Last edited: January 31, 2005

Gay Ugandan Refused Entry to UK Because Homosexuality Is Illegal in His Homeland, January 31, 2005

By Peter Moore London Bureau

London—A gay Ugandan man has been denied a visa to enter Britain because there is a warrant for his arrest in his home country—a warrant that was issued because he is gay.

Chris Stentaza had been invited to the UK by the Church of England. Stentaza had been a teacher at an Anglican run school in Uganda but was fired and forced to go into hiding after speaking at a conference of gay Christians in Manchester 15 months ago.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, punishable by lengthy prison terms.

Stentaza was rejected for a visa by the British high commission in the Ugandan capital of Kampala based only on the fact that a warrant had been issued on charges of “crimes against nature”.

He had been invited to the UK to meet Canon Gregory Cameron, the secretary to the church’s commission responsible for last October’s Windsor report which investigated ways of keeping the worldwide communion together in the wake of the election of an openly gay bishop in the US.

The primates of the worldwide church will meet next month to discuss the report and Canon Cameron is taking soundings from different church groups before they do so.

Canon Cameron said that Stentaza’s views could have been important to the outcome of the meetings.

The head of the Ugandan Anglican Church, the Most Rev Henry Orombi, has called on US Episcopalians to “repent of their unbiblical behaviour and teaching” for electing Gene Robinson, the gay bishop of New Hampshire.

The Rev Colin Coward, the director of the Church of England’s gay lobby group Changing Attitudes, said it was outrageous to deny Stentaza a visa.

“The British government is failing to recognize that there are people applying for visas who need support and encouragement to enable them to take part in the church’s consultation processes. It was important for Christ’s voice to be heard.”

Changing Attitudes was sponsoring Stentaza’s trip and had paid for his ticket.

The refusal of a visa to Stentaza came only days after gay rights leader Peter Tatchell was briefly arrested for staging a protest during a Holocaust memorial at Parliament where he assailed the government for ignoring the pleas of asylum seekers and sending them back to their homelands.

Pleading with MPs and other attendees not to let the Holocaust occur again, Tatchell said that people seeking asylum from genocide and persecution are often turned away.

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