19 May 2009

Kenya: Bishop Slams Homosexuality As Unbiblical, Unafrican

Nairobi — A senior Catholic bishop has denounced homosexuality, stating that it is against both African culture and biblical teaching.

Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth of Kisumu, who is also the chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, made the remarks while addressing an international seminar on the role of universities in peace building at the Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA) last week. The conference was organised by CUEA's Centre for Social Justice and Ethics.

Commenting on the link between gender issues and peace, Archbishop Okoth said: "For the African, gender is either male or female; other issues such as homosexuality should not arise. In this context, the belief of the African is consonant [with] the teaching of the Bible, namely God created only two sexes: male and female. God created Adam and Eve. God did not create Adam and Steve!"

Homosexuality is still taboo in Kenya, although there are gay and lesbian persons in the country. In April, the gay and lesbian community demanded state protection after a woman accused of being lesbian was attacked by another at a night club in Nairobi.

In a joint statement, the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), Minority Women in Action (MWA), GayKenya and Ishtar MSM condemned the attack as "a hate crime."

The International Day Against Homophobia was marked on Sunday, May 17. The Kenya National Human Rights Commission, GALCK and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission posted a newspaper advert that quoted President Mwai Kibaki's pledge last year to protect people's rights and freedoms.

The advert also quoted the South African Nobel Peace Laureate and Anglican cleric, Archbishop Desmond Tutu: "It is impossible to keep quiet when people are frequently hounded, vilified, molested and even killed as target of homophobia for something they did not choose - their sexual orientation."

Psychologist and columnist Chris Hart wrote in the Sunday Nation that being homosexual is not a choice. He urged people to "always remember that individual homosexuals did not choose their fate - and be appropriately tolerant. Because, as is true of so much of our lives, it really is in their genes."

The Catholic Church distinguishes between homosexual acts and tendencies. The church's catechism condemns homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity. "They are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstance can they be approved."

On the other hand, the church teaches that persons displaying homosexual tendencies did choose to be in the condition, but they should not be sexually active. "Such people should be accorded respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. They are called to fulfil God's will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter."

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