A gay activist who was violently removed from a conference held by “breakaway Anglicans” has accused them of fueling homophobic witch-hunts.
Peter Tatchell and two fellow protesters were trying to get into yesterday’s conference, hosted by newly-formed Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FOCA), at All Souls Church in central London when they were attacked.
FOCA opposes the recognition of same-sex relationships and female bishops.
”This breakaway Anglican faction is fundamentalist, homophobic and sexist,” Mr Tatchell said.
“It opposes equal rights for women and gay people, and is allied with hardline church leaders whose bigoted teachings are fueling anti-gay witch-hunts in many countries.”
The human rights campaigner was joined by Brett Lock, from gay rights group OutRage, and Christian and Ugandan gay rights activist, Kizza Musinguzi.
When they tried to enter the church, they were physically ejected and Mr Tatchell said he was punched in the chest by a church steward.
Mr Tatchell and supporters unfolded their banners, reading “Church of Hate! Stop Crucifying Queers!,” “Defend gays, fight Christian bigots” and “Anglicans Repent Your Homophobia”, once they were outside the building.
750 clergy and churchwardens attended the conference, addressed by the Archbishop Gregory Venables from South America, Archbishop Peter Jensen from Sydney and Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi.
Archbishop Orombi has starred in his own drama in the past, excommunicating heterosexual bishop Christopher Senyonjo because he defended gay people against persecution.
He has stirred up trouble in Uganda where violence and hatred against gays is rife, which led to the imprisonment and torture of Mr Musinguzi.
”The church is supposed to be all-loving,” said Mr Musinguzi, who is currently seeking asylum in the UK.
“It is not acceptable that it has one set of rights for straight Christians and a lesser set of rights for gay Christians.
“When Archbishop Orombi takes a stand against gay people, he signals to the population that it is ok to discriminate against gay people.
“Gay people in Uganda face imprisonment, torture and mob violence. Many are driven out of their communities and left destitute.
“The government excludes gay people from its HIV programmes, leaving them to die without medication.
“The Church of Uganda is exacerbating this homophobia, neglect and persecution.”
Mr Tatchell added that the Archbishop of Nigeria is backing the state-sponsored persecution of lesbians and gays in Nigeria and is orchestrating a victimisation campaign against the Nigerian gay Christian leader Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria.
“Jesus Christ is recorded in The Bible as condemning many sins but he never once condemned homosexuality,” said Mr Tatchell.
“The anti-gay campaign of the breakaway Anglican leaders is a perversion of Christ’s gospel of love and compassion.
“These splitters are Old Testament fundamentalists, not true followers of Jesus Christ.”
Frequent spats concerning gay priests and female bishops have rocked the General Synod of the Church of England, with fears of a split.
FOCA was founded at a recent conference held in Jerusalem which defied the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s office said yesterday it would not comment as it did not want to pre-empt the next General Synod meeting.