The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda in protest at the countries anti-gay laws.

It comes as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, begins a five-day trip to Africa.

There has been worldwide condemnation of Nigeria after the country’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law a draconian anti-gay bill in January.

Anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union may be jailed for up to 14 years.

The law also bans people who register, operate or participate in gay clubs, societies or organisations, or who publicly show that they are in a same-sex relationship.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague all criticised President Jonathan’s decision.

Same-sex relationships were already illegal in the country prior to the new law passing.

In December, Uganda’s Parliament passed legislation to toughen the punishment for same-sex sexual activity, including life imprisonment for ‘repeat offenders’.

However, President Yoweri Museveni will reportedly only sign Uganda’s anti-gay bill into law if he has proof that gay people are ‘made’ and ‘not born’ into their sexuality.

President Museveni announced he would not be signing the bill earlier this month, leading to a furious response from MPs who support the law.

In their letter Archbishops Justin Welby of Canterbury and John Sentamu of York recalled the words of the communiqué issued in 2005 after a meeting of Primates from across the Communion in Dromantine.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, was born in Uganda and is Britain’s most senior Black Anglican.

The letter is also addressed to all primates (heads of national Churches) in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

It reads:-

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

In recent days, questions have been asked about the Church of England’s attitude to new legislation in several countries that penalises people with same-sex attraction. In answer to these questions, we have recalled the common mind of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, as expressed in the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005.

The Communiqué said;

‘….we wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people.

The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give – pastoral care and friendship.’

We hope that the pastoral care and friendship that the Communiqué described is accepted and acted upon in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We call upon the leaders of churches in such places to demonstrate the love of Christ and the affirmation of which the Dromantine communiqué speaks.”

Yours in Christ,

+Justin Cantuar +Sentamu Eboracensis