Saturday, February 6, 2010

Open Letter from Other Sheep East Africa to Rev. Patson Netha, Executive Secretary of The Association of Evangelicals for Ethics, Peace & Justice calling for the AEA's denouncement of the Anti-Homosexuaity Bill of Uganda

To:  Rev. Patson Netha, Executive Secretary of The Association of Evangelicals for Ethics, Peace & Justice, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, email:
Re: Calling for the denoncement of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009
From: Other Sheep East Africa
Date: February 6, 2010

We are writing you because we are greatly distressed about proposed legislation in Uganda which if passed could lead to the systematic elimination of a certain segment of society. Already, citizens have left Uganda out of fear for their safety. We are writing about the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 that would, by use of the death penalty and imprisonment, effectively purge Uganda of LGBT people (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) and any who would speak out on their behalf.

We are concerned that evangelicals in Africa may be turning a deaf ear towards the Parliament of Uganda at this time.

In 2006, the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) published the Africa Bible Commentary. The Commentary features Nigerian religious leader Yusufu Turaki's hateful and intolerant article entitled "Homosexuality" (page 1355).
Our question to you as leaders in the African evangelical world is this: Does it follow, in view of Turaki's article, that you endorse the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009? Turaki's article contains the following anti-homosexual remarks:
(1) Turaki's use of the words "abnormal, unnatural and a perversion" in reference to homosexuals; (2) his uncritical use of the quote that "homosexuals are worse than beasts" tied in with (3) his uncritical statement of the African Anglican church's rejection of Archbishop Tutu's call for tolerance, as well as (4) his one-sided account of African "coercive sexual relationships" as his example of "varied" African same-sex sex; (5) an uncritical censorship of all views of homosexuality that are not in keeping with his views ("Our views of homosexuality should not be derived from human sources but from the Word of God"), and (6) his expressed theological view that to be homosexual is sinful (a view not held by most evangelicals in the West).

Turaki's article effectively dismisses the church from its responsibility to speak out against the violence in Africa against LGBT people (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender). His article could be used by African evangelicals at this time as an argument for the endorsement of the Ugandan bill.

The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 would criminalize anyone who "aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality," as well as anyone who engages in the "promotion of homosexuality," including broadcasting, publishing, the marketing of materials on homosexuality, and the funding and sponsoring of LGBT organizations. In addition, an authority must, under this legislation, turn in his colleagues, family, or friends who engage in the "promotion of homosexuality" or face criminal charges for failing to do so.

It is conceivable, for example, that any pastor who would teach - or even dialogue open mindedly - that the Bible does not condemn same-sex loving relationships between consenting adults, would be guilty of promoting homosexuality, and therefore a criminal. A Bible scholar in Uganda would not be at liberty to openly question what the Bible does or does not say about homosexuality. Any person of authority who would fail to report such a scholar or open-minded pastor within 24 hours would be subject to a significant fine and up to 3 years in prison.

Anybody who keeps a house or room for the purpose of homosexuality is subject to imprisonment. No one's private dwelling is safe.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill directly violates many of the basic human rights guaranteed in the Ugandan Constitution. It also violates the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party.

The bill effectively creates a climate of fear and hostility. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. Effective HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be difficult, if not impossible.

We are aware that, for the most part, evangelicals worldwide view same-sex sex between consenting adults as immoral. Nonetheless, I cannot believe that evangelicals can stand silently by and watch the Parliament of Uganda vote this inhumane bill into law, especially since evangelicals are so vehemently vocal on the issue of homosexuality.

Therefore, Other Sheep East Africa is asking you to demonstrate that Yusufu Turaki's inflexible and dogmatic article on "Homosexuality" is not to be misused by any evangelicals in Africa as an argument for the endorsement of the inhumane Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 by your swift denouncement of this bill. We urge the AEA (Association of Evangelicals in Africa) to openly denounce this bill. If not, then your silence will serve as a passive agreement that a Christian country could, and even should, imprison for life or sentence to death persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered, especially in view of Yusufu Turaki's article on homosexuality in the Africa Bible Commentary which you published in 2006 in association with Zondervan Publishing House of Garnd Rapids, Michigan, USA.

Other Sheep East Africa
Rev. Michael Kimindu, Coordinator for Other Sheep East Africa
Rev. John Makokha, Coordinator for Other Sheep Kenya
Rev. J. Elie Gasana, Coordinator ofr Other Sheep Rwanda and Dem. Rep of the Congo
Mr. Wamala Dennis Mawejje, Chairperson for Other Sheep Uganda
Rev. Steve Parelli, Executive Director of Other Sheep
Mr. Emmanuel Kamau, Other Sheep Coordinator for Africa
Mr. Jose Ortiz, Other Sheep Coordinator for Africa

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