National Religious Leadership Roundtable condemns anti-gay bill in Uganda

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable, convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, reiterates its condemnation of Uganda’s proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill.” It has been revived by Uganda’s Parliament with a possible vote this week. The bill targets homosexuality and includes severe penalties, including life in prison and even death.

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable urges all people to offer their public protest to this bill and to take action by signing this AllOut petition.

Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, faith work director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said:

This bill is an example of what happens when fear and hatred hold sway. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are threatened with death, religious people who profess a God of justice and extravagant welcome are threatened with imprisonment, all people are left vulnerable to the spread of HIV, and justice and love become victims of state violence. Those of us who are people of faith must stand and say no — on behalf of all who will suffer.

Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy in Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ stated:

Every person has been endowed by our creator with worth and dignity that human judgment cannot set aside. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill before the Ugandan Parliament violates the rights of God’s children in Uganda. It punishes the free association and expression that is necessary for a flourishing civil society, and creates a climate of fear and hostility which undermines the citizenship and solidarity of all Ugandans. I join the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law in calling for the complete withdrawal of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in its original or amended form.

Rev. Debra Haffner, executive director of the Religious Institute called the bill an “outrage”:

This proposed bill is an outrage. The right to live one’s sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of discrimination or violence is a basic human right. All humans have dignity and worth, period, and sexual diversity is part of God’s blessing. It is absolutely immoral to violate those basic human rights because of a person’s sexual orientation. We implore them to reconsider.

Imam Daayiee Abdullah of the Light of Reformation Mosque stated:

The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill attacks the human dignity and legal rights of all Ugandans. This bill, if implemented, will not only destroy the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, but it will also silence straight Ugandans who stand for human rights for all people. This bill in application will not differentiate between Christian, Muslim or any other traditional faith within Uganda. Furthermore, the bill allows the imprisonment of anyone who may know or have knowledge of any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer persons — the circle of entrapment grows larger by the fears of revenge and accusations through lies. Ugandan governmental leaders, guilty of accepting funding by Western religious organizations promoting homo-hatred, are fully aware they are setting aflame a tinderbox that will embroil their country in economic sanctions that harms all Ugandans.

DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke:

Equally Blessed is deeply concerned by the current situation in Uganda, where the government appears to be disregarding the basic human rights and dignity of many of its people. We are troubled by the use of punitive measures against demonstrators, the arrests of hundreds of people, and by the late re-introduction of a measure asking the legislature to name homosexuality as a crime subject to the death penalty. We urge the civil and religious leaders of Uganda to reaffirm their commitment to all of the people of this nation, and to live up to the obligations of the international human rights declaration. Our prayers are with our sisters and brothers in Uganda.

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations LGBT Ministries Program Coordinator Delfín Bautista-Hernández:

The fear and hatred that is behind the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill is not only a threat to LGBT Ugandans but to all people. It is a violation of human rights and human dignity, with LGBT people being used as a distraction and scape-goat for civil unrest. As people of faith and people of good will, we are called to be in solidarity with Ugandans, LGBT and straight, as fellow advocates in the ongoing struggle for justice and affirmation of human dignity. To counter the harmful rhetoric that threatens the livelihood of LGBT Ugandans, their families, friends, allies, and all who are perceived to be different, the UUA offers our commitment and collaboration to support efforts both here in the US and globally that affirm and celebrate the dignity, worth, and personhood of all people. We call on all people of faith and good will to join us in solidarity with our LGBT siblings in Uganda.

Max Niedzwiecki, executive director, Integrity USA:

Christians everywhere should be appalled by Uganda’s Kill the Gays Bill. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori, the President of our House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, our Ugandan hero Bishop Christopher Senyonjo and others have spoken out against this bill. So has Archbishop Rowan Williams, the titular head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which includes the Anglican Church of Uganda and the Episcopal Church as members. In his words, ‘The proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it could be supported by any Anglican… Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible – it seeks to turn pastors into informers.’

Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, Lutherans Concerned, said:

The legislation being proposed in the Ugandan Parliament criminalizing homosexuality itself and threatening LGBT Ugandans with death or significant prison sentences is an abomination the civilized world finds to be reprehensible, repulsive and unworthy of any who dare call themselves Christian. That its submission and passage are motivated by political gain and intended to distract the Ugandan public from well-known corruption in the government, rising food prices and social unrest should cause outrage and sanctions from the rest of the world. Member of Parliament David Bahati, sponsor of the legislation, and all those who actively lobbied for it should be treated only as the mass criminals they are. Equally culpable are those religious and political leaders in the United States who aided and abetted this gross violation of human rights by their actions, silence, or inaction. None retain the honor to call themselves followers of Christ.