As Unitarian Universalists (UU), our faith calls us to action. We are moved to speak out, to fight oppression in its many forms, and to care for those whom society has forgotten or abused.
Rarely, if ever, has the UU tradition of living our faith been more crucial than it is at this moment.
Right now in Uganda, we have seen an alarming rise in violence and prejudice toward people who are even assumed to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Right now, Ugandan citizens, including members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Uganda, fear they will be killed because of this growing culture of oppression against LGBT people.
In response, I am honored to announce that the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), in partnership with the UU United Nations Office (UU-UNO), has launched the UUA/UU-UNO LGBT Uganda Fund, to help LGBT human rights activists—including members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Uganda—protect people whose safety is threatened and fight for social justice and LGBT rights.
I know how bravely UUs like the Rev. Mark Kiyimba, founder of the UU Church of Uganda, are working to support and protect threatened LGBT people by providing a welcoming faith community. In their struggle to prevent further violence, the Rev. Kiyimba and other UUs in Uganda have put their own safety at risk.
We cannot, in good conscience, allow them to struggle alone. Even recent anti-bigotry legislation in Uganda will not stop the hatred and violence aimed at the LGBT community. Worse, much of the hateful rhetoric has been wrapped in religious language, brought to the Ugandan public by Americans representing the so-called Christian right.
The situation remains too dangerous for us to stand idly by.
Imagine the horror of seeing your photo and home address listed in a national magazine, with an accompanying article calling for your death. It seems unthinkable, almost impossible, but that is exactly what has happened in Uganda.
A recent front-page article in a Ugandan magazine listed the home addresses and photographs of local LGBT activists and citizens, calling for their hangings. As a result, several known or assumed LGBT people have been assaulted or threatened at their homes. Read more from this Religion Dispatches article: “Gays Attacked in Uganda After Magazine Publishes Info.”
Home is the one place we believe we can be safe, where we can be ourselves. For LGBT people in Uganda, this belief has been shattered. I can only imagine the terror and despair they must feel. My heart breaks for them.
Still, I have hope. As president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, I believe the people of our faith will answer the call to action. I have seen, again and again, the strength and resolve UUs summon in response to violence and oppression, no matter how daunting the task.
We must stand on the side of love with our UU brothers and sisters in Uganda. Through solidarity and hard work, we can —and will—end this violence.
Rev. Peter Morales
President, Unitarian Universalist Association