A recent article in Mother Jones  offers a snapshot of what it’s like to be lesbian or gay in Uganda–arguably the worst place on earth to be lesbian or gay.  Perhaps not coincidentally, Catholics comprise 41% of the Ugandan population and are thereby the most numerous of any religious group.

In Uganda, one literally risks death to exit the closet as one can not only, if the infamous “kill the gays” bill is signed into law, be executed by the government for being gay, but also one is frequently the victim of spontaneous, mob violence.   About one gay Ugandan, the article’s author writes:

“He’s got a scar near his eye from having a bottle broken across his face…Ugandans take situations as they come,” Dennis says. “If they see a transgender person and they want to beat them up, they will, whether the bill exists or not.”

In an earlier post, I explored the connection between the teachings of the Catholic Church and violence against lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons throughout the world.  While magisterial teachings depict God-fearing heterosexuals as the victims of homosexual violence and disorder, the experience of lesbian and gay Ugandans exemplifies the way in which the situation is almost always the reverse.   When we hear the magisterium argue the following: “when homosexual activity is consequently not condoned…neither the church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted and irrational practices gain ground and irrational and violent reactions increase,”  let us interpret this passage in light of the lives of lesbian, gay, and transgendered Ugandans and begin to repent for the sins of our church.

To read more about what the violence lesbians and gays in Uganda suffer, you can also read this piece from Harper’s.  I also recommend this very moving collection of first-person narratives of lesbians and gays from various places in Africa.

2 thoughts

  1. Very moving article, thanks!

    Though, I disagree though with what you seem to be implying. If we frame the dialogue in terms of something like, “the Church’s orthodox stance on homosexuality leads or contributes to violence” (which is what you seem to be hinting at, no?), you do understand how that will practically shut down the theological (or any) dialogue altogether seeing as how anything less than full acceptance of homosexuality will be seen as bigoted and unfairly discriminatory (something akin to racism)?

    Out of curiosity then, what would be, in your view, a satisfactory way for the Church to get her message out there — in such a way that she can remain true to her current teaching while at the same time being sensitive to the suffering of the LGBT community. Or, do you believe the Church must change her current position in essence, as it contributes to inherently to such things like discrimination and violence like we see in Uganda?

    1. well you don’t seem to think that any aspects of the church’s teaching (not even the part where they say that violence against gays and lesbians is reasonable) in any ways contributes to the high rates of violence against LGBT persons across the world, so what do you think? why do you think LGBT persons are the among the most persecuted (and by persecuted I mean simply violently attacked and killed) people in the world?

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