Call to Archbishop to take a stand for freedom in Uganda

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From: Edwina Sykes and David Lewis, Co-Chairs of the York LGBT Forum, York.

UGANDA made international headlines last month when President Yoweri Museveni signed the infamous “Kill the Gays” Act into law, jailing people from 14 years to life for loving someone of the same sex and leading to massive rises in hate crime violence.

One brave Anglican priest in that country is generating Press for a different reason. He is daring to host prayer sessions and counselling services even as he too faces prison for refusing to discriminate. Incredibly, any friend or even a family member who dares to support a gay person can be heavily fined and imprisoned for seven years.

The Rev Christopher Senyonjo had already been expelled from Uganda’s Anglican Church for calling on religious leaders there to embrace LGBT people instead of encouraging hate and violence. Now his activism threatens to put him behind bars too – unless the international community supports his fight and gets all reasonable people of any faith or none to condemn these atrocious laws.

Here in York we have an active LGBT Forum (a mixed group of gay and straight people concerned to fight prejudice and promote equality for all).

All Forum members deplore the cruel and unjust new legislation enacted in Uganda and encourage state and religious leaders to take strong action.

We want to remind everyone that the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, himself fled to England from Uganda, when he felt threatened with personal violence, even though he was a member of the state judicial system. The York LGBT Forum now asks: “What is Archbishop Sentamu doing to support and encourage members of the Anglican Church in Uganda to oppose such iniquitous new laws that threaten the lives of thousands of innocent men and women and will imprison friends and relatives who attempt to help them?”

Dr Sentamu is noted for being a very outspoken Church leader. As someone who has experienced state repression, endangering his own person and family, he is in a unique position to speak out forcefully against these evil and dangerous ideas which have even been promoted by misled members of his own Church.

If enough of us stand behind Rev. Senyonjo, we can keep him out of prison and help him stay an ally and powerful voice against homophobia in Uganda.

We hope that the Archbishop of York will now stand up for equality and personal freedom 
in Uganda.