Black Pastors Express Support for LGBT Ugandans
As persecution intensifies, churches and groups that support LGBT People in Uganda are at risk
(New York | Washington – July 3, 2012) A group of influential conservative and progressive African American pastors released a statement today in collaboration with the Global Justice Institute and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights (RFK Center) to challenge Uganda's rising tide of persecution against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The statement, addressed to Uganda's top Christian leaders and signed by more than 30 African American faith leaders, invokes Christian principles to call for an end to the use of religion to justify persecution.
The statement says in part:
African American pastors responded to top religious leaders in Uganda increasing their demand for passage of the internationally condemned Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Even without the death penalty, the bill could be used to silence and imprison anyone suspected of supporting LGBT people in Uganda.
"Not only does the Anti-Homosexuality Bill threaten to silence our advocacy, it would also deprive Uganda's LGBT community of the ability to practice our religion freely," said Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and 2011 RFK Human Rights Award Laureate. "Support from such prominent African American faith leaders gives us hope that our own clergy may one day stop preaching hate and LGBT people might again have access to places of worship in Uganda."
Support among African Americans is growing in the face of actions such as a raid of a human rights workshop ordered by Uganda’s Minister of Ethics and Integrity. Government officials then announced plans to "ban" 38 groups who advocate for the human rights of LGBT people in Uganda. Samuel L. Jackson, noted actor, spoke out about Uganda at the BET Awards telecast nationwide on Sunday, July 1. Of paramount concern is the safety of such dignitaries as Frank Mugisha.
"As respect for LGBT people in the United States grows, some conservative Christians are desperate enough to use Africans as pawns in a fatal game of chess," said Bishop Yvette Flunder, presiding bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. "Armed with long discredited stereotypes, they foment fear in an effort to use Africa to undermine respect and acceptance for same-gender loving people in the USA and around the world."
"This statement represents a much needed Christian witness," says Dr. Delman Coates, Senior Pastor, Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Maryland. "When faith leaders in both countries speak out against the denial of human dignity and equal rights towards the LGBT community, it is an important step towards making the world a place where all people can live in peace."
"The connection between LGBT Africans and LGBT African Americans is no longer historical and emotional, it is now imminent and tactical," says Pastor Joseph Tolton, national minister of global justice for The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. "As African American people of faith, it is imperative that our voices be prominent as America responds to this crisis. When Evangelists go to Uganda to teach hatred, faith leaders must stand and preach the Gospel truth."
Read the Statement of Concern, below and attached.
Pastor Joseph W. Tolton
Hope In Uganda:
Join in protecting religious freedom! Sign "Uganda: Faith Leaders Statement of Concern"
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