Monday 16 August 2010

Ugandan LGBT people disappearing as the All Africa Bishops Conference prepares to meet

Leonard Clark Beardsley’s recent blog reminded me to check gayuganda’s blog on Sunday. Gug hasn’t posted since 15 July when he reported that:

They've had a journalist infiltrate the Kampala gay community to try and ferret out what makes gay boys tick. It's not the first time this sort of thing has happened and the only thing that sets it apart is that this journalist has made a clumsy attempt to be balanced. That said, this journalist simply knows too much about the gay community for me to believe that he didn't get embedded deeper than he admits. And that is a great cause for discomfort.

The tactics the journalist are pretty basic and that he seems to be so successful merely attests to the humanity in all of us. But it is also a wake-up call for those Ugandan gay boys who seem unable to take the simplest precautions in this day and age when stalkers, blackmailers and malevolent people are on the prowl, with gay boys and girls as their target.

Gug confessed that he is more paranoid than lots of people. He has helped make connections and lessened LGBT isolation in more than one way, yet continues to be anonymous, gay, and closeted, and damned shy! Some have more to lose than others. It is very hard to live in self denial; and sometimes recklessness takes the place of despair.

Maybe I am just a coward, he concluded. And since then, nothing. No post and no response to emails. Alarm bells have been ringing furiously since the weekend.

On Saturday I went to Black Gay Pride held in the grounds of Regents College, Regents Park, London, on Saturday, helping Davis Mac-Iyalla, my partner and others on the Changing Attitude stall. Davis introduced me to a gay Ugandan who has been granted asylum in the UK, an Anglican living and worshipping in Southsea. He told me that many lesbian and gay Ugandans have been arrested in recent months. Why hasn’t this been reported, I asked him. Because the Ugandan media are afraid of being prosecuted under the terms of Bahati’s Anti-homosexuality Bill, even though it hasn’t been passed into law yet, he said.
I emailed gug again when I arrived home, plus other Ugandan contacts, but I still haven’t received a response.

Leonard also alerted me to the All Africa Bishops Conference which is being held at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel, Entebbe, from 23rd – 29th August 2010, when 400 African Anglican bishops will be hosted by the Church of Uganda. The Archbishop of Canterbury is preaching at the opening service at 9am on Tuesday 24th.

The conference web site contains information about the conference, including the programme (though the final 2 days are missing).

On Wednesday morning there is a presentation on Nurturing Harmonious and Dignified Communities which includes Managing Diversity & Mechanisms for Conflict Management, Protection of the Vulnerable: Children and Protection of the Vulnerable: Women. The second presentation on Thursday morning is Disempowering the Powerful and Empowering the Vulnerable. Homosexuality is most definitely not on the agenda, I’m told, partly to ensure that the South African bishops feel comfortable enough to attend.

My immediate response was to explore whether it is possible to fly to Uganda next Monday, report on the conference and try and make contact with some of the LGBT groups and individuals I know in Kampala. Visas can be obtained in 24 hours, hotels and flights are available, but funding isn’t, time is short, and my safety is a concern to those close to me. If I were to go, I would certainly be the only openly gay person present and almost certainly the only person reporting from a pro-gay, pro-inclusion, pro-TEC perspective.

The Church of Uganda is determined not to give ground in the Anglican Communion, even if many in the church believe that too much attention has been given to homosexuality, but the lives and security of LGBT Ugandans, people like gug and my other Ugandan friends, remain at risk for as long as the prejudice and attitudes fuelled by the Bahati Bill remain unchallenged.

Colin Coward


  1. Homosexuality is most definitely not on the agenda, I’m told, partly to ensure that the South African bishops feel comfortable enough to attend.¨

    Odd, I´d think the South African bishops would *feel* extra comfortable exchanging their experience, both difficult and joyous, regarding LGBTI Anglicans in their home country where LGBTI are able to marry LEGALLY (and not be murdered just for being)...perhaps the ¨African Bishops¨ ought have invited Archbishop Desmond Tutu so he could share some REAL SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP HERE with this cluster made up of some cowards and dangerous exclusionists who harm others at The Anglican Communion...especially in Uganda where Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo, was excommunicated by ++Orombi for ministering to LGBTI Anglicans/others who were suicidal.

    Yes, Fr. Colin yes, you ought go to the Anglican Bishops Conference at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel, EntebbeImperial Resort Beach Hotel, EntebbeConference and perhaps you´d serve as a reminder that ALL BISHOPS are there ¨spearheading and participating in global initiatives that seek to address the threats to human dignity¨...ALL HUMAN DIGNITY, not MP Bahatis idea of human persecution nor Uganda ¨Morals¨ Minister James Buturos ¨dead or alive¨ public anti-Gay spew.

  2. One more thing:

    You did great in Jamaica. You were there keeping your eye on REALITY (if I recall it wasn´t much appreciated by a grandstander from Uganda and his buddy from the U.K.)...Jamica is the most ¨Gay¨ bloodrenched country in the Western Hemisphere and there ++Rowan carried his non-message by refusing to speak, see and/or hear of the EVIL that surrounds him in Uganda...I think he´s going to do an encore...but, heck, what do I know, maybe the ABC will actually DEFEND the marginalized the demonized and the damned of Uganda and help stop the BLOODFLOW.

  3. Sorry, I believe your ¨confrontation¨ was with the Archbishop from Nigeria who attended and his U.K. appointed Canon of Jos...they didn´t like it when you ¨captured¨ in film their plotting, er, private meeting. Good they regrouped and apologized to you later...good form and all that.

  4. ONE MORE! Has anyone from Integrity or Changing Attitudes (or anyone else who he spent time with on his U.S./U.K. tour) heard from Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo since he´s returned to Uganda? Is Bishop Ssenyonjo O.K.? Has ++Rowan Williams followed up on Bishop Ssenyonjos ¨well-being¨...does he care?

  5. Anonymous, being gay and African is a blessing and a challenge and I wish you care and protection in the infinite love of God.

    Leonardo - I've consulted with various people over the past 24 hours, not least with a gay friend who has just returned from Uganda. In ideal circumstances, if money was no object, my energy level was high and there weren't so many conflicting demands on my time, I would go. I'm clear that there would be valuve in reporting from the conference and networking with LGBT groups and individuals in Kampala.

    I have received no response from any of my contacts to emails sent over the last 3 days, which is worrying. There's a need to go and search on the ground for gug and others who have chatted with me.

    I'll check with Integrity USA whether anyone has heard from Bishop Christopher. It's worth checking with ILGA and other international groups to find out whether they have news about the safety or otherwise of LGBT Ugandans.