Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Asylum and homophobia

On Monday the Church of England’s General Synod effectively rejected an appeal for tolerance on issues of sexual orientation by the Archbishop of Canterbury, when the Archbishop of Uganda, the Very Rev Henry Orombi, made a ‘pugnacious speech’ according to The Guardian, placing his church firmly behind the homophobic legislation now going through the Ugandan Parliament.

As it happens, the House of Lords was debating legislation to add two countries to the ‘white list’ of states which are supposedly safe for asylum-seekers to return to. I started my speech with a reference to the treatment of gays in certain countries, and Uganda in particular:

The last time we had a designated states order was July 2007, when I asked, for the second time, whether the Government had considered the use of the power to designate states in respect of straight people only, given that so many countries tolerate hate speech and violence against homosexuals or even pass explicitly anti-gay legislation, such as the Bill in Uganda, which President Obama has described as "odious". I had no answer on either occasion, so I try for the third time to persuade the Minister to agree that subsection (5C)(h) would allow the Secretary of State to designate a state for persons of a given sexual orientation if he considers that appropriate and, further, that the persecution of gays in some states would fully justify this use of the power.

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