From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Zimbabwe Questioned as Site of 1998 Wcc Assembly

Date 04 May 1996 20:36:46


95341    Zimbabwe Questioned as Site of 1998 Wcc Assembly 
         in Wake of President's Antihomosexual Statements 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
                with information from John Newbury 
        World Council of Churches Office of Communication 
GENEVA--World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee members are 
seeking assurances that recent antihomosexual statements by Zimbabwe 
President Robert Mugabe will not create problems for the WCC when it holds 
its Eighth Assembly in Harare in 1998. 
     Mugabe was widely quoted last month as saying he believes "homosexuals 
don't have any rights at all and if they come here, we will throw them in 
     Responding to questions from Central Committee members during a Sept. 
18 plenary session, WCC general secretary Konrad Raiser recalled that 
similar concerns about holding the 1998 Assembly in Zimbabwe were raised at 
the January 1994 Central Committee meetings after widespread reports of 
police harassment of homosexuals in Zimbabwe. 
     Raiser said that at that time he sought and received assurances from 
the Zimbabwean interior minister that all Assembly participants will be 
allowed to enter Zimbabwe and that the Assembly will be free to set its own 
     But after an exhibit by a Zimbabwean homosexual organization was shut 
down at a July book fair in Harare, the country's capital, Raiser said he 
received numerous letters from WCC member churches questioning whether the 
Assembly should be held in Zimbabwe.  He said that the WCC and the Zimbabwe 
Council of Churches are developing a detailed list of "essential 
requirements" for holding the Assembly in Zimbabwe. 
     Raiser said he had "no reason to believe that such an understanding 
cannot be reached with the Zimbabwe authorities." 
     Kristine Thompson, one of two Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 
representatives on the Central Committee, said she hoped any agreement 
would ensure the right of Assembly participants to express public 
solidarity "with those in Zimbabwe who are being repressed for 
homosexuality."  She acknowledged that while WCC member churches have 
varying attitudes toward homosexuality, "we can agree that no one should be 
persecuted for it." 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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