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Church of England’s blessings of same-sex couples sparks anger among Anglican churches in Kenya, Uganda

Denominations consider breaking with mother church

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Westminster Abbey, Church of England (Photo by jiawangkun/Bigstock)

KAMPALA, Uganda — The Church of England’s decision to allow clergy to bless same-sex marriages has angered the Anglican churches of Uganda and Kenya to the point that they are considering a total disassociation with it.

The Kenya and Uganda churches are now looking upon a conservative Anglican breakaway group — the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) — to which they also belong to give them direction on their association with their mother Church of England in April. Anglican Church of Uganda Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba revealed this while condemning the General Synod of the Church of England, its top governing body, for, in his words, embracing sin by recognizing homosexuality against God’s word.

Gafcon’s 4th conference will begin in Kigali, Rwanda, on April 17. More than 1,000 people, who include “Bible-believing” archbishops, bishops and Anglicans from across the world are expected to attend. 

The General Synod, which comprises hundreds of elected members who meet at least two times a year, on Feb. 9 supported the proposal for priests to bless gay couples. Two hundred and fifty bishops, clearly and lay people voted for it, while 181 opposed it and 10 abstained.

The meeting took place in London. 

“The Church of Uganda has more than 200 members traveling to Kigali in April,” Kaziimba said. “We shall pray, sit together and discern the mind of Christ for the way forward. We need the wisdom of Solomon to know how to faithfully respond to the crisis at hand.” 

Kaziimba through his press statement in response to the Church of England’s decision demands it to abandon the Anglican Communion and form a Canterbury Communion with other liberal Anglican churches that include the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and others in Brazil, Scotland and Canada.

All country Anglican churches have the freedom of conducting their affairs independently.

The Anglican Church of Uganda started to distance itself from the fellowship of the Church of England when the Episcopal Church in 2003 consecrated now retired New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who is openly gay. The Archbishop of Canterbury refused to take any disciplinary action against the Episcopal Church, which led to Gafcon’s emergence in 2008. 

Kaziimba accuses the Church of England of departing from the Anglican faith and turning into “false teachers” by condoning same-sex marriages, while noting the Bible only recognizes marriage as between a man and a woman. 

Archbishop Foley Beach, who chairs Gafcon, in a statement also criticized the Church of England and called for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s resignation for breaking his vows to forbid “all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word” in the church. 

“This decision by the Church of England raises questions regarding the relationship of Anglican Provinces around the world with the Church of England and the continued role of the Archbishop of Canterbury,” Beach stated. 

He noted that “we shall have more to say and do about these matters” in the Kigali conference. 

The Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit also criticized the Church of England’s decision of blessing gay couples as “devious.”

He noted the liberal Anglican churches have lost all theological and doctrinal legitimacy and have resorted to using their political dominance to secularize the church by normalizing all manner of sin. 

“It is ridiculous that the Church of England affirms to remain faithful to the traditional teachings of marriage yet it has sanctioned the so-called prayers of love to be used in its churches to bless unions between persons of the same sex,” Sapit said. 

He warned what he described as political and secular correctness that exists in liberal Anglican churches only seeks to undermine the true Gospel, thereby rendering them irrelevant after losing their church identity.  

Sapit maintained the Anglican Church of Kenya recognizes marriage as the union between a “man and a woman, monogamous and heterosexual.” He added that any deviation from this Godly union is sinful and unacceptable. 

“If there are people who are not called to marriage and are faithful followers of Christ, let them embrace celibacy, and live a life obedient to the teachings of the bible as they so profess to believe in,” Sapit said.

Kenya and Uganda criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations. The churches have been at the forefront of supporting these laws.

For instance, Kaziimba on Feb. 13 challenged Ugandan lawmakers not to relent in the fight against homosexuality in order to protect the country’s morality. 

His comments come against the backdrop of plans to introduce a new bill in the Ugandan Parliament that seeks to further curtail homosexuality by criminalizing LGBTQ and intersex organizations and activities in the country. Uganda’s NGO Bureau, which monitors NGOs that operate in the country, last month recommended a new law that “prohibits the promotion of LGBTQ activities in the country.”

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Queer man murdered in Cape Town

Activists call for president to sign Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill

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Diego Jacobs (Photo courtesy of Jacobs' Facebook page)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — LGBTQ+ rights groups in South Africa have condemned the brutal murder of Diego Jacobs, a queer man in Cape Town earlier this month.

Reports indicate Jacobs, 21, was brutally murdered on Feb. 3 while walking home with two friends. A former neighbor who had previously harassed him about his queer identity reportedly attacked him.

The 20-year-old former neighbor who is currently in police custody is alleged to have started uttering homophobic slurs before stabbing him in the neck with a knife. Reports indicate Jacobs tried to avoid a conflict with him.

OUT LGBT Civil Society Engagement Officer Sibonelo Ncanana has urged law enforcement officials to thoroughly investigate the incident and ensure the alleged suspect is given a hefty sentence.

“No individual should ever face violence or discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Ncanana. “This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges and dangers faced by LGBTIQ+ individuals in South Africa.”

“The attack also highlights the importance of enacting the long-awaited Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, which was passed by Parliament in December last year. Two months later, the bill continues to await President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature,” added Ncanana. “We once again call on the president to take action and assent to the bill urgently, before any more lives are lost to hate and intolerance.”

Embrace Diversity Movement Secretary General Mpho Buntse said Jacobs’ death was a heinous attack that required law enforcement officials’ urgent attention. 

“The EDM is shocked to learn of the brutal killing of Diego,” said Buntse. “This act comes at a time when we had thought that the spike in hate crimes of this nature are a thing of the past. We view this as a deliberate push back to our efforts to end hate related crimes. Beyond this obvious knowledge, we call upon law enforcement officials to ensure that justice is served.” 

Buntse, like Ncanana, urged Ramaphosa to sign the Hate Crime and Hate Speech Bill into law “to ensure that hate is punished by law.”

“As a movement we demand that this be done before the upcoming elections,” said Buntse. “Failure to do this will be a clear demonstration that there is a lack of political will to protect the queer community.”

Ruth Maseko of Fantastic Family LGBTIQ said they were aggrieved Jacob’s death and echoed other activists who urged Ramaphosa to sign the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.

“We are deeply saddened by the needless loss of another young life,” said Maseko. “The fact that these crimes continue based merely on how a person identifies in terms of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and /or expression is an insult to our humanity or lack thereof.”

South Africa is the only African country that constitutionally recognizes LGBTQ+ rights. The country’s LGBTQ+ community, however, continues to face attacks based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity that often lead to death.

The attacks have largely been attributed to religious and cultural beliefs that run counter to LGBTQ+ rights. 

Activists who support the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill say it will help curb homophobic and transphobic attacks. Some religious leaders, however, have criticized it and urged Ramaphosa not to sign it.

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Kenyan MPs to consider anti-LGBTQ+ measures when Parliament reconvenes

Lawmakers urged to crackdown on homosexuality in the country

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Kenya Parliament (Photo by Sopotniccy/Bigstock)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan MPs are set to consider several anti-homosexuality proposals when Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday after a two-month break.

A group of more than 70 Kenyans from anti-LGBTQ+ lobby groups and religious organizations under the Kenya Christians Professional Forum and the Muslim Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya petitioned Parliament on Feb. 1 to probe what they describe as the proliferation of homosexuality in the country.

The groups in their petition claim there have been “persistent, well-choreographed and well-funded” attempts by LGBTQ+ rights activists over the last decade to have anti-homosexuality laws declared unconstitutional. 

“They have filed numerous court cases and petitions in our courts,” reads the petition submitted to the National Assembly that Speaker Moses Wetang’ula heads. “This has not only been witnessed in Kenya but also many African countries including Uganda, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and many others.” 

The petitioners consider discrimination based on “sexual orientation and gender identity” used to push for the rights and freedoms of the LGBTQ+ community globally as “alien” terminologies not just to Africans but to “anyone with a moral fiber in their being.” 

They accuse the National Council on Administration of Justice, a judicial body of state and non-state members, of plotting to “revise our moral code” through amendments to the Penal Code that criminalize consensual same-sex relations. 

The petitioners also raise a concern over last year’s controversial Supreme Court ruling that allowed the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission to register as a non-governmental organization, which they warn will have a serious impact on the family in Kenya if left unchallenged because it allows the legalization of LGBTQ+ people.

“There have been concerted efforts from foreign non-state actors through financial lobbying to effect changes to our penal law to decriminalize such acts long criminalized such as homosexuality,” reads the petition. “This is the beginning of a slippery slope from which the country may not recover if left unattended.”  

The petitioners further allege the infiltration of LGBTQ+-specific content in children’s school books and want Parliament to urgently investigate unsanctioned publishers and book distributors and hold responsible individuals accountable. 

MPs are expected to approve a presidential education reform working group report presented to President William Ruto last August. Its recommendations include hiring pastors and imams in public elementary and high schools to fight homosexuality and other so-called immoral practices. 

The petitioners want MPs to also inquire into what they describe as public recruitment of students into the LGBTQ+ community in universities and colleges through meetings on sexual freedoms and minority rights. 

“These are inoculation and breeding grounds for the LGBTQ agenda,” reads the petition. “Unless Parliament intervenes and has these activities nipped in the bud, the moral decay we have seen over the last couple of years will continue to dizzying levels.”

Government officials the petitioners want to grill over LGBTQ+ activities and foreign funding of them in the country include Education Minister Ezekiel Machogu, Health Minister Susan Nakhumicha, Foreign Affairs Minister Musalia Mudavadi, Labor and Social Protection Minister Florence Bore and Police Inspector General Japhet Koome.    

Another proposed anti-homosexuality law expected to be introduced in the National Assembly during the session is the long-awaited Family Protection Bill, sponsored by opposition MP Peter Kaluma, which contains punitive provisions that include a 50-year prison sentence for gays and lesbians convicted of non-consensual sex. 

Kaluma’s bill, which the petitioners on the proliferation of LGBTQ+ practices in the country want its legislation fast-tracked, also proposes a ban on gay Pride parades, assemblies, street marchers, cross-dressing in public and all LGBTQ+-related activities. The bill has been pending before Parliament’s Social Protection Committee since last June.

Kaluma complained about the committee’s delay to Wentang’ula in August. 

MPs are also expected to consider a proposed law on surrogacy, the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill 2022, which seeks to help individuals with infertility problems to use surrogate mothers and in vitro fertilization to have children. 

The bill, which is sponsored by another opposition MP, Millie Odhiambo, however, would prohibit gays and lesbians from having children via surrogate. 

The National Assembly first approved it in November 2021, but its finalization stalled in the Senate when the 12th Parliament’s term ended in August 2022 before the general election.  This delay rendered the bill “dead” under National Assembly rules because it can only proceed after its reintroduction in the current Parliament.

Odhiambo, who retained her parliamentary seat, reintroduced the bill in the National Assembly last May. The Health Committee will also accept additional proposals. 

The committee who Dr. Robert Pukose chairs last September tabled the report with numerous amendments to the bill for adoption. Some of the proposed amendments included the deletion of the term “couple or parties to a marriage” defined as a man and a woman who are in an association that may be recognized as a marriage under any law in Kenya and replaced with the term “intending parents” for individuals seeking to have children using surrogacy and IVF.

The committee argues the term “couple or parties to a marriage” is discriminatory and that marriage should not be a requirement for individuals to access assisted reproductive technology services, although same-sex marriages are outlawed in Kenya.         

“The bill aids couples or individuals with challenges of conceiving naturally and in this way, it addresses the reproductive health needs of Kenyans,” the committee’s report reads, a position which locks out gays and lesbians from parenting through surrogacy.

The bill would also criminalize the commercialization of surrogacy or related activities, such as procuring a surrogate mother by any person, an organization and any medical facility with hefty fines and jail terms.  

During the session, MPs are also expected to approve Kenya’s revised National Policy and Action Plan on Human Rights that Attorney General Justin Muturi’s office is drafting to replace the 2014 one whose 5-year implementation period has lapsed. 

The new policy, which should be in place by this year, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, involved gathering views on human rights from the public, state and non-state actors including LGBTQ+ lobby groups in nationwide dialogues between August and October last year.   

The regional dialogues culminated in a national conference in Nairobi late last year on developing the policy.

Li Fung, senior human rights advisor to the U.N. Resident Coordinator in Kenya, attended the gathering during which Kaluma, while representing Wetang’ula, expressed Parliament’s concerns over “constant erosion of hard-fought rights” in the country and Africa with LGBTQ+ rights.  

“Until LGBTQ rights are universally agreed to by the U.N. General Assembly, as long as we (MPs) sit in the Parliament, we will not accept them as human rights in Kenya and they will not find space in our body of laws,” Kaluma stated.  

The lawmaker’s warning followed criticism of his anti-homosexuality bill by Irungu Houghton, executive director of Amnesty International Kenya and chair of non-state actors on National Human Rights Dialogues, who said it promotes hate against LGBTQ+ refugees and the queer community at large. 

“We do not need any form of identity-based discrimination and more hatred in this republic,” Houghton said. He reiterated the “greatest threat” to Kenya and the constitution is the belief that “some human beings” do not deserve equality, dignity and protection under the law. 

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Man in Ghana assaulted for being gay

Alleged assailants told victim that anti-LGBTQ+ bill was law

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Ghanaian flag (Public domain photo by Jorono from Pixabay)

ZUARUNGU, Ghana — Four people last week assaulted a Ghanaian man who they accused of being gay.

According to the Queer Ghana Education Fund, the four men who attacked the man in Zuarungu in the country’s Upper East Region referenced the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, an anti-LGBTQ+ bill that is currently before MPs. The assailants, according to QuGEF, told the 25-year-old man, who the group identified as Francis, that the measure had become law.

QuGEF also said two of the four men who attacked Francis have been arrested and charged with “assaulting and stealing from” him.

“They ambushed and accused him of homosexuality and told him that the bill had been passed into law and that they were acting according to the law,” said QuGEF in a press release.

Rightify Ghana, another LGBTQ+ rights group, commended the police’s swift response. 

“The misinformation has gone far and bad actors are targeting LGBTQ persons believing that the bill has been passed and they can act unlawfully,” said Rightify Ghana. “Good that two out of four of the perpetrators have been arrested by the police in Bolgatanga, following a report made by QuGEF.” 

Although President Nana Akufo-Addo has not signed the bill, many politicians and religious leaders have given Ghanaians the impression that it is now law. Many LGBTQ+ Ghanaians as a result have been ridiculed and assaulted in public, leaving many of them in fear to publicly disclose their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Apostle Kadmiel E.H. Agbalenyoh, founder and leader of the Seventh Day Congregation of Theocracy, and his church on Jan. 1 organized an anti-LGBTQ+ seminar and protest that took place at the Achimota Girls’ Guide in Accra, the country’s capital. Greater Accra Regional Chief Imam Alhaji Sule Issa chaired the event that other faith leaders and radio personality Blakk Rasta attended.

Rightify Ghana described the protest as “the first anti-LGBTQ event this year” and it was “organized by a long time homophobe whose hate campaign is not new.” The group also said the remarks by MP Sam George, one of the bill’s sponsors who said lawmakers will pass it before the end of next month, are not true. 

“Whilst the Parliament of Ghana has only done up to Clause 6 in the Consideration Stage, the MP falsely claimed that they had worked on 11 clauses. He is setting deadlines and lying about work they have not yet done,” said Rightify Ghana. 

“Contrary to what he said, only s out of the 25 clauses have been considered by Parliament,” the group further noted. “Even with those six, some were referred to the drafting division to be worked on and those that were proposed to be deleted are to be reintroduced under other yet-to-be-discussed clauses or separately at the end.” 

Activism Ghana, another advocacy group, also accused George of giving false timelines. 

“He keeps lying, even about his own bill,” said Activism Ghana. 

Former President John Mahama, who is a presidential candidate for the National Democratic Congress, the leading opposition party, has encouraged MPs to pass the bill and for Akufo-Addo to sign it into law.

“I am against LGBTQ, my faith doesn’t support it a man is a man, a woman is a woman,” said Mahama.

Presidential and Parliamentary elections will take place in December.

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Kenyan advocacy organization releases guidebook for young LGBTQ+ people

Homosexuality remains criminalized in the country

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The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Kenya has released a guidebook for young LGBTQ+ people. (Image courtesy of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission)

NAIROBI, Kenya — An LGBTQ+ advocacy organization in Kenya has unveiled a sexual reproductive health and rights guidebook that targets young queer people in the country and provides them with information to help them come out.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which is behind the new guidebook, cites misinformation, stigma and homophobic discrimination among several obstacles that young LGBTQ+ people face when they publicly disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Thus, NGLHRC considers the 20-page booklet that also details the latest legal and policy frameworks on the topic an essential resource to help young queer people get knowledge and assistance in overcoming homophobia.    

“This resource is designed to support, educate and empower our diverse community in ensuring there is access to accurate and affirming information regarding sexual and reproductive health rights,” states the guidebook. 

The newly unveiled toolkit comes amid several government policy measures to protect school-age children from so-called same-sex practices that Section 162 of the penal code criminalizes.

The Education Ministry this year, for instance, plans to hire pastors and Imams in more than 32,000 public elementary and high schools to promote value-based education that includes fighting homosexuality and other practices deemed immoral. A working group that presented a report to President William Ruto last August made the recommendation. 

Education Minister Ezekiel Machogu in March 2023 confirmed to MPs the ministry’s decision to set up a Chaplains Committee led by Anglican Church Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit to stop what they have described as the infiltration of LGBTQ+ practices in schools. 

Machogu’s revelation followed the government’s crackdown on teenage books with gay content from abroad after an uproar from parents and religious leaders. 

The stiffer anti-homosexuality bill sponsored by an opposition MP Peter Kaluma, which awaits introduction in the National Assembly, would also prohibit the teaching of comprehensive sexuality education to school-age children in Kenya’s curriculum. The bill lists sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, Transgender identity, sex reassignment and homosexuality among the subjects to which students should not be exposed in school. 

“A teacher, an instructor or any other person who teaches, instructs or discusses with a learner the subjects set out commits any offense and shall upon conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one million shillings ($6,163) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or both,” reads the bill.      

The NGLHRC guidebook, however, cites the Bill of Rights in Kenya’s constitution, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that Kenya has ratified as among the laws that protect people from any forms of discrimination. The advocacy organization instead calls for accessibility of queer-friendly educational materials, and family and community support to young people who identify as LGBTQ+.  

“Bodily autonomy means my body is for me; my body is my own. It is about power, and it is about agency,” reads the guidebook. “It is about choice, and it is about dignity.” 

“Bodily autonomy is the foundation for gender equality, and above all, it is a fundamental right,” it adds.  

NGLHRC urges young queer people to be “open and honest” about their sexual orientation instead of hiding it, but only after they seriously consider the situation in which they find themselves. Coming out, according to the guidebook, should only happen after they discover their sexuality through self-identity, acceptance and connecting with others for empowerment and growth.  

It asks, for example, a young person to trust their instincts without bowing to pressure from friends and situations to come out openly.  

“Coming out is your decision and your decision alone. It is a lifelong process,” reads the guidebook. “Even if other people you know have come out or if you have come out to some but not others, no one has a say in when, how, or who you come out to?”

It notes there is no right way to come out, and challenges young LGBTQ+ people to be mindful of their privacy while sharing information with friends after coming out since one might be at risk of harm when other people find out.

“If you choose to come out, that is important to remember — and not to be discouraged by,” states the guidebook. “You will make new friends and family, meet new partners and join new companies throughout your life. If you choose to come out, then you will have to do it countless times.” 

The guidebook further advises young queer people about the importance of consent between partners in same-sex relations, and cautions them the law forbids consent for underage persons under 18 years. It also debunks myths surrounding homosexuality: Same-sex couples cannot transmit sexually transmitted infections, do not need to practice safe sex or get tested for STIs and all queer people are promiscuous and engage in risky sexual behaviors. The guidebook also addresses puberty, menstruation, hygiene, sexual and reproductive health needs and challenges, such as access to contraceptives for young LGBTQ+ individuals, queer parenting and centers to seek queer-friendly services in Kenya. 

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Ghanaian LGBTQ+ groups condemn attack of gay man at university

Incident took place at the University of Ghana’s Legon campus

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University of Ghana, Legon (Screen capture via EfyaKimora YouTube)

LEGON, Ghana — Several LGBTQ+ organizations in Ghana have condemned last week’s attack on a gay man at the University of Ghana’s Legon campus.

The university said a woman and a garbage director assaulted the man, who was dressed as a woman, when they discovered he was not female.

“A young man dressed like a female was seen in the Okponglo area, seeking accommodation, and was accommodated by some women in the area,” reads a statement that Dr. Elizier Ameyaw-Buronyah, the university’s director of public affairs, released. “During the night, his true identity was revealed, leading to physical assault by the women who accommodated him.”

The statement notes the assault took place behind a dorm.

“Realizing the true gender the following morning, the refuse collector also assaulted the young man, instructing him to leave the area,” said Ameyaw-Buronyah. “Security personnel were alerted by the University of Ghana students to intervene who handed both the young man and the refuse collector (both of whom are not students of the university) over to the Legon Police for investigation.” 

Ameyaw-Buronyah said the university condemns the assault, while noting anyone affiliated with the university who is determined to be involved in the incident will be appropriately punished.

“The University of Ghana strongly denounces the assault and denigration perpetrated by the persons seen in the videos posted on social media on the victim, and strongly condemns such acts of lawlessness,” said Ameyaw-Buronyah. “The University of Ghana would like to affirm its commitment to the safety, dignity and inclusivity of all persons, as stated in its statutes.

LGBT+ Rights Ghana dismissed Ameyaw-Buronyah’s statement, and urged the university to reassess its position.

“The assertion that the victim was first assaulted by women and then by a refuse collector upon the discovery of their ‘true gender’ appears unsubstantiated and seeks to rationalize the victim’s abuse as a consequence of crossdressing,” said LGBT+ Rights Ghana. “Moreso, the assertion that the refuse collector would intervene and continue the assault without questioning, involving, stripping, beating, parading, filming and posting the video online flies in the face of logic and raises concerns about the level of security provided to students and visitors at the Legon campus. This claim does not just make any sense and depicts an attempt by the University authorities to cover up the truth as to what happened.”

“Even without having done any cursory investigation, the university authorities seem to excuse the actions of the perpetrators while unfairly placing the blame on the victim,” added the advocacy group. “This approach further blames the victim as the cause of what harm was perpetrated against them rather than seeking the justice they deserve.” 

LGBT+ Rights Ghana urged other human rights organizations to work together to safeguard the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ individuals in Ghana. It also said it is willing to work closely with the university if needed.

Rightify Ghana also criticized Ameyaw-Buronyah’s statements.

“Unfortunately this seems to indirectly victim-blame the individual involved, despite the claim that neither of the parties is a student,” said Rightify Ghana. “The university has a responsibility to address such incidents transparently, protect the rights of individuals on its campus, and ensure the safety and well-being of all students.”

Rightify Ghana further urged the university “to reevaluate and improve its response to this incident, taking into account the serious nature of the crimes committed.” 

“It is essential to prioritize the rights and safety of individuals over preserving an image that fails to address the gravity of the situation at hand,” said Rightify Ghana.

The Center for Democratic Development – Ghana demanded the university launch an immediate investigation into the incident.

“CDD-Ghana condemns the recent incident involving the beating, abuse, and violations of the rights of an individual at the University of Ghana for allegedly being gay,” said the organization. “The center also condemns the filming of this barbaric action and the circulation of videos across social media. All individuals, including the victims involved in the incident, are presumed to be students at the university.”

Eduwatch called for increased security on all university campuses in the country.

“We regret that such cruel treatment was recorded on video and circulated on social media,” it said. “Eduwatch condemns in no uncertain terms this criminal inhumane and degrading act which violates the individual’s right to dignity and freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment as enshrined in Article 15 of the 1992 constitution.”

The Ghana Education Service earlier this month issued a code of conduct in primary and secondary schools. Section 2.16 (k) states any sexual conduct between students of the same sex shall constitute misconduct.

The new code of conduct has sparked concern among advocacy organizations that see it as a way to ensure those who identify as LGBTQ+ are silenced and treated as social delinquents. The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, which MPs first introduced in 2021, is meant to augment the 1960 criminal code that criminalizes so-called acts of unnatural carnal knowledge with up to three years’ imprisonment. 

The measure would prohibit same-sex sexual activities; same-sex marriages; use of sex toys; identifying as LGBTQ+; advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, even on social media platforms, and gender affirming surgeries, among other things.

The bill will most likely pass this year since most MPs are in favor of it.

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Trans woman brutally attacked in Namibia

Two men have been charged in connection with Jan. 4 attack

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Stay-C Lapworth (Photo courtesy of Lapworth's Facebook page)

WALVIS BAY, Namibia — Namibian advocacy groups have condemned the brutal attack of a 30-year-old Transgender woman on Jan. 4.

According to Namibia Equal Rights Movement, Shabombee Gift Shiaimenze and Jonathan Kamfwa attacked Stay-C Lapworth at a truck stop near the Narraville area of Walvis Bay, a city on the country’s coast.

The alleged suspects are said to have attacked Lapworth, who remains in intensive care after they left her for dead with a fractured skull, when one of the men realized she is a trans woman after sexually assaulting her.

“The rise in hate crimes and violence towards LGBTQI+ Namibians is a direct result of the passage of the anti-LGBTQI+ bill by the Namibian Parliament and the rise in religious extremism in Namibia, fanning the flames of hate by church leaders,” said Namibia Equal Rights Movement Campaign Manager Omar van Reenen. “By passing that bill, Parliament sent a license to discriminate, to assault, to incite violence and to kill, towards LGBTQI+ persons.” 

“Transgender Namibians are one of the most marginalized minority groups and have become increasingly at risk,” added van Reenen. “The heinous crime that took place showed that we have no safety measures or protection for our community. We will follow this case to ensure justice is served for Stay-C and homo-transphobes to be sent a message that hate will be held to account.” 

Wendelinus Ndiwakalunga Hamutenya-Jeremiah, a Namibian activist, said it remains a travesty that LGBTQ+ people in the country continue to face such attacks.

“Trans justice is justice for all. Discrimination against LGBTI people undermines the human rights principles outlined in the Namibian Constitution, yet discrimination and violence against LGBTI people particularly in the Trans community are all too common,” said Hamutenya-Jeremiah. “We fight for Trans liberation, we fight for a better world for us all. We are tired. We are angry and we are devastated, but we will not stop fighting for justice for Stay-C.” 

Hamutenya-Jeremiah noted some members of Namibia’s armed forces and police officers have been involved in racketeering, as opposed to protecting LGBTQ+ people. This mistreatment includes verbal harassment.

“More often than not, our people, their human rights are abused by the community including the Namibian Police who have a mandate to serve and protect all individuals, some LGBTI persons have been pushed to extremities including considering suicide as an escape to the pressures of their often constricted world,” said Hamutenya-Jeremiah. 

The Namibia Equal Rights Movement said authorities have denied bail to the two men who have been charged with attacking Lapworth. They will remain in custody until March 27, when the Walvis Bay Magistrate Court will hear their case.

The Namibia Equal Rights Movement has also cautioned President Hage Geingob from signing the 2023 anti-LGBTQ+ bill into law, which the group says would subject activists and businesses, organizations and corporations who openly support LGBTQ+ people or their queer employees to prison time and N$100,000 ($5,000.)

Advocacy groups maintain the measure is unconstitutional.

“Mothers, fathers, families and friends of LGBTQI+ persons who openly support them may be imprisoned or fined, LGBTQI+ organizations and non-profits will be prohibited and outlawed from operating or registering,” said the Namibia Equal Rights Movement. “LGBTQI+ children who openly identify as queer may be imprisoned or fined, same-sex marriages recognized abroad will be nullified and prohibited domestically.” 

The country’s Supreme Court last year ruled Namibia must recognize same-sex marriages that are legally performed abroad.

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Ugandan activist blames anti-LGBTQ+ politicians, religious leaders for stabbing

Steven Kabuye attacked outside home on Jan. 3

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Steven Kabuye (Photo via X)

KAMPALA, Uganda — A prominent Ugandan activist who was stabbed last week said politicians and religious leaders who are stoking anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments in the country are responsible for the attack.

“The situation in the country where our politicians and religious leaders, people are calling for the death of LGBTQI+ (community) members in Uganda has led to people to think it’s okay to kill someone just because he’s different, just because he was born different,” Steven Kabuye told the Washington Blade on Monday during a telephone interview.

Kabuye is the co-executive director of Coloured Voice Truth to LGBTQ Uganda.

He told the Blade that two men on motorcycles who were wearing helmets attacked him near his home on Jan. 3 while he was going to work. Kabuye said one of the men stabbed him while the other remained on the motorcycle.

“I don’t know who tried to end my life,” he said.

Kabuye posted a video to his X account that showed him on the ground writhing in pain with a deep laceration on his right forearm and a knife embedded in his stomach.

Paramedics brought Kabuye to the hospital after his roommate found him. Kabuye on Saturday left Uganda in order to receive additional treatment outside of the country.

Kabuye did not identify the country from which he spoke to the Blade.

“I left the country because my security couldn’t be guaranteed,” he said, noting the doctors who were treating him in Uganda received threatening phone calls. Kabuye also said Ugandan authorities did not allow journalists to interview him at the hospital. “It put my security at risk, and it was recommended I should move outside of the country to get more treatment … for my own safety.”

The stabbing took place less than seven months after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.”

The State Department a few weeks after the Anti-Homosexuality Act took effect announced visa restrictions against unnamed Ugandan officials. The World Bank Group later announced the suspension of new loans to Uganda.

The Biden-Harris administration has removed Uganda from a program that allows sub-Saharan African countries to trade duty-free with the U.S. and has issued a business advisory for the country over the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month announced sanctions against current and former Ugandan officials who committed human rights abuses against LGBTQ+ people and other groups.

Uganda’s Constitutional Court on Dec. 18 heard arguments in a lawsuit that challenges the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Kabuye said he had received death threats online before the attack “because of the work I do,” and added he continues to receive them. 

“According to what was transpiring on the internet, the death threats and everything and what transpired after that video went viral on Twitter really shows that the people who wanted to end my life wanted to end my life because of my sexuality,” said Kabuye. 

Kabuye told the Blade a police spokesperson concluded he “stabbed myself” after authorities took a report from him. 

A State Department spokesperson last week in a statement to the Blade urged the Ugandan government to investigate Kabuye’s stabbing and prosecute those who perpetrated it. Kabuye told the Blade the U.S. Embassy in Uganda asked for his phone number, but American officials have yet to reach out to him directly. 

Republican Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg last October defended the Anti-Homosexuality Act in a speech he gave at Uganda’s National Prayer Breakfast. The Young Turks reported Museveni is among those who attended the event.

The Blade asked Kabuye about Walberg and his defense of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

“If it wasn’t for these people, the evangelists that have been flocking in Uganda preaching their anti-gay agenda all over the country, funding the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023, this wouldn’t have happened,” said Kabuye, referring to the stabbing.

‘I’m going to come back stronger’

Kabuye said he lost “a lot of blood” when the men stabbed him, but he remains hopeful that he will recover. A fund has also been established in order to help Kabuye pay for his treatment.

“I can barely stand or sit for more than five minutes, but the doctors say I’ll be fine as time moves on as I continue my medication,” Kabuye told the Blade.

Kabuye said he plans to return to Uganda once he recovers.

“Even though it’s not safe for me, that’s where my home is and that’s where I should return,” he said.

Kabuye added the stabbing “will just make me stronger.”

“This really showed that what I’m doing is putting up an impact on the society,” he said. “That’s why they are scared of me. That’s why they want to end my life.” 

“This really shows that yes, Steven, the little work you’ve done is seen out there and we are in fear that the more you continue doing this work, the more you’re going to win your freedom,” added Kabuye. “I’m not going to back down and I’m going to continue with my activism the moment I’m back on my feet and I’m going to come back stronger.”

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Catholic bishops in Africa oppose blessings for same-sex couples

Pope Francis pronouncement has sparked criticism among clergy

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Pope Francis celebrates Mass at a Roman military cemetery. (Photo Credit: Vatican Press Office)

NAIROBI, Kenya — The Vatican on Thursday moved to quell opposition to Pope Francis’ approval for Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples in response strong resistance from some bishops’ conferences, mostly in Africa. 

 The Vatican’s statement clarifying the pope’s controversial declaration last month acknowledged the dissenting bishops’ concerns by assuring them that the move was not “heretical” or “blasphemous” to the Catholic Church’s doctrines on marriage and sexuality. 

The statement from the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, also holds that the blessings for same-sex couples should not be perceived as “a justification of all their actions and they are not an endorsement of the life that they lead.” 

The five-page statement that Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, who is an advisor to Francis, signed further notes “if there are laws that condemn the mere act of declaring oneself as homosexual with prison and in some cases with torture and even death, it goes without saying that a blessing would be imprudent.”

The Vatican observed that Catholic bishops from such homophobic environments “do not wish to expose homosexual persons to violence” and urged “pastoral prudence” to navigate punitive local laws and situations in administering simple, short blessings to same-sex partners, but not as church rituals or resemble a wedding.  

Despite this clarification on Catholic priests blessing people in same-sex relationships, the dissenting African bishops’ conferences have vowed to stick to the church’s old, Biblical order that recognizes marriage between a man and a woman, and homosexuality as a sin. 

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops through a statement maintains that they do not bless people for what it asserts are immoral actions in which they engage. The KCCB said it hopes the blessings and prayers offered to them as human beings would provoke them to return to God’s ways. 

“The work of the church is to gather the scattered, recover the lost and redirect all sinners back to the fount of salvation and eternal life and that is Jesus Christ our savior,” said Rev. Martin Kiviva, who chairs the KCCB. “No blessing can be understood outside the context of God’s will and the salvation and invitation to Communion with God.”

The Nairobi Archbishop Philip Anyolo concurred with Kivuva and prohibited priests in Kenya’s capital from blessing “irregular relationships, unions or same-sex couples.”     

“Any form of blessing of same-sex unions and activities would go against God’s word, the teachings of the church, the African cultural traditions, the laws of our nations and would be scandalous to the faithful,” Anyolo stated. 

Catholic Bishops in Tanzania, where homosexuality is prohibited under the law with prison terms just like in Kenya, have also opposed the blessing of same-sex partners. 

Bishop Flavian Kassala, vice chair of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference, on Dec. 25 dismissed the existence of same-sex unions which he termed as “dirty” and contravenes God’s covenant on marriage and procreation. He vowed that he would rather bless a “stone” for his faithful to construct a house with than blessing same-sex couples. 

Uganda’s Episcopal Conference, which Bishop Anthony Zziwa chairs, on Dec. 25 weighed in Vatican’s declaration by stating that his country criminalizes homosexuality and affirmed that blessing same-sex couples would be breaking the law.   

“Culturally, same-sex marriage has no room in Uganda and Africa,” Zziwa said at a press briefing. “The purpose of marriage is to have children. People of the same sex can’t get married and fulfill this purpose as stated in the book of Genesis.” 

The East African clerics’ position on Francis’ pronouncement also received Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye’s backing. The staunch Catholic on Dec. 30 criticized same-sex unions as “abominable practice” and that gay couples should be publicly stoned.

Other Catholic bishops’ conferences in Africa that have opposed the Vatican’s declaration for priests to bless same-sex couples include those in Rwanda, Zambia, Nigeria, Malawi, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Angola. 

The Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops noted that same-sex unions and activities are illegal in the country and that the blessing of gay couples cannot be implemented there. 

“The conference would like to earnestly invite all those involved in same-sex unions to embark on the path of conversion with greater trust in God’s mercy and love; God whose ‘eyes are drawn to the person of humbled and contrite spirit,’” Archbishop Ignatius Chama, who is the ZCCB’s president, said in a statement that other clerics signed.    

Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, meanwhile, also held that it is impossible to bless same-sex unions and acts as it goes against God’s law, the church’s teachings, Nigeria’s laws and the cultural sensibilities of citizens.  

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Burundian president’s assertion gay people should be stoned condemned

Évariste Ndayishimiye made comments on Dec. 30

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Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye (Screen capture via Gentil Gedeon Official YouTube)

BUJUMBURA, Burundi — Activists have sharply criticized Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye over his assertion that gay people — married same-sex couples in particular — should be stoned in a stadium. 

Ndayishimiye made the comment during a public event on Dec. 30.

He also said any Burundian who is outside the country and openly identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community should not return. Ndayishimiye has received a lot of backlash, but told a reporter who asked him about potential consequences of such statements that he did not care, even if other countries imposed economic sanctions. 

Burundi’s 2009 penal code criminalizes anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ with up to two years in prison and a fine.

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, an LGBTQ+ activist in Uganda, which is in the same region as Burundi, said comments like those that Ndayishimiye made put a target on LGBTQ+ people and those who advocate on their behalf.

“Why are we so quick to forget? It’s statements like these that led to genocide. Aren’t people of Burundi tired of bloodshed? This has now put a target on those perceived to be LGBTQ with impunity,” said Nabagesera. “Leaders ought to be held accountable to incitement.” 

“This is very absurd especially coming from a leader whose country is yet to recover from the ruins of the past,” she added. “Words can be more dangerous than actions. Imagine the mental distress he has caused. This is a holiday time for loving, giving and appreciating. Instead his message is for hate.” 

Burundian Ambassador to Belgium Thérence Ntahiraja said Ndayishimiye did not call for the stoning of those who identify as LGBTQ+ and advocate on their behalf. Ntahiraja, however, emphasized homosexuality is considered a serious violation of Burundian values and culture.

Burundi declared independence from Belgium in 1962.

French MP Marie Lebec described Ndayishimiye’s remarks as regrettable.

“I condemn with the greatest firmness the words of President Évariste Ndayishimiye,” Lebec said. “Faced with the regression of rights, prison sentences and calls for murder. I stand alongside the LGBT community of Burundi.” 

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson also condemned the comments.

“Burundi’s president call to stone LGBTQ+ people is an unconscionable act of hate and a direct threat to LGBTQ+ lives,” she said. “Dangerous rhetoric like this, threatens to ripple beyond borders, emboldening hate and putting LGBTQ+ lives at risk everywhere. Our outrage must be matched by unwavering support for Burundi’s LGBTQ+ community. In the face of this unimaginable hatred, let our solidarity and love be a shield. Everyone deserves safety, acceptance, and the chance to live without fear.” 

All Out, an international LGBTQ+ rights organization, in a statement said “this violent and anti-LGBT+ rhetoric endangers the lives of many individuals in Burundi and stains the nation’s commitment to human rights.” 

“Such discourse not only incites homophobia and violence but also violates international human rights laws and norms that protect individuals regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said the group.

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Prominent activist stabbed in Uganda

Steven Kabuye attacked near his home on Wednesday

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Steven Kabuye (Photo via X)

KAMPALA, Uganda — A prominent Ugandan activist was stabbed on Wednesday.

video posted to Coloured Voice Truth to LGBTQ Uganda Co-Executive Director Steven Kabuye’s X account shows him on the ground writhing in pain with a deep laceration on his right forearm and a knife embedded in his stomach.

Coloured Voice Truth to LGBTQ Uganda Advocacy Officer Hans Senfuma on X wrote two “unknown individuals who were on a motorcycle” stabbed Kabuye at around 8 a.m. (Reuters reported the attack took place close to Kabuye’s home when he was going to work.)

“Steven claims that these two guys intentions’ were to kill him, not robbing and also claims that it seems they have been following him for up to several days,” wrote Senfuma.

Senfuma later posted to his X account pictures of Kabuye holding his arm while laying on a bloody bed sheet in what appears to be a hospital room. Senfuma in the post wrote that Kabuye was out of surgery. 

Reuters reported that Coloured Voice Truth to LGBTQ Uganda said Kabuye is in critical condition.

“This morning, a Uganda LGBTQ community activist was brutally attacked with a knife,” said Sexual Minorities Uganda Executive Director Frank Mugisha after the attack. “[Kabuye is] currently undergoing surgical treatment, we stand with the activist and hope for a full recovery. Haterade and hate crimes have no place in Uganda. We urge the police to conduct a thorough investigation.”

The attack took place less than seven months after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.”

The State Department a few weeks after the Anti-Homosexuality Act took effect announced visa restrictions against unnamed Ugandan officials. The World Bank Group in August announced the suspension of new loans to Uganda.

The Biden-Harris administration removed Uganda from a program that allows sub-Saharan African countries to trade duty-free with the U.S. and has issued a business advisory for the country over the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month announced sanctions against current and former Ugandan officials who committed human rights abuses against LGBTQ+ people and other groups.

Uganda’s Constitutional Court on Dec. 18 heard arguments in a lawsuit that challenges the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Republican congressman defends Anti-Homosexuality Act

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.)
(Photo Credit: Official U.S. House portrait)

Kabuye’s assailants stabbed him days after reports emerged that U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) defended the Anti-Homosexuality Act in a speech he gave at Uganda’s National Prayer Breakfast.

The event took place in Uganda on Oct. 8.

The Young Turks reported the Fellowship Foundation, which organizes the National Prayer Breakfast in D.C., paid for Walberg’s trip to Uganda. The Young Turks article also notes Museveni was among those who attended the Oct. 8 event.

Walberg’s office has not responded to the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

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