Intervention by S., activist from Uganda at the Hirschfeld-Eddy-Stiftung conference “We believe in change” at Kunsthalle Osnabrück on 7 Sep 2023
I am happy to meet you all here in Osnabrück on this occasion of contemplating the lessons of history and the path toward religious harmony, I would like to share about a critical issue that strikes at the very heart of our existence – the troubling role that certain Christian churches have assumed in fostering anti-LGBTQ legislation in not only Uganda but also other African nations.
Destructive movement of evangelical anti-LGBTIQ+ churches
The intentional destructive movement of evangelical anti-LGBTIQ+ churches across the global South, including Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, has given rise to discriminatory laws that are endangering lives of queer- identifying friends and relations. These religious entities intentionally employ inciteful interpretations of faith that have cultivated a narrative of homophobia and transphobia, which in turn fans the flames of discrimination and violence against our community.
The repercussions of these actions are far-reaching, with authoritarian regimes using blackmail-faith as an instrument to score political gains. By invoking the rhetoric of “traditional values,” they sow enmity towards LGBTQ+ individuals both within their borders and on the international stage. This divisive discourse runs contrary to the very essence of religious teachings, which advocate for compassion, love, and inclusion for every one of God’s children.
American Evangelicals influence legislation leading to persecution
I Invite all of you friends to pay attention to the gradual emergence of this destructive narratives. The notorious 2009 “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda, initially proposed the death penalty for homosexuality before being nullified by the courts on technical grounds of quorum, unveiled the insidious influence of figures like American evangelical Scott Lively and his collaborators in Uganda, such as Steven Langa of the Family Life Network and Pastor Martin Sempa. These individuals, under the pretext of safeguarding ‘’morality’’, orchestrated legislation that resulted in the persecution of LGBTIQ persons. Kato, a prominent LGBTQ+ human rights advocate, in 2011 in his home.
Regrettably, these forces have now succeeded in facilitating the passage of an even more draconian anti-LGBTIQ law, possibly one of the world’s harshest, imposing life imprisonment and even death sentences for repeat convictions of same-sex intimacy.
Earlier this year, Uganda’s Anglican Church led by Archbishop, Stephen Kazimba Mugalu buoyantly decided to break away from the Church of England, a move rooted in their resistance to progressive declarations of tolerance, love, and support for all individuals regardless of their gender and sexual orientations.
It is our duty to confront these dangerous ideologies with unwavering determination.
The wisdom of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu resonates deeply in the words: “I would not worship a God who is homophobic.” This and other voices inspire us to remind Christian churches and as much other faiths that they should uplift, not divide, and unite, not alienate.
Let us dismantle narratives that perpetuate discrimination
For a continent that largely embraced Christianity and other religions during colonization, relinquishing indigenous spiritual practices, the path to religious harmony is conceivable. To those religious institutions that have strayed from the tenets of love and acceptance, I beseech you to introspect. Reevaluate the messages you disseminate to your congregations, for it is your moral duty to heal, not to inflict harm.
As we congregate here in Osnabrück, transcending diverse backgrounds, let us commit ourselves to dismantling narratives that perpetuate discrimination. Let our aspirations be fixed on a future where the principles of compassion and acceptance triumph over intolerance and hatred. Together, we can bequeath a legacy of unity, where the teachings of history guide us towards a world that respect the diversity inherent in God’s creation. For God pronounced all things beautiful upon their creation.
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to you all.
Die Hirschfeld-Eddy-Stiftung kennt den Namen de*rs Aktivist*in, hier soll er nicht genannt werden. Hirschfeld-Eddy-Stiftung knows the full name of this activist. Due to security concerns it is not made public.
Click here for the photo gallery from the conference.
An event for the Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation project “We believe in change”: Human rights, freedom of religion or belief, and non-discrimination. All publications for the project can be found under the tag WBIC-2023 (some content in English).