WCR Logo

March 17, 2014

The Ugandan government's decision to punish those who engage in homosexual acts with life imprisonment should be opposed by every person concerned about the dignity of the human person.

African politicians are resentful of what they see as attempts by Western nations to export homosexual behaviour onto their continent. The United Nations' support for advancing so-called sexual and reproductive rights is profoundly disturbing to societies that continue to respect human life and traditional family structures. Nevertheless, the rabid reaction of African politicians to UN and other Western initiatives could easily lead to acts of violence against homosexuals.

The new Ugandan law is itself a violent act, one which harshly punishes people beyond any rational limit.

The Catholic Church does not condone homosexual acts, but neither does it condone "unjust discrimination" against homosexuals. A 1986 Vatican instruction, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, stated, "It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs."

The Church also opposes adultery, but is nowhere advocating for adultery to be made illegal, let alone punishable by life imprisonment. Adultery is a heinous act which destroys marriages, often consigning women and children to poverty.

The Church also opposes the use of contraception and sterilization when such acts are intended to render sexual activity infertile. The fact that homosexual acts are inherently infertile is the primary reason for understanding that such acts, even among consenting adults, are morally wrong. Nevertheless, we do not advocate making contraceptive use or sterilization punishable crimes. Nor should homosexual acts among consenting adults be criminalized.

Catholics then should have no qualms about opposing the Ugandan law; indeed, we should feel obliged to do so. If we want our opposition to same-sex marriage to be seen as morally justified and not itself homophobic, we must oppose actions which maltreat homosexual persons.