Written by Gregg Brekke
The Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte, the UCC's executive minister for Wider Church Ministries, issued a statement today (May 11) calling for the Ugandan government to drop legislation that calls for the imprisonment of homosexuals.
Reports confirm that the Ugandan parliament is now scheduled to debate the bill on Friday, May 13. It was removed from the docket earlier today (May 11) due to a lack of a quorum, leading some to speculate the bill had been scrapped.
The legislation was first proposed in 2009 and, in its original incarnation, contained language imposing the death penalty for homosexual behavior.
The Ugandan parliament has called for an extraordinary session to discuss the bill Friday. If debate does not resume or if there is not enough time to bring it to a vote, the legislation could be reintroduced in the next parliamentary session.
Rogers-Witte joins other human rights groups, church communions and governments worldwide who have put a tremendous amount of pressure on Ugandans to remove the bill from consideration. Her complete statement is contained below.
Calling for the complete withdrawal of the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill
For more than forty years, national bodies of the United Church of Christ have given witness to the fundamental truth that every human person is endowed by their creator with worth and dignity that human judgment can’t set aside. Discrimination, violations of human rights, and acts of violence motivated by bias are only a few of examples of how that worth and dignity may be damaged and denigrated. The Anti-homosexual Bill that has been reintroduced at the last hour in the Ugandan parliament is an odious piece of legislation that would do harm and would attack the worth and dignity of all Ugandans.
At a time when Ugandans are facing major challenges of inflation and economic concerns, civil society is being hampered in its ability to respond, provide information and meet the needs of people in Uganda. This bill will severely affect HIV prevention by criminalizing outreach, education and information at a time when new infections are on the rise and more people need to be placed on ARV treatment. It would place an incredible burden on medical professionals, forcing them to violate their Hippocratic Oath by informing on their homosexual clients. It would intensify HIV-related stigma, which is a proven driver of the epidemic. Uganda would be further impeded from attaining their Millennium Development Goals.
This bill does no one any good and can only do harm. It must not go forward. I join the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law in calling for the complete withdrawal of the anti-homosexuality bill in its original or amended form.
The Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte
Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries
United Church of Christ