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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The role of the Anglican and Catholic Churches in Uganda in public discourse on homosexuality and ethics
Author:Ward, KevinISNI
Periodical:Journal of Eastern African Studies (ISSN 1753-1063)
Geographic term:Uganda
Catholic Church
Anglican Church
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2014.987509
Abstract:The passage of an Anti-Homosexuality Act in the Uganda Parliament (December 2013), its endorsement by President Yoweri Museveni (February 2014), and subsequent invalidation in Uganda's Supreme Court (July 2014), have focused international attention on Uganda's punitive attitudes to the gay and lesbian community, the survival of colonial sodomy laws and the recent legislative campaigns to intensify anti-gay laws. Much international coverage has focused on the impact of religious campaigns from American Pentecostal and evangelical constituencies to alert Ugandans to the dangers of 'homosexuality'. International press coverage has also often characterised Uganda as a deeply conservative, deeply religious country, where attitudes have traditionally been unsympathetic to gays and lesbians, and to sexual expressions which deviate from the heterosexual norm. This paper challenges many of these stereotypes. It attempts to show that American conservative religion is neither as widespread nor as important as the publicity accorded to it suggests. The paper seeks to demonstrate that the majority religious communities, the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Church of Uganda, are deeply embedded within Ugandan culture, and are much more important as shapers of public opinion and in echoing public sentiment than Pentecostal churches. In that sense the anti-homosexuality campaign cannot be primarily seen as a response to recent external conservative influences. The two major churches claim to speak for the vast majority of Ugandans, and to have a central role in shaping debates about the ethical foundations of Uganda's social, spiritual and political life. Their influence on the debates about homosexuality has been decisive in a number of ways, which will be explored in this paper. Nevertheless, despite the churches' recent intervention in opposition to Gay rights, the paper seeks to question the idea that Uganda's culture is as solidly homophobic as is sometimes portrayed, both by Ugandans keen to assert that homosexuality is alien to Africa, and international critics keen to characterise Uganda as deeply entrenched in homophobia. On the contrary, the paper seeks to show that homophobia is, if anything, quite a recent phenomenon in Uganda, and is relatively shallow. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]