Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gay Malawi Couple Is Pardoned by President, to be Released Tomorrow

     Here is some shocking good news!  Yesterday, President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi pardoned Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga.  He did so under pressure from UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon, who is visiting the nation, and Sir Elton John.

     Last week, the Malawi couple was sentenced to the maximum sentence of fourteen years in prison for their crime of having an engagement ceremony.  Hopefully, when they are released, they will be well protected.  They have been in custody since December.

     Mr Ban hailed the president's decision as "courageous." "This outdated penal code should be reformed wherever it may exist," he said. The BBC's Karen Allen, in Lilongwe, says Mr Ban is trying to put pressure on parliamentarians to reform anti-homosexuality laws that date back to colonial times.
     Correspondents say Malawi is a deeply conservative society where religious leaders equate same-sex liaisons with Satanism.
     Mr Mutharika, who has in the past dismissed homosexuality as alien, said he had set them free on humanitarian grounds. "In all aspects of reasoning, in all aspects of human understanding, these two gay boys were wrong - totally wrong," he said after meeting Mr Ban. "However, now that they have been sentenced, I as the president of this country have the powers to pronounce on them and therefore, I have decided that with effect from today, they are pardoned and they will be released."
     Translation: I think they are still satanic, but I didn't want to lose my funding.

     Still, we'll take it as a victory against the Gospel According to Hate.  Let's hope that this is a sign of much needed change in a part of the world, where so many nations still outlaw homosexuality.

(Image from JoeMyGod)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gay Malawi Couple Convicted for Engagement Ceremony

     A gay couple in Malawi has been convicted for having an engagement celebration and will likely go to jail.  When released (if they survive prison), they will face death threats and probably have to flee their country.
     A judge convicted a gay couple Tuesday of charges that could send them to jail for more than a decade following an engagement celebration ...Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a 20-year-old hotel janitor, and his unemployed partner Steven Monjeza, 26, were arrested the day after they celebrated their engagement with a party at the hotel where Chimbalanga worked — an apparent first in Malawi.
     The couple were convicted of unnatural acts and gross indecency under laws dating from the colonial era. Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa said the sentencing will take place on Thursday and they could be imprisoned for up to 14 years.
     Homosexuality is illegal in at least 37 countries in Africa including Malawi. In Uganda, lawmakers are considering a bill that could sentence homosexuals to life in prison and includes capital punishment for "repeat offenders." Even in South Africa, the only African country that recognizes gay rights, gangs have raped lesbians.
     Mwakasungula said the two Malawian men were concerned that if they were released, they could be attacked by Malawians who have threatened them. But given the laws and the climate in Malawi, he said a guilty verdict had been expected.
     The government, backed by Malawi church leaders, says it is clear the two men broke the law. Religious officials say homosexuality is "sinful" and the West should not be allowed to use its financial power to force Malawi to accept homosexuality. Malawi relies on donors for 40 percent of its development budget.
     Malawi is 55% Protestant and 20% Catholic.  How's that for the traditional value of love thy neighbor?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Catholic Priests Raping Nuns and Procuring Abortions for their Unwanted Offspring in Africa, Celibacy is Broken

     One wonders at the priorities of a man who failed to defrock a priest in Wisconsin who molested hundreds of children but acted so decisively in the case of one who married a consenting adult.

     In 1998, Sister Marie McDonald, a Roman Catholic nun, wrote her superiors about the situation facing women religious in the church.  Here are a few excerpts via the National Catholic Reporter:
The problem
1. Sexual harassment and even rape of sisters by priests and bishops is allegedly common. Sometimes, when a sister becomes pregnant, the priest insists that she have an abortion.  The sister is usually dismissed from her congregation while the priest is often only moved to another parish -- or sent for studies.
2. Many sisters become financially dependent upon priests who may ask for sexual favours in return.
3. Priests sometimes take advantage of spiritual direction and of the sacrament or Reconciliation to ask for sexual favours.
     McDonald goes on to state what she sees as causes of this phenomenon of abuse: celibacy/chasitity aren't cultural values, the inferior position of women in church and society, belief that nuns don't have HIV and are safe (also that sex with virgins cures AIDS), unjust salaries for nuns cause dependence on priests, nuns sent to Rome for studies has to exchange sexual favors with priests to find housing abroad, and the "conspiracy of silence" surrounding the issue.

     Not much has changed in the past twelve years, since McDonald put a voice to the abuse of women religious in the Catholic Church, as the Newsweek article indicates:
     According to the National Catholic Reporter, which made McDonald's memo public in 2001, Vatican officials did take steps to rectify the problem, but publicly, their stance was chillingly familiar. "The problem is known and is restricted to a limited geographical area," said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Vatican spokesman at the time. This is an isolated incident, in other words; we've got it under control.
     Even as new cases of child sexual abuse by clergy emerge each day in Europe and the United States, abuse in the regions where Catholicism is growing fastest—Latin America, Asia, and, especially, Africa—are still largely ignored. In the West, the focus has been on the violation of minors, and on the role of celibacy in engendering this problem. In Africa, the problem is somewhat more complex. Though many good priests do adhere to their chastity vows, says the Rev. Peter Schineller, a Jesuit priest who has spent 20 years in Africa, sex between consenting or semi-consenting adults is commonplace. Transgression against chastity vows by priests run the gamut from harassment all the way to fathering children; it's not criminal necessarily, but it's certainly against doctrine. "The violations are huge," says Schineller. As the Roman Catholic hierarchy continues to crow over its success and vitality in the global south—the growth rate in Africa and Asia has been about 3 percent a year, twice the rate worldwide—the African church may put mandatory clerical celibacy to its harshest test yet.
     Sexual coercion is just part of the story. The 2001 investigation by the National Catholic Reporter uncovered three separate reports of sexual abuse of religious sisters by priests. The story described priests raping religious sisters and then paying for their abortions; sisters fearing to travel in cars with priests for fear of rape; sisters appealing to bishops for help only to be told to go away. "Even when they are listened to sympathetically," wrote McDonald, "nothing seems to be done."  (Click here for the rest of the article.)
     The Catholic Church's system of celibacy is broken, bleeding from its self-imposed sexual wounds.  Perhaps it's time to let this medieval system bleed out.

Ugandan Catholic Priest May Get Death Penalty for Raping Girls and Infecting Them with HIV

       While the conservative Christians of Uganda and their allies have been busy praying to their god for the passage of Uganda's kill-the-gays bill, they overlooked a Catholic priest who was raping little girls.  Now, Father Santos Constatino Wapokura, Catholic priest in Packwach, Uganda, may face the death penalty.

     The New Vision reports:
     The Director of Public Prosecution, Richard Butera, has ordered the arrest of a Catholic priest in Nebbi district who allegedly defiled two girls, and possibly infected them with HIV.
     Butera yesterday said evidence was sufficient to charge the Rev. Fr. Santos Constatino Wapokura. “That matter is clear: He should be charged,” Butera said in an interview.
     Wapokura, 45, the parish priest of Pakwach, is accused of defiling a 14-year-old girl who was serving in the church. Wapokura had been in Police custody twice over the same allegations. His latest release was ordered by the resident state attorney, Innocent Obale, purportedly to allow the parties resolve the matter out of court. 
     Upon his arrest last month, the Police said the clergyman tested positive for HIV and upgraded his offence to aggravated defilement. He will be hanged if convicted. The priest dismissed the allegations as a ploy to taint his name.
     One of the complainants told the Police that Wapokura would often ask her to go to his house, where he would follow her and force her into sex. On another occasion, the girl alleged, she was at the priest’s home with other visitors when Wapokura sexually assaulted her after sending away the other people.
     Reason #1,598,647 that the Catholic Church's ban on condoms is out of date, hypocritical, and just plain violent: little girls infected with HIV by their natural family planning practicing priests.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Catholic Priest-Perpetrators of Europe and the Americas Were Shipped to Africa

     What were the Catholic bishops of Europe and the Americas to do with their all their priest-pedophiles?  Where could they send them so that no one would ever find out?  Where could they escape prosecution?  Where could they go where it wouldn't matter what they do to more children?  Why, Africa, of course.

     Tighten your cinctures.  Here's the next round in the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal: the inherently patronizing and racist attitudes towards Africa, where American and European bishops banished many a predator-priest, because they didn't care about kids in Africa.

     Damning reports accusing senior Catholic clerics of institutional cover-up of sexual abuses are still emerging, as predator priests in Europe and the Americas sent to Africa, allegedly, continued offending whilst dodging prosecution in their home country.
     The AFP has been questioning people in Nigeria, which counts the highest number of Catholics in Africa, Uganda and Congo if such abuses have been endured by some members. The head of the Southern African Bishops Conference has, meanwhile, publicly acknowledged that the issue of paedophilia has truly inflicted African Churches and that about 40 abuse cases have been reported since the last 14 years.
     News24, an online South Africa news source, quotes a former clergyman from Burkina Faso, Felix Koffi Ametepe as saying: "When I was in the church, I happened to discover some suspected cases of abuse, especially by foreign clergy. There’s a certain tolerance among African Catholic communities regarding priests who visit women. Even if people very well know that the priest has a child, or that he has ongoing relations with a woman, no one does anything about it.  Everyone accepts if a priest is with a woman, but no one would understand what he would look for in a boy. That means that no child would be believed if he said that a priest had touched him."
     And the church continues to claim that celibacy works...and that condoms don't.  Yes, their traditional values definitely place the well-being of children above all else.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Progressive Christian Pastors Protest Lou Engle and Uganda's Gay Death Penalty Law

     On May 2, The Call, a U.S. evangelical ministry led by Lou Engle, together with its Ugandan affiliate, will host a religious gathering at a stadium in Uganda’s capital Kampala. Among other things, the event aims to rally participants around anti-gay sentiments by urging them to "fight vices eating away at our society", and specifically mentions homosexuality as a societal evil. This comes as Uganda’s Parliament continues to debate an anti-homosexuality bill that is one of the most severe discriminatory measures ever proposed. Though homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, there have been reports that this much harsher bill emerged in part as a result of the anti-gay campaigning conducted in recent years by some U.S.-based evangelical groups with an anti-gay message similar to that of The Call. The May 2 event has the potential to inflame intolerance and worsen the situation for LGBT Ugandans, who have, in recent months, suffered from increased instances of public harassment and targeted violent attacks
     A small group of Christian faith leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. to protest Americans' involvement in the discrimination, harassment, and murder of gays in Uganda.  They are joined by an anonymous (for his safety) gay Ugandan man, who was forced to marry a woman, assaulted in school, raped by a policeman, and fired from his job because he's gay. This is the life of gays in Uganda, under the rule of Born Again Christian President Yoweri Museveni.

     Harry Knox, Director of Religion & Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign, sums up the actions of those like Lou Engle (text from the embedded video below):
     It's clear that there is a movement afoot in this country by the right wing unfortunately to export homophobia. We have done a really good job of combating that in this country and the tide is beginning to turn.  They [members of the religious right] feel the sand slipping under their feet.  They're looking for greener pastures and they're trying to export homophobia to equatorial Africa and South America and other places.  It's incumbent on us, now that we have a little bit of privilege as LGBT folks in this country, to be sure to stand with our sisters and brothers around the world and not let homophobia be exported.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anti-Gay Exodus International Ignores Role in Ugandan Gay Death Penalty Bill

     The "ex-gay" Christian activist group, Exodus International, has issued a letter on their website, condemning Uganda's kill-the-gays bill that remains unresolved, threating to impose the death penalty on HIV-positive gay men in Uganda and life in prison for all other gays.  The hypocrisy is that Exodus was involved in the gestation of the bill and sidesteps this fact in their letter.  They are trying to have their anti-gay cake in Uganda, and to eat their "compassionate" cake here in the U.S.A.

•implicitly denies the existence of sexual orientation, referring only to behavior.
•falsely states that Exodus has not supported legislation depriving others of “life and dignity,” despite the organization’s prior support for Uganda’s March 2009 pro-genocide conference and years of official organizational support for legislation that separates LGBT parents from their children and that fosters discrimination and ostracism against LGBT workers, renters, and youths.
•conspicuously omits “liberty” and “the pursuit of happiness” from the “life and dignity” that it claims to uphold.
•fails to hold president Alan Chambers and board member Don Schmierer accountable for their negligent and reckless affirmation of the March 2009 conference and subsequent disregard for human life in Uganda
•is one year late — an official statement was sought by human-rights advocates and ex-gay watchdogs a full year ago, when such a statement could have prevented Uganda’s ensuing genocide campaign.
•is likely to be ignored by the organization’s partners in Uganda — and by Exodus Global Alliance –because it is a year late and written under extreme public pressure.
•sidesteps the only truly literal “conservative” interpretation of the Bible regarding homosexuality — an interpretation which requires LGBT people to be stoned to death by the self-righteous. There are NO Bible verses which support Exodus and NARTH’s discredited variations of reparative therapy, nor any verses calling for Exodus-style discrimination and deception, though some verses may be liberally and non-literally interpreted as an affirmation of same-sex orientation.
•fails to affirm any human rights whatsoever — it opposes antigay genocide solely because genocide prevents churches from evangelizing those who are slaughtered. To Exodus, human lives are just pawns in a chess game, or ticks on a scorecard.
•falsely and piously claims that signers have sole ownership of unspecified “transformation” — a deliberate insinuation that said signers have been “cured” of their sexual orientation.
•falsely characterizes Christianity as a right-wing ideological “identity” and not a spiritual profession or practice.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nobel Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu Challenges the World to Support Homosexuals' Civil Rights

I would never worship a homophobic God.
-Archbishop Desmond Tutu

     Imagine if one of the most popular and influential religious leaders in the world came out in favor of homosexual persons and their fight for equal rights.  Imagine a cleric using reason, science, and experience to inform his/her faith to come to the conclusion that gays and lesbians are people too.  Imagine if this person directly challenged the Gospel According to Hate that so many religious people practice.  That day has arrived. 

     Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu taken yet another giant leap for humanity.  Yesterday, he posted an op-ed in yesterday's Washington Post, in which he directly addressed the hatred, bigotry, and ignorance being preached in the name of god to discriminate, intimidate, murder, and deny the "fundamental rights and freedoms" of  homosexuals in "terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa."

     Here are a few passages from Tutu's op-ed in The Washington Post:
     Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity -- or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds. In my country of South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied many of them fundamental human rights. We knew this was wrong. Thankfully, the world supported us in our struggle for freedom and dignity.
    That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said "Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones." Gay people, too, are made in my God's image. I would never worship a homophobic God.
    "But they are sinners," I can hear the preachers and politicians say. "They are choosing a life of sin for which they must be punished." My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn't it amazing that we are all made in God's image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?
    The wave of hate must stop. Politicians who profit from exploiting this hate, from fanning it, must not be tempted by this easy way to profit from fear and misunderstanding. And my fellow clerics, of all faiths, must stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.
     That you Archbishop Tutu for reminding me that the fight for LGBT equality is not with all religious persons, but only with the intolerant, ignorant, and prejudiced ones.

Keep fighting the good fight, Archbishop!
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