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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 11, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 06
Uganda bishop condemns homophobia
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Uganda bishop condemns homophobia

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In an open letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo sharply condemned homophobia and the recent murder of LGBT activist David Kato.

Senyonjo was bishop of West Buganda in Uganda. The Archbishop of Canterbury is head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which includes the Church of England and the Episcopal churches in the U.S.

Senyonjo became a bishop in 1974 and retired from his diocese in 2001, He now runs a counseling center serving LGBT Ugandans in Kampala, the county's capital.

He has also been an outspoken opponent of the infamous 'Kill the Gays' bill still pending in Uganda's parliament.

Senyonjo was pictured, along with David Kato, in the 'Hang the Homos' Rolling Stone tabloid article inciting violence against Uganda's LGBT community.

'The church has a tragic history of condemning Jews, Moslems, scientists and LGBT people,' Bishop Senyonjo wrote to Archbishop Williams. 'Our teaching and theology has a causal effect and if we do not learn from our own historical mistakes, we will repeat the same sinful destruction of lives, families and communities.'

The Anglican Church in Uganda has been on the conservative side of recent theological controversies that have shaken the worldwide Communion.

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, the head of the Ugandan Church, opposes ordination of women and Gay bishops. He has been sympathetic to other African bishops who sought to break away from the Church rather than recognize openly Gay U.S. bishops Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool.

While Orombi has not openly supported the 'Kill the Gays' bill, he has said he believes Uganda's LGBT community represents a moral threat to the country.

'Many African countries imprison LGBT people because of who they are,' Senyonjo continued. 'As a bishop in the midst of those countries, I am now a shepherd caring for the lost sheep that are persecuted by the Church and threatened by a pending anti-homosexual draconian bill in Uganda.'

Citing Church leaders like Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who played key roles in other human rights struggles, Senyonjo called for the Church to take the lead in fighting for LGBT rights.

'The criminalization of homosexuality remains the greatest state and church sanctioned violence perpetrated against LGBT people and their allies in many countries,' he said.

'We must agree to demolish all forms of institutional homophobia beginning with the removal of all laws that punish human beings for being Gay or living in loving relationships. This will be the first step in providing basic human rights to a largely invisible international community who live in daily fear of their lives.'

Soulforce - a faith-based LGBT rights organization - posted the entire letter on its website and issued a statement welcoming Bishop Senyonjo's remarks.

'Few things are more vulgar or indecent than violent oppression masked as piety,' the Soulforce statement said. 'The new fundamentalists, led by national Christian organizations like Focus on the Family and Trinity Broadcasting Network, are a perfect example, as they proudly advocate for discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people in the name of 'moral values.'

Calling Christian-right religious media a 'Trojan horse for homophobia,' Soulforce went on to note that Ugandan media has published many inflammatory reports that Gays recruit school children.

'Uganda's religious institutions did nothing to counter these lies, which cost the life of David Kato, a leading Ugandan Gay activist who had dared to tell the truth,' Soulforce added.

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