Thursday, October 04, 2007

From Uganda

Putting Things in Perspective

While many of us continue to vent and fume at the House of Bishops, comes this news from Uganda which helps me put things in perspective.

Peter Tatchell provides this story about gay men and lesbians in Uganda. Here are a few excerpts:

Ugandan government ministers are demanding the arrest of the country's lesbian and gay human rights activists. Deputy Attorney General, Fred Ruhinde, and Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Nsaba Butoro, made the call last month in a series of radio broadcasts heard across country.

They are backed by Christian, Muslim and Baha'i religious leaders who are calling for all "homos" to be rounded up and locked away.

Buturo told the BBC that his government opposed equality for gay people and would not decriminalise gay sexual relationships. He branded homosexuality as "shameful, abominable and ungodly….(and) unnatural." Urging gays to get out of Uganda he warned ominously: "We know them, we have details of who they are."

Butoro then went even further by attending a church-orchestrated anti-gay rally held in the capital Kampala on 21 August. It was a de facto show of government support for the homophobic religious zealots who denounced homosexuality as "immoral" and paraded with placards urging: "Arrest all homos." The rally was organised by the Interfaith Coalition Against Homosexuality, an alliance of Christian, Muslim, and Baha'i organisations.

The homophobic backlash in Uganda is in response to a new campaign called "Let us live in peace." It is organised by a small group of brave, inspiring Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights activists. They are challenging decades of systematic discrimination and violence suffered by LGBTI Ugandans. Much of this homophobic persecution is incited by President Museveni'sgovernment, by Kampala's notoriously sensationalist tabloid press and, most shockingly of all, by the Anglican Church of Uganda. [The smiling photo at left is Uganda's Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi.]

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has failed to condemn the homophobic witch-hunt that is being stirred up by Anglican Bishops in Uganda. Indeed, he has gone out of his way to embrace and appease them in a desperate bid to stop them splitting from the Anglican Communion. Liberal and gay Ugandans are dismayed by the Archbishop's silence and indifference.

We learn there of the penalties for homosexual activity in Uganda:

In Uganda, male homosexuality is illegal under archaic laws imposed during the period of British colonial rule. Section 140 of the country's penal code criminalises "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Section 141 bans "attempts at carnal knowledge," stipulating a maximum penalty of seven years jail; while section 143 punishes "gross indecency" between men in public or private and authorises a top sentence of five years.
While the Anglican Church of Uganda does its best to destroy the Anglican Communion, they are building bridges with Christian, Muslim, and Baha'I churches in an effort to attack gay men and lesbians.

Are you as shocked as I?

This does put our struggle in perspective. We folks in the U.S. have it so much easier than our brothers and sisters in Uganda, whom Archbishop Orombi is seeking to destroy.

Lord, have mercy.

6 Comments:

Blogger Mike in Texas said...

Lisa, I wish I could say that this shocks me, but the Anglican Communion has been attempting to sweep this activity under the rug for a very long time, issuing only the most likewarm of statements from time to time. This situation is no longer shocking.

In the larger pictures, this is simply more of the discrepancy between words and behavior that we have come to expect of the mainstream leaders, including our own in TEC.

It approaches being condemnatory.

10/05/2007 4:24 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

No, I'm not shocked. I wrote a letter to the ABC when he was first elected and already piddling around regarding exactly this type of violence in parts of the Communion stirred up by Anglican leadership. This is nothing new, and apparently it's not communion-breaking.

10/05/2007 10:15 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

As I have written to other blogs and sites reporting this story, Baha'is in the U.S. do not have independent confirmation of whether or exactly how Baha'is in Uganda may have been involved in this protest. Baha'is distance themselves from a militant anti-homosexual stance, which is clearly not in line with Baha'i teachings. To regard homosexuals with prejudice or disdain is contrary to the spirit of the Baha'i teachings. While the only permissible sexual relations for Baha'is are between a man and a woman who are married, Baha'is do not treat the laws and principles of their faith as public policy prescriptions in an attempt to impose their beliefs and standards on the general population. Baha'is are by principle obedient to the law of the land and generally do not become engaged in the mechanics of government.

10/06/2007 8:37 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Bill, thanks for the further information about Baha'i, a religion about which I know little. It does strike me, though, that everything you said about Baha'is is also true of Anglicans worldwide. And yet, we find the Anglicans in Uganda (and Harare and Nigeria and others) behaving with a militancy and disdain that does not seem to characterize Anglicans in most of the world. This is not to discount what you're saying.

10/06/2007 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

With all due respect to the claims made by Bill with regard to the Baha'i position on and attitude toward homosexuality, the following links might serve to put the matter into clearer perspective:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bah.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_Bah%C3%A1'%C3%AD_Faith

http://www.bahairants.com/yes-virginia-gay-bahais-do-exist-250.html

http://bob.seldo.com/?p=361

http://bahaisonline.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1377&Itemid=2

I've known many Baha'i in same-sex relationships who've been treated worse than criminals by their communities (to put it mildly), shunned and cast out of what they were initially led to believe was a progressive and inclusive religion. Sorry, Bill, but special pleading just doesn't cut it in the Information Age; the Baha'i Administrative Order can't control the flow of information, only it's own spin on it.

10/07/2007 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Thank you Lisa, Baha'is sometimes do incorrect things, and in this instance, I think it unlikely that the Baha'i institutions at higher levels would have condoned the particular involvement.

As to the sites Andrew cites, many of them are by ex-Baha'is at war with their own spiritual past. There are people who have created an internet community around horror stories that I have never been able to confirm. Baha'is individually and on some local and national institutions make mistakes. But if a gay Baha'i is sanctioned, it is always in my experience because of either flagrantly immoral behavior or for conscious disobedience to counseling from institutions, not merely for being gay.

6/19/2008 12:47 PM  

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