Intimate Conviction – An international conference examining the church and anti-sodomy laws across the Commonwealth
This year marks the 50th anniversary of partial decriminalization of sodomy in the UK. Although this law, which was exported across the British empire as part of the colonizing project, initially reflected Church of England teaching, the Church also played a role in decriminalization. For example, in the 1950’s a Church committee first recommended decriminalization and the Wolfenden Committee, which advised the UK Parliament on decriminalization, was made up of mostly Anglican members.
Tragically, the picture in the former British empire (now Commonwealth) is not so favorable and 38 of the 73 states with anti-sodomy laws are in the Commonwealth. Churches play a major role in sustaining these laws as, among other things, some claim that these colonially-imposed statutes support their right to religious freedom (i.e., thy argue that if gay sex is legal then they will no longer be allowed to call homosexuals biblical abominations.)
In 2016 the Primates of the global Anglican Communion (representing 80 million+ people) issued the first-ever unequivocal call for decriminalization.
To mark that event, as well as the aforementioned 50th anniversary, there will be a Commonwealth conference in Jamaica from Oct. 12-13 discussing the role of the church (past, present and future) in decriminalization.