Uganda & Malawi – Faith Leaders Speak Out:
Denounce imprisonment of two men for announcing their engagement
May 21, 2010, New York, NY When two men in Malawi were sentenced to a maximum prison term of 14 years for announcing their engagement to each other, a coalition of more than twenty faith organizations began making a strong push for mainline faith leaders to speak out through signing on to a “Uganda Declaration,” which calls for a stop to all state-sponsored attacks on the life and liberty of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Reverend Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ, said, “We speak out against this action as faith leaders in traditions with relationships that span the globe. In that global network are people of faith with widely varying opinions and cultural understanding of family and human sexuality. Yet, when we talk together, overwhelmingly, people of faith agree that every person has the right to life and liberty, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Today, we speak out in defense of life and liberty—basic human rights—for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere,” said Rev. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Church, “We protest the imprisonment of this couple and choose this moment to join our voices to right this wrong, and to take actions that will eliminate all laws that allow punishment of people for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
· We urge faith leaders and all people of good faith to sign the “Uganda Declaration” that commits us to living out our human rights statements in our respective traditions by working to eliminate laws that punish people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity;
· We urge government officials in Malawi to intervene in this case of wrongful imprisonment and release these two men who have already served months in prison;
· We urge the United States government and the United Nations to use its diplomatic influence in this case and others to work toward the full recognition and implementation of human rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Dr. Sylvia Rhue, Director of Religious Affairs for the National Black Justice Coalition, said, “Malawi is predominantly a Christian population, as is Uganda, where a death penalty bill was proposed as punishment for gay people. Such state-sponsored persecution goes against both human decency and core faith values of love of neighbor. But, no matter what the religious tradition or social setting, persecution of minorities must be challenged by all people of good will. We call on all people to speak out against this violence and we do so today because if we are silent, people will continue to sit in prison or hang from gallows, simply because of who they love or how they express their gender identity. We speak because we know that if we are silent, we are complicit.”