With the struggle for legal equality and cultural acceptance of LGBT people still raging in the U.S., it can often be difficult to acknowledge how much the community has shifted. Yet in contrast to Uganda, where anti-gay activists have been fighting to marginalize, arrest, and even destroy LGBT people, the movement in the U.S. has achieved so much.
As a minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Uganda, the Reverend Mark Kiyimba understands this struggle all too well. For several years, Kiyimba has acted as a rational voice on the topic of acceptance of LGBT people in a country with some of the harshest laws on same-sex contact in the world. Since 2009, advocates like Kiyimba have been resisting a bill in the Ugandan Parliament that seeks to inflate these laws even further. In its most intense version, the bill aimed to expand anti-gay laws to include the death penalty for aggravated offenses, and lengthy jail sentences for anyone who did not report same-sex activity.
When Kiyimba visits the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore on January 11, Marylanders will get the chance to hear him speak about the struggle for international LGBT rights. On this stop of his tour, titled “Standing on the Side of Love in Uganda and the USA,” attendees will have the opportunity to hear Kiyimba’s unique perspective of the topic of criminalization of LGBT people in Uganda and other countries around the globe. Additionally, visitors will learn more about Kiyimba’s efforts to mobilize Unitarian Universalist congregations to support LGBT equality, and his efforts to raise funds for his New Life Primary School, a K-8 school for students impacted by HIV/AIDS in Uganda. The lecture will include questions from the audience, and will be followed by a reception.
“I want always to recognize that we will always have differences,” said Kiyimba in a recent address to a Unitarian Universalist Congregation. “But the differences should not be able to divide us.”
Kiyimba is among several advocates who have paid a great price for their resistance. Earlier this year, he was forced to flee Uganda when an arrest warrant was issued as a response to his advocacy. Around the same time, Ugandan educator and LGBT advocate David Kato paid an even greater price, when he was beaten to death in his home. These events follow the very public outing of LGBT people and their supporters by a Ugandan tabloid in the months prior, which included photos of several of these individuals printed under the headline “Hang Them.”
Rev. Mark Kiyimba Presents Standing on the Side of Love in Uganda and the USA
Wednesday, January 11 • 7pm • Free
First Unitarian Church of Baltimore
12 W. Franklin St. • FirstUnitarian.net