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Making homophobia history

Making homophobia history

The Rev. Susan Russell writes in The Huffington Post on what has been happening in Africa concerning LGBT persons:

Africa in general — and Uganda and Nigeria in specific — have been hotbeds of anti-gay polemic and politics. Over the last few years, we have seen alarmingly aggressive anti-homosexual legislation taking the disease of homophobia and turning it into state-sponsored discrimination, persecution and victimization.

Russell explores some examples, along with how persecuting African LGBT persons has become an organizing tool. And then, she discovers a link back to her own Diocese:

Ironically, the very day I watched that interview, the issue hit very close to home. A clergy colleague from West Hollywood called my parish in Pasadena asking if we were the congregation hosting a fundraiser for Watoto Church — the Uganda church headed by Pastor Gary Skinner linked to the Bahati “Kill the Gays” Bill. We were not… but it turns out a neighboring Episcopal Church was.

The news spread through the grapevine — and so did the concern that well-intentioned donors were being invited to support “African orphans” by contributing to an organization with an overtly anti-gay agenda….

The church sponsoring the program posted on Facebook: “If the choir is part of a larger organization whose values are not consistent with the Episcopal Church, we will not host them in the future.” Russell says that’s a start, but then asks what’s next:

How about a proactive policy of vetting organizations coming to us for support and making sure that we talk to one another about what we know about their stances on LGBT issues. Let’s have each others’ backs when it comes to due diligence and not be afraid to take action — even canceling scheduled events if need be. And let’s work together to turn the tide of homophobia around the globe by offering leadership.

Like the leadership we got this week from Gay Jennings, the Episcopal Church’s President of the House of Deputies, in her Religion News Service (RNS) commentary, “The church’s role in, and against, homophobia across Africa:

“Western Christians cannot ignore the homophobia of these church officials or the peril in which they place Ugandan and Nigerian LGBT people,” she wrote. “The legacy of colonial-era Christian missionaries and infusions of cash from modern-day American conservatives have helped to create it.”

And we can help un-create it.

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Kurt Wiesner

I thought you made that clear in the article Susan: that you understood the church involved was trying to help a good cause (“to support women who are HIV+ and children in Africa, orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, war, poverty and disease as described on the choir’s website”).

The “what’s next question” clearly belongs to all of us, not just this one parish. A clear policy of vetting organizations would be an important step in helping each other be clear as to what we support.

revsusan

Ooops … posted by:

The Reverend Susan Russell

Diocese of Los Angeles

revsusan

Thanks for sharing this. And — to be clear — the point is not to point fingers at the parish that got caught up in wanting to the right thing for African orphans and ended up helping fund anti-gay legislation in Africa. It’s about how we work together to shine the light of truth on what’s going on in Africa … and elsewhere … and bring hope to those working to heal homophobia and respect the dignity of absolutely every human being.

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