The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams is said to be in “private” discussions with the Ugandan Anglican Church over the country’s proposed anti-homosexuality laws.

Pressure has been piling on the Church of England to speak out over the legislation, which would see gays executed or jailed for life.

Today, the Guardian reports that Canon Gideon Byamugisha, a prominent member of Uganda’s Anglican Church, described the bill as “state-legislated genocide”.

A statement from Lambeth Palace given to The Times religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill said: “It has been made clear to us, as indeed to others, that attempts to publicly influence either the local church or political opinion in Uganda would be divisive and counter-productive.

“Our contacts, at both national and diocesan level, with the local church will therefore remain intensive but private.”

On her Times blog, Gledhill suggested that the Archbishop was obviously “distressed” by the proposed law, but added that intervention could be seen as white-led colonialism.

Ekklesia, the liberal religious thinktank which has been pushing the Archbishop to speak out, said it was not clear what “intensive” meant.

Spokesman Jonathan Bartley told PinkNews.co.uk he believed the church’s view was that it would be detrimental to make an intervention.

He suggested that the silence was more to do with current battles over homosexuality.

He said: “We still think he should publicly speak out. The statement from Lambeth Palace doesn’t hold a lot of weight.

“The gay Christians in Uganda are asking for him to speak out publicly, the gay Christians in this country are asking him to, and as our petition shows, the clergy are asking him to speak out.”

A petition
set up by the group has been signed by more than 2,000 people, many of them clergy.

Bartley said: “The fear is that the Church of England’s silence has more to do with fears of causing another split in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality.

“It would be tragic if the Archbishop remains silent for the sake of political reasons.”