Bishop Singh on the Rights of LGBT People in Uganda, India and Everywhere
Dear brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church of Uganda and the Churches in North and South India,
My name is Prince Singh and I serve as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, New York, a member of the larger Anglican Communion. I write you because the recent passing of anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda weighs heavily on my heart. India, my country of birth, recently passed a similar bill criminalizing gay and lesbian people, deeming their lifestyle as a punishable crime. I write you because it is my moral obligation to express my deepest rue – that these children of God are being persecuted within my Anglican family. I implore you to stand with these children of God, now made even more vulnerable by this unjust bill that flies at the face of our common baptismal dignity.
Our hearts break for the people of Uganda. Why? In the United States, we have treated our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in a similar manner in the past. At one stage to be gay was criminal here and we treated gay people with great prejudice, hatred and fear. These attitudes are still present in our own country, but more and more enlightened people are able to see that God made gay and lesbian people - just as God made me brown. We are learning of the damage we have inflicted on human beings by hateful attitudes. But just as damaging as the sin of persecution is that horrible sin of silence. We have heard story after story of the pain and deep wounding that we have caused gay and lesbian people simply by saying nothing. Worse still, we have abused Scripture to fuel hate!
We cannot go on hurting those we are called to love and protect. These are our children, our mothers, our fathers, our brothers and sisters.
We don’t have all the answers, but we want to build a world where all people are safe, protected and loved equitably. What country does not want this for its people? What kind of Church wants to be complicit in creating a community of people who are scapegoats, ready sacrifices to hatred and bigotry?
We plead with you, as fellow Christians, as people who are called to reveal the love and grace of God to please pay attention and speak up.
- Please protect those who are gay or work for gay rights.
- Please provide a genuine safe space to hear the real life and stories of the gay community. They are not what you have been led to believe.
- Please find ways as the Church to protect and advocate for those who are more vulnerable and marginal members of society. This includes not only gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, but also women, the poor, the unemployed, the outcaste and the hopeless.
We will be praying for you as you engage these issues of responsible discipleship. Please uphold us in your prayers as we strive to do the same in our context. Please tell us how we can be mutually helpful in this process since we are all interconnected in the web of life.
Your fellow servant in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY