The Methodist Church’s annual conference on June 30 concluded with some shocking new information: same-sex marriages would be performed by Methodist ministers in Methodist churches. The vote passed by 254 with only 46 against and will influence all 164,000 Methodist Church members in Britain. No ministers who are uncomfortable with leading a same-sex wedding will be forced to do so, but no physical chapel may turn away an LGBTQ couple.
Being one of the largest Christian denominations in England, the Methodist Church’s announcement is making waves across the country. It is not, however, only the traditions of the United Kingdom that is being challenged by these changes.
The beacon of hope for other religious groups and conservative nations continues to grow with each progressive step. One such country is Kenya. Upon hearing the news that the Methodist Church has sanctioned same-sex marriage, Executive Director of the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH), Jedidah Maina, excitedly announced, “We [TICAH] are hopeful that this will set the trend for more religious leaders and institutions in Kenya to support the full enjoyment of human rights by the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Kenya is a nation that was colonized by Britain for almost 100 years and, as such, has retained many beliefs, customs and attitudes similar to those of their English oppressors. Over the years Kenya became more conservative under British rule. By the 1960s, even after the country declared independence, Kenyans with HIV or AIDS were refused treatment on the basis of their relationships to the LGBTQ community.
The first Kenyan Pride Parade took place in Nairobi in 2012, but, in 2019, a repeal of section 162 (known as #Repeal162) was denied; meaning that same-sex relations in Kenya remain punishable by law. This legislation calls for “guilty” individuals to spend up to fourteen years in jail for having intimate relations with an LGBTQ-identified person. Deputy Director of the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network (KLEIN), Nerima Were, has been fighting to repeal 162 since that time.
KLEIN Director Were also celebrated the Methodist Church’s decision. “It is wins like this that assure us that we will one day have a world where LGBTQIA+ persons will be able to enjoy their rights fully.”