As we as a church work toward LGBT justice in the United States, now is the time to support those beginning that journey in other countries.  Resolution A051 asks the Episcopal Church to do so by supporting LGBT advocacy in Africa.

In Uganda, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Zimbabwe and elsewhere, LGBT activists, both lay and ordained, lose their livelihoods and sometimes their lives for advocating justice and equal access to health care for LGBT citizens.

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda was inhibited and stripped of his pension by the Anglican Church of Uganda for welcoming LGBT people at worship services and counseling sessions.

Activist David Kato of Uganda was murdered after his picture and that of Bishop Senyonjo was placed in a local tabloid under the heading “Hang Them.” The home of the Rev. Macdonald Sembereka of the Anglican Church in Malawi was firebombed because of his activism. Journalist Eric Lembembe of Cameroon was murdered for his activism. Attorney Michel Togué of Cameroon received death threats targeting his family because he accepts LGBT clients. Activist George Freeman and two colleagues in Sierra Leone fled to Spain after they were repeatedly attacked and threatened with death.

Police raids and mob attacks are facts of life for LGBT rights organizations. Recent targets have included Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, Alternatives-Ivory Coast, and the Cameroonian groups Alternatives- Cameroun, CAMFAIDS and CAMEF, whose leader fled to the United Kingdom for safety.

Yet many African activists bravely continue their work, and many rely on their faith to give them strength to do so. That was evident in Kenya in 2014, when a discussion of the Bible’s “clobber passages” – often cited by anti-LGBT conservatives – was one of the most popular sessions at a secular conference for African activists. Dozens of Anglicans, former Anglicans, evangelicals, Roman Catholics and Muslims crowded into the room and were told the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a story about lack of hospitality, not about homosexuality.

In this context, the Rev. Sembereka, among others, calls for the adoption of Resolution A051 to encourage the church “to stand with the downtrodden” and to move forward, away from sins of commission and omission of the past and present.  The resolution, he says, “has my support as one of the clergy who feel unsupported even by progressive Episcopal churches and clergy.”

- Colin Stewart, Erasing 76 Crimes (


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