The Unitarian Universalist (UU) Association of Uganda is preparing to take a strong and courageous stand against the Ugandan government's proposed "Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009" (PDF, 9 pages). This hate-filled legislation, proposed in the Ugandan Parliament, would criminalize homosexuality and enforce penalties of life imprisonment and capital punishment against gays and lesbians. Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender (BGLT) allies would also face drastic punishments.
The UU Church of Kampala is one of the few religious organizations in Uganda that is welcoming and supportive of the BGLT community. During a visit with the congregation in 2008 Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) representatives met with both gay and straight Ugandans who offered powerful accounts of the terror that the Ugandan BGLT community faces, and the importance of the congregation's support. This visit occurred many months before the current legislation was proposed.
Ugandan UUs plan to hold a conference on February 14, 2010, to highlight the need for an end to discriminatory treatment of the BGLT population—and their allies—in the country. The BGLT Conference also has the following goals:
- To achieve permanent, fundamental, real equality for bixexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people by affecting fundamental changes in the attitudes of society.
- To defeat discriminatory legislation and exclusionary policies and practices.
- To build a strong social movement of BGLT people with a fully representative and activist base.
The conference will include programs about Promoting Equality and Access to Justice, Research, and Lobbying/Advocacy. More than 200 Ugandans from various faith traditions are expected to attend.
Ugandan UUs will be joined by Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, the minister of their partner church, All Souls Unitarian Church (Tulsa, OK), and by Rev. Patricia Ackerman, BGLT Advocacy Director for the UU-United Nations Office. Other religious leaders from Uganda and as far away as France are also expected. Rev. Peter Morales, President of the UUA, wrote in a letter to the UUA of Uganda, "Your courageous stand on behalf of gay and lesbian citizens embodies the heart of our Unitarian Universalist faith, and your example is a source of pride and inspiration for Unitarian Universalists in the United States and throughout the world."
UUs around the globe have been invited by the leaders of the UUA of Uganda to spread the word about this important event and to remember the courageous steps that Ugandan UUs are taking. More information on the conference, when it occurs, will be carried on UUWorld.org and UUA.org.
For more information on the Uganda conference, visit the website of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists.