — but to persecute people on the basis of their sexual orientation," said the January 29 article. The opinion piece hightlighted that "Such laws are not only unjust, but they also have the potential to tear at the fabric of society if they are misused to facilitate false denunciations for gain, advancement or vengeance, much as what Christians are exposed to in Pakistan under that country’s intolerable blasphemy law."
 
"There is a deep-seated sense of homophobia running throughout Africa, and beyond (Russia, for example, recently also passed anti-gay laws). African leaders routinely engage in populist homophobic rhetoric, often putting forward the fiction that homosexuality is “un-African”.
 
The article noted that the Catechism of the Catholic Church prescribes the avoidance of “every sign of unjust discrimination" against homosexuals, while it recommends accepting them "with respect , compassion and sensitivity." The editorial went on to call Christians in Africa to raise their voices against “discriminatory laws and violence against homosexuals, many of whom are Catholics."


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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