Support for gay-friendly Ugandan bishop — needed?

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda

Supporters of gay-friendly Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo are campaigning for the praiseworthy goal of keeping him out of a Ugandan prison, but it’s not clear that any of his work with LGBT Ugandans actually violates the country’s new anti-gay law.

Senyonjo, 82, has previously been honored as grand marshal of the San Francisco pride parade and played a prominent, compassionate role in the documentary film “Call Me Kuchu,” about the life and death of Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato. He has been expelled from the homophobic Anglican Church of Uganda because he ministers to homosexuals.

Senyonjo returned to the international spotlight last week when the Associated Press distributed an article about him titled “Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, Ugandan Cleric, Ministers To Gays Despite Nation’s Law.” The article mentions that Senyonjo not only preaches to a small LGBT-friendly congregation but also provides “counselling no other Ugandan religious leader is known to offer gays.”

Uganda’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act calls for seven years in prison for anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality.”

It is not clear that providing pastoral counseling to a gay man would be considered counseling him “to engage in acts of homosexuality.”

Shortly after the AP article appeared, supporters of Bishop Christopher launched an online appeal seeking to keep him out of prison.

The appeal on Watchdog.net states that Senyonjo “faces prison for refusing to discriminate.”

The Watchdog site says, “Will you join us in sending a message of thanks and support to Rev. Senyonjo, and a warning to President Museveni?”:

PETITION TO PRESIDENT MUSEVENI: We stand behind Rev. Christopher Senyonjo in embracing love and community over hatred and violence. Listen to his pleas for tolerance, and don’t imprison him for standing up for the LGBT community!

Nigerian Watch followed up with an article titled “Ugandan reverend faces jail term for offering prayers and counselling to gays.” The article states that “Ugandan pastor Reverend Christopher Senyonjo is facing the prospect of going to prison after he took it upon himself to offer prayer and counselling sessions to homosexuals in defiance of the country’s new anti-gay laws.”

Trending Newsroom picked up and published that same article, again headlined, “Ugandan reverend faces jail term for offering prayers and counselling to gays.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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