The president of the Seventh-Day Adventist church in East and Central Africa has repudiated quotes attributed to him by Uganda’s state owned media which claimed to show that he supported the country’s controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Pastor Blaisious Ruguri was quoted by the New Vision newspaper on December 17 as saying that, ‘our stand is zero tolerance to this vice and to western influence on this crucial issue because God says no to it.’
‘We are together with the President and the Speaker and we fully support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I call upon all religious ministers, all Ugandans, and all Africans to say no to Homosexuality. Let us stand for our sovereignty as Ugandans and as God fearing people even the heavens fall.’
However Ruguri told the official worldwide news service of the Seventh Day Adventist church that New Vision had put words in his mouth that he had not spoken.
‘It is unfortunate that the media took the liberty to extend my statements to suggest what I did not say or imply,’ Pastor Ruguri said.
‘I have never seen that bill. Mine was a general statement to disapprove of homosexual practice and behavior. Our church is a ministry of mercy, and as a minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church I cannot condemn homosexuals to death or to hell.’
Ruguri told the Adventist News Network that he was in fact against the proposed legislation - which in its original form would have seen the death penalty for repeat offenders and life imprisonment for first time offenders.
A revised official position statement on homosexuality was approved by the Seventh Day Adventist church in October of this year and states that ‘every human being is valuable in the sight of God,’ while opposing sex outside of heterosexual marriage.
‘Seventh-day Adventists are opposed to homosexual practices and relationships [but] Jesus affirmed the dignity of all human beings and reached out compassionately to persons and families suffering the consequences of sin,’ the position statement reads.
‘As His disciples, Seventh-day Adventists endeavor to follow the Lord's instruction and example.’
Despite Ruguri’s comments, New Vision are yet to take down or correct their article.
Ugandan lawmakers threatened to pass the bill before Christmas but failed to bring it to a vote before parliamentary broke for the New Year.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently told reporters that he did not support the execution of homosexuals but thought it was necessary to criminalize the so-called ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in Uganda.