Leaders from various faith groups around the world on Tuesday pledged to prioritize and strengthen their response to HIV and to end the stigma associated with the pandemic.
"As religious leaders we have to be just and honest and address the fact that a vast majority of those among us affected by HIV and AIDS belong to a faith community," said the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches. "We have to provide leadership to uphold the inherent human dignity of all."
Tveit and representatives of some 40 religions just came out of the first-ever religious summit of high level leaders on the HIV response. The March 22-23 event took place in the Netherlands where participants – including Baha'í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh leaders – signed a personal commitment to action, vowing to "be clear in my words and actions that stigma and discrimination towards people living with or affected by HIV is unacceptable," according to The Associated Press. more >>
A Ugandan pastor, who is one of the chief supporters of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill, on Wednesday screened gay porn in his church to the dismay of gay rights supporters and Christians alike.
The methods Martin Ssempa has used in trying to persuade people on how evil homosexuality is and garner support for the legislation have troubled Christians, including those who believe homosexual behavior is sin.
"I can’t speak for everyone, except that everyone was upset and for all different reasons," Kelsey Hartsell, a student from Pacific Lutheran University studying in Kampala – Uganda's capital city – told Dr. Warren Throckmorton, who started a grassroots movement to oppose the bill. more >>
Pro-gay activists and church leaders are touting an alternative "inclusive" prayer event to this year's National Prayer Breakfast.
Called "The American Prayer Hour," the event on Feb. 4 is being held in protest of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Organizers claim that the "secretive fundamentalist organization" – The Fellowship Foundation, also known as The Family – behind the annual National Prayer Breakfast is directly tied to the bill.
"The American Prayer Hour events will affirm inclusive values and call on all nations, including Uganda, to decriminalize the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people," organizers state. more >>
World Vision Uganda's national director released a statement expressing concern that the country's Anti-Homosexuality Bill may deter their work against the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The proposed legislation, said Rudo Kwaramba, "has the potential to stigmatize some individuals in communities targeted by World Vision’s work" and prevent individuals from being tested.
And knowledge of one’s HIV status is what enables an individual to take actions to prevent further transmission of HIV, he added. more >>
Pastors in Uganda recently chided evangelical pastor Rick Warren after he urged them to speak out against the country's Anti-Homosexuality bill.
A group of 20 denominational heads recently formed the Uganda National Pastors Task Force Against Homosexuality and demanded that Warren "biblically issue an apology for having wronged us."
"Your letter has caused great distress and the pastors are demanding that you issue a formal apology for insulting the people of Africa by your very inapropriate (sic) bully use of your church and purpose driven pulpits to coerse us into the 'evil' of Sodomy and Gaymorrah (sic)," the pastors, which include Martin Ssempa, state in a letter emailed to Warren. more >>
A Ugandan legislator who proposed the highly contested Anti-Homosexuality Bill insists the measure is being misconstrued.
"There has been a distortion in the media that we are providing death for gays. That is not true," ruling party MP David Bahati said on BBC. "When a homosexual defiles a kid of less than 18 years old, we are providing a penalty for this."
The bill, which is currently being debated by a parliamentary committee, has drawn global attention from gay rights advocates and religious leaders alike, many of whom are condemning the legislation for promoting hatred and handing down severe penalties against homosexuals and their family, friends, and even pastors. Punishments range from a fine and a three-year imprisonment to life imprisonment and the death penalty. more >>