My heroes at Other Sheep, the outreach ministry to sexual minorities in the developing world, have posted their January online newsletter with links to the latest stories about Uganda’s pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Although the bill may still pass in some form, possibly without the death penalty provisions, even conservative Christian leaders are beginning to realize they need to distance themselves from this legislation. Here’s an excerpt of one story from the newsletter:
(New York, December 11) – A United Nations General Assembly panel that met this week broke new ground and helped build new momentum for ending human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a coalition of sponsoring nongovernmental organizations said today.
The meeting included discussion of discriminatory and draconian “anti-homosexuality” legislation currently before the Ugandan parliament, and of the role of American religious groups in promoting repression across Africa. In a groundbreaking move, a representative of the Holy See in the audience read a statement strongly condemning the criminalization of homosexual conduct.
The panel, held yesterday on the 61st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, featured speakers from Honduras, India, the Philippines, and Zambia, as well as Uganda, where the proposed “anti-homosexuality law” shows the steady threat of government repression.
Sweden organized the panel in coalition with Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, and Norway. It was sponsored by a group of six nongovernmental organizations that defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The audience of 200 people included delegates from over 50 nations.
Ugandan lawmakers are currently debating the “anti-homosexuality” bill. While there were reports that the death-penalty provisions might be stripped from the bill, other punishments would remain that would drive many Ugandans underground or out of the country, participants said.
Speaking on the panel, Victor Mukasa, co-founder of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and program associate for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLRHC), described how he was forced to leave Uganda following police brutality and raids on his home. He said that Uganda’s “anti-homosexuality” bill reflects a pattern of state-sponsored homophobia spreading across the African continent.
“Lack of security, arbitrary arrests and detentions, violence, and killings of LGBT people have become the order of the day in Africa,” said Mukasa. “Nothing can change as long as LGBT people live in fear for their safety when they claim their basic human rights.”
The statement from the Holy See said it “opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person….[T]he murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State.”
Also at the panel discussion, the Reverend Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia who is project director for Political Research Associates (PRA) in Massachusetts, presented the group’s new report, Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia….