Activists in Uganda have welcomed the voices of 46 American Christian leaders who spoke out last week against the latest proposal for a strengthened Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
The leaders, including Catholics and evangelical Christians, signed a letter opposing the bill.
“It’s important for Ugandans to know that not all Evangelical and Catholic leaders think LGBT people should be criminals,” said Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, referring to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. “This letter from prominent American Christians is a crucial step in our efforts to introduce Ugandans to more positive and loving Christian messages in contrast to the harmful rhetoric from our own pastors that only leads to more violence and hate.”
The letter states:
“Regardless of the diverse theological views of our religious traditions regarding the morality of homosexuality, the criminalization of homosexuality, along with the violence and discrimination against LGBT people that inevitably follows, is incompatible with the teachings of our faith. …
“As American Christians we recognize that groups and leaders within our own country have been implicated in efforts to spread prejudice and discrimination in Uganda. We urge our Christian brothers and sisters in Uganda to resist the false arguments, debunked long ago, that LGBT people pose an inherent threat to our children and our societies. LGBT people exist in every country and culture, and we must learn to live in peace together to ensure the freedom of all, especially when we may disagree.
“We condemn misguided actions that have led to increased bigotry and hatred of LGBT people in Uganda that debases the inherent dignity of all humans created in the image of our Maker. Such treatment degrades the human family, threatens the common good, and defies the teachings of our Lord – wherever it occurs.”
The current version of the bill would outlaw health clinics for LGBT people, along with any other speech and actions deemed supportive of LGBT people. It would also require teachers to report students to police and parents to report their children, if they suspected them of being homosexual.
The bill was labeled the “Kill the Gays Bill” in 2009, when it was first introduced, because it called for the death penalty for repeat offenders. That provision may or may not have been removed from the current version.
Evangelical author Jim Wallis, one of the signers, wrote about the letter, “We are praying for those suffering under the cloud of hatred and bigotry in Uganda. And we are also praying for those who are seeking to pass this legislation, that they might see this as a mistake and withdraw this anti-homosexual bill. Our faith compels us to act with love towards our neighbors, we cannot stand by and allow fear and hate to be institutionalized. “
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