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MCC CALL TO ACTION: Save LGBT Lives in Uganda

From the Office of the Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
For Immediate Release: 10 May 2011

Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches
Calls for Immediate Action:
Save LGBT Lives in Uganda

Two years ago, David Bahati, a member of the Ugandan Parliament, introduced a private- member bill entitled “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” in an effort to expand the criminalization of LGBT life and increase punishments, in some cases providing for the death penalty, for anyone suspected of being gay. Broad in its efforts to extradite Ugandans outside the country “caught” in “homosexual acts” and to imprison those at home who failed to report their suspicions to the authorities, the bill, under intense international pressure from individuals and governments alike, was subsequently tabled.

Today, the “Kill the Gays” bill once again rears its head
and we must act to bring public and global pressure to squelch it.

Though no one can be certain what the Ugandan Parliament will do, we cannot afford to be silent in the face of the possibility that a new vote may be called for on May 12th. We cannot be silent knowing that even if the bill to criminalize LGBT lives fails in the current Parliament, it may still come up for a vote in the next.

The time has come for people of faith and good will across the globe
to demand a once-and-for-all end
to efforts to criminalize, in some cases execute, LGBT people in Uganda,
simply for being who they are.

Uganda is not alone in making our existence as a people illegal and punishable under the law. Seventy nine nations the world over do so. As a spiritual leader with congregants representing every nation, tribe, ethnicity and tongue on this earth, I remain concerned about each situation and each life that is threatened by stigmatization, prejudice, oppression and the criminalization of being.

The situation in Uganda is of particular concern now because we know from our friends and community members on the ground that tempers are flaring and the public unrest over rising fuel and food costs, as well as the continued stifling of public dissent, are spilling over into this debate. We know from our friends on the ground that no LGBT person, no person perceived to be LGBT, no one known to be living with HIV or AIDS is safe right now. And, we know that in large measure, the driving force behind this animosity and danger remains people of faith from outside Uganda who see the humanitarian crises there as the perfect opportunity to fuel even more hatred and violence.

The situation in Uganda is an urgent one because, in the words of the 28 member coalition of human rights and civil society groups who have banned together to fight the passage of the Bahati bill, the bill is “being used to blind the world to everything else that is going on in Uganda right now.”

The proposal to imprison and execute gay people is not only draconian and immoral, it threatens to severely hamper the work of HIV and AIDS organizations seeking to do education, outreach and prevention in a nation where once curtailed rates of infection are again rising.

Uganda has already criminalized the lives of its LGBT citizens. Twelve of the 18 substantive provisions in the Bahati bill are already provided for in existing legislation and laws. We — our people — can’t be made any more illegal than we already are. What can happen, though, is that families can be torn apart, communities can be destroyed, people living with HIV and AIDS can go untreated and many, many people can suffer from the hatred and violence this bill seeks to sanction.

The voices of people of faith and good will have stopped this bill’s passage before and can do so again.

Being LGBT is a gift from God, not a criminal offense. Say so. Say so loudly, clearly and effectively.

Go to http://www.avaaz.org/en/uganda_stop_homophobia_petition/ and make your voice heard.

Write to President Museveni {} and tell him that all life, including the lives of Uganda’s LGBT children and citizens, is precious in the sight of God and must be protected not subjected to harm and violence.

Remind him that Uganda once led the way in respecting diversity with effective HIV and AIDS education and prevention programs, programs that valued the lives of gay and straight people alike. Uganda can and must once again lead the way honoring the diversity of God’s creation.

The Scriptures I reverence offer only one definition of God. God is love, I John says, and those who abide in love abide in God and God in them. I call on President Museveni, Members of the Ugandan Parliament and people of good will around the globe today to join me in seeking to live in love and save the lives of LGBT people.

+Nancy

The Rev. Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches

This statement prepared in conjunction with The Moderator’s Global Justice Team,
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.

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