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The proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda has created tension between American Christians who have condemned the legislation and Ugandan Christians who don't want to see homosexuality become an acceptable practice.
Several American pastors and leaders have condemned legislation in Uganda that, if passed in its proposed version, would punish homosexual acts between adults—including touching "with the intent of committing the act of homosexuality"—with life imprisonment. The punishment for "serial offenders," homosexual sex with minors or the disabled, or homosexual sex while being HIV-positive, is death.
Rt. Rev. Dr. David Zac Niringiye, assistant bishop of Kampala in the Church of Uganda, says that American Christians should not make such public pronouncements on the bill.
"The international community is behaving like they can't trust Ugandans to come up with a law that is fair. No! No! That is not fair!" he told Christianity Today. "When the Western governments or Western churches or Christians speak loudly about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of this bill, you actually begin to fuel the idea that homosexuality is the product of Western culture."
Without giving his position on the bill, Niringiye said that it attempts to make the law consistent, since raping a minor is punishable by death. Sexual assault is currently defined in the law as between a male and female, he said. Homosexuality and adultery are already considered crimes.
The reaction from Christians in America creates tension for Ugandan Christians, says the Rev. Dr. Christopher Byaruhanga, professor of historical theology at Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology at Uganda Christian University.
"You see there's a kind of imperialism and a kind of relativism from the West," said Byaruhanga, who is doing a fellowship for a year at the John Jay Institute in Colorado Springs. "They don't understand our ethics in the country of Uganda and they are trying to impose what they believe."