A Gay Catholic in Uganda Speaks; Cardinal George Should Listen

Frank Mugisha

Amid the hubbub of Cardinal George’s insensitive comments yesterday comparing the LGBT movement to the Ku Klux Klan, a New York Times op-ed column by a gay Catholic man from Uganda was overlooked.

Frank Mugisha, who is the 2011  Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award laureate, wrote movingly about the oppression against LGBT people which exists in this African nation whose population is almost 42% Catholic–the largest denomination in the country.

As you may be aware, in 2009, the Ugandan government tried to institute the death penalty for people who are lesbian or gay.  Though the bill was tabled, it has been revived recently.  Even if the bill is not passed, its revival has already caused damage, Mugisha explains:

“. . .the bill’s influence has been felt in Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, all of which have recently stepped up enforcement of anti-gay laws or moved to pass new legislation that would criminalize love between people of the same sex.”

A common argument to support anti-gay repression in Africa has been that homosexuality is an import from the West.  Mugisha turns that argument on its head:

“Many Africans believe that homosexuality is an import from the West, and ironically they invoke religious beliefs and colonial-era laws that are foreign to our continent to persecute us.

“The way I see it, homophobia — not homosexuality — is the toxic import. Thanks to the absurd ideas peddled by American fundamentalists, we are constantly forced to respond to the myth — debunked long ago by scientists — that homosexuality leads to pedophilia.”

It is bad enough that Catholic leaders have not spoken forcefully against this obvious right to life issue.  What makes matters worse, however, is that the verbal abuse exemplified by Cardinal George’s comments the other day fuel the homophobia that leads to such hateful and violent attitudes.

Cardinal George, and other Catholic leaders, could learn a lot from Frank Mugisha.

At the close of his essay, Mr. Mugisha calls on world leaders to stand with LGBT Ugandans

“Political leaders like Mrs. Clinton and religious leaders like Archbishop Desmond Tutu are willing to publicly state that being gay is just one of many expressions of what it means to be human. I call on other leaders — particularly my African-American brothers and sisters in politics, entertainment and religious communities — to come to Uganda, to stand with me and my fellow advocates, to help dispel harmful myths perpetuated by ignorance and hate. The lives of many are on the line.”

Cardinal George should go to Uganda.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


20 replies
  1. John Boyd
    John Boyd says:

    I am sorry for the Catholic attitude towards homosexuality and homosexuals…i really should amend that statement to say “of some Catholics and some Catholic clergy”. There are many in the Church that are supportive but they are, unfortunately, not members of the hierarchy. Real change, I’m sorry to say, will come only in the poliitcal realm, e.g. Governor Cuomo of New York leading the way to gay marriage in his state. Let us use the ways open to us and quit waiting for official Church teaching to change. Look how long it took the Church to apologize for its treatment of Galileo!

  2. Diane Hall
    Diane Hall says:

    I think Mr. Mugisha really hits the nail on the head when he says, “The way I see it, homophobia — not homosexuality — is the toxic import.” In fact, I have gone so far as to call THEM (the homophobes) to be the “Ku Klux Klan” of today. Gays are hunted down, whispered about, set up for attack; even those who are not, but are thought to be gay are in dire danger. I have also compared it to the Witch Hunts in Salem.

    We do not seem to have improved very much. Our knowledge and education has paid off in science and technology, but we’re WAY BEHIND with our “humanity to man.” We need to not only enact laws for gays and all people to have their respect and rights, but also pray for those who “don’t get it.”


    • newwaysministryblog
      newwaysministryblog says:

      Dear Diane,

      It simply means that someone first has to approve your post before you will be able to see it printed in the comments section. This method is common among blogs, and it is used to prevent posts with abusive language or other offensive content from being printed. As you can see, yours was already approved.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Francis DeBernardo

  3. kalendenator
    kalendenator says:

    I would imagine that Cardinal George and his catholic clergy cohorts would be paying attention to explaining and resolving the pedophile cases in the Catholic Church than picking on people who are just trying to live their lives without harming anyone. People like Cardinal George should not usurp God’s authority. As African LGBT activists, I believe now is the time we stopped narrowly looking at homophobia as a merely political issue. Homophobia is largely a religious issue. We need to observe that without anti-Apartheid activists in South African engaging religion it would have been close to impossible to end their oppression. When we ignore the power of religion (simply because some of us despise it), we become silent participants in our oppression.

    Thank you fir writing this piece.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda, who is Catholic, refutes anti-LGBT beliefs. Back in 2011, he wrote in The New York […]

  2. […] Mugisha challenges claims by church leaders and others that homosexuality is a Western import and that Western advocacy for LGBT Africans has triggered a backlash. He criticized Uganda’s […]

  3. […] y ex alumnos de  colegios católicos  han organizado en contra de la ley. En Uganda,  Frank Mugisha , un defensor gay que es católica, ha llevado con valentía la lucha por la justicia […]

  4. […] Development. Students and alumni of Catholic colleges have organized against the law. In Uganda, Frank Mugisha, a gay advocate who is Catholic, has courageously led the struggle for LGBT […]

  5. […] Development. Students and alumni of Catholic colleges have organized against the law. In Uganda, Frank Mugisha, a gay advocate who is Catholic, has courageously led the struggle for LGBT […]

  6. […] than 40% of Ugandans are members of the Church. Frank Mugisha, a gay Catholic man, and others have led efforts internally to stop Uganda’s passage of the law. Catholics worldwide have raised their voices as well by […]

  7. […] Frank Mugisha, the leading Ugandan gay activist, who is a Catholic, criticized the Parliament’s action, saying: […]

  8. […] December 23, 2011: A Gay Catholic in Uganda Speaks; Cardinal George Should Listen […]

  9. […] 23, 2011: A Gay Catholic in Uganda Speaks; Cardinal George Should Listen Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  10. […] Almost 42% of Uganda’s population is Catholic, the largest denomination in this predominantly Christian nation.   As Bondings 2.0 has reported before, Catholic opposition to anti-gay legislation is critical to insure that LGBT people there are protected.  You can read about the importance of such support here and here and here and here. […]

  11. […] December 23, 2011: A Gay Catholic in Uganda Speaks; Cardinal George Should Listen […]

  12. […] December 23, 2011:  A Gay Catholic in Uganda Speaks; Cardinal George Should Listen […]

  13. […] leaders to speak out for the rights of LGBT people. You can connect to the previous posts, “A Gay Catholic in Uganda Speaks. . .” and “Breaking the Catholic Silence on LGBT Human Rights Violations.”  Also relevant […]

  14. […] A Gay Catholic in Uganda Speaks; Cardinal George Should Listen (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com) Share this:DiggEmailPrintShare on TumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Civil Rights, LGBT, Marriage Equality, Social Justice, Things I Love and tagged America magazine, Catholic, Catholic church, Chicago, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Jesuits, Ku Klux Klan, LGBT, Saudi Arabia, theology, Uganda. […]

  15. […] on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) issues, and also for speaking out about the oppressive anti-gay bill in Uganda. They’ve broken what has been a terrible silence from mainstream Catholic leaders on both of […]

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