In response to objections made by members of their own church about the statements of endorsement from John Kakembo, the president of the Uganda Union Mission, the Seventh-day Adventist Church issued a tepid statement. They did not mention Kakembo by name, denounce the bill, or demand that he retract his endorsement.
This limited reaction has not been satisfactory to Adventists of good conscience. Spectum Magazine’s Alexander Carpenter has asked his fellow churchmembers to contact Kakembo directly and express what such statements do to their Christ-like witness and their religious liberty work.
Since I believe that letter writing campaigns like this should follow a bottom-up approach as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20, I would encourage folks to address their letters to John Kakembo at the Uganda Union Mission.
The quarterly magazine Adventist Today is joining the effort on their blog site and is encouraging readers to join Spectrum’s advocacy.
As this issue is of concern to all of good will irrespective of their personal views concerning the nature of homosexual orientation and the Adventist Church’s manner of relating to this community, Adventist Today appreciates that Alexander Carpenter has given us permission to post this as well.
In contrast, the weekly Adventist Review only reports the vague statement, choosing instead to emphasize that Kakembo only endorses the non-death penalty portions of the bill.
Even if the death penalty were removed, the bill would:
- expand the definitions for homosexual acts, making conviction easier. Current law requires evidence of penetration. The new law would expand the definition of homosexual activity to”touch(ing) another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” Touching itself is defined as “touching—(a) with any part of the body; (b) with anything else; (c) through anything; and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ. anus or mouth.”
- affirm Uganda’s lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality.
- define a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality” for those who engage in sex with someone under the age of 18, who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender” (so broadly defined as to include anyone who has had a relationship with more than one person, or who had sex with the same person more than once), or who had sex with a disabled person (consensual or not). The penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is
death by hangingimprisonment for life.
- require anyone arrested on suspicion of homosexuality to undergo HIV testing to determine the individual’s qualification for prosecution of “aggravated homosexuality.”
- criminalize “attempted homosexuality” with imprisonment of seven years.
- criminalize “promoting” homosexuality with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years. This overly-broad provision would criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda . It could also be used against anyone extending counseling or otherwise aiding gay people. It would also criminalize any attempt to repeal or modify the law in the future, as those moves could also be seen as “promoting” homosexuality.
- Criminalize the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
- add a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
- label landlords and hotel owners as proprietors of “brothels” and penalizes them with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people.
- add an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
- void all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill.
Adventists of good will can sincerely differ about the manner in which to interpret and apply scripture. One need not find homosexual behavior to be a morally acceptable option for one’s own life to oppose criminalization, oppression, and discrimination.
If you are an Adventist who finds the above proposal abhorrent, are shocked that the president of the Uganda Union Mission would endorse these provisions, and are ashamed that your church has been unwilling to vociferously and aggressively work against this bill, I encourage you to let your voice be heard.
(I’d STRONGLY advise others not to participate in this process as it could be counter-productive)