Monday News: Uganda’s New Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Today (Feburary 24, 2014), Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a controversial anti-gay bill into law, despite international outcry. The bill, called the ‘Jail the Gays Bill,’  originally called for the death penalty for homosexual acts when it was first proposed in 2009.  Although the death penalty was removed from the final draft, prison sentences of 7 years, 14 years, and life are the new penalties for violating this law. 

 Under this law, LGBT people face life imprisonment if:

  • someone engages in a sexual act with a person of the same gender
  • someone marries a person of the same gender
  • someone touches another person of the same gender with ‘intent’ to engage in a sexual act

Also, prison sentences for anyone(including a straight person) who tries to support LGBT people:

  • 7 years in jail for officiating a marriage between people of the same sex
  • 7 years in jail for trying to aid or counsel LGBT people
  • 5-7 years in jail for offering premises or supplies to LGBT related activities
  • 5-7 years in jail for directors of any business or non-governmental organization (NGO) who supports LGBT people
  • Similarly, any national or international company or human rights organization in Uganda, which supports lesbian, gay, bi or trans people (including their own employees), could face 7 years jail and de-registration of the company (Montreal Gazette). 

Human rights groups like Amnesty International have expressed concern that this law could essentially outlaw much of their work in Uganda, making it extremely difficult to legally advocate for increased gay rights, or even offer adequate health services to LGBT Ugandans.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights warned the law was “formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power and accusations against anyone”.

 According to President Museveni:

“Homosexuals are actually mercenaries. They are heterosexual people but because of money they say they are homosexuals. These are prostitutes because of money,” Musaveni said.

He added “there is something really wrong with you” if you were gay, adding that he didn’t understand how a man could “fail to be attracted to all these beautiful women and be attracted to a man”.

The LGBT community in Uganda face frequent harassment and threats of violence, and rights activists have reported cases of lesbians being subjected to “corrective” rapes.

In 2011, Ugandan gay rights campaigner David Kato was bludgeoned to death at his home after a newspaper splashed photos, names and addresses of gays in Uganda on its front page along with a yellow banner reading “Hang Them”.

Currently, there is a petition from All Out that is calling on Ugandan leaders, global governments, corporations and religious institutions to take forceful action to denounce the law. To sign this petition, go to http://www.allout.org/kill-the-bill.

Amnesty International Statement

 

 

At LOVEboldly we embrace controversy, dissenting opinions and even a good debate now and then. However, we also value civility, kindness, and respect. Therefore, please feel free to share your opinion, but keep it constructive, considerate, and civilized. If you choose to be rude we will delete your comment. Do so consistently and we will ban you. And yes, we do get to define the terms.

Monday News: Anti-LGBTQ Violence in Russia

LOVEboldly is starting a weekly blog post highlighting current events in the LGBTQ community. Every Monday we will blog about a specific topic/story that we believe the Church should be aware. 
GayRussia-2

Right now, there are laws being passed in other countries that make it illegal to be LGBTQ or even be associated with supporting this community’s rights. Prison sentences, torture, and the death penalty are possible punishments for violating these laws. Although there are numerous laws being passed or already passed criminalizing homosexuality, we want to bring attention to what’s happening in Russia.

During June 2013, President Vladimir Putin signed a new law banning the ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships’ to minors. This law makes it illegal to hold any gay pride events, speak in defense of gay rights, or say that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships.

The federal law defines propaganda as:

 “distribution of information that is aimed at the formation among minors of nontraditional sexual attitudes, attractiveness of non- traditional sexual relations, misperceptions of the social equivalence of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations, or enforcing information about non-traditional sexual relations that evokes interest to such relations . . . .”

Since the law passed, there has been a surge in violence against the LGBTQ community. Self-proclaimed vigilantes have targeted LGBTQ persons with both public and private acts of brutality and torture. For example, a group called ‘Occupy Paedophilia‘ has been on what they call a ‘safari’ hunting gays. Videos of this group’s violent attacks document incidents where unsuspecting LGBTQ teens are lured through online dating sites and then brutally humiliated and tortured.

According to the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance (SHRA):

“These self-proclaimed ‘crime fighters’ perform their actions under the broad day light, often outside and clearly visible to the general public that indifferently passes by or even commends them.”

“Video recordings of bullying and tortures are freely distributed on the Internet in order to out LGBT teens to their respective schools, parents and friends. Many victims were driven to suicides, the rest are deeply traumatized.”

There are reports that other Russian citizens have also attacked openly LGBTQ persons in public areas, while onlookers do nothing to prevent the violence from occurring. Several government officials have denounced and degraded LGBTQ people on television and in other media.

Sadly, groups of Russian Christians have been reported as participating in some of these public attacks (CBS report).

(For more information: CNNThe Guardian, CBS News)

 

LOVEboldly condemns these and any acts of violence against the LGBTQ community. 
Be sure to watch for a future blog post where we provide practical ways you can help the LGBTQ community in Russia as well as other places where this violence is occurring. 

 

Even the Christian who cannot feel comfortable supporting or protecting LGBTQ relationships should be appalled by the brutality to the community (and for that matter – brutality to any person as we are all made in the image of God.

 

At LOVEboldly we embrace controversy, dissenting opinions and even a good debate now and then. However, we also value civility, kindness, and respect. Therefore, please feel free to share your opinion, but keep it constructive, considerate, and civilized. If you choose to be rude we will delete your comment. Do so consistently and we will ban you. And yes, we do get to define the terms.

Faith and Sexuality Interview Series

We at LOVEboldly have started to realize that we really aren’t that interesting. Fortunately for you, we know a lot of people who are. The best part is that these scholars, activists, pastors, musicians, and writers have agreed to let us interview them on all sorts of topics related to faith, sexuality, violence, hospitality, politics and more!

LOVEboldly has an ongoing commitment to provide varying perspectives and  a forum for thoughtful voices for the purpose of challenging, teaching, and engaging in productive dialogue around issues of faith and sexuality. The people who have volunteered their thoughts for the series span all sorts of spectrums and have opinions that run the gamut. You are likely to disagree, perhaps even vehemently at times, with some of the positions represented in this series, but we think that is a good thing. Please participate in the conversations that are sure to follow and keep your comments civil and kind. We cannot wait to see where the discussions lead.

Here’s what you have to look forward to over the coming months in our weekly interview series.

Recording Artist Derek Webb

Author, Actor and Scholar Tripp York

Author, Professor and Celibate Gay Christian Wesley Hill

Veterans Advocate and Author Logan Mehl-Laituri

Christian Musician Jennifer Knapp

Author and Transgender Spokesperson Alana Nicole Sholar

Bioethics Scholar and Author Jen Thweatt-Bates

Theology and Ethics Professor and Writer Ted Grimsrud

Presbyterian Pastor and Author Carol Howard Merritt

Scholar, Activist and Author Chuck Gutenson

We also have several others in the works. If you have any suggestions for what we ought to name the series, or anyone who you think we ought to interview, please comment below.