Letter to the President of Uganda, Mr Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Republic of Uganda
Geneva, 22 December 2009
Re: Raising concerns regarding THE ANTI HOMOSEXUALITY BILL, 2009.
I use this opportunity to reminiscence on how Ugandan society under your leadership has successfully dealt with difficult issues in the past. Reflecting back on churches involvement in issues regarding HIV and AIDS, I remember that in the very first years of the pandemic, people with AIDS were shunned by their families and their communities. It is with pride that I remember that church affiliated hospitals in Uganda and in New York admitted HIV positive people and cared for them, and stood by them and their grieving families to the end, while secular hospitals often denied admission to people with AIDS.
Uganda has been for long leading the world in trying to reduce HIV transmission and uproot stigma and discrimination of HIV positive people. In this quest, your country has produced some of the finest leaders in the field of HIV, to inspire millions of people around the globe. The key to this success has been the forthright acknowledgement of HIV and the mobilization of society to overcome HIV. It was with frankness and ingenuity that Ugandans dealt with the vulnerabilities of individuals and communities and hence been successful in stemming the spread of the disease. This has been a model to the world.
It is in the light of the above observations that we are saddened and distressed to receive the news from Uganda regarding a proposed law against homosexual individuals. But we are encouraged by the deep reservation of Churches and many members of Ugandan society, to this severe bill, which also proposes the death penalty to be meted to homosexual individuals who are HIV positive. We are in solidarity with their serious concerns that were raised regarding this bill that was presented to the Ugandan parliament on the 14th of October. My message to you is also a reflection of the genuine concern that has been expressed by sister churches and communities from across the world.
Deeply reflecting upon and discussing the proposed bill, I would like to share four thoughts with you, for your consideration:
- Lord Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments in the two cardinal teachings- Love God with all your being and to love one's neighbour as oneself. According to Jesus Christ, all law and commandments were created to teach us to LOVE. Under conditions of human sin, law must provide a framework to protect the vulnerable and limit the misuse of power of individuals and groups in society. It should definitely not promote hatred.
- All the discussions, time, efforts and some times money, used on the issue of homosexuality distracts us from non judgmental and constructive discussions about the majority’s problems; broken families, unfaithfulness, abuse of women and children, too early sexual debut, cultural practices facilitating the transmission of HIV, unwanted pregnancies, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. As a Pastor I know how deep those problems are and which magnitude they take. It is my sincere wish that we redouble our efforts to engage in serious and constructive ways with all those issues.
- From the experience of many nations, it is very clear that if such a bill is enacted into law, it will leave a lot of room for manipulation, abuse, black mail and oppression of people.
- The bill itself, as per legal experts both in Uganda and abroad is seen as having serious and fundamental legal flaws.
It is my hope and my prayer that you will join the African church leaders and fellow people of faith, to abstain from supporting any law which can lead to a death penalty; promotes prejudice and hatred; and which can be easily manipulated to oppress people. It is my hope and prayer that the trust in our African experience in HIV will be restored. I am confident, that you, Your Excellency the President, will contribute to this by not letting this bill pass to become law.
May God bless your great nation! May the Lord shower you with blessings to govern Uganda in such a way that society will truly reflect the fruit of the Holy Spirit- Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control! (Galatians 5:22)
Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
WCC general secretary
Speaker of the Parliament Edward Ssekandi Kiwanuka