Prophetic Conversations: Bishop Christopher Senyonjo Comes to DC
June 10, 2010
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, the outspoken advocate for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Uganda, graced Washington, DC this week and HRC was honored to ensure that his message of love for LGBT people was heard by legislators, opinion leaders, and Washingtonians concerned about securing LGBT equality globally. Working in coalition with Integrity USA (the Episcopalian LGBT advocacy and affinity organization) and the Center for American Progress, we cosponsored and helped organize the live-streamed conversation, “Global Fight for LGBT Rights,” between Bishop Senyonjo and Religion Council member, Bishop Gene Robinson on Tuesday, June 8th, where he was greeted by Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. On June 9th Bishop Senyonjo and Bishop John Selders, also a founding member of HRC’s Religion Council, engaged in another conversation for HRC staff on the situation in Uganda. These conversations illuminated the present circumstances in Uganda, the role the US religious right is playing in inciting homophobia in Africa, the detrimental effects criminalizing homophobia has had on the fight against HIV/AIDS and much, much more. These conversations were extended on Capitol Hill and at the State Department where we worked closely with Integrity USA to secure visits with several offices including Rep. Tammy Baldwin. He was also able to meet with the staff from the offices of Sen. Ron Wyden, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Barney Frank among others. Bishop Senyonjo has always been an outspoken advocate for human rights in Uganda, but his courageous advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people even under the draconian proposed law to criminalize homosexuality (which at one point included the death penalty) catapulted him to the international stage. In 2001 Bishop Senyonjo began counseling gay men in Uganda who came to him with stories of deep fear and unhappiness, wondering if God loved them. Seeing the unnecessary pain these men faced, he worked with them to form the LGBT faith-based group, Integrity Uganda where he served as chaplain and founding chair. For his compassion and outspoken advocacy, Bishop Senyonjo has been routinely persecuted, has been forced to flee the country, has survived numerous death threats, and in 2006 was stripped of his title, all church responsibilities and financial support, and his pension. When asked about how he reads the Bible, Bishop Senyonjo proclaimed that for him the “litmus test is love.” Bishop Senyonjo’s ministry has been one of love. His unwavering commitment to the LGBT community in Uganda in the face of severe brutality and deprivation is the hallmark of a deep and generous faith and exemplifies Jesus’ commandment to love God and your neighbor as yourself. Bishop Senyonjo is indeed a prophet for our time. It was an enormous privilege to meet him.
March 6, 2014
Issues: Religion & Faith
March 6, 2014