number 3, december 7, 1998

Select other issues: 

Gays’ criticism about WCC integrity rejected

WCC general secretary Dr Konrad Raiser has rejected criticism about the council’s integrity from the Gay and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) contained in a statement distributed around campus during the assembly.

GALZ criticised the council for having signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" with the Zimbabwean government and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches on the issue of gay men and women attending the 8th assembly.

It accused the WCC of having obtained protection only for gays and lesbians taking part in the assembly and only while they are on campus of the University of Zimbabwe. This might "pose a threat to the integrity" of the council.

"It will obviously not affect the rights, or lack of rights, pertaining to ordinary Zimbabwean citizens," GALZ said. Any sexual act between men is classified as an "unnatural offence" and contravenes the laws of Zimbabwe, regardless of whether it takes place between consenting adults in a private place.

The statement spoke of people deprived of their human rights, on account of their sexual orientation, "under the very noses of member churches gathered in Harare to celebrate 50 years of WCC general assemblies and 50 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights".

Defending the WCC, Raiser said the Memorandum of Understanding with the Zimbabwean government and the local council of churches had been signed to make sure all participants could be guaranteed the conditions necessary for a world assembly, for them to have the freedom to witness.

"The integrity of the WCC would be ‘under threat’ only if the Memorandum of Understanding were taken as a formulation of an official WCC position on homosexuality.

"This is not the case, and GALZ knows no such position exists and that this issue is not part of the official agenda of the WCC’s assembly," Raiser said.

GALZ had not handed the statement directly to the WCC leadership.

Back to top

Read other articles in this issue:

Vision paper triggers debate &
On the back of a tiger
Abolition 2000
CNN president wants delegates' views
They went on a visit
Gays' criticism about WCC integrity rejected
Help stop slaughter in Sudan
You're in the deadly centre
WCC has eight new members, and one deferred

8th Assembly and 50th Anniversary

copyright 1998 World Council of Churches. Remarks to webeditor