Dr Allan Boesak

A number of leaders in the South African Anglican Church have expressed their concern over the role of religious fundamentalism in the upsurge in homophobia in Africa and said that they are opposed to “extremist religious voices”.

In a letter to the Cape Times, published on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) on Monday, the signatories – including Dr Allan Boesak and Cannon Rowan Smith – said that they supported this year’s IDAHO campaign, which was centred on religion and homophobia.

“Our focus on religion within this context is because we know the role that religious fundamentalism and patriarchy are playing in the upsurge of homophobic hate which we’ve seen in recent months in our continent,” reads the letter.

The signatories cited the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, hate crime attacks in Kenya, the imprisonment of a gay couple in Malawi and the refusal by Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe to consider LGBT equality in Zimbabwe’s new constitution.

“In our own country, a return to patriarchal cultural traditions by some leaders does not hold promise for a more tolerant and respectful future regarding these issues,” they added.

“We… strongly affirm the more moderate and progressive positions within our Christian faith on this subject. We believe that the Holy Spirit is leading the church to a greater understanding about issues of human sexuality and helping us to help our members to integrate their sexuality and faith.

“We believe that the Spirit is growing within us a deeper understanding of God’s love and grace for all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation…”

In addition to Boesak and Smith, the letter was also signed by Elna Boesak, Rev Judith Kotze, Rev Marius Brand, Rev Pieter Oberholzer, Bishop David Russel, Marlow Valentine and the openly lesbian Rev Ecclesia de Lange, who was recently fired from the Methodist Church for marrying her partner.

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