Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki
Leading UK church figures have criticised bishops in Ghana over their support for anti-LGBTQ laws in the African country.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell as well as other Church of England bishops have tweeted their concerns to add pressure to their colleagues in Ghana.
The condemnation from the UK bishops is in regards to a proposed law that would make being gay, bisexual, or transgender illegal, as well as to advocate for LGBTQ rights resulting in a 10-year prison sentence.
The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill could also see LGBTQ people forced into conversion therapy, a debunked practice whereby people try to change someone's sexuality or gender identity.
Gender-fluid dressing and same-sex public affection could also see fines or prison sentences, and people would be encouraged to turn others in for offences.
In a tweet, Archbishop Welby said he was "gravely concerned" by the draft bill being debated adding: "I will be speaking with the Archbishop of Ghana in the coming days to discuss the Anglican Church of Ghana’s response to the Bill."
I am gravely concerned by the draft anti-LGBTQ+ Bill due to be debated by the Ghanaian parliament. I will be speaking with the Archbishop of Ghana in the coming days to discuss the Anglican Church of Ghana’s response to the Bill.— Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) October 26, 2021
My full statement: https://t.co/WcQMKzBseg
In his full statement, Welby said: "In Resolution I:10, the Anglican Communion also made a commitment 'to assure [LGBTQ+ people] 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.'"
Reminding bishops in Ghana of their commitments, the Archbishop also said: "We are a global family of churches, but the mission of the church is the same in every culture and country: to demonstrate, through its actions and words, God’s offer of unconditional love to every human being through Jesus Christ."
Bishops in Liverpool, Worcester, Southwark, and Norwich have expressed similar concerns.
The anti-LGBTQ bill has also been condemned by the United Nations, with one official calling it a "gross violation of the human rights of Ghana’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, who already face high levels of violence, abuse, stigma, and discrimination."
Same-sex sex is illegal in Ghana and carries a penalty of up to three years in prison, although the law is rarely enforced. The country has nevertheless seen an uptick in homophobia and transphobia this year, including the closure of an LGBTQ centre in the country's capital city, Accra, earlier this year.
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