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Rev. Dr. Cindi Love

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How to Stop the Perfect Storm of Hate in Uganda

Posted: 12/29/10 12:28 PM ET

In my most recent HuffPo post, I reported on sexual minorities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people) and their families, friends and co-workers in Uganda who are standing at the intersection of a rapidly advancing perfect storm.

This deadly storm started with funding and support from fundamentalist/evangelical politicians and key influencers in the United States, part of whom reside within The Family in our own Congress. If you Google them, you will find that some of them are back-tracking now like sand crabs to avoid negative publicity and investigations into the use of their tax-free status to interfere in the policies of foreign governments.

But the damage is done.

The perfect storm conditions they created were catalyzed when some Arab and African nations recently achieved majority within the Third Committee of the United Nations on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions on a resolution excluding protection under the law of LGBTI people.

And, the storm is set to climax when David Bahati is successful in Uganda making it the law of the land to execute sexual minorities and to imprison anyone aiding and abetting them in safety in complete defiance of the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

But there is good news. This perfect storm of hate and destruction is man-made, and therefore, its course can be altered. The readers of HuffPost can create a perfect storm of e-mails and telephone calls and faxes of our uncompromising dissent to the Ugandan Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

Then, we need to urge our own U.S. Embassy to open up its doors, listen to and document reports of violence. We need to encourage organizations on the ground in Kampala to funnel human rights reports to the State Department. We need to offer expeditious processing of asylum for LGBTI individuals whose lives are threatened. Stateside, we need to communicate that we will not tolerate the importing of hate by religious organizations who enjoy special IRS tax status.

The Human Rights Watch tells us that: Decriminalization of the lives of LGBTI people has been won most often through 1) coercion, as in the situation of many countries seeking admittance to the European Union, 2) acculturation, wherein states gradually adopt penal reform as wider penal reform occurs, and 3) persuasion, working through faith movements or LGBTI movements where there are arguments to decriminalize and engage productively.

Persuasion is something preachers understand, so on Dec. 13, 40 national faith leaders and organizations in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people convened at the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) as the Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights. The group published a resolution, which you can read at the UU-UNO website and then, I urge you, fax the Ugandan Permanent Mission.

Recently, this type of full-court press encouraged key legislators and our President to find a creative way to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- in spite of every attempt to keep it in place. I hope you will take five minutes and help save the lives of millions of people who will fall out of protection if Uganda passes the death penalty for the LGBTI community. Other African and Arabian countries view Uganda's ability to criminalize LGBTI lives as the litmus test of whether they can do the same. They will fall like dominoes if Bahati is successful.

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, retired bishop from Uganda, says: "As a straight ally to LGBTI people, I see how countries in Eastern Africa are increasingly persecuting people because of who they are and who they love, in part, because Evangelicals from the USA come to Uganda and preach against LGBTI people. This divides families, communities and countries."

Frank Mugisha, head of SMUG (Sexual Minorities of Uganda) says: "The international community must not ignore the warning signs of persecution and genocide. LGBTI people are fleeing from their homes in fear for their lives. Any law that calls for imprisonment or execution based on sexual orientation or gender identity creates a climate ripe for vigilantes. People of good will must speak out."

Rev. Pat Bumgardner, head of the Metropolitan Community Church's International Committee, says: "All faith traditions support human rights but many faith leaders get cold feet when it comes to LGBTI human rights. It is time for faith leaders to step up and support human rights for all people."

Pastor Joseph Tolton, of The Fellowship, says: "African American people of faith understand that LGBTI people have always been part of our faith communities. As part of the African Diaspora, we are saying out loud, that when any of us are targeted, we are all at risk."

We can stop this madness that puts people all over the world at risk, change the direction of this storm and, in keeping with the most deeply held values of our nation, refuse to stand by while human beings are denied the basic freedoms they deserve.

Make a call. Send a fax. Don't wait.

 
 
 

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