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Encouraging news from Uganda

May 11, 2010, 5:29 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

The New York Times reported this weekend that the Ugandan Parliament’s bill making homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment or even death has stalled:

A special committee organized by the president of Uganda has recommended that a harsh antihomosexuality bill that has drawn the ire of Western governments be withdrawn from Parliament, a senior government official said Saturday.

Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, has publicly shown concern about the legislation and formed the review committee in February in response to international scrutiny. Though the panel’s ruling is not the final word, analysts saw it as a strong sign that the bill would eventually be dropped.

This is great news for the people of Uganda, and also for people worldwide who stood up to the extreme injustice the bill would have perpetrated. When the legislation was announced late last year, a broad array of American faith leaders denounced it unequivocally and mobilized to defeat it. Among the condemnations of the anti-gay bill was a statement from more than 70 ideologically, racially and theologically diverse Christian leaders, stating in part:

Our Christian faith recognizes violence, harassment and unjust treatment of any human being as a betrayal of Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. As followers of the teachings of Christ, we must express profound dismay at a bill currently before the Parliament in Uganda. The “Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009″ would enforce lifetime prison sentences and in some cases the death penalty for homosexual behavior, as well as punish citizens for not reporting their gay and lesbian neighbors to the authorities.

As Americans, some may wonder why we are raising our voices to oppose a measure proposed in a nation so far away from home. We do so to bear witness to our Christian values, and to express our condemnation of an injustice in which groups and leaders within the American Christian community are being implicated. We appeal to all Christian leaders in our own country to speak out against this unjust legislation.

This effort helped not only to raise awareness of Uganda’s anti-gay bill in the faith community, but also to encourage previously reluctant leaders such as Rick Warren – who wields great influence in Uganda — to speak out against it.

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