noren saidnothing could be less consequential for modern gays than the approbation or disapprobation of a dying, effete sect of a bizarre ancient religion . . .
I'm not so sure, even though as an atheist I see where you're coming from. It seems to me that a great tragedy is that everywhere these days conservative religion has the greatest voice, to the detriment of moderate religion.
The Church of England is, unlike Catholicism for example, not a denomination with strong central power; indeed it is the very political weakness of the Archbishop of Canterbury that causes him to appear intransigent. And yet a very powerful part of the communion of the CofE fully embraces gay people, including ordaining them. It is not at all clear to me that the bishops who oppose homosexuality are as powerful, though often they are characterized as such.
Nor is it fair to characterize the issue as Europe/America versus Africa. Desmond Tutu in South Africa has been perhaps the staunchest and most scholarly advocate of gay rights: he says that homophobia is a "crime against humanity" and "every bit unjust" as apartheid. It is because of the influence of people like him that South Africa has a constitutional guarantee of equality for gay people.
In Islam at present in the UK, there is a small and very loud group of people trying to demand Sharia, when there is no evidence that many Muslims want it. That conservative -- even fundamentalist -- groups are able to claim the identity "Muslim" or "Christian" ought to be profoundly disturbing for all of us, because it affords them power to constrain others.
One could argue that all of these people are misguided, though the liberal ones quite definitely less so, but to many many people their actions are not irrelevant.