Tag Archives: uganda

Uganda Martyrs: Charles Lwangwa and companions

For queer Christians, the phrase “Ugandan Martyrs” carries a tragic double meaning. In Catholic hagiography, it refers to the execution / martyrdom in 1886 of a band of young men, pages in the Royal court of the Bugandan King Mwanga II, who had converted to Christianity and thereafter resisted his sexual advances. June 6th, is the anniversary of their joint beatification by Pope Benedict XV in 1920. Their feast day, known as the Feast of Charles Lwanga and companions, is celebrated annually on June 3rd.

Uganda_Martyrs

From a modern LGBT point of view, there is  a quite different significance, almost it’s polar opposite. This perspective recalls that in the cultural context of the time, King Mwanga’s expectation of sexual service from his pages did not make him a perverted monster, as seen by the missionaries. Before the arrival of European colonials, different forms of homosexual practice and non-conformist gender expression were commonplace across Africa.  Seen in this light, the execution of the pages was a legal penalty for resisting customary law – and the introduction by foreign missionaries of what has since become deeply entrenched cultural homophobia.

In recent years, the flames of  homophobia have been further  fanned by missionaries, this time especially by American evangelicals, who have promoted draconian legislation to criminalize homosexuality, carrying harsh penalties for those convicted of transgressions.  Along with the legal penalties, the popular mood in Uganda has become so hostile, that life for ordinary gay and lesbian people in the country has become exceedingly difficult. Even to be suspected of being gay, frequently frequently leads not only to simple social ostracism, but also to outright exclusion from homes and families, to discrimination in employment and social services,  to police harassment, to violence, and even to murder, such as that of David Kato. For many LGBT people,  the only viable response is to leave the country entirely as refugees seeking asylum abroad.

So, the double meaning of the phrase “Ugandan Martyrs”: from the traditional Catholic perspective, the martyrs are those who were executed in 1886 for sticking by their Christian faith, in the face of Royal commands to renounce it. For modern gays and lesbians, the words refer to all those who are persecuted or even murdered, often in the name of the Christian religion, for their sexuality.

For a more extended analysis and reflection on the martyrs, and what this commemoration means for queer people of faith, see Kittredge Cherry at Jesus in Love Blog, who introduced her post on the feast day, by observing (accurately) that

Tough questions about homosexuality, religion and LGBT rights are raised by the Uganda Martyrs whose feast day is today (June 3).

Recommended Books:

 

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Small Victory in Uganda: President Blocks Anti-Gay Law

For some years now, Uganda has been held up (and with good reason), as a prime example of African homophobia, based on a proposed law that would have permitted the death penalty for gay sex. Slowly though, that extreme threat has shrunk. First, the original bill was withdrawn, and replaced with another which removed the death penalty, but applied instead lengthy terms of imprisonment. That law was passed by parliament – but in stunning news, the President has refused to sign it.

Catholics should note that in this instance, for once, the Catholic Church has intervened against discrimination, as New Ways recently reported in a blog post at Bondings 2.0.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni blocks anti-gay law

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has refused to approve a controversial bill to toughen punishments for homosexuals.

He has written to the parliamentary speaker criticising her for passing it in December without a quorum.

It’s not all good news: in explaining his action, the president spouted the nonsense, widely discredited by both the medical establishment and the Catholic Church, that homosexuals are “sick” – but this is Uganda, and this is still a long way from the death penalty, which was previously demanded.

Homosexuals were “abnormal” or were so for “mercenary reasons” and could be “rescued”, a local paper quotes his letter as saying.

The bill provides for life imprisonment for homosexual acts and also makes it a crime not to report gay people.

The promotion of homosexuality – even talking about it without condemning the lifestyle – would also be punishable by a prison term.

The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga in the capital, Kampala, says the president is aware that if he signs the bill there will be an international outcry, which could see some countries suspend aid to the country.

Continue reading the main story at BBC News

 

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Gay Marriage – UGANDA!

Let us never forget, that in Catholic (and other) theology, it is not the priest or minister that administers the sacrament of matrimony, but the two spouses, who administer it to each other, in the sight of God and the community. It is also not the state that makes a marriage, but the mutual commitment of the spouses: all that the state does, is recognize and register the marriage. Informal, unregistered marriages are common in many parts of Africa,

This lesbian wedding in Uganda is thus as valid as any other unregistered marriage – even if it will garner direct opposition and possible prosecution from the law, instead of the approval it deserves.

Lesbian wedding held in Uganda day after anti-gay bill passed

Kenyan activist reports a lesbian wedding the day after Ugandan parliament passes bill threatening life imprisonment for gay people

22 DECEMBER 2013 | BY ANNA LEACH

A brave lesbian couple in Uganda has held a wedding a day after parliament passed a bill that threatens gay people with life in prison if caught expressing their sexuality.

Kenya gay rights activist Denis Nzioka tweeted a photograph of a celebrant and two women in wedding garb and said that Ugandan activist Kasha Jacqueline had attended the marriage. ‘This is what I call guts,’ he said.

via Lesbian wedding held in Uganda day after anti-gay bill passed | Gay Star News.

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Desmond Tutu and Nobel winners back gays in Uganda and globally

Archbishop Tutu and others make joint statement in response to Uganda’s ban on gay organizations and threats of new death penalty law

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has backed gay, bi and trans rights around the world.

Four Nobel Laureates – including Archbishop Desmond Tutu – have called on people all over the world to respect gay rights.

The statement issued by the Robert F Kennedy Center (correct) for Justice Human Rights and Human Rights was released in conjunction with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) in response to that country’s government restricting the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

Desmond Tutu, Professor Jody Williams, Dr Shirin Ebadi and Professor Muhammad Yunus say: ‘As a global community of individuals dedicated to a more peaceful and just world, we wish to express our grave concern as to how our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) brothers and sisters are being treated across the globe.

‘Collectively we represent a diverse array of countries and cultures. Today more than ever, we wish to express that the same cultural values, which have fostered and supported our lifelong quests for peace, also command us to speak out against the violence and discrimination our fellow human beings are enduring every day solely because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.

‘By expressing our solidarity with LGBTI people around the world, we recognize the inherent dignity and human rights of all individuals, without prejudice or intolerance, and we take an important step forward in our collective journey toward peace.’

– full report at Gay Star News

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Uganda: Bishops want shelved anti-gay Bill revived

Speaking after their recent annual conference organised by the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), an ecumenical body which brings together the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, the bishops resolved that the parliamentary committee on Gender should be tasked to engage the House on the Bill which is now at committee level.

“We also ask the Education committee to engage the Ministry of Education on the issue of incorporating a topic on human sexuality in the curricula of our schools and institutions of learning,” the resolutions signed by archbishops Henry Luke Orombi, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga, indicated.

The clerics also appealed to all the churches in the country “to remain steadfast in opposing the phenomena of homosexuality, lesbianism and same-sex union”.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was proposed by Ndorwa West PM David Bahati and has become a subject of international discussion with most Western powers describing the Bill as barbaric.

Dr Sylvia Tamale, an outspoken pro-gay activist and Makerere University don, said her views “against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill have never changed”.

“I think it is unconstitutional and pursuing it is diversionary as it distracts us from the important issues that the average Ugandan really cares about,” she said on Friday in an email to Sunday Monitor.

The anti-gay Bill has seen ups and downs with donors and international activists threatening to withhold aid should it be let to pass.
Among some of the propositions in the Bill was one of death and life sentence for those for those caught engaging in homosexuality for a second time.

-full report at Daily Monitor

(Anthony, a Ugandan Catholic who was at the United Kingdom Cutting Edge Consortium 2012 Conference on combating faith – based homophobia, passed on this message: :

The Ugandan Gay and Lesbian community is inviting you to a peaceful demonstration outside the Ugandan Embassy just by Trafalgar Square on 15/06/2012 at 1:00pm. We would like to pass on a message  of love to all religious leaders in Uganda on that day. We will be glad to see u.)
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