Chris said ‘so what’ in response to me when I said that his appointment would be good in that it would bring honesty and integrity to the church and a role model not only for LGBT people but for our families, friends, colleagues and congregations. It would also be a landmark in those parts of the Communion where hostility to LGBT people is dominant.
News from Uganda which surfaced today highlights why change in church teaching and practice towards homosexuality is imperative and urgent.
A search for a missing pro-gay priest, the Rev Henry Kayizzi Nsubuga, who disappeared almost two and half weeks ago after delivering a scathing speech at St. Paul's Church, Kanyanya supporting homosexuality in Uganda, led the joint search team of Integrity Uganda and Namirembe Diocese to the severed head of another person. The head was found in a pit latrine on the farm of Badru Kiggundu, the Electoral Commission Chairman, in Makindye Sabagabo, Wakiso District.
Judith Nabakooba, a police spokesperson, identified the head as that of Pasikali Kashusbe, one of the workers on Kigggundu’s farm and a member of Integrity Uganda. Pasikali and his partner Abbey are youth workers with Integrity Uganda charged with the responsibility of mobilising young LGBT people in activities which build community capacity to face up to the challenge of homophobia, especially in the area of attitude change and care through drama and sports activities.
According to the police, a mutilated torso which was earlier in the week discovered in Kabuuma Zone, about half a kilometre away from Kiggundu’s farm was probably Pasikali’s The torso was described as belonging to a young man and had no genitals.
Pasikali went missing over three and half weeks ago when the country was celebrating Uganda Martyrs Day. All efforts by his partner Abbey and other family members to find him had been fruitless.
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, Chairperson of Integrity Uganda lamented the murder of this young man as ‘absurd’ adding that, ‘clearly, the values of tolerance and social inclusion are sadly being sacrificed on the altar of state ignorance, ineptness and good old colonial stupidity’.
Homosexual acts are criminalized in Uganda under a sodomy law inherited from British colonial times, although punishments were substantially strengthened in 1990. Uganda government officials have regularly threatened and harassed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans. In October 2004, James Nsaba Buturo, the country’s information minister at the time, ordered police to investigate and “take appropriate action against” a gay association allegedly organized at Uganda’s Makerere University.
State-owned media have repeatedly called for stronger measures against homosexual conduct. On July 6, 2005, an article in the government-owned New Vision newspaper urged authorities to crack down on homosexuality, saying, “The police should visit the holes mentioned in the press, spy on the perverts, arrest and prosecute them”.
The climax of state inspired homophobia was in Mr. Bahati’s draft legislation called the Anti Homosexual Bill which if enacted would broaden the criminalisation of homosexuality by introducing the death penalty to people who have homosexual relations. Until then, there seems to be a new form of state fanaticism leveled against sexual minorities in Uganda -of missing LGBTI peoples who are picked by plain clothed security and found beheaded in latrines.
The Rev Erich Kasirye, General Secretary, Integrity Uganda, said:
‘Pasikali and his partner Abbey joined Integrity Uganda in June 2007 and during the last three years, Integrity Uganda has seen an increase in coordination and harmonisation of youth activities. Pasikali emphasized the promotion of the concept of care across the continuum through the formation of voluntary home care groups for young LGBTIs who continue to live in fear. He will be greatly missed by the entire LGBTI fraternity’.
Integrity Uganda has declared today, Monday 5th July as day of mourning for countless many LGBTI people who continue to go missing in the name of state homophobia and a requiem mass will be held at 2pm. Pasikali will be laid to rest at his ancestral home in Ikumba sub-county of Kabale district in Mbarara Region on Tuesday 6th July 2010 at 4pm.
Pasikali’s death is tragic, and stands as a reason why the Anglican Communion must change its teaching on homosexuality. There is no reason why the consciences of those who oppose the full inclusion of LGBT people should be allow to inhibit change in the church. The prevention of torture and murder of any individual must always be the first priority, ensuring that all citizens and Christians can live in an environment of love, security and affirmation.
The longer the argument about avoiding splits and schism in the church continues in the face of the horrendous legislation proposed in Uganda and the murder of LGBT people in the UK and the USA as well as Uganda and other African countries, the more insistent becomes the call for change in the church, NOW. We are committed to radical change in the Anglican Communion. Now is the time to become a supporter of changing attitude, working together with groups in the UK, North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand to achieve change which is holy, just and timely.