Love in a Time of Persecution

By Ann Craig
“Hang Them!” was the headline in a local Ugandan paper that, combined with the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, forced Ugandan LGBTQ people into hiding if they could not get out of the country. The law threatened family, friends, and neighbors with imprisonment if they didn’t turn in people for being gay. Neighbors and landlords forced LGBTQ Ugandans to flee their homes. They lost jobs, communities, and families.

Brick-makingSalon patronsIn August, Affirmation began a partnership with Ugandan LGBTQ people to help a growing network of men and women establish two small businesses to help them survive. With a small grant, made possible by the bequest of Tim Tenant-Jayne, we enabled them to launch a hair salon and a brick making business.

I, as Affirmation Co-Spokesperson, and Joseph Tolton who formed The Fellowship Global in 2011, first connected with Ugandan LGBTQ faith before the 2012 General Conference as the Love Your Neighbor Coalition reached out to United Methodists in East and West Africa. In the process, they met Denis Iraguha, chaplain for LGBTQ people with Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who visited community members in their home when they were dealing with HIV/AIDS, family, and support.

When the Anti-Homosexuality Bill calling for the death sentence for gays passed, Denis and four other men were forced out of their homes and fled to the boarder of Rwanda. In a few months, the bill was declared unconstitutional, and things quieted down somewhat. Denis and his team made their way back to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, but with nothing to their names.

Today, they have a chance. Through the support of Affirmation, they may be able to gain a foothold and restore their sense of dignity. There are no guarantees. Although they are being careful, persecution still happens. We will be praying for the success of the hair salon and brick making businesses.

When you give to Affirmation, you give to cutting edge ministr ies like the suppor t of 40 LGBTQ Ugandans who are praying for better times. Affirmation has been a force for justice ever since the “incompatibility” language was first passed, and gave birth to the Reconciling Ministries Network. We were the first to add the “T” and the first to have transgender leadership. Today, we are among the first to be engaged in Africa with LGBTQ people who are trying to survive persecution.

Pray with us, give with us, and work with us as we expand our horizons. John Wesley said, “The World Is My Parish.” We can do no less.

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