Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas 2009 Message: Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay


Christmas 2009 Message: Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay




I am Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay.



EKU ODUN, EKU IYEDUN, ASE OPOLOPO RE LAYE

IT IS CHRISTMAS 2009, OVER THE YEAR, SO MANY THINGS HAVE HAPPENED. NUMEROUS ABUSES, ATTACKS, INSULTS AND EVEN THREATS TO KILL. THESE WERE DIRECTED AT US AND SOME POSTED ON OUR YOUTUBE WEB PAGE. OUT OF THESE WE ARE STRENGTHENED AND GRATEFUL TO GOD THAT WE ARE SAFE AND PROTECTED.

I WANT TO SHARE THIS YEAR’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE WITH OUR LISTENERS AND NEARLY 500 SUBSCRIBERS. PEACE ON EARTH AND LOVE TO ALL PEOPLE.

THE BIRTH OF BABY JESUS CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR AND THE LOVE OF GOD ARE THE REASONS FOR THE SEASON. IT IS OUR HOPE THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE TO TRUST GOD FOR ALL THAT GOD IS DOING IN YOUR LIVES AND OUR MINISTRIES.

I WANT TO THANK EVERYONE WITH A KIND WORD AND MANY GOOD THOUGHTS.

WHATEVER YOU DO THIS CHRISTMAS, ENJOY YOURSELF AND FOCUS ON THE INCLUSIVE LOVE OF GOD FOR ALL PEOPLE. I PRAY THAT THE NEW YEAR BRINGS MORE FULFILMENT AND BLESSINGS

TO OUR GLOBAL FRIENDS AND MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF RAINBOW WHEREVER YOU ARE, I PRAY THAT THE GRACE AND JOY OF CHRIST WILL BE WITH YOU.

I WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010. GOD BLESS YOU, GOD BLESS OUR UNIVERSE AMEN.

Same Sex Marriage Law In Mexico


Mexico City, 22 December 2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Same sex marriage law in Mexico¡Que viva Mexico!


The Mexico City legislature yesterday passed with a two thirds majority aninitiative to make it possible for people of the same sex to marry eachother and adopt children. The initiative is now before the Mayor, Mr MarceloLuis Ebrard Casaubon. If he approves the initiative he will draft a new law,redefining marriage in the Federal District as a "free union between twopeople," and allowing same sex couples to adopt. The law will come intoeffect in March 2010.


Gloria Careaga, Co-Secretary General of ILGA and active promoter of thebill, said: “This has been an intense process in which more than 150 socialorganizations were involved. When passed, Mexico City will become the firstlegislative body in Latin America to pass legislation allowing people of thesame sex to marry and adopt children. I am proud of living in this City,this is a landmark victory for all those who believe in the equality oflesbian, gay, transgender and intersex people, in democracy and freedom”.


“This legislation will raise the standards of equality in Mexico higher thanthose of many European and North American countries: a nail in the coffin ofthose who insist in presenting the right of equality for all LGBTI people inthe world as 'a Western construct',” added Renato Sabbadini, Co-SecretaryGeneral of ILGA. ILGA has supported the passage of the initiative by encouraging politicalleaders worldwide to write to Mayor Ebrard Casaubon and the CityParliamentarians and express their support.


Mr Job Cohen, the Mayor of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and the first personin the world to officiate a state-sanctioned same sex marriage, wrote: “Ipraise Mexico City for aspiring to become the first city in Latin America tomake this bold and necessary step forward. Same sex marriage has made oursociety more inclusive. It was a clear signal that we fully accept peoplefor who they are. We oppose discrimination on the basis of whom peoplechoose to love.


I strongly urge you to support this bill. I believe it isthe right way forward for a city that seeks equality for all and I commendyou for your leadership”. Member of the European Parliament Ms Ulrike Lunacek wrote to the Mayor onbehalf of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual andTransgender rights requesting his support for the initiative.


“The right toprivacy, the right to found a family and enjoy fully equal rights areenshrined in international treaties to which the Federal State of Mexico hassubscribed. Passing this piece of legislation would honour the leaders, aswell as serve the interests of all your constituents.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Methodist Churches Back Opposition to the Uganda Anti-Gay Law

The Methodist Church has become the largest British denomination so far to condemn Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. They have said that “the Bill amounts to the persecution of people on the grounds of sexuality - and persecution goes against the love of God.”
The Methodist Church is one of the three largest Churches in the UK. Their stance is expected to increase pressure on Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders to speak out against the Bill.
The Bill would introduce life imprisonment for even minimal homosexual activity between consenting adults. International pressure has led Ugandan politicians to consider removing a clause permitting the death penalty in certain cases.
“While we welcome the fact that the death penalty clause is likely to be removed from the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, we remain concerned about other measures in the draft legislation” said Christine Elliott, the Methodist Church’s Secretary for External Relations, yesterday evening (11 December).
She told Ekklesia, “The Bill still places severe penalties on gay people, their families and those who work for gay organisations”.
The proposed legislation would allow anyone in authority – such as a teacher or minister of religion – to be imprisoned for three years for failing to report an instance of homosexuality.
Elliott added, “God’s rule of love, as defined by the teaching of Jesus in the new commandment to love one another as he loves us, compels us to be generous. This generosity of love requires grace and deplores persecution”.
The Methodist Church's stance may have added to the already considerable pressure on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. He criticised the Bill in public for the first time today (12 December), although his office had previously said that that he was working behind the scenes and that he would not comment in public.
However, he faced numerous calls to speak out and over 3,000 people signed a petition urging Christian leaders, and Williams in particular, to oppose the legislation.
The LGBT Anglican Coalition had urged the Archbishop to reconside. They insisted that his position "appears to most people in Britain to be a disgraceful acquiescence in the demands of homophobic pressure groups both in England and in the [Anglican] Communion”.
Meanwhile, a number of Christian activists joined with people of other faiths and of none to protest outside the Ugandan Embassy in London on Thursday (10 December).
Speakers included the Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, a gay Nigerian pastor. Addressing the crowd, Ugandan activist John Bosco described the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill as “an attack on the civil liberties of all Ugandans”.
To sign the petition urging Christian leaders to condemn the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, please visit http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/uganda_christians/index.html.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Death Penalty for Gays? Uganda Debates Proposal

Subject: Re: Death Penalty for Gays? Uganda Debates Proposal

Dear all,

I have been working on this issue for the past few months through my workwith the Council for Global Equality and quite honestly, I think the Obamaadministration is doing what it should be doing on this in terms of ourbehind-the-scenes diplomatic relations with Uganda. But the public pressureis critical to keep up. Rachel Maddow's "Uganda Be Kidding Me" for the pasttwo weeks has been fantastic in mobilizing public pressure on the rightwingers -- both political and religious -- many of whom have now come ourpublicly against the bill -- Pitts, even Tom Coburn today made a publicstatement. On on the religious end -- you've got to see this from RickWarren:http://www.queerty.com/the-curious-timing-of-rick-warrens-attack-on-ugandas-kill-the-gays-bill-20091210/.

And the Holy See today reiterated their position to decriminalizehomosexuality at a side-event that the Swedish government sponsored at theUN just a few hours ago. So some little positive steps are coming out ofthis atrocious bill. But watch Rwanda will be next -- and we already lostBurundi earlier this year where they put in their first law evercriminalizing gay sex.For those of you particularly interested in this. I attach the actual"Anti-Homosexuality Bill" to read (you'll think it's a joke - but it's forreal) and the state department's response to request from Congress can befound on our website www.globalequality.org.

I personally don't believe that de-funding Uganda is quite right from theUnited States -- although it is from some other countries. Our money therehelps fight corruption, provides life-saving treatment for HIV+ people, andmonitors the border with Sudan where we have another atrocity of a differenttype. We can't pull our funding. But calling for the U.S. to pull money fromUganda can possibly help keep the pressure on.I'd be curious to hear anyone else's ideas for additional levers to pull onthis one.

Julie Dorf

Statement of Rev Jide Macaulay at the London Uganda Demo






















London Uganda demonstration - Photos and report












Protesters urge: "Drop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill" London - 10 December 2009 Nearly 100 protesters rallied outside the Ugandan Embassy in London on Human Rights Day to support the Ugandan LBGTI community. They called on the Ugandan government to drop its draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is currently being debated by the Ugandan parliament. Under this proposed law, LGBTI Ugandans will face execution for certain homosexual acts and life imprisonment for all other same-sex acts - even mere caressing and kissing. The London protesters included LGBTI activists from the UK and of Jamican descent, plus LGBTI campaigners from Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, the Congo and Kenya.


















STATEMENT OF REV JIDE MACAULAY.












Dear Friends, Comrades, activists,

THE UGANDA ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL, NO 18, 2009.

Introduction
I am Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay, Pastor of House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church (MCC).

I am here in my capacity as a religious leader with the Metropolitan Community Churches, as a human rights activist, as the executive member of the Pan Africa International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

Predicament
We are extremely horrified by the attempts of the government in Uganda to outlaw homosexuality, by introducing the Uganda Anti-Homosexual Bill 2009. The provisions of this bill blatantly violate Uganda’s Constitution and many other regional and international instruments.

We have come here today to dramatize a shocking condition, we have come here to claim the rights and freedom of homosexuals in Uganda. The Uganda constitution guaranteed freedom, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all her citizens without prejudice, we ask today that this freedom proclaimed in this constitution be honoured for all people including Lesbians and Gays.

By virtue of this gathering, it is obvious that we are concerned that the Ugandan law makers have defaulted by asking for a bill to criminalize homosexuals.

The Uganda Anti- Homosexual bill is outrageous and draconian in nature. The bill shows the height of dictatorship, patriarchy and authoritarianism, Patriarchy in today’s society is evil. What would Jesus do? Would Jesus discriminate against homosexuals?

I believe there are no gaps in the existing Penal Code 140 of Uganda’ constitution which currently criminalizes homosexuality, the human rights position is to repeal the offending code which came to Uganda through the efforts of colonialism.

Explanation
This bill is discriminatory and it will affect the poor and defenseless people. It also provides unjust powers for the detention of any persons suspected of homosexuality which can fuel acrimonious and malicious abuse of authority.

Homosexuality historically has been part of the human culture and often celebrated in religion, then it must be part of the traditional values, we must continue to look at the changes and new experiences in the global south, such as South Africa, Nepal and India.

To deny the existence of homosexuals and criminalize same sex relations and other minority groups, under the disguise of ‘Legal protection of cultural, religious and traditional values of Uganda are barbaric.

Prohibiting same sex loving relationship will only spell more danger and further push underground the government’s responsibilities to enshrine the human rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex people.

State sponsored Homophobia, discrimination, prejudice and hatred are the violators.

What we want
We have come to demand justice, freedom, protection and security not just for lesbians and gays but also for anyone likely to be affected by this bill.

I strongly believe in “the Greatest Commandment”. Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” Matthew 22:34-40

I call on the religious communities throughout the world to speak out against this bill, let us not be silent. It is our duty to do what is good, what the Lord requires of us, to do justice, love mercy/kindness and walk humbly with God.

Finally, I ask today that fellow activists, civil society, religious people and organizations/movements that are inclusive, welcoming and affirming, should not only pray but understand that we need to “Put on the whole armor of God, so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:11-12.

We shall continue to lobby foreign governments to condemn this bill, we shall continue to advise the commonwealth and United Nations to denounce this bill.

I want to encourage all Lesbian and gay leaders of Uganda, allies, human right defenders and others, never to give up on the ‘threat of their civil liberties’. I believe this protest will convene another change in Africa, meanwhile let us sing or shout;

“We shall overcome,
We shall overcome, some day”.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mayor Of London Embraces Anti-gay Pastors.

Mayor Boris embraces anti-gay pastor

Rev Agu Irukwu is homophobic and divisive London - 9 December 2009 "London Mayor Boris Johnson has made a big mistake by agreeing to attend a carol service hosted by a homophobic clergyman," said gay human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, of the gay equality group OutRage! He was commenting on the Mayor's decision to attend carol singing tonight (Wednesday 9 December) at the Jesus House church in Barnet, which is led by Pastor Agu Irukwu, www.jesushouse.org.uk "Pastor Agu Irukwu is a long-time opponent of gay equality. His faith opposes civil partnerships and the fostering of children by same-sex couples," said Mr Tatchell.

"On 13 July 2006 he signed a letter to Daily Telegraph suggesting that gay people are not equal to heterosexual people and opposing laws to protect lesbians and gay men against discrimination. He denounced such laws as 'Christianophobia'"

See here:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/3626342/Letters-to-The-Daily-Telegraph.html Also see this Observer newspaper report in 2007:http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2007/feb/11/2

"I don't know whether he regards homosexuals as possessed by the devil and supports the exorcism of gay people, but someone ought to ask him. "Boris should investigate the people who invite him before accepting their invitations. "He should not attend this church, for the same reason that he should not attend a church where the pastor preaches against black or Jewish people or against equal rights for women or Muslims.

"The Mayor of a multicultural city should not collude with a preacher who rejects diversity and opposes the human rights of lesbian and gay people. "Pastor Agu Irukwu is a divisive character. He divides gay and straight Londoners," added Mr Tatchell.

Further information: Peter Tatchell 0207 403 1790 Excerpts from the London Mayor's news release: Mayor backs Christmas carol services across the capital - Community Carol Service at Jesus House in Barnet- Mayor's Carol Service returns to Southwark Cathedral- Carol singing for good causes in Trafalgar Square

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson will kick off a host of festive celebrations across the capital, when he joins thousands of worshippers for a community carol service in north-west London this Wednesday (9 December). Founded by Pastor Agu Irukwu, Jesus House in Barnet has a congregation of over 3,000 and offers a range of services, including in Portuguese and in French, plus others aimed specifically at young people. Jesus House has a number of activities taking place throughout the Christmas period aimed at different sections of the community, including the carol service that the Mayor is attending.

The Mayor Boris Johnson said: 'This has been an eventful year and for many it has been a challenging time. But through it all, the familiar resilience and resourcefulness of Londoners continues. Christmas is an uplifting celebration and a symbol of hope so let us join together in festive union and look forward with optimism to good times and deeds ahead in 2010.

' EVENT DETAILS COMMUNITY CAROL SERVICE - BARNET Date: Wednesday 9 December 2009Time: 7pm-8pm (Doors open at 6pm)Venue: The Jesus House Centre 112 Brent Terrace, Brent Cross, London NW2 1LT (nearest Tube: Brent Cross)www.jesushouse.org.uk Letter to Daily Telegraph 13 July 2006 signed by Pastor Agu Irukwu

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/3626342/Letters-to-The-Daily-Telegraph.html Anti-Christian law Sir -

We write as pastors on behalf of tens of thousands of black British Christians. Many members of our congregations in London left their home countries to come to England to experience the freedom of living according to their Christian beliefs in a Christian democratic country. But increasingly the Labour Government is discriminating against Christians in order to appease minority groups. From the Government's behaviour, it seems that those minority groups have disproportionate access to the ears of politicians and use that access to promote views and values that are contrary to the views and values which have been at the centre of protecting and promoting British families, schools and local communities for centuries. The latest discrimination against Christians is the new law called the Sexual Orientation Regulations, said to combat the problem of homophobia in Britain. It alarms us that the Government's only evidence for a problem actually existing is "accounts in national newspapers". The regulations force Christians in churches, businesses, charities and informal associations to accept and even promote the idea that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality. For the sake of clarity, this is not what the Bible teaches and it is not what we believe to be the truth. In our view, these regulations are an affront to our freedom to be Christians.If the Government thinks that we will accept this law lying down, they are mistaken. This sort of Christianophobia from the Government is no longer acceptable. Ade Omooba, Sam Solomon, Coherent and Cohesive Voice, London W11Pastor John NoblePastor Nims Obunge - Freedom ArkPastor Sola Fola-Alade - Trinity ChapelPastor Jonathan Oloyede - Glory HouseRev Kofi Banful - Praise ChapelPastor Agu Irukwu - Jesus House for all Nations And over 170 others

Pan Africa ILGA - Press Statement


Press Statement:

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.

On behalf of the Pan Africa ILGA part of the global Pan Africa International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). We write to express our concern about THE UGANDA ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL, NO 18, 2009. As a leading human rights community we believe that the bill goes beyond an intention to protect the nation, Homosexual expression is part of the human family, we believe that everyone is unique and must have the liberty to express their unique individuality without fear and prejudice. We expect governments globally to look at the promotion of the welfare of all peoples, against criminality and discrimination.

The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality bill goes against the grain of the protection of the human family and demonstrates State Sponsored discrimination against persons attracted to the same sex.

We believe in the rights of all persons to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. It is with this notion that we ask the government of Uganda to reconsider her position on the furtherance of this bill.

This bill will not only punish those consider offenders, it will punish the innocent people, break up family, interfere with honourable businesses, ruin people’s livelihoods, promote fear, discrimination and hatred.

Treaty bodies have repeatedly affirmed that laws criminalising homosexuality violate international rights to privacy and non-discrimination. As the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations, Ms N. Pillay emphasized in December 2008, that, “there remain all too many countries which continue to criminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex in defiance of established human rights law.”

The current penal code of Uganda Article 140 continues to threaten the existence of sexual minorities, and this law violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Uganda is a party.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Committee's 1994 ruling in the case Toonen v. Australia, laws criminalizing homosexual conduct violate the right to privacy protected by article 17 of the ICCPR. As you are aware, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has also found that arrests for consensual homosexual conduct are, by definition, human rights violations.

It is our hope that the bill will be reconsidered to promote rather than criminalise and alienate homosexuals in Uganda.

We now urge the Ugandan government to implement and take further action;

· To repeal the penal code and other criminal provision which criminalizes homosexual activity and or against consenting same sex conduct between consenting adults, and review other national legislation which results in the discrimination, prosecution and punishment of people solely for their sexual orientation or gender identity and bring this into line with the provisions of the ICCPR, particularly articles 2 and 26.
· We also ask the government to adopt measures to promote tolerance in this regard, to reject any attempt to create discriminatory new laws, and eliminate all existing legislation that discriminates based on sexual orientation and gender identity which would also facilitate more effective educational programmes for prevention of HIV/AIDS; and
· To provide legislators, law enforcement and judicial officials with specific training regarding the protection of human rights of sexual minorities.

Yours Faithfully,




Executive Board and Regional Members of
Pan Africa International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans And Intersex Association (PAI)

TIP Celebrates the 2009 Human Rights Nigeria



The Independent Project (TIP) for Equal Rights - Nigeria
_____________________________________________________________________

09th December, 2009

Press Release
TIP celebrates the 2009 Human Rights Day
The Independent Project (TIP) for Equal Rights is pleased to join the world in celebrating the 2009 Human Rights day. TIP marks this day with a 60 minutes program on Voice of Nigeria (VON) speaking on issues of Sexual Diversity and Human rights in relation to the danger of discrimination on Democracy and Governance.
The theme for this year's celebration is Embrace Diversity, End Discrimination as announced by the United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The year's theme speaks to the importance of the protection and respect of diversity regardless of age, gender, disability, tribe, race, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and other status. TIP uses this medium to call on government who are yet to domesticated and ratify the various human rights treaties such as; International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Convention Against All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Rights of the Child among others, to do so in order to ensure the full protection of the rights of their citizens.
"Human Rights violations on any grounds based on popular morality is unethical and should be fought against, judgment base on constitutional morality is sensible reflecting on the decision made by the Delhi high court in the case of Naz foundation v. Union of India." according to Joseph Sewedo Akoro- Executive Director, TIP. In addition, Mr. Ohwerhi Efe Brown- Human rights program associate, TIP said that "Sexual minorities, Young people and People Living with Disability have long been marginalized, hence they deserve attention henceforth". Acknowledging that the common denominator for the enjoyment of human rights is to be a human being, today is important to articulate the gospel of love and respect of all person regardless of age, gender, disability, tribe, race, sexual orientation, gender identity/ expression and other status.
TIP is a non-government organization that envisions a society that is free from discrimination of any sort and regardless of age, tribe, ethnic group, race, creed, religion and sex; including sexual orientation and gender identity/ expression. TIP works to achieve this through education, empowerment and policy advocacy.


Submitted by:
Ohwerhi Efe Brown
Human rights program associate.
The Independent Project (TIP) for Equal rights-Nigeria







Why Anti Gay Bill Should Worry Us

Why anti-gay Bill should worry us
3rd – 11-2009 Monitor publication
Sylvia Tamale

Given the various views that have accompanied the release of the ‘Bahati Bill’ on homosexuality, it is necessary to soberly assess what the Bill is really about. It is questionable how many of those that support the Bill have actually examined it beyond the words “anti-homosexuality.” In many respects we are like wood cutters standing at the edge of the woods, only seeing individual trees and not the forest (the bigger picture).

But even those of us that vehemently oppose homosexuality should be asking ourselves a number of questions: Why bring a new law when homosexuality is already criminalized under existing ones? How will the Bill affect me personally? The fact is that out of the 18 clauses that make up this Bill, only six introduce new legal provisions, two of which are minor. The other 12 simply repeat what already exists on the law books. Most significant is the fact that the provisions of the other four substantive new clauses blatantly violate Uganda’s Constitution and many other regional and international instruments. And for those who think that the Bill is only directed against ‘the homosexuals,’ they should look again.Homosexuality is already an offence under the Penal Code of Uganda as is same-sex marriage, which is prohibited by the Constitution.

The Bill expands the meaning of the Penal Code offence of having “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and defines the term “homosexuality” in such a broad fashion as to include “touching another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” This is a provision highly prone to abuse and puts all citizens at great risk. Such a provision would make it very easy for a person to bring false accusations against their enemies simply to “destroy” their reputations. Just ask Pastor Kayanja!The offence of “aggravated homosexuality” is a duplication of the Penal Code provision on “aggravated defilement.”

It is therefore superfluous and redundant in the ‘Bahati Bill’. Additionally, the provisions on attempt to commit, aiding and abetting, conspiracy to commit, using threats, detention with intent to commit, and keeping brothels, are all detailed in the current Penal Code. Many of us say, “Those homosexuals should be dealt with in the harshest terms possible.” Others ask the question: “Why should I lift a finger about this Bill that does not concern me?” Actually it concerns us all.The Bill introduces several new substantive provisions.

First is “Promotion of Homosexuality.” That clause introduces widespread censorship and undermines fundamental freedoms such as the rights to free speech, expression, association and assembly. Under this provision an unscrupulous person aspiring to unseat an MP can easily send the incumbent MP unsolicited material via e-mail or text messaging, implicating the latter as one “promoting homosexuality.” After being framed in that way, it will be very difficult for the victim to shake free of the “stigma.” Secondly, by criminalising the “funding and sponsoring of homosexuality and related activities,” the Bill deals a major blow to Uganda’s public health policies and efforts. Take for example, the Most At Risk Populations’ Initiative introduced by the Ministry of Health in 2008, which targets specific populations to curb the HIV/Aids scourge. If this Bill becomes law, health practitioners as well as those that have put money into this exemplary initiative will automatically be liable to imprisonment for seven years!The third concept the Bill introduces is the “Failure to Disclose the Offence.” Under this provision any person in authority (including parents) is obliged to report a homosexual to the relevant authorities within 24 hours of acquiring such knowledge. So a mother who is trying to come to terms with her child’s sexual orientation may be dragged to police cells for not turning in her child to the authorities. Another new provision relates to extra-territorial jurisdiction, which basically confers authority on Ugandan law enforcers to arrest and charge a Ugandan citizen or permanent resident who engages in homosexual activities outside the borders of Uganda.

The Penal Code already provides for crimes that call for extra-territoriality. These are limited to treason, terrorism and war mongering. It is important to note that serious offences such as murder, rape or grievous bodily harm do not invoke extra-territorial jurisdiction in our laws. Are the drafters of this Bill suggesting that sex between consenting adults is worse than murder? And how exactly will they enforce this provision? Is the government going to storm the bedrooms of consenting adults, or deploy spies to follow them when they travel abroad in order to establish who they have slept with and how they did it? What about our constitutional right to privacy?

This Bill carries hidden venom that is bound to spread beyond persons that engage in homosexuality.Hence the term “homosexuality” in the title of the Bill should not blind our eyes to its wider implications. Those sitting back and thinking, “Get them Bahati!” may be shocked one day when it is them that this law throws in jail.Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this Bill is the one requiring Uganda to opt out of any international treaty that we have previously ratified which goes against the spirit of the Bill.

The drafters of the Bill should know that under international law, Uganda cannot unilaterally negate or declare a withdrawal from its international treaty obligations. Moreover, it is completely unconstitutional and illegal for Parliament to usurp the powers of the President regarding the ratification of international treaties.

Politicians find that homosexuals are a great scapegoat or red herring to divert attention to more pressing issues that affect the ordinary Ugandan such as unemployment, corruption, poor health facilities, reform of electoral laws and so forth. If we are to be absolutely honest with ourselves, we should ask whether there are not more pressing issues of moral violation in other areas such as domestic violence, torture and corruption. None of these areas have specific laws outlawing their practice. That is where the likes of Hon. Bahati should expend their energies.

Ms Tamale is a Makerere University Law don

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Uganda's anti-gay bill causes Commonwealth uproar


Uganda's anti-gay bill causes Commonwealth uproar
Proposed law that would impose life imprisonment on homosexuals has the potential to divide leaders at summit.

The Commonwealth convenes for a summit this week amid growing furor over a proposed law that would impose life imprisonment on homosexuals in Uganda, whose President is chairing the gathering.

The law, proceeding through Uganda's Parliament and supported by some of its top leaders, would imprison anyone who knows of the existence of a gay or lesbian and fails to inform the police within 24 hours. It requires the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” – defined as any sexual act between gays or lesbians in which one person has the HIV virus.
The controversy is growing because Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is the chairman of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago, which opens on Friday with Stephen Harper joining the leaders of 52 other countries.

If it is raised at the summit, the issue has the potential to divide Commonwealth leaders, who hold deeply polarized views on homosexuality. A number of Commonwealth countries, including Canada and Britain, have liberal views on the subject, but many African and Caribbean nations are socially conservative and maintain laws on their books that criminalize homosexuality.
Activists are urging the Commonwealth to make it clear that it will suspend Uganda's membership if the law passes.
Human-rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have condemned the bill. They say it is a product of a campaign by evangelical churches and anti-gay groups that has led to death threats and physical assaults against Ugandans suspected of being gay.
The governments of the United States and France have criticized the proposed law, with France expressing “deep concern.”
In Ottawa Tuesday, a spokesman for Mr. Harper also criticized the bill, using words that were virtually identical to the official U.S. comment of several weeks ago. “If adopted, a bill further criminalizing homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda,” said Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office.
“Canada has clearly spoken out against human-rights violations committed against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and we urge states to take all necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests, or detention.”
By chairing the summit without opposing the anti-homosexuality law, the Ugandan President “makes a mockery of Commonwealth principles,” Stephen Lewis, the former United Nations envoy on AIDS in Africa, said in a speech in Trinidad Tuesday. “This intended anti-homosexual statute has the taste of fascism.”
“The credibility of the Commonwealth is hanging by a spider's thread,” he said. “The putative legislation declares war on homosexuality. … What is put at risk here – beyond the threat of the death penalty for HIV-positive homosexuals – is the entire apparatus of AIDS treatment, prevention and care.”
The private member's bill was introduced last month by a Ugandan backbencher who described homosexuality as a “creeping evil.” The bill has not been formally endorsed by Mr. Museveni, but his government has allowed it to proceed through Parliament, and some of his top officials have praised it.
Analysts are predicting that the law will be approved by Parliament with only minor revisions. A senior government member, Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, said he views the bill “with joy” because it will “provide leadership around the world.”
The law would impose a sentence of life imprisonment on anyone who “penetrates the anus or mouth of another person of the same sex with his penis or any other sexual contraption.” The same penalty would apply if he or she even “touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
The law requires a three-year prison sentence for anyone who is aware of evidence of homosexuality and fails to report it to the police within 24 hours. It allows for the prosecution of Ugandans who engage in homosexual acts in foreign countries. And it imposes a prison sentence of up to seven years for anyone who defends the rights of gays and lesbians.
These clauses have “a powerful Orwellian flavour” and reflect a “twisted world of sexual paranoia,” Mr. Lewis said in his speech to the Commonwealth People's Forum, a civil-society group. “Can you imagine a father or a mother turning in a son or daughter? Can you imagine a teacher ratting on a student? But that's exactly what this law requires. I've truly never seen its like before.”
Mr. Lewis, co-director of Aids-Free World, an international advocacy organization, noted that many other countries have laws against sodomy. “But nothing is as stark, punitive and redolent of hate as the bill in Uganda. Nothing comes close to such an omnibus violation of the human rights of sexual minorities,” he said.
“What is truly staggering about all of this is that not a peep of skepticism or incredulity has come from President Museveni.”
The proposed law would “demonize homosexuality” and “intensify stigma,” driving gays underground and making it much more difficult to prevent the spread of AIDS, Mr. Lewis said.

Swedish Ministers statements on Uganda‏

Swedish Ministers statements on Uganda‏.

Dear friends, for anyone interested in a little more detail on what the Swedish Minister of International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson has said on Uganda. I have Google translated (with a little improvement) her statements from the Saturday interview aired in the major radio news program (In Swedish: http://www.sr.se/ekot/artikel.asp?artikel=3271190):

------ I [Gunilla Carlsson] think it is terrible. My Secretary of State has in direct contacts with the government raised this. [.] I myself also tried to have contacts with organizations that work for those currently targeted for repression in Uganda. - I am also doubly disappointed, partly because Uganda is a country that we've had longstanding relationships with and where I had hoped and believed that we would begin to share common values and have an understanding.

It is unfortunate the matter directly, but it is also offensive how the Ugandans choose to look at how we see things and how we are treated when we would like to discuss these issues, " says Gunilla Carlsson. Uganda is an important recipient of Swedish aid and during the 2000s, the country has received an average of more than 31 million Euros per year. If the law against homosexuals is powered through the International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson believes that it will be difficult for Sweden to continue with development cooperation [in its current form]:

- It will be very difficult. We have seen in some other areas that we have been forced to channel aid in a different way, to try to work more with civil society organizations, rather than directly with governments, we are also considering to cut down on our assistance. This of course is met with reactions of the host governments as well, but it is the road that I must take, "says Gunilla Carlsson.

---------- Earlier in November RFSL organised meetings between representatives for Ugandan LGBT organizations and the Swedish Human Rights Ambassador as well as members of Parliament and other officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we have also demanded that Sweden stop foreign aid in the form of budget support to the Ugandan government. This demand has been articulated together with Ugandan LGBT activists.

Harsh laws not answer to our sexuality


Harsh laws not answer to our sexuality’
Rev. Gideon B. Byamugisha

No one really knows how many homosexuals , tri-sexuals, bi-sexuals, hetero-sexuals and non-sexuals we are in Uganda. What is known is that these sexualities are certainly not new ways of life.


When a young person reaches adulthood and finds himself or herself in a certain sexual orientation, it may now be a firmly established life value that will be very difficult to change to what they have not been or are not just by laws and punishments and threats of punishment.
The best law is the one which helps everyone to help one another and children early on in life to discover, establish and maintain a healthy sexual identity, sexual self-esteem and self-sexual perceptions.


In the present circumstances, young people and adults of Uganda need to be taught to love, treat and pray for homosexuals, hetero-sexuals, bi-sexuals, tri-sexuals and non-sexuals as they would do for any other person.


We need not be afraid of each other because our sexuality is not contagious! We don’t need to treat each other as freaks because of not understanding each other. We need not even to discuss someone’s sexuality except where the sexuality is a threat to their own and other people’s peace, health, wellbeing and prosperity.


If we try to understand our fellow human beings, see their pain from their point of view, and show love, we will discover the magic of compassion for all the ‘different’ people in our own lives and in our places of work, worship, residence, education and travel.


Being hateful, arrogant and intolerant of the ‘other’ persons may have even more dangerous outcomes for our country’s peace, health, wellbeing and spirituality at individual, family, local community and national level as inquisitive children and young people seek to “find and eat the forbidden fruit” or simply to be different or to affirm their “machoism and masochism” or to establish their independence from a very intolerant, boxing, sadistic, repressive and boring society.


All of us are capable of being kind, considerate, just and loving in the same way we are capable of violence, destructiveness and sinfulness irrespective of our distinguishing sexualities. Homosexuals are not worse sinners because they are homosexuals in the same way heterosexuals are not better saints because they are heterosexuals!


Substitute punishmentPeople who desperately need love, care, help and protection irrespective of their sexual sins should not receive even more pain and punishment instead.Many heterosexuals and many homosexuals state that they are perfectly happy in their relationships. But many of those in the two camps I have worked with and tried to help confess this is not true. Many are haunted with the fear of rejection, jealousy, and endless anger.


Many in both camps have suffered repeated losses of partners as they become involved in a desperate search for happiness that requires more and more effort but gains less and less satisfaction.


Happiness search Others I have interacted with; gay and straight, are fine, happy and quite normal, productive, industrious, creative, hardworking, welcoming and peaceful people. The one difference is that one of the groups is capable of producing children and another is incapable of producing children just like the celibates, the non-sexual, the infertile and the impotent.
So happiness, wellness and causing other individuals and families to be happy and well or suffering and adversity and causing other individuals and families to suffer and be unhappy are not a preserve of one kind of sexuality.


Of course we will (rightly or wrongly) continue to argue that we cannot afford to be very permissive to lifestyles that are “unnatural” and “unscriptural”. We have the right to argue like that and be listened to! But we cannot continue to argue that we are a deeply God-fearing nation when in the same breath we continue to commit state-inspired, state-protected and state-legislated suicide, genocide and murder.


Continued destructionWe cannot argue also that we are striving to protect our traditional family and community values by choosing not to love but to destroy fellow citizens.
We have a right as Parliament and as citizens to debate on what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘lawful’ or ‘unlawful’, ‘faithful’ and ‘unfaithful’, ‘sinful’ or ‘saintly’ ‘good’ or ‘bad’ ,‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ in sex, sexuality, and sexual health or any other sector.But to legislate against individuals because they choose to perform their sexual antics in a way that is different from my own thinking, appreciation, liking or even to traditions is stretching my ‘Godly’ values and morals.


Homosexuals, heterosexuals, bi-sexuals, tri-sexuals and non-sexuals who have been born and made by us, should not be helped to commit suicide; to kill or be killed; to be violent or violated against; to be hated or be hateful; to be resented or resentful with state laws of a country that describes itself as “religious”.

Friday, November 27, 2009

GLBTIQ Issues Make Inroads at Commonwealth Summit

GLBTIQ Issues Make Inroads at Commonwealth Summit
For the first time at a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, at CHOGM in Trinidad & Tobago, there was significant representation of GLBTQ (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer) activists among civil society participants, and a concerted effort to highlight issues of sexual citizenship and rights.

A delegation of GLBTQ activists from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean participated actively in the thematic assembly discussions and drafting process in the November 22-25, 2009 Commonwealth People’s Forum (CPF), a gathering of civil society organizations that meets in advance of, and sends a statement to, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Working in partnership with gender, disabilities and other human rights advocates, they achieved visibility for a number of key concerns, and won inclusion of these issues in the broad civil society agenda for the Commonwealth.

The issues cut a wide swath: repealing laws criminalizing non-normative sexualities and gender expression; preventing and prosecuting bias-related murders and violence, including punitive rape of Lesbians; ending discrimination in accessing health services; creating safety in the school system from violence and bullying; addressing the need for support and resources for parents; and developing training and sensitization for a range of public servants and service providers. Both scheduled speakers and participants from the floor made moving contributions related to human rights violations on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Commonwealth member countries.

Especially powerful speeches came from Ashily Dior, a Transgender activist from Trinidad; Canadian Stephen Lewis, co-director of AIDS Free World and former UN Special Envoy on HIV in Africa; and Robert Carr, director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition. Together, contributors raised a comprehensive range of concerns in several of the assemblies, particularly those focused on Gender; Health, HIV and AIDS; and Human Rights.

The final Port of Spain Civil Society Statement to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting includes language calling on “Commonwealth Member States and Institutions” to “recognize and protect the human rights of all individuals without discrimination on the grounds of…sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression”; to “repeal legislation that leads to discrimination, such as the criminalisation of same sex sexual relationships”; and for “the Commonwealth Foundation to facilitate a technical review of such of laws”.

Further, it issues a call for “Commonwealth Member States to ensure universal access to basic” health “services for marginalised and vulnerable groups”, including “sexual and gender minorities”, and to “work to actively remove and prevent the establishment of legislation which undermines evidence-based effective HIV prevention, treatment and care available to marginalised and vulnerable groups, such as sexual minorities”. Its Gender section includes a distinct item on “Transgenders, Gays and Lesbians” (“We call on Commonwealth Member States to include gender and sexuality as a specific theme on sexualities, sexual and gender minorities, related violence and discrimination, making them no longer invisible”) and echoes the recognition in the human rights section “that gender equity implies equality for all and therefore issues related to non-normative sexualities, such as sexual and gender minorities”.

The Statement also makes reference to proposed “Anti-Homosexuality” legislation introduced in the Parliament of Uganda, home of current CHOGM Chair President Yoweri Museveni. The legislation would require reporting of homosexuals, provide a sentence of life imprisonment for homosexual touching or sex, and the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, if the offender is HIV-positive. In remarks in more than one CPF assembly and in a special press conference, Lewis, Carr and a representative of the Caribbean HIV & AIDS Alliance, spoke out forcefully against the legislation, asking Museveni to take a clear position on it, and calling on others to condemn it.

The Trinidad & Tobago Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation joined these voices, asking its own Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who will assume the chairmanship of CHOGM, and other CARICOM leaders, to do the same. Eighty-six countries in the world currently have legislation criminalizing same-sex conduct between consenting adults as well as other non normative sexual and gender behaviours and identities; half of them are Commonwealth member states. Criminal provisions in these countries may target same sex sexual conduct, men who have sex with men specifically, or more generally any sexual behaviour considered “unnatural”.

Some countries criminalize other non normative behaviours, such as cross-dressing, or utilize criminal provisions on indecency or debauchery, among others, to target individuals on their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. These criminal provisions not only constitute a violation of civil and political rights in and of themselves because they violate key provisions established by international human rights law; they also have significant human rights implications, representing a serious risk for the exercise of other fundamental rights, such as the right to association, the right to assembly, and the right to expression, the right to health, the principle of non discrimination, to mention a few. Furthermore, the mere existence of these laws is in many countries is an avenue for other human rights violations by state and non-state actors.

We acknowledge and welcome the civil society consensus on the above mentioned issues, and call on Commonwealth member states, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Foundation to implement the recommendations of the Commonwealth People’s Forum. You can access the Port of Spain Civil Society Statement to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 25 November at: http://www.commonwealthfoundation.com/governancedemocracy/CPF2009/NewPublicationsCPF/ · Alternative Law Forum (ALF) - India· Center for Popular Education and Human Rights Ghana (CEPEHRG) - Ghana· Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) - Trinidad & Tobago · Gay and Lesbian coalition of Kenya (GALCK) - Kenya· GrenCHAP – Grenada· Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays – (J-FLAG) - Jamaica· Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces (KRYSS) - Malaysia· Lesbians and Gays Bisexuals Botswana (LEGABIBO) - Botswana· People Like Us (PLU) - Singapore· Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) – Guyana· The Independent Project (TIP) - Nigeria· United and Strong - St Lucia· United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) - Belize· United Gays and Lesbians against AIDS Barbados (UGLAAB) – Barbados· Global Rights· International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blatant hate speech against homosexuals in Zondervan's Africa Bible Commentary



Blatant hate speech against homosexuals in Zondervan's Africa Bible Commentary cited at Society of Biblical Literature 2009 Annual Meeting


Panel respondant reports churches in South Africa "are hungry" to know what the Bible realy says about homosexuality
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISANNA - November 23, 2009

The African Biblical Hermeneutics Section of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) featured a paper today at the SBL annual meeting centered around the "Lot and Abraham Story" from the Africa Bible Commentary (Zondervan, 2006). The respondent to the paper, Gerald O. West of Kwa-Zulu Natal University, in his remarks, made a brief reference to the Africa Bible Commentary's featured article entitled "Homosexuality," found in the Romans section of the single volume commentary, to illustrate how the "Lot and Abraham Story" of the Africa Bible Commentary is predisposed to the evangelical anti-homosexual position. During the open discussion that followed the papers, Rev. Steve Parelli, Executive Director of Other Sheep, said the publisher, Zondervan, was guilty of "hate speech" against homosexuals. Parelli said the Zondervan Africa Bible Commentary article quotes uncritically a so-called common-enough view held in Africa that "homosexuals are worse than beasts."


The Africa Bible Commentary article further states, said Parelli, that "the Anglican Church in Africa has rejected Bishop Tutu's call for tolerance and acceptance of homosexuals." Parelli said, because the Africa Bible Commentary article links, uncritically, the two statements that "homosexuals are worse than beasts" and that "the Anglican Church rejected Tutu's call for tolerance" that the article is hate speech against homosexuals, that the evangelical Nigerian author of the article, because he is uncritical of the quotes he uses, owns the quotes as his own viewpoint. Parelli said Rick Warren of the United States, John Stott of England, and Douglas Carew of Nairobi, Kenya, have all endorsed the Africa Bible Commentary.


Parelli, citing Uganda as an evangelical country, tied the evangelical view of homosexuality to the current criminal Anti-Homosexuality Bill of Uganda that calls for the death sentence and life imprisonment of homosexuals who meet certain conditions. Another attendant of the SBL session, sitting at the rear of the room, who did not identify himself when he spoke and who left early, thanked the audience for their comments on the Africa Bible Commentary and said that the "insensitivities" of the Africa Bible Commentary as noted in this meeting would be taken into consideration.


Apparently, from his remarks, the gentleman is somehow associated with Zondervan. West, in his final reply to the audience as the respondent, thanked Parelli for his comments on the Africa Bible Commentary and related his own disappointments with the volumn. In addition, West gave an account of how religious groups within South Africa are forming meetings around the study of the issue of homosexuality and the church in Africa in order to discuss seriously the Biblical texts traditionally associated with homosexuality.


West said South Africans "are hungry" to really know, and not assume, what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality especially in light of the very really present situation that their South African constitution provides for the right of same-sex marriage. Robert Wafula, Drew University, and Robert Wafawanaka, Virginia Union University, each gave a paper and West responded to each paper separately. Elelwani Farisani, University of South Africa, presided. In 2008, Parelli and his same-sex spouse, Jose Ortiz, conducted Other Sheep seminars on the Bible and homosexuality in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Are Homosexuals the Lost Sheep?


Are Homosexuals the Lost Sheep?
By Revd Rowland Jide Macaulay, 22nd November 2009

In Jesus’ parables and analogy, Matthews’s gospel in Chapter 18:10-11 concluded on Jesus Saying on how we are to treat or indeed respect little children. This metaphorical illustration sync with the way we treat each other, Children are innocent, children are the best illustration of innocence and also said to be vulnerable. Many people today are innocent of who they are, and I hold out in this analogy to speak boldly of sexual minorities, who neither wanted to be or wish this on themselves in a world that fails to consider their innocence on matters of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Jesus said, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my God in heaven”.

The same can be said of sexual minorities, same gender loving people, a warning that the rest of society should not look down on us in any way including disgust, prejudice and alienation. We all have angels in heaven that will intervene and intercede on our behalf, seeking the face of God in heaven to rescue us from our situations.

Jesus made this conclusion having spoken to his disciples about “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” I believe that innocent people will be considered innocent in the kingdom of heaven and the oppressors, including religious oppressors will be severely judged.

This finely leads to the Parable of the lost sheep, Chapter 18:12-14 says;

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety nine on the hills and go to look for the one (go in search) that wandered off (went astray)? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier (rejoices) about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your God in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost”.

It is clear that many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people can be seen today as the lost sheep from the Christian community, due to religious discrimination and other forms of ostracism.

Jesus said what do you think? A question that we ask fellow Christians, for every hundred heterosexuals in church, there is no doubt that they have lost one homosexual person, who needs a home in church, who is looking for a safe place in the sanctuary, but what most LGBTI people are faced with is oppression and intolerance. A homosexual for reasons of doctrinal and religious oppression has been forced to go astray, not willingly but through cruelty. Homosexual persons are no less of a sinner or in need of repentance as heterosexual people, the illustration of the lost sheep can be a conclusion on the lack of knowledge of the church in the matters of sexuality.

Many LGBTI people go astray, because they cannot identify with the selfish doctrines of the church, many are shrouded in self stigmatisation, hatred, many for these reasons and more, often wander off from church because of the inability to withstand the heaviness and fanaticism of the church. It is not surprising today that many continue to seek an inclusive Christian family, some overburdened with harshness of religious dogma.

In 2001, the Holy Spirit led me to find the Metropolitan Community Church in London, through a very special group of friends and evangelists from South Africa. The Metropolitan Community Church under the anointing and leadership its founder Revd Elder Dr Troy D Perry is a ministry established out of the goodness of the love of God in order that LGBTI people may find the heaven on earth, a welcoming congregation and thus many LGBTI people are now able to work towards reconciliation and restoration as ordained church workers.

Let me take you on an exegesis illustration of Jesus’ words according to Matthew 18:12-14 repeated in Luke 15:3-7.

“What do you think?
Do you think that LGBTI people should be part of the church? Do you think LGBTI people should be welcomed and ordained in to ministry? Do you think a place should be made available at the communion table of Christ in the church for LGBTI people? Do you think it is right to welcome and love LGBTI people? Do you think LGBTI people who are servers, pastors, music leaders, praise and worship leaders, should be displaced?

If we look in our churches, LGBTI people are missing, not physically but emotionally, spiritually, socially etc. We need not consider this analogy as lost in sin alone, we also need to consider this as lost in the ability to reconcile, settle, bring together, resolve and reunite. We need to also consider the fact that LGBTI people are lost in the inclusion of the family of God, the church. Now again, what do you think?

If a man owns a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety nine on the hills and go to look for the one (go in search) that wandered off (went astray)?
There is no doubt that if the church consider LGBTI people precious and worthy of inclusion, the church will not hesitate to welcome LGBTI people, there was a time in history that the services of a woman as a Priest in church was frowned upon and in many places in our world the idea of a woman serving at the altar is not acceptable. There was a time not too long ago in human history that Black people were not allowed to worship in the same church building or seat in the same pew as white people, these evidences are still apparent in post apartheid in South Africa and several decades after the civil rights movement in the United States of America, and religious racial tension in some part of Western Europe. There is no doubt that the church struggles on the issues of inclusion to the peril of finding the lost sheep, even though many are amongst us.

Many LGBTI people are lost in our congregations and unable to become visible and fully enshrined in the celebration of the church. These no doubt makes God very sad. LGBTI people have not wandered nor gone astray in sin, but LGBTI people have been forced onto the margins and are simply lost in church, they are actually present in church but their spirit and souls wanders and have gone astray due to hostility.

Therefore, I say to the church look within your hearts and you will find the lost sheep yearning for inclusion, longing for celebration of their humanity and spirituality, a place they can truly call home and hear that still small voice of love and the victorious shout of triumph.

And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier (rejoices) about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.
When the churches opens up and allow all people to be, then there will be no secrets on LGBTI people’s humanity, “if the man finds the lost sheep”, that is when everyone is accounted for and included in the growth and life of the church, the churches will be happier, the church will be able to see all the fullness of a joyful congregation, in high spirit, ecstatic, again and again, Luke 15:5-6 says;

“When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost”

I believe that those called to office as Christian ministers have the responsibility to include LGBTI people in the life of the church, I believe that the church only rejoices when walls of hatred and discrimination are eradicated, dismantled and destroyed.

I believe that the churches with its history as a place of refuge need to consider these truths and open up a mission of welcome to the lost within the body of Christ. Then we can begin to heal those estranged from the church.

When the churches fail to include LGBTI people, it reinforces the spirit of exclusion, elimination, segregation and hostility, unfriendliness, resentment and aggression, who then are they going to call to rejoice over the ways they have treated LGBTI people? Who are the neighbours they are going to invite to support them in the atrocities, unfairness, inequality and injustices?

When the churches opens up for the inclusion of LGBTI people and make them more visible in the glorification of God’s name, then the church can truly rejoice, I strongly believe the church is hurting, missing out on the richness of the beauty of God’s people and needs healing from the pains and aches of exclusion and the way it has badly treated LGBTI people.

This is the time I believe the church need to repent. The church need to find LGBTI people who have over the years be cast off and made invisible, find them, place them on their shoulders and pronounce a welcome in celebration of inclusion.

In the same way your God in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost”.
It is not in the willingness of God that physically challenged individuals, or black or any ethnic racial minority people or women are discriminated against in the church, after all, the church is the body of Christ and all persons are members of the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12-15

“For just as the body is one and has many members and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ...the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body, that would not make it any less a part of the body”.

The same is applicable, for we are all members of Christ body, heterosexuals cannot say to homosexuals that because they are not heterosexuals, they do not belong to the body of Christ, that would not make homosexuals any less a part of the body of Christ. The same principle applied in the history of racially excluded missions in places where racial or ethnic segregations were a huge problem, regardless of race or ethnicity, we are all still part of the body of Christ.

We all need each other to realize the core mission of inclusive gospel of Christ. We must adhere to the will of God that no one should be lost, no one should be alienated from the church, no one should be missing or ignorantly excluded from the communion table.

The next time, around the table when we dine, we must make room for any group or persons not included. This is the perfect will of God our parent in heaven. The church must adopt the all-encompassing standard of Jesus and accomplish the will of God on inclusion, we do this in consciousness of healing the wound of many and restoration of hope.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Groundbreaking PRA Investigation Exposes Influence of U.S. Religious Conservatives in Promoting Homophobia in Africa




Groundbreaking PRA Investigation Exposes Influence of U.S. Religious Conservatives in Promoting Homophobia in Africa by Kapya Kaoma.

U.S. Christian Right also mobilizes African clerics in U.S. “culture war” over ordination of LGBT clergy

Sexual minorities in Africa have become collateral damage to our domestic conflicts and culture wars as U.S. conservative evangelicals and those opposing gay pastors and bishops within mainline Protestant denominations woo Africans in their American fight, a groundbreaking investigation by Political Research Associates (PRA) discovered.

Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia, a new report by PRA Project Director Reverend Kapya Kaoma, exposes the U.S. Right’s promotion of an agenda in Africa that aims to criminalize homosexuality and otherwise infringe upon the human rights of LGBT people while also mobilizing African clerics in U.S. culture war battles.


U.S. social conservatives who are in the minority in mainline churches depend on African religious leaders to legitimize their positions as their growing numbers makes African Christians more influential globally. These partnerships have succeeded in slowing the mainline Protestant churches’ recognition of the full equality of LGBT people. It’s working despite the real movement toward full equality within deonominations because of the sensitivity of liberals to the question of colonialism. Are we being insensitive to the realities of Africa? But, Kaoma argues, although U.S. conservatives have organized African religious leaders as a visible force opposing LGBT equality, it is not true that all of Africa takes this stand.

In the United States, Kaoma focuses on “renewal” groups in The Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church USA, and Presbyterian Church USA; U.S conservative evangelicals; and the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a neoconservative think tank that has sought to undermine Protestant denominations’ tradition of progressive social justice work for decades.

In Africa, Kaoma investigates ties U.S. conservatives have established with religious leaders in Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya and the impact of homophobia exported from the United States to these Anglophone countries.

As Kaoma argues, the U.S. Right – once isolated in Africa for supporting pro-apartheid, White supremacist regimes – has successfully reinvented itself as the mainstream of U.S. evangelicalism. Through their extensive communications networks in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible schools, and educational materials, U.S. religious conservatives warn of the dangers of homosexuals and present themselves as the true representatives of U.S. evangelicalism, so helping to marginalize Africans’ relationships with mainline Protestant churches.

The investigation’s release could not be timelier, as the Ugandan parliament considers the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. Language in that bill echoes the false and malicious charges made in Uganda by U.S antigay activist and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively that western gays are conspiring to take over Uganda and even the world.

"We need to stand up against the U.S. Christian Right peddling homophobia in Africa," said Kaoma, who in recent weeks asked U.S. evangelist Rick Warren to denounce the bill and distance himself from its supporters. "I heard church people in Uganda say they would go door to door to root out LGBT people and now our brothers and sisters are being further targeted by proposed legislation criminalizing them and threatening them with death. The scapegoating must stop."

While the American side of the story is known to LGBT activists and their allies witnessing struggles over LGBT clergy within Protestant denominations in the United States, what’s been missing has been the effect of the Right’s proxy wars on Africa itself. Kaoma’s report finally brings this larger, truly global, picture into focus.

“Just as the United States and other northern societies routinely dump our outlawed or expired chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, and cultural detritus on African and other Third World countries, we now export a political discourse and public policies our own society has discarded as outdated and dangerous,” writes PRA executive director Tarso Luís Ramos in the report’s foreword. “Africa’s antigay campaigns are to a substantial degree made in the U.S.A.”
Leaders within mainline Protestant denominations hailed the report.

"The exploitation of African Christians by right-wing organizations in the United States is reprehensible. Where were these individuals and organizations and their leaders during the struggles against colonialism and apartheid? They certainly were not standing in solidarity with the people of Africa. Today, they use a variety of corrupt practices and methods in a vain attempt to turn back the tide of history. This report reveals the truth about what is going on and should be required reading for American church leaders," said Jim Winkler, the general secretary of the international public policy and social justice agency of The United Methodist Church.

For his 16-month investigation, Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia, traveled in the United States and Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria, attended the notorious antigay conference of Uganda’s Family Life Network in March, and documented concerns among the region’s clergy that U.S. conservatives are contributing to corruption among bishops with their lax requirements for donated funds.
Although written primarily for a U.S. audience, Globalizing the Culture Wars is certain to cause a stir in English-speaking Africa, where conservative U.S. evangelicals have for too long escaped the close scrutiny of African social justice activists and movements.

Kapya John Kaoma
Project Director Kapya John Kaoma is an Anglican priest from Zambia now leading churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. A doctoral candidate at Boston University School of Theology, he has studied in evangelical schools in Zambia and the United Kingdom. From 1998 to 2001, he served as dean of St. John’s Cathedral in Mutare, Zimbabwe and lecturer at Africa University, where he coauthored a text in ethics, Unity in Diversity. From 2001 to 2002, he was academic dean of St. John’s Anglican Seminary in Kitwe, Zambia, where he launched its women’s studies and church school training programs. An active campaigner for women’s reproductive rights, Kaoma is a passionate activist for social witness in the world.

Political Research Associates
Political Research Associates (PRA) is a progressive think tank devoted to supporting movements that are building a more just and inclusive democratic society. We expose movements, institutions, and ideologies that undermine human rights, with a focus on the U.S. political Right. Political Research Associates seeks to advance progressive thinking and action by providing accurate, research-based, information, analysis, and referrals.


Monday, November 16, 2009

A CALL ON CHRISTIANS TO OPPOSE THE BAHATI’S HATE BILL WHICH HAS BEEN TABLED BEFORE THE UGANDAN PARLIAMENT


A CALL ON CHRISTIANS TO OPPOSE THE BAHATI’S HATE BILL WHICH HAS BEEN TABLED BEFORE THE UGANDAN PARLIAMENT


“Every day millions of Christians pray to be spared from being put to the test. This prayer is especially applicable for Christians everywhere in regard to the “anti- homosexuality bill”, which has been put to parliament in Uganda, by Member of Parliament Bahati. This extremely unpleasant proposed bill targets not only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people but also Human Rights and HIV/AIDS prevention activists and people in positions of trust and authority. While some in the church are backing and propelling the bill, other Christians face a challenge to the principles at the heart of their faith.” This statement reiterates why all Christians everywhere should not support this HATE bill:The bill breaks rather than build the family. It makes family members ‘spies’ of each other rather than “keepers” of one another. It turns parents into prosecutors of their children and siblings into accusers of one another.It makes everyone suspicious of any kind of affection in case it is interpreted as intent to commit homosexuality.It undermines and totally dispels the place of compassion, understanding, and love within the Christian Faith.It totally undermines the pivotal role of grace in the Christian Faith. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us…” The work of salvation was done for us before we were aware of it or even accepted it. God’s gift of love was not dependent on our identities or sexuality or even willingness to acknowledge the gift. It was just given. The Church has the duty to exemplify this understanding and demonstration of love.The same scriptures that are being used to persecute and demonize LGBTI people are very clear on the duty of all Christians to bear with one another’s differences - to be tolerant, to desist from judgment, and to practice the golden rule where we give others the treatment that we would haveSome people think that being homosexual, we are sinners but many people know that we are children of God created in God’s image. Whatever you believe, we call upon you to appreciate that Bahati’s bill is not about any of this; it is not even about homosexuality. It is about politics. It is about hate. It is about intolerance. Among its draconian and hate-inciting provisions, the bill proposes that;Any person alleged to be homosexual would be at risk of life imprisonment or in some circumstances the death penalty;Any parent who does not denounce their lesbian daughter or gay son to the authorities would face fines of $ 2,650.00 or three years in prison;Any teacher who does not report a lesbian or gay pupil to the authorities within 24 hours would face the same penalties;And any landlord or landlady who happens to give housing to a suspected homosexual would risk 7 years of imprisonment.Similarly, the Bill threatens to punish or ruin the reputation of anyone who works with the gay or lesbian population, such as medical doctors working on HIV/AIDS, civil society leaders active in the fields of sexual and reproductive health, hence further undermining public health efforts to combat the spread of HIV;God calls on all of us to act with compassion, not to call for unfair treatment and oppression of those with a minority voice. God calls on all of us to build family, not to tear it apart by sowing seeds of discord, hatred, suspicion, and intolerance. God calls on all of us to understand and appreciate our differences not to use these to oppress one another.Even if you think that homosexuality is a sin, we call upon you to oppose this bill.

1st African Dialogue on Sexuality and Christian Faith


Press Statement from
1st African Dialogue on Sexuality and Christian Faith
Hosted by Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) in partnership with The Rainbow Project (TRP) of Namibia from 2-5 November 2009, Stellenbosch.


The past few days 77 participants from 13 African countries met for the first time ever to dialogue about the issue of sexual orientation from a Christian faith perspective. The participants included clergy (pastors, Bishops, National Church Council leadership and Academics) and an equal number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersexed (LGBTI) people, of whom a few were also clergy. The countries represented were Botswana, DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
During the Introduction we discussed Faith, Cultural and Human Rights issues that made this dialogue necessary: polarization in the Church, diversity in Bible interpretation, patriarchy, lack of knowledge, the fear of persecution of LGBTI people and all those in solidarity with them, laws criminalizing homosexuality in most African countries and right–wing USA groups influencing the agenda of Church and Politics, as in Uganda (read statement attached as appendix).
We introduced the method of DIALOGUE as the preferred Biblical way in which people of faith should discuss this very sensitive, and to many painful, issues – as opposed to DEBATE which only polarizes, rather than pull us together. During the very first session the participants grew to appreciate the safe space that this method of dialogue offered them and started to share freely and often very personally.
Participants moved from a place of fear to a place of empowerment and hope. LGBTI individuals were initially fearful, because of their history of rejection and persecution by the church or government laws, were apprehensive of their fellow clergy participants and on the other hand some clergy admitted that they have never before been exposed to LGBTI Christians.
We experienced dialogue as a way to grapple with the challenges we are facing regarding sexual orientation and our faith. We were able to listen to the stories and testimonies of painful and challenging journeys that touched us all, without fear of rejection and condemnation. The dialogue offered us for the first time to be hopeful of a journey that can bind us together as fellow Christians, rather than divide us.
We therefore affirm and call upon all fellow African Christians to engage in dialogue in finding our way forward, together. There is a great need for safe spaces for dialogue within our faith communities. We need to listen more deeply to all the diverse journeys fellow Christians on our continent are finding themselves on regarding their spirituality and sexuality.
We acknowledged that there are major stumbling blocks that hinder us from fully engaging in dialogue, these include:
· lack of knowledge about sexual orientation,
· scriptural interpretations,
· silence and often invisibility of LGBTI people within faith communities,
· taboo’s on discussing sexuality in Africa,
· hierarchical church structures,
· oppressive laws etc.
These stumbling blocks forced most of the Church into debate ABOUT the issue rather than engage WITH fellow brothers and sisters who happen to be LGBTI.
We entered into a hopeful journey of finding and discussing stepping stones for us in Africa to enable us to start a long and rewarding dialogue process.
· provide information to lessen ignorance
· commitment from participants to create safe spaces for dialogue in their countries
· reading Scripture inclusively that reflects the spirit of love and compassion of the Gospel
· In order to counteract stereotyping - training and education of the media
· Telling our stories through our culture and faith communities in order to bring more exposure
· The importance of self acceptance and affirmation of LGBTI people etc.
We believe God has gifted us with both sexuality and spirituality as aspects of our humanity. It is our duty and responsibility, as members of the same Body of Christ, to affirm amidst our diversity and differences that all of us are made in the image of God. We are equal in value and thus deserve to commit ourselves to this process of encounter, listening and sharing.
We belief that the Holy Spirit is guiding us through dialogue to find our way forward, even in the face of so much fear, anger, pain and even hatred.




APPENDICS
We have asked all participants to share the letter underneath from one of our Ugandan participants with their constituencies and call for more tolerance in their country.
We also submit this letter to this press conference for the notice of the wider public in the hope that the South African Council of Churches and worldwide Christian Bodies will give it their serious attention:
A CALL ON CHRISTIANS TO OPPOSE THE BAHATI’S HATE BILL WHICH HAS BEEN TABLED BEFORE THE UGANDAN PARLIAMENT

“Every day millions of Christians pray to be spared from being put to the test. This prayer is especially applicable for Christians everywhere in regard to the “anti- homosexuality bill”, which has been put to parliament in Uganda, by Member of Parliament Bahati. This extremely unpleasant proposed bill targets not only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people but also Human Rights and HIV/AIDS prevention activists and people in positions of trust and authority. While some in the church are backing and propelling the bill, other Christians face a challenge to the principles at the heart of their faith.” This statement reiterates why all Christians everywhere should not support this HATE bill:

The bill breaks rather than build the family. It makes family members ‘spies’ of each other rather than “keepers” of one another. It turns parents into prosecutors of their children and siblings into accusers of one another.
It makes everyone suspicious of any kind of affection in case it is interpreted as intent to commit homosexuality.
It undermines and totally dispels the place of compassion, understanding, and love within the Christian Faith.
It totally undermines the pivotal role of grace in the Christian Faith. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us…” The work of salvation was done for us before we were aware of it or even accepted it. God’s gift of love was not dependent on our identities or sexuality or even willingness to acknowledge the gift. It was just given. The Church has the duty to exemplify this understanding and demonstration of love.

The same scriptures that are being used to persecute and demonize LGBTI people are very clear on the duty of all Christians to bear with one another’s differences - to be tolerant, to desist from judgment, and to practice the golden rule where we give others the treatment that we would have

Some people think that being homosexual, we are sinners but many people know that we are children of God created in God’s image. Whatever you believe, we call upon you to appreciate that Bahati’s bill is not about any of this; it is not even about homosexuality. It is about politics. It is about hate. It is about intolerance. Among its draconian and hate-inciting provisions, the bill proposes that;

Any person alleged to be homosexual would be at risk of life imprisonment or in some circumstances the death penalty;

Any parent who does not denounce their lesbian daughter or gay son to the authorities would face fines of $ 2,650.00 or three years in prison;

Any teacher who does not report a lesbian or gay pupil to the authorities within 24 hours would face the same penalties;

And any landlord or landlady who happens to give housing to a suspected homosexual would risk 7 years of imprisonment.

Similarly, the Bill threatens to punish or ruin the reputation of anyone who works with the gay or lesbian population, such as medical doctors working on HIV/AIDS, civil society leaders active in the fields of sexual and reproductive health, hence further undermining public health efforts to combat the spread of HIV;

God calls on all of us to act with compassion, not to call for unfair treatment and oppression of those with a minority voice. God calls on all of us to build family, not to tear it apart by sowing seeds of discord, hatred, suspicion, and intolerance. God calls on all of us to understand and appreciate our differences not to use these to oppress one another.
Even if you think that homosexuality is a sin, we call upon you to oppose this bill.

A Debate on Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia and Human Rights at the House Of Common



Cutting Edge Consortium marks its launch by inviting you to continue the debates of the Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia & Human Rights Conferences 2007 & 2009
"EQUALITY BILL: OPT IN vs OPT OUT"
An open meeting to discuss religious exemptions to the legislation on sexuality and gender identity in the Equality Bill

Hosted by Clare Short MP, speakers will include:
Sarah Bourke (Tooks Chambers)
Andrew Copson (British Humanist Association)
Maleiah Malik (Muslim Women’s Network)
Michael Rubenstein (Equal Opportunities Review)

Date/Time: 1900-2100, Tuesday 24th November

Venue: Committee Room 5, House of Commons

Please Note: You do not need any ID to attend this meeting but allow 15 minutes to get through security

Cutting Edge Consortium Enquiries:

Simon: 07906445695
Maria: 07714 206404E-Mail: cuttingedgeconsortium1@googlemail.com
The Cutting Edge Consortium has been launched following the successful Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia and Human Rights Conference 2009. You have been sent this email because you attended/were involved in one/both of these conferences. However, if you would prefer not to receive occasional mailings from us, please reply to this email, putting "Unsubscribe" as the subject, and we will delete your details from our database.
The Cutting Edge Consortium will never share your details with or sell them to any individual, collective, organisation or corporation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Dialogue: My Father, My Faith and My Sexuality.


The Dialogue: My Father, My Faith and My Sexuality.

This short note is to embrace my journey of hope as an African child, a devout Christian, a leader, who also happens to be gay. For many years whilst I struggle to find a place to reconcile my dignity in faith and sexuality, the first dialogue on sexuality and spirituality ignites hope for many in Stellenbosch South Africa, November 2009. This note finally serves as a beacon of hope for the future and I invite you to share this hope with me and many on this journey.

It was the 31st October and yet another trip to South Africa, this time visiting and attending a conference in Stellenbosch. My excitement was multi-fold, first attending a conference on an anticipated dialogue about Christianity and Sexual Orientation with many African people, amongst my joy is also meeting my father whom I was forced to leave behind in Nigeria in September 2008, aftermath of my experience with the Nigerian media’s unethical reporting of our church, House Of Rainbow Nigeria, a mission I lead that welcomes and affirm sexual minorities.

I arrived in Cape Town on the 1st November after a long but interesting overnight direct flight from London Heathrow, the weariness of the flight was less of a concern as all my thoughts and energy focussed on meeting my father. I was met at the airport by John and Telwin both very courteous host of the conference.

I had time after I checked in to my hotel in Stellenbosch to make the 1 hour 10 minutes train journey to Cape Town to join my friends, brothers and sisters for worship at Good Hope MCC Cape Town, listening the Rev Greg Andrews a visiting minister, I was reminded of the joy of being part of an inclusive ministry, a mission we take for granted in many parts of the West but extremely essential in Africa, sharing blessings at Communion was a joy. A ministry that challenges us not just to celebrate the Open and inclusive Holy Communion and love of Christ but to also take that love to the end of the earth, come to the table and be filled with love and take that love to the people out there, echoed Revd Andrews. I took time after the service to reflect on my time in prayers. I was delighted to be amongst friends. Revd Pressley drove me back to my hotel accompanied with three others. What a joy in my soul.

After breakfast on the 2nd November, I left a message at reception to call me as soon as possible once my father arrived, my excitement was much as I embraced my father, we spoke unending over a few cups of Rooibos tea, and decaffeinated coffee, retracting our experiences and later had lunch, the conference registration was set about 4pm. Whilst my father arrived with his luggage missing, it wasn’t long before I offered him clothes from my wardrobe and it was just like happy times again, my shirt fitted him like my twin, I unpacked my bags with gifts I had got him from the UK.

I was anxious about the conference as it is about the focus of religion and sexuality, many people arrived from other nations in Africa, I was getting filled with anxiety on the outcome of the conference, I have prayed for this day and I believed firmly that God will guide us, will aid us and provide us with the knowledge to gain and break out of every chain. I am persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God and the relevance of our participation will be guided by the Holy Spirit.

As the deer panted for the water, so my soul longs after God. This song was in my spirit and I begun to look at the situation for which dialogue was important, the discussion for the liberation of the Holy Scripture, the rescuing the word of God from wordmongers, to share insights from personal experiences and the lack of compassion. At the end of the 2nd November, I was so excited, I have met many people, all fine, all strange, all beautiful, all intellectual, all spiritual, there were some strangeness which exhume my own outlandish approach to life. I felt that since we are here we are determined to take the road and veer on the side that seek to be part of the solution and stop being part of the problem, my views were later shared by many.

I became attached to my father and we spent quality time together, he has always been my greatest mentor, a sole motivator of my thinking. A joy to call him father, brother and friend. We spoke about the past in order to look into the future and appreciated the present time. After dinner we said our good nights and I went to join a few people for an extended social time.

On the 3rd November, it was the day of the first step into the conference on dialogue, Devotion with praise, worship and prayer opened the day, the peculiarity of fear came upon me, as we received guidance on how best to approach dialogue, assuredly it was the first time I felt that I would not need to debate, argue, dispute, disagree, be confrontational, there was an overwhelming willingness to listen, hold, touch, watch, speak honestly, the dialogue between professional biblical scholars and the simplicity of sexual minority people, we dined together, we laughed, we comforted each other soothing away as much pain as we can. I sensed the Holy Spirit was there, I knew certainly in my mind that Jesus looked with favour and I heard him say “Thank you to all participants, for you are doing this to me”

Three speakers spoke from the heart, about the challenges of Faith, Culture and Human Rights, each settled amicably without judgement, all the people listened. After the first session of the dialogue, which required that we identify the stumbling blocks to dialogue, the six colourful groups had time to interact, the barriers are coming down, we are on the journey to breaking down walls, and building up hope. Without any harshness, people’s mind are reconciling, one lesbian woman spoke of her joy that her father was here, her father responded; I too echoed with a joyful heart for the presence of my father at the dialogue, the support and love of these parents were immeasurable.

After dinner, myself and my father had a wonderful time reflecting on the day.

4th November, so many things came into my mind today, first it was my 44th birthday, and last year, it was the American Presidential election date, which elected Obama. Whilst the American experience brought change for the Americans, I am experiencing so much personal changes in my life, change which includes love from my own heart, the beauty of God’s holiness, accepting the burden of a pioneer for change, the passion for the inclusive love of Christ gospel, my congregation, my own self created families, at home in Nigeria and abroad. The joy of knowing that God stands with me and will lift me up in times of trouble and protect me through fires and burning rage, my entire being loving God, was part of that change.

I look forward to this day more in the tranquillity of Jesus increasing love and also clarity of my visions, missions and goals, thanks you Jesus. I know that when we lean on God with faith, mountains will move, valleys will be exalted, and Praises will fill the heaven and the earth.

My friends, brothers and sisters in Stellenbosch have begun the celebration and it was my joy to be woken up and be greeted on this joyous day. Thank you God. Just before breakfast on the 4th November, I went to my dad’s room where we prayed intensely for the love and blessing of God, I felt it, I received it and I claimed it. The day started at the conference with greetings for my birthday, many lovely notes and greetings followed, the day was joyful, as the evening approached, and we got ready for the short trip to Moyo Restaurant, a typified South African joint, its style of the dishes were robust, from vegetables to bush meat, eat till you drop, the kitchen was huge and the serving area was buffet style, there were musicians and dancers everywhere to keep you entertained, we opened several bottles of wine and dance till it was time to return to the hotel, at the hotel the party continued with scores of drinks bought at the bar by friends and well wishers, I was contained with jubilation and love. The night was over and it was time to hit the sack.

On the 5th November I was invited to say a prayer at the closing Devotion which was led by Bishop David Russell, this honour to serve with a retired Anglican Bishop was not only invigorating but enlivening to the glory of God. I reproduce the text of my prayer below;

“Holy One, Precious God, Our Father, Dearest Mother, God of inclusive love, we thank you, for we know that, this first African Dialogue on Sexuality and Spirituality is about winning souls, this first African Dialogue on Sexuality and Spirituality is about the healing of broken vessels, this first African Dialogue on Sexuality and Spirituality is about gathering of the lost sheep.

We thank you Jesus, we thank you for your wasteful generosity of patience, we thank you for your wasteful generosity of boldness, we thank you for your wasteful generosity of compassion, and we thank you for your wasteful generosity of faith, hope and love.

We pray that our faith will move mountains, the way forward shall be filled with hope, who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, no, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Jesus who loved us. For we are convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ our Lord.

Go in the peace and love of God and everyone present would say Amen, Amen.”

Shortly after the morning devotion, I was invited to take part in a pre press conference meeting to finalise the text of the final draft of the press statement. At 2pm after lunch we were ready for the South African Media. I shared the panel with the Director of IAM, Rev Pieter and the Director of TRP Madelene, Bishop Christopher from Uganda. The experience was extremely positive and a further in-depth interview ensued.

Our brief time was soon at end and departing was more painful, big hugs and kisses of good bye was challenging, but we departed at Cape Town Terminals knowing that God had full and total control of the future, which is filled with hope for all lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex Christians.