Kinship International Responds to Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill


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Kinship International, whose misssion is to provide a safe spiritual and social community to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & intersex current and former Seventh-day Adventists, issued a statement in response to the Ugandan Parliament's so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would make certain sex acts punishable by life imprisonment. A Ugandan lawmaker first introduced the bill in 2009, sparking worldwide condemnation for tough measures that included the death penalty. That version of the bill purportedly gained support from a prominent Seventh-day Adventist leader, East-Central African Division President, Blasious Ruguri.

Kinship decried the bill's passage and called on Seventh-day Adventist leaders to stand in opposition to the bill. The following letter, signed by Kinship's president, Yolanda Elliott, was addressed to General Conference president Ted Wilson and cc'd to leaders of all the divisions in the World Church. In addition to being sent to world leaders, the letter appears on the Kinship International website.

The letter is reproduced below:

Dear Elder Wilson;

On 20 December 2013 the Ugandan Parliament passed a modified version of the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which promotes hatred and discrimination against those who are or are believed to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex (LGBTI).

When the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first introduced by MP David Bahati in 2009, it prescribed the death penalty for so-called "aggravated homosexuality," that is, if one party was HIV-positive or if a liaison involved a minor. By conflating homosexuality with disease transmission and pedophilia, this law directly undermines legitimate public health initiatives in Uganda. Now the bill has passed, people in Uganda who are or are believed to be LGBT are subject to 14 years in prison for a first “offense” or imprisonment for life.

As we wrote in December 2012, Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International finds this law reprehensible. The legislation violates fundamental human rights, is a vehicle for discrimination, and is contrary to the character of Jesus Christ and the value system that our church promotes. We are each part of the diverse human family, and God calls us to love one another, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That includes loving our LGBTI neighbors, not scapegoating them, ostracizing them, or imprisoning them for consensual relationships.

Regardless of the church’s stance on human sexuality and gender roles, we believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church should never actively or passively promote the violation of basic human rights. The Seventh-day Adventist church has an obligation to its Ugandan members to strongly, clearly state that it does not support this law or the abusive, violent rhetoric that puts thousands of Ugandans in jeopardy.

We are also disappointed that the leader of the church in Uganda failed to disavow the revised law when it was reintroduced last session. In 2012, Pastor Blasious Ruguri, East-Central African Division President and vice president of the Seventh-day Adventist church, reportedly made the following statement against LGBT Ugandans at a public meeting at the Mbarara SDA Church, Southwestern Uganda Field:

“Our stand is ‘zero tolerance’ to this vice and to western influence on this crucial issue because God says no to it. We are together with the President and the Speaker and we fully support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I call upon all religious ministers, all Ugandans, and all Africans to say no to Homosexuality. Let us stand for our sovereignty as Ugandans and as God fearing people even [though] the heavens fall.” (emphasis supplied)

Ugandan politicians were present at this meeting.

Shortly after Ugandan paper New Vision reported Ruguri’s comments, the General Conference claimed that New Vision misquoted Ruguri’s “intentions”. If that were true, his comments also misled The Daily Monitor, which quoted him making similar remarks.

Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International calls upon the East-Central African Division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists to oppose this law and urge Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to rescind this bill and affirm the human dignity, liberty, equality, and non-discrimination of all Ugandans. We appeal for similar statements in favor of human liberty from our church representatives in Nigeria and in Russia, and in India.

With Christian love,

Yolanda Elliott, President Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5755