Posts Tagged ‘Uganda’

No Longer in My Name

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My name is Rev. Mark Kiyimba, and I am the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Kampala, Uganda. I also run a housing program for orphans of HIV victims, HIV+ youth and homeless LGBTI youth. I oppose the current iteration of the anti-gay law now in parliament, and have organized yearly conferences with other faith leaders calling for an end to violence and hatred against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

(Watch a video version of my message, filmed at our UU Congregation in Kampala, below.)

In the last 5 years, homophobic churches in Uganda that promote intolerance have been visited by high profile Western leaders and supported by major American Christian organizations. Western Evangelicals have been sending celebrity pastors, hundreds of missionaries and organizing major conferences in Uganda promoting intolerance and punishments for gays.

What we need is for influential high profile religious leaders who are tolerant and anti-hatred, to show solidarity with the more progressive churches of Uganda. We need to organize large religious conferences that teach a gospel of love and dignity for all. We need more Unitarian Universalists to stand on the side of love with us as we work to promote love and tolerance in Uganda.

Just this week, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office screened the film God Loves Uganda, in conjunction with a panel discussion titled: “No Longer in My Name, A Faith-Based Response to Faith-Based Intolerance.” This documentary is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow their interpretation of Biblical law.

I urge you to host your own screening in your congregation or community to raise awareness about this issue. Click here for more information, including links to trailers and how to host a screening.

I believe that there are many religious leaders in Uganda who can be moved to speak out against violence and hatred towards LGBT people. But they feel too alone and afraid to speak their hearts. The support of the American Religious Right has contributed to this alienation. The success of their messaging has led to the creation of the “kill the gays bill” in parliament. Today this proposed hateful legislation has the support of over 85% of Ugandans.

Religious leaders in Uganda who are LGBT allies have been shunned by our government and largely ignored by our western allies. Bishops have been fired and made poor after promoting tolerance and love. We feel alone here.

However, if faith leaders change their tone and begin speaking out against hate and violence, then we can turn the tide of faith-based intolerance in Uganda. We will not only defeat the anti-gay bill, but change the hearts and minds of Ugandans with respect to the treatment of LGBT people.

There are many ways you can take action, from showing the film God Loves Uganda, to supporting the Unitarian Universalist Association LGBT Uganda Fund, which is one of the only funds dedicated to supporting faith based LGBT advocacy in Uganda. With your help and collaboration, we will help to educate people about what is going on in Uganda and organize religious conferences across Africa with a very different faith message.

We can tell those who promote hate and violence in the name of the God, that they no longer speak in the name of all communities of faith. The majority of communities of faith believe tolerance and peace. Please help us spread this gospel of love. Our lives are depending on it.

In faith,

Rev. Mark Kiyimba

Rev. Mark Kiyimba


The message above went out on Friday, June 14, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

Lives Are On the Line

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Lives Are On the Line Share/Save/Bookmark Dec 04, 2012

Activists at Uganda’s first Pride parade in August 2012. (Credit: David Robinson/The Advocate)

As a native Ugandan and life-long LGBTQ activist, it broke my heart to learn that the Ugandan Parliament is poised to once again consider a bill known as the “Kill the Gays Bill” or the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” that proposes jail terms for LGBTQ individuals, including a life sentence or even the death penalty in some circumstances. The bill is likely to pass the Parliament if it comes up for a vote, leaving President Yoweri Museveni’s veto as the only remaining hope that this hate-filled bill will not become law.

Please speak out against this terrible bill. Sign the petition and ask President Museveni to veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

About 10 years ago, when I first came out to my guardian and, later, to my closest colleagues at the Daily Monitor newspaper in Uganda, I was nothing short of terrified of losing both family and friends. As I had anticipated, declaring my love for fellow women got me my own share of homelessness, verbal abuse, and alienation, even from people I trusted the most. Abandoned as a teenager and forced into maturity at a tender age, I always believed in the transformative power of truth, because the truth, as they say, sets us free. My “coming out” story as a Pentecostal-raised Ugandan lesbian woman mirrors the stories of dozens of other LGBTQ activists in Uganda.

This draconian legislation places LGBTQ Ugandans in grave danger in a country where having an LGBTQ identity is already illegal. In addition to the death penalty, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill requires parents to report their own children and doctors to report their own patients to the authorities or risk jail time. It also undermines the strides that Uganda has made in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention over the last decade. Originally proposed in 2009, this bill has been delayed numerous times due to the brave advocacy of Ugandan LGBTQ activists and international allies. I pray that love will once again win out over hate.

Raise your voice with mine and ask President Yoweri Museveni to veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

I have been involved with LGBTQ community organizing in Uganda long enough to observe how far we have come and what we have managed to achieve amidst very difficult circumstances. Earlier this year, activists held Uganda’s first Pride parade—may we continue on this path toward justice and equality for LGBTQ Ugandans. Please sign the petition today.

In faith,

Val Kalende
Ugandan LGBTQ Rights Activist

PS: A similar bill criminalizing LGBTQ people was recently introduced in Nigeria. Click here to take action and ask President Goodluck Jonathan to veto Nigeria’s bill too.


The message above went out on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

A Global Chalice Lighting Reading from Africa

1 Comment | Share On Facebook| A Global Chalice Lighting Reading from Africa Share/Save/Bookmark Apr 15, 2012

Photo taken at UUA of Uganda Children's Home: http://ugandaunitarian.org/children_home.html

Photo taken at UUA of Uganda Children's Home: http://ugandaunitarian.org/children_home.html

This Global Chalice Lighting reading for April 2012 is submitted by the Unitarian Church of South Africa:

We kindle this light in the centre of our circle.
May it symbolise the light and life and warmth
In the centre of our beings.
May it mirror the light of fellow Unitarians here
And around the world.

-Patricia Oliver

Across the Nation, Unitarian Universalists Stand on the Side of Love at Pride!

3 Comments | Share On Facebook| Across the Nation, Unitarian Universalists Stand on the Side of Love at Pride! Share/Save/Bookmark Jun 30, 2011

Over the past couple of weeks, Unitarian Universalist congregations from across the country have celebrated Pride and the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in a plethora of amazing ways.  Here are some shining examples:

Capital Pride Parade in Washington, DC

UUs at Capital Pride Parade

Almost 90 UUs from a dozen local UU congregations from around the DC-area joined together to march in the Capital Pride Parade and host a UU booth at the Pride Festival.

UUs at Capital Pride Parade

Elizabeth Fogarty of the UU Church of Arlington says, “What was really wonderful was that it was a whole group of UU congregations coming together for the Pride Parade and Festival. No one congregation took the lead or did all the work. It was truly a shared effort. Not only did we Stand on the Side of Love for GLBT equality, but we reached beyond our individual congregations to do it.”

Marching on the Side of Love in Iowa

The UU Fellowship of Ames and the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines joined together to march with their Standing on the Side of Love banners at the 2011 Pride March.  Between the two congregations, they had 132 participants, wow!

Third Annual Gay Rights March in Racine, Wisconsin

Racine Gay Rights March

Olympia Brown UU Church and the LGBT Center of Southeast Wisconsin co-hosted Racine, Wisconsin’s third Gay Rights March in honor of Pride Weekend.  OBUUC minister Tony Larsen says that the congregation organized the first march in 2009 in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.  They specifically tailored it to be a “gay rights” event instead of a “pride” event to make it safe space for community members who may not be out to participate.

Mayor John Dickert gives a speech on inclusiveness and diversity.

The event had interfaith participation from a local Episcopal church and Mayor John Dickert even turned up to give a speech and issued a proclamation declaring June 26, 2011 as “Gay Rights Day” in Racine. It was also the inaugural event for the congregation’s brand new Standing on the Side of Love banner!

For more photos and video of the event, check out the local news coverage.

Standing on the Side of Love with Ugandans in Georgia

Congregations in Aiken and Augusta, Georgia celebrated Pride weekend by hosting Rev. Mark Kiyimba, head of the Unitarian Universalist Association in Uganda and outspoken opponent of the country’s recent anti-homosexuality bill.

In Aiken, the Sunday morning service featured Rev. Kiyimba and they later screened the documentary “Homosexuality: Africa’s Last Taboo.”  The congregation in Augusta held a “Walking in the Light of Love” service followed by a screening of “Missionaries of Hate.”  What a great example of standing on the side of love across oceans and continents!

People of Faith Will Rally in Charlotte to Oppose Homophobia and Transphobia

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People of Faith Will Rally in Charlotte to Oppose Homophobia & Trans-phobia

Local & International Clergy Join Together for June 24 Rally in Marshall Park

Interfaith community leaders will gather in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday, June 24, for a Faith Community Rally Against Homophobia & Transphobia. The faith rally is one of several across the state organized in response to an anti-LGBT amendment being considered by the North Carolina Legislature.  Beginning at 4:30 p.m., several hundred people are planning to march on the sidewalks from the Charlotte Convention Center, where the Unitarian Universalist Association is holding its annual meeting, to gather for a 4:45 p.m. rally in Marshall Park that will feature local, national, and international clergy speaking out against proposed legislation that will marginalize and discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

“Locally, some faith leaders are using religious arguments that demean the inherent worth and dignity of gays and lesbians in an effort to promote writing discrimination into our state constitution,” said Rev. Jay Leach, Sr. Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte.  “This rally is an opportunity for us as religious leaders to demonstrate a climate of inclusion and acceptance for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals and their families.  Our faith calls us to stand on the side of love with LGBT people, and honor the challenges they face, no matter where they live.”

Participants will include:

  • Rev. Mark Kiyimba, Founder, Unitarian Universalist Church of Uganda, an outspoken opponent of proposed legislation in his East African country dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill
  • Rabbi Judy Schindler, Temple Beth El
  • Ian Palmquist, Exec. Dir., Equality North Carolina
  • Rev. Chris Ayers, Wedgewood Baptist Church
  • Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
  • Loan Tran, Youth Board Member, Time Out Youth
  • Rev. Robin Tanner, Minister, Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church
  • Rev. Jay Leach, Minister, UU Church of Charlotte
  • Bishop Tonyia M. Rawls, Unity Fellowship Church

Co-sponsors include the Unitarian Universalist Association, Time Out Youth, the Human Rights Campaign, Faith in America, and Equality North Carolina, whose North Carolina Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality is circulating a Declaration of Religious Leaders & People of Faith.  (View it here: http://www.equalitync.org/faith)

“Love is about embracing all people in our communities,” said Rev. Chris Ayers of Wedgewood Baptist Church.  “As faith leaders, we have a moral responsibility to remind people that love knows no border, no gender, no race, and no religion.”

About Equality North Carolina:

Equality NC is a statewide group dedicated to securing equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. We work toward that goal by effectively lobbying the North Carolina General Assembly, executive branch, and local governments on issues like inclusive anti-bullying policies, employment discrimination, hate violence, privacy rights, sexuality education, adoption, domestic partnership, HIV/AIDS, and more. We also work to engage North Carolinians with educational programming and outreach efforts. For more information, visit www.equalitync.org.

About Time Out Youth:

Time Out Youth offers support, advocacy, and opportunities for personal development and social interaction to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 13 – 23.  For more information, visit www.timeoutyouth.org.

About Faith in America:

Faith In America was formed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization in 2005 to effectively counter-message the bigotry, prejudice and hostility toward the LGBT community being sold to the public for several decades under the guise of religious belief and religious teaching.  Faith In America is working in schools, churches, state legislatures, the halls of Congress and with the media to educate mainstream America about the immense harm brought to bear on gay Americans, particularly gay youth.  Our organization is not a religious organization. It does not take a theologian or religious background to understand that religion-based bigotry and prejudice brings condemnation, discrimination and violence to bear on its victims.

For more information, visit http://www.faithinamerica.org.

About the Human Rights Campaign:
The Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than one million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community. For more information, visit http://www.hrc.org.