NEW YORK, NY — The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church (GBGM) issued a statement yesterday on human rights for all people. Signed by GBGM General Secretary Thomas G. Kemper, and President Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, the statement was issued in response to the criminalization of homosexuality in countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, and India. “Whatever our understanding of sexual orientation,” Kemper and Ward write, “the criminalization of homosexuality is not compatible with the United Methodist Social Principles including the one that states that basic rights and civil liberties are “due to all persons…regardless of sexual orientation” (BOD par. 162J).
The statement reads as follows:
United Methodist people are increasingly aware of the violation of human rights through the criminalization of homosexuality in countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, and India. These unjust measures reflect a concerning trend as reports indicate that five countries make homosexuality a capital offense and imprisonment is possible in 66 countries.
This kind of legislation predictably is leading to increased marginalization, harassment, and exploitation in our global civil society. Whatever our understanding of sexual orientation, the criminalization of homosexuality is not compatible with the United Methodist Social Principles including the one that states that basic rights and civil liberties are “due to all persons…regardless of sexual orientation” (BOD par. 162J).
As part of a church with a strong commitment to the full human rights of all people in all societies and under all forms of government (BOD, par. 164A), the General Board of Global Ministries supports the human rights of those being oppressed and threatened on the basis of sexual orientation. Two of Global Ministries’ goals are to alleviate human suffering and to seek justice, freedom, and peace. Recognizing our role as a global mission organization that has a history of speaking up and condemning persecution, the General Board of Global Ministries:
- Reminds all United Methodists of our church’s strong insistence on the fundamental rights and sacred worth (BOD, par. 161F) of all persons in all places;
- Urges all United Methodists to advocate for full human and civil rights in their respective countries and on the international level; asking ourselves how we can best protect our family members and neighbors from unjust treatment;
- Requests all United Methodists to pray for the victims of repression and deprivation; to pray that all political and economic systems will respect and advocate human rights for all, and to pray for civil discourse on ways to achieve peaceful reconciliation when ethical concepts are in disagreement.
Respect for human rights enhances and extends our Christian opportunities to share the love of God through mission and ministry.
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, President
Thomas G. Kemper, General Secretary