The Anglican Church of Kenya has suspended five priests who’ve been accused of engaging in homosexuality.
According to local media, the five men are from the towns of Othaya, Karatina, Murang’a and Nyeri in the Mt. Kenya West Diocese.
The news was announced by Bishop Joseph Kagunda who said that witnesses had come forward with the claims against the clergymen.
The initial accusation was made against a senior member of the clergy by a young man who claimed that he was lured into a gay sex act. Church investigations then led to four other priests.
Bishop Kagunda said that some of the accused had “confessed” while others had been found guilty through an internal trial.
The priests were not named because they still have the right to appeal their suspension. If they are not cleared through that process, they will be excommunicated.
“It has been our desire to resolve this issue as a church through the established structures without blowing the whistle. However, it must be noted that the Anglican Church of Kenya and particularly the Diocese is totally against any kind of gay practice and marriage,” said the Bishop.
He went on to say there were no minors involved in the scandal and that it was up to the authorities to pursue the matter through the legal system.
Gay sex is illegal in Kenya, with penalties of between five to 14 years’ imprisonment.
The Kenyan Anglican Church has been a vocal critic of moves by some Western Anglican churches to be more accepting of gays and lesbians.
“Anyone who feels that homosexuals and gay marriages should be allowed in Church should find a different denomination because the behaviour does not reflect the institution of marriage started by God,” Bishop Kagunda said.
One of the suspended priests denied the claims against him to The Nairobian. “These accusations are false. I don’t get why a man can level such abhorrent claims against a servant of God. I have never had sex with a fellow man, this is just distasteful,” insisted Archdeacon John Njogu Gachau.
The suspensions were condemned by the Rev. Kenneth Changes, Nairobi-based Director of Changing Attitude Kenya.
“From where I stand, it is unchristian to discriminate against others in church. We have the freedom of worship regardless of our sexual orientation. Where is God’s love in all this?” he asked Erasing 76 Crimes. “The church is trying to divide us on sexual orientation, which is not acceptable at all.”