It’s illegal to be gay in Uganda, and has been since colonial times. But that wasn’t enough to satisfy the anti-gay fringe in America. Following a 2009 conference arranged by three American extremists, a bill was introduced in the Ugandan Parliament that would institute the death penalty for gay people under some circumstances, prohibit any form of advocacy or human rights work on behalf of gay people, eliminate confidentiality for health care providers and clergy, and even make it a crime to fail to turn in one’s own family members. Along with the bill a vicious pogrom has been unleashed against the gay community, leading to many Ugandans living in constant fear. The developing situation has been extensively covered by Box Turtle Bulletin.
LGBT activists in Uganda point to a virulently anti-gay March 2009 conference put on by three American Evangelical activists for inciting the latest round of violence and intimidation against the local LGBT community. Among the three were Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge, who is a protege of ex-gay advocate Richard Cohen. Lively, who blamed gay men for the rise of Nazism and the Rwandan genocide, proudly declared his talk as being a “nuclear bomb” against LGBT advocacy in Africa.
In response, Ugandan Bishop Rev. Mark Kiyimba is waging peaceful opposition to the legislation and its imported campaign of violence. Rev. Kiyimba risked his life by holding an LGBT conference (Standing on the Side of Love) in Kampala last February, and his congregation hosts an orphanage for 550 children, many of whom lost their parents to AIDS. Asked how he became involved, he told a reporter the following:
I began counseling gay people who came to me because they were struggling with their Christianity. They were told that as long as they were gay, they couldn’t be a Christian…Normally, people use scriptures to put gay people down. But I always tell them God is God. He continues to create all people with love and equality.
Rev. Kiyimba also affirms that it was not until American evangelicals intervened with Ugandan politics that the anti-gay sentiment surfaced, saying “Uganda has had a gay population for many, many years. There was never any real serious hostility toward gays until last year ”. Proponents of the bill are also closely aligned with The Family (also known as “C Street” and “The Fellowship”), a powerful political/religious organization of which our own Congressman Frank Wolf is a key leader.
Rev. Kiyimba will speak about the bill (currently stalled in the Ugandan parliament) and help us to understand how we can educate other Americans about this monstrous violation of human rights. World Beat Percussionist Tom Teasley will add the gift of his music to the event. All proceeds will go to Rev. Mark Kiyimba’s ministry in Kampala, Uganda.
Suggested donation: $10.00 for individuals, $20.00 for families of 2 or more. Sponsors of this event include the Unitarian Universalist Congregations of Sterling, Loudoun, and Accotink, St. James United Church of Christ, Unity of Loudoun, Equality Loudoun, and Loudoun Out Loud.