Saturday, November 28, 2009

Uganda: Death Penalty for Gays

St Charles Lwanga along with his companions suffered martyrdom for resisting the homosexual advances of the king, in the same persecution, stemming from the same reasons the Anglican Bishop Hannington, from a Brighton family, was killed along with a large number of Anglican converts,

John Allen reports:
In October, a Ugandan parliamentarian named David Bahati, a member of the ruling National Resistance Movement and an Evangelical Christian, introduced the “Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009.” In a nutshell, the measure would establish life in prison as the penalty for even a single instance of homosexual behavior (which the bill defines in graphic detail). It also creates a new category of “aggravated homosexuality” subject to the death penalty. Examples include:

•Homosexual relations with a minor or a disabled person;
•Cases where the “offender” (the person initiating the homosexual encounter) has HIV, uses drugs or intoxicants to procure sex, or wields authority over the “victim”;
•Repeated homosexual acts.
Anyone who fails to report homosexuals to the police would face a prison term of three years. The bill also bars the “promotion” of homosexuality, in language that would essentially outlaw pro-gay support or advocacy groups.
 Allen says homosexuality is seen as a western white vice, so the proposed bill is seen as anti-colonialist but also as in most former British colonies Anglicanism is the major Christian body, the acceptance of homosexuality generally within international Anglicanism has been used as a weapon by Moslems to attack Christianity generally. As a reaction against this, other Protestant groups have become more intense in the anti-gay activity, this part of that reaction.
Allen points out the Catholic Church is keeping a low profile, caught in a cleft stick, having more problems with the death penalty, imprisonment for failing to report homosexuals, which presumably would have implications for the confessional.
For us it raises interesting issues about what we expect the state should do about issue we consider to be seriously sinful, like adultery, homosexual acts, abortion, euthanasia, shuld there be a judicial penalty?


Michael Petek said...

Anglicanism hasn't universally accepted the legitimacy of homosexuality: in fact, it is precisely in Africa where Anglican's are as opposed to it as are Catholics and Muslims.

Should there be a judicial penalty for homosexual activity, adultery, abortion and euthanasia?

Criminal penalties for the last two, certainly, because the State has the duty to protect and vindicate human life by general laws which must be applied to protect all equally.

Civil remedies should suffice for both adultery and other immoral acts short of it. In my ideal world adultery against a party who remained innocent of his own and his partner's would trigger a remedy in the form of a right of the Claimant to dismiss the Defendant from the marital home and to keep exclusive custody of the children and of all assets other than the Defendant's personal effects.

Court orders, enforced by imprisonment for contempt, could be made available to restrain interlopers from interfering with a marriage.

As for homosexuality, European human rights case which set aside the criminal law was the case of Dudgeon in which it was held (under the right to privacy) that states couldn't criminalise sexual acts committed in private between consenting adults.

Now, of course, homosexuality is celebrated in public and taught in schools as a legitimate lifestyle choice. Gays can effectively marry.

So where do you draw the line? My starting point would be that every State has the duty to serve God according to the morality of the Catholic religion, and that means it has the authority to enact and enforce such laws as are necessary to prevent it from being deflected from that service.

That may mean preventing the gay subculture from having any influence on public affairs or on the definition of what marriage means.

I remember an old Dave Allen joke in which a man said to his friend that he was emigrating.

"A hundred years ago homosexuality was a punishable offence. Now it's legal. So I'm getting out of the country before they make it compulsory."

The Bones said...

Death penalty seems a little excessive, as does life imprisonment.

A small prison sentence or a heavy fine wouldn't do anyone any harm.

Oh but then you get beaten up in jail or possibly killed by homophobes. Ah well, that's the risk you take.

Go with a fine or a suspended custodial sentence, the money from which goes to the building fund of a Sussex based parish church.

Volpius Leonius said...

For most of them there should be a judicial penalty, not because they are sins but because they harm the common good of society.

bill bannon said...

It is reminiscent of the death penalty in the early West of the US for horse stealing. While horse stealing is simply horse stealing now, in those days a horse could be a man's whole way of making a living as a cattle driver and so if you stole his horse, you stole more than his horse really.

HIV is thus making gay activity not simply gay activity but murder or suicide through weakness of the flesh.

I wonder if the Evngelical is copying the OT Jewish law wherein God Himself gave the death penalty for gay acts. The death penalty for personal sin is taken away as Jewish law by the New Covenant which A: binds the devil relatively to the OT (hence very few demon possession cases now while there were many at Christ's time)and B: supplies sanctifying grace to avoid sin (Jews had actual grace only) so that once sanctifying grace arrived, God no longer needed great threats intrinsically to motivate man away from sin. The lessening of the devil's power and the appearance of sanctifying grace replaced the need of the death penalty as motivator for avoiding personal sins though not for crimes as per Romans 13:3-4....the passage that forced the catechism writers to include a theoretical affirmation of the death penalty while they then proceeded to include John Paul's prudential judgement as primary (not the greatest moment in catechism history).

Michael Petek said...

Volpius, you have to demonstrate by argument how they harm the common good of society.

Argument, anyone?

Daniel said...

“For most of them there should be a judicial penalty, not because they are sins but because they harm the common good of society.”

Meanwhile Jihad Watch reports: “Sharia Alert: Christian girl, 16, gets 50 lashes for wearing ‘indecent’ knee-length skirt in Sudan.”

Sharia law should be brought into the UK for “The common good of society”. All women should be covered from head to foot while out in public so as not to be a temptation to men. Instead of 50 lashes, bring back burning at the stake, it was a useful weapon in the past. Priests who break their vows, with boys, girls, men or women, should be tortured mercilessly until they repent. Let there be a modern day equivalent of the Witchfinder General, who can bring the adulterer, paedophile, homosexual, lesbian and all other perverts before the full force of the law.

I truly despair when reading some catholic blogs/comments. There appears to
be such a lack of Christian charity that seems to find its counterpart in the worst aspects of Islamic fundamentalism. At the moment Catholics are faced with this ghastly report of hundreds of young people being abused by the very same men who preached to their congregations about the sins of the flesh. Whited sepulchres seems an understatement. Heaven alone knows how many people are going to lose their faith in the Church and maybe in God after reading about the abuse. Instead of hanging our heads in shame for the actions of priests, and praying for the victims and the abusers, we resort to seeking punishment for those who do not share our viewpoint, and all in the name of the common good of society. This is exactly what all the tyrants of the past have also promulgated, whether it was wiping out Catholics, Protestants or Jews, all for the good of society.

Bill of L.A. said...

Oh but then you get beaten up in jail or possibly killed by homophobes. Ah well, that's the risk you take.

As a homosexual who's been living chastely for the past several years, after great struggle, I despair of blithe dismissals such as this.

Physiocrat said...

How about "those guilty of homosexual acts should be required to go to confession before receiving communion"?'

And don't celebrate with things like Pride parades.

And promote family-friendly policies like not having wars and breaking up families by not having equal economic opportunities for all? End of problem.

The Bones said...


I wasn't being blithe, I was joking - hence the remark saying the money would go to the building fund. And, if this were the law, I'd have been put inside a few years ago, having had some experience in this area of criminal activity.

On the other hand, I was looking back at a time in this country where English law reflected God's law and we chaps were put off from doing it altogether.

Anonymous said...


What a totally irrational, and, I suspect, malicious post.

Albreacht von Brandenburg

Joe said...

Dear Father

I am hoping to post fully on this at my own blog within the next few days, when I have got all my thoughts in order. But one or two quick thoughts (OK, five thoughts) to balance some of your comments received:

1. In the spirit of Pope Benedict's notion of an "appropriate secularity", I do not believe it is simply the role of a civil government to establish positive law that aims to implement Catholic moral teaching.

2. We are called to put into practice the fullness of the teaching of the Catechism's teaching on homosexuality - including the provisions for what the secular world would call "non-discrimination" - and I expect that this will mean some of the provisions of the proposed legislation in Uganda should be opposed by Catholics.

3. There is a reflection to be undertaken - in a totally different situation than that in the UK - about the relative roles of state and civil society in this matter. Without this reflection, a proper understanding of what is appropriate in state law and what is not appropriate will not be present. I expect that this would make reference to the principles of "the common good" from Catholic social teaching and that of "non-discrimination" in society, cf the position expressed by Rocco Buttiglione when he was prevented from being an EU commissioner.

4. Point 3 can be expressed by saying that it is not the role of state law to impose a particular morality; rather it is the role of law to allow the flourishing of moral life, which is essentially a function of civil society.

5. It would be most unfortunate if the example of the Ugandan martyrs - essentially a witness to Christian faith as a whole, and more particularly to its teaching about the nature of human loving - were to be subverted and used as if they were saints of homophobia, ie saints promoting hatred rather than witnessing to the truth about the nature of love.

In summary: the proposed legislation in Uganda is very worrying, and it looks as if some very skilful pastoral and political footwork will be needed if the Catholic Church is not to be tarnished as a result of it.

Volpius Leonius said...

Is it not self evident Michael?

I don't care to go into all of them, but here is one example.

"“He who commits adultery fails in his commitment. He does injury to the sign of the covenant which the marriage bond is, transgresses the rights of the other spouse, and undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based. He compromises the good of human generation and the welfare of children who need their parents’ stable union.” CCC#2381

Adultery is often the cause of the break up of the family.

“Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.” CCC#2385

All disorder is harmful to society been as it is contrary to what is natural, and Gods plan for society. To act against God is always destructive.

nickbris said...

The Church has always been against sex outside of marriage,and that is all there is to it.

Not all men can cope with the opposite sex for companionship and prefer their own sex,this also applies to women.

Why they should be branded as "homosexual" is a bit strange for a civilised society.

Everybody,Thank God is different and why they can't show these differences is difficult to comprehend.

Is it because they are seen to be a week minority and easy targets for cowardly bullies?

The most vociferous attackers should be more closely looked at.

Michael Petek said...

Volpius, I agree with what you say about adultery and divorce because they both involve public injustice. Adultery violates the duty owed by a married person to the spouse (though under the Mosaic law no crime or actionable wrong was done where the woman involved wasn't married - Christ altered the law to provide that it was).

Divorce violates the nature of marriage in that it gives civil recognition to supposed 'marriages' of persons whose legitimate spouse is still alive.

So far, so good.

No-one doubts that unnatural sexual acts between unmarried and consenting adults of same or different sex are sinful, and are grave matter.

What argument can you give me that these so harm the common good that the civil law ought to intervene?

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Tis a bit harsh of a penalty, I don't think that it's proportionate, a fine and a program similar to courage would work just fine.

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