Across Africa, major churches strongly oppose LGBTQ rights

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10/20/2021

In Ghana, home to a diverse array of religions, leaders of major churches have united in denouncing homosexuality as a “perversion” and endorsing legislation that would, if enacted, impose some of the harshest anti-LGBTQ policies in Africa. In Nigeria, the umbrella body for Christian churches depicts same-sex relationships as an evil meriting the lengthy prison sentences prescribed under existing law. And in several African countries, bishops aligned with the worldwide United Methodist Church are preparing to join an in-the-works breakaway denomination so they can continue their practice of refusing to recognize same-sex marriage or ordain LGBTQ clergy. In the United States, Western Europe and various other regions, some prominent Protestant churches have advocated for LGBTQ inclusion. With only a few exceptions, this hasn’t happened in Africa, where Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran leaders are among those opposing such inclusion. The mainstream churches — all of them — they actually are totally against it,” said Caroline Omolo, associate pastor at the Cosmopolitan Affirming Community in Nairobi, Kenya. It is a rare example of a church in Africa serving a predominantly LGBTQ congregation. “They have always organized a group to maybe silence us or make the church disappear,” Omolo said. “They don’t want it to appear anywhere.” Ghana, generally considered more respectful of human rights than most African countries, now faces scrutiny due to a bill in Parliament that would impose prison sentences ranging from three to 10 years for people identifying as LGBTQ or supporting that community. The bill has been denounced by human rights activists even as Ghanaian religious leaders rally behind it.

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