Clergy Unite to Protest Oppression of Sexual Minorities in Uganda

Diana Sands, LGBT Program Associate of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office, has gathered signatures from 80 religious leaders, representing a variety of denominations around the world, for an open letter protesting the Ugandan government’s recent initiative to step up persecution of homosexuals and transgender persons.

UU-UNO is seeking donations to pay for publication of this letter as a paid editorial in Ugandan newspapers. To help, visit the donation page on their website, choose the “Your Choice” donation amount option, and write in the “Your Choice” box the amount to be donated followed by the word “Uganda” (Ex. “25 Uganda”). Or send a check to UU-UNO, 777 UN Plaza, suite 7G, New York, NY 10017. Make sure that “Uganda Project” is noted in the memo line or in an attached note.

If you’re on Facebook, join the Cause “Support Publication of Uganda Letter from Religious Leaders”.

Thanks to Diana for permission to reprint the letter on this blog, and to Steve and Jose at Other Sheep for bringing this project to my attention in their e-newsletter.

Open Letter to Hon. Dr. James Nsaba Buturo, Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity

Hon. Dr. James Nsaba Buturo
Minister of Ethics and Integrity
Office of the President, Parliamentary Building
P. O. Box 7168
Kampala, Uganda

Honorable Minister Buturo:
As leaders and members of faith-based communities we are gravely concerned about recent events which endanger the lives and human rights of many Ugandans. Faith-based groups from Uganda and the United States called for the formation of an official anti-homosexuality task force after a three day seminar organized by Family Life Network (FLN), a Ugandan organization with U.S. support that since 2002 represents itself as working for “the restoration of Ugandan family and values.”

According to news reports, this task force would lobby to create a special division in the police force to persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. It would also seek to lobby for harsher penalties for homosexual conduct and “out” people in different spheres. These actions would create an atmosphere of fear, driving essential family and community members underground, and would tear apart families and communities on the basis of gender identities and sexual orientations.

As people of faith, we believe that perfect love casts out all fear {I John 4}. We believe that all people are created in the image of God, and that honesty before God and our fellow human beings is essential to a just and equitable society. We cannot condone any position or practice, which in the name of faith, seeks to do less than extend this perfect love and work for this just society.

Prior to the seminar, Stephen Langa, Executive Director of FLN, and Dr. Scott Lively, a US spokesperson at the seminar, met with members of parliament and the Ugandan Christian Lawyers Association. According to Dr. Lively, he also met with you and other influential leaders.

We are concerned that the allegations raised by Dr. Lively and Mr. Langa, wrongly associating sexual minorities and human rights defenders with sexual abuse of people, will lead to violence against people on the grounds of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This in turn will work against building communities of openness and trust and families where all members are valued and cherished.

With many people of faith throughout the world, we hold that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created in the image of God and are loved by God. We further believe that the scriptural responsibility incumbent upon people of faith and good will across the globe is to respond to hate with compassion, charity and love. We strive to do that with this letter and our appeal to you as a person of good will and a public servant.

Uganda stands out as a nation which fosters spiritual diversity among its diverse population. As people of faith, we believe, as we trust you do, that state impartiality on spiritual matters is critical for the maintenance of peace and the enjoyment of religious freedom for all Ugandans.

The FLN brings into Uganda, with the support of a few US faith-based organizations, attitudes of hatred and intolerance that digress from the attitudes of compassion and tolerance advocated by most religious organizations globally. What we share in common as members of diverse traditions and co-signers of this letter is our firm conviction that we are called to love all people completely and equally, and to accept the place of every person in God’s creation.

As Minister for Ethics and Integrity, you represent the government of Uganda and as such you have an obligation to resist calls to limit the human rights of any group of people based on the beliefs of another group of people. We write to you seeking your pledge to honor the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which affirms the equality of all people. We pledge our continued witness to the truth of God’s unconditional and universal love for all humanity, and to a more accurate and just representation of the faith we serve.

As people of faith, we believe it is the responsibility of the government to set the standard in matters of civil and human equality by investing time and resources into education about the diversity of human sexuality and gender identity. It is the responsibility of the government to facilitate a productive and respectful dialogue between people of differing religious and civic views. A peaceful and nonviolent society in which the rights of all are equally recognized and protected is achieved when the government takes a strong stand to defend religious liberty and diversity of belief.

We call on you today, as we did in a previous letter [14/2/2008] to publicly lead Uganda in becoming a model nation, working towards ending all discrimination against its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and replacing judgmentalism and oppression with acceptance of diversity; hatred and violence with love and compassion for all.


1. The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
2. The Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
3. The Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
4. The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ
5. The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair, Global Justice Ministry, Metropolitan Community Churches
6. The Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association
7. The Most Rev. Craig Bergland, EFR, Presiding Bishop, The Universal Anglican Church
8. Maria Jespen, Bishop of Hamburg and Luebeck in the Northelbian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Germany
9. The Rev. Mark Kiyimba, Unitarian Universalist Association of Uganda
10. The Rev. Samuel Waweru, Presbyterian Church of East Africa PCEA, Nairobi, Kenya
11. The Rev. Steve Parelli, Other Sheep East Africa
12. Mel White, Soulforce
13. The Rev. William G. Sinkford, Past President, Unitarian Universalist Association
14. The Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy, Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ
15. The Rev. Robert B. Coleman, Minister of Mission and Social Justice, The Riverside Church in the City of New York
16. The Rev. David Vargas, Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, President, Division of Overseas Ministries, Christian Church (Discipl
es of Christ), Indianapolis, IN
17. The Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte, Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, OH
18. The Reverend Eric M. Cherry, Director of International Resources, Unitarian Universalist Association
19. The Reverend Keith Kron, Director of the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns, Unitarian Universalist Association
20. The Rev. Mark Worth, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Castine, Maine, USA
21. The Rev. Ann Marie Alderman, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greenville, NC, USA
22. The Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, House Of Rainbow MCC, Lagos, Nigeria
23. The Reverend Krishna Stone, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, USA
24. The Rev. Cn. Mary June Nestler, Canon for Ministry Formation, Episcopal Diocese of Utah
25. The Rev. Jared R. Stahler, Pastor, Saint Peter’s Church, NY
26. Rabbi Laurence Edwards, Congregation Or Chadash, Chicago
27. The Rev Deniray Mueller, Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, Assistant to the Canon for Public Policy
28. The Rev. Dámaris E. Ortega, United Church of Christ
29. Sister Betty Obal, Sisters of Loretto
30. Sister Mary Peter Bruce, Sisters of Loretto Community
31. The Rev. H. Scott Matheney, Chaplain and Dean of Religious Life, Elmhurst College, Chicago
32. Christian Albers, Pastor in the Protestant Altstadt Congregation, Hachenburg, Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau, Germany
33. Rabbi Renni S. Altman, Great Neck, NY
34. The Rev. Renee (Maurine) C. Waun, D.Min., Pittsburgh, PA
35. The Rev. Edith Gause, Consultant for Transitional Ministries, Pasadena, CA
36. The Reverend Lynn M. Acquafondata, Unitarian Universalist minister, Pittsburgh, PA
37. The Rev. Rebecca Booher, Minister
38. John Clinton Bradley, Acting Executive Director, Integrity USA
39. The Rev. Dr. Joan Kavanaugh, the Executive Director of the Counseling Center at The Riverside Church, NY
40. The Rev. Fr. Japé Mokgethi-Heath, Acting Executive Director ANERELA+ and INERELA+, South Africa & United Kingdom
41. The Rev Dee Cooper, Pastor, Head of Staff, Church of the Hills PCUSA
42. Anivaldo Padilha, KOINONIA Presença Ecumênica e Serviço, Rio de Janeiro-RJ, Brazil
43. Malte Lei, Vicar, Northelbian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Germany
44. The Rev. C. Edward Geiger, United Church of Christ
45. The Rev. Patricia Ackerman, Anglican Women’s Empowerment, New York City
46. Dr. Arnold Thomas, Minister of Education, The Riverside Church in the City of New York
47. Dr. Brad Braxton, Senior Minister, The Riverside Church in the City of New York
48. Penelope McMullen, Sisters of Loretto, New Mexico
49. The Rev. LaMarco A. Cable, Associate for Global Advocacy and Education, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, Indianapolis, IN
50. The Rev. Robert Galloway, Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee
51. The Rev. Mieke Vandersall, Presbyterian Welcome, Minister Director, NY
52. The Rev. Charles Booker-Hirsch, Pastor, Northside Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor, MI
53. Harry Knox, Director, Religion and Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign Foundation
54. The Rev. Laurel Hallman, Unitarian Universalist Minister, Dallas, TX
55. The Rev. Robert C. Hastings, United Methodist Church
56. The Rev. Ray Neal, Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church, Seattle, WA
57. The Rev. Dr. Neil G Thomas, Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles, CA
58. The Rev. Hugh Wire, Presbyterian Church, USA
59. The Rev. Janine C. Stock, D.Min, JD, All Saints American Catholic Church
60. The Rev. David E. Cobb, Sr. Minister, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Lynchburg, VA
61. Lowell O. Erdahl, Bishop Emeritus, St. Paul Area Synod, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
62. The Rev. Allan B. Jones, Retired United Methodist Clergy, Santa Rosa, CA
63. The Rev. Doug Johnson, Presbyterian minister and hospital chaplain, Billings, MT
64. The Rev. Christopher Eshelman, United Methodist Church, Wichita, KS
65. The Rev. Gary Mitchener, Pastor, St.Alban Episcopal (Anglican) Church, Cleveland Heights, OH
66. The Rev. Father Andrew Gentry, FCSF (Faithful Companions of St. Francis), Chaplain to the Bethlehem Community, Liverpool UK
67. The Rev. Marilyn Chilcote, Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, Oakland, CA
68. The Rev. Jonathan Wright-Gray, Senior Minister, The First Church in Sterling, MA
69. The Rev. Dr. Penny Christianson, pastor, Tualatin United Methodist Church, Tualatin, OR
70. The Rev. Galen Guengerich, Senior Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church, New York
71. The Rev. LaTeasha A. Richardson, MAR, United Church of Christ, Minnesota
72. The Rev. Robert Forsberg, High St. Presbyterian Church, Oakland, CA
73. The Rev. Kerry Boese, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
74. The Rev. Mary Jane Donohue, Episcopal Priest, Diocese of Connecticut
75. The Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, Church of God in Christ (Pentecostal)
World Officers of the World Federation of Methodist & Uniting Church Women
76. Chita R. Millan, World President – Philippines
77. Shunila Ruth, World Secretary, Pakistan
78. Lyra P. Richards, World Treasurer, West Indies
79. Rosemary Wass, President Emerita, United Kingdom
80. Brenda Smith, UN Representative, USA