Ugandan Bishop Raises Awareness of Anti-Gay Legislation During Visit to LB

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Bishop Senyonjo will appear in Long Beach at The Trinity Church on Thursday, November 18.

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo—a courageous spokesperson for the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in his native Uganda—is scheduled to visit Long Beach on Thursday, November 18. The bishop will appear at Trinity Lutheran Church for a reception hosted by Greater People and the Catalyst Network of Communities as part of OutFaith.

Eric Leocadio, founder and Executive Director of the Catalyst Network says, “By creating a safe and productive environment for people who consider themselves ‘on a journey,’ we hope to elevate the conversation beyond the politics of our differences so that we can improve relations in both the LGBT and faith worlds.”

At the invitation of Integrity USA, Bishop Senyonjo toured the United States earlier this year, including a visit to the White House. This month he will be visiting sites in California to raise awareness about Uganda’s proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” and the severe criminal penalties LGBT people would face in Uganda.

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo

Bishop Senyonjo will be in Long Beach to share his story and to talk about the current climate in his country in regards to LGBT tensions. He retired as the Anglican bishop of West Buganda, Uganda in 1998 and almost immediately began a pastoral ministry to gay and lesbian people in his country. He had no idea how costly that decision would be.

The political, legal and cultural climate in Uganda turned dramatically more hostile to gay and lesbian people at about the same time. The bishop was forced to flee his country for a period because of death threats for his work. He has had his pension cut off and has been shunned by most of his former colleagues in the Anglican Church in Uganda. (Learn more about Bishop Senyonjo in the video below.)

Anti-Gay Legislation in Uganda

Bishop Senyonjo will address the homophobic and draconian anti-gay movement and legislation pending in Uganda where efforts are under way  to pass legislation that proposes:

  • Gays and lesbians convicted of having gay sex would be sentenced, at minimum, to life in prison
  • People who test positive for HIV may be executed
  • Homosexuals who engage in homosexual sex more than once may also receive the death penalty
  • The bill forbids the “promotion of homosexuality,” which in effect bans organizations working in HIV and AIDS prevention and gay rights
  • Anyone who knows of homosexual activity taking place but does not report it would risk up to three years in prison

Bishop Senyonjo has spoken out powerfully against this bill, stating that it is against the U.N.’s Declaration on Human Rights, and against the sacred bonds of the Ugandan extended family system. He calls the bill inhumane and was recently part of a delegation to the speaker of the house to reject the bill.

Bishop Senyonjo in Long Beach

His visit will be an historic opportunity to hear the personal witness of a courageous man of faith who has proclaimed God’s inclusive love and spoken truth to power in homophobic Uganda. He brings words of both hope and challenge of all those working for equality and inclusion in the church.

Bishop Senyonjo visits Long Beach Thursday, November 18, at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 759 Linden Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90813. The reception begins at 7:00 p.m.

The OutFaith Campaign

The reception to host Bishop Senyonjo, hosted by Greater People and the Catalyst Network of Communities, is part of the recently launched OutFaith campaign—a collaborative campaign to create unique experiences that inform and engage all people in the LGBT journey through faith.

With growing tensions in both the LGBT and faith communities over recent years, OutFaith was formed to inspire a different approach to the often contentious issue of faith and sexuality. This approach involves making a connection between individuals along the spectrum of perspectives on this issue and who maintain an openness to learning through relationships.

Ryan Blanc, founder and Executive Director for Greater People says, “We believe that experiencing a greater understanding of our world enhances our own potential. In many areas we are only beginning to learn.”

For more information, go to www.OutFaith.com.

Video Interview with Bishop Christopher Senyonjo

An interview with Bishop Christopher Senyonjo. Video courtesy of copirineo.

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