International Day Against Homophobia is first day of the “Uganda Declaration” campaign to mobilize faith leaders to decriminalize people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
NEW YORK, NY, Monday, May 17, 2010 – On the annual International Day Against Homophobia, a coalition of national faith leaders announced that they are launching a campaign based on the “Uganda Declaration” to begin mobilizing faith leaders to work for decriminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people based on their tradition’s human rights policies and official statements against violence.
Motivated by Uganda’s proposed “anti-homosexuality” bill, with its death penalty and extradition clauses, the coalition began its work by challenging the export of homophobia to Uganda by evangelicals from the United States. It is expanding its concerns to asking faith leaders from all traditions to use their faith networks and official policies on human rights to challenge the more than 80 countries with laws against homosexuality—seven with the death penalty.
“Faith leaders in the United States know that almost all faith traditions have statements on the books that support human rights for all people,” said, Bruce Knotts, Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office. “They are realizing that, regardless of their beliefs about sexual orientation or gender identity, their traditions support the human rights of all people. Faith leaders are stepping up to take action to stop state sponsored violence and all violence against LGBT people.”
The “Uganda Declaration” gave examples of violence against LGBT people such as
■Lesbians in the townships of South Africa can still expect to be raped as a “cure.”
■In Malawi, a couple was imprisoned for announcing their engagement
■Young gay men in the privacy of their own home in Jamaica were attacked with machetes
■Transgender women and men are often targets for violence in the United States
■In Pakistan, lesbians may face “honor” killings, and gay men are targets for police actions.
■Since November 2008, at least 8 transgender people have been murdered in Turkey.
The campaign will seek a cross section of officials in denominations and faith traditions as well as LGBT faith leaders and concerned people to sign the “Uganda Declaration” and commit themselves to work proactively for decriminalization of LGBT people throughout the world.
Louise Brooks, Communications Director for Integrity, said, “Fair-minded faith leaders in places like Uganda, the United States and throughout the world must speak out and use their faith networks to stop the hate, get rid of the anti-LGBT laws and live out their own core values of care for God’s people.”
“People of faith are seeing that their international HIV-AIDS grants are being undermined by fear and homophobia,” sad, Dr. Sylvia Rhue of the National Black Justice Coalition. “When homophobia rules the day, LGBT people are afraid of getting attacked at the clinics so they stop going. Fear and misunderstanding make the HIV/AIDS epidemic much more lethal.”
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