East-Central Africa Division president Blasious Ruguri, a vice president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who has endorsed human rights abuses against gay and lesbians in Uganda, directs the International Religious Liberty Association. Listed in the Yearbook as a member of IRLA's Board of Directors, Ruguri has called same-sex attracted folks who want to get married "despicable." As reported in Ugandan media, he has publicly endorsed legislation that will:
impose long prison sentences and, in some cases, execution for sexual minorities. It will require fellow citizens and even parents to report “suspected gays or lesbians” or face prosecution and lengthy prison sentences themselves. This bill not only violates fundamental human rights for gay people, it will break trust within families and communities. The bill violates the rights of caregivers, pastors, and medical personnel by requiring them to report gays, undermining efforts to fight HIV/AIDS by driving gays underground and forcing healthcare providers to deny care for fear of arrest.
The International Religious Liberty Association aims to be a significant voice at the intersection of religion and human rights around the world. It states in its Declaration of Principles:
We believe that legislation and other governmental acts which unite church and state are contrary to the best interest of both institutions and are potentially prejudicial to human rights, and hold that religious liberty is best exercised where separation is maintained between church and state. . . .
We believe that religious liberty and the elimination of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief are essential to promote understanding, peace, and friendship among peoples. We believe that citizens should use lawful and honorable means to prevent the reduction of religious liberty. We believe that the spirit of true religious liberty is epitomized in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Blasious Ruguri has violated the principles of IRLA and is gaining media attention for it. IRLA's leaders aim to mix with exactly those in the international human rights community who condemn the sort of homophobia that Elder Ruguri is using his position in the church to spread.
Spectrum has contacted IRLA (email@example.com) for a statement.
Update: IRLA's statement: The IRLA does not support the proposed legislation in Uganda. The views stated by Blasious Ruguri are his own, he was not speaking on behalf of the IRLA, and his views on this subject do not represent the position of the IRLA. The Church will release a statement on its position later today.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4960