Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, to visit Kenya and Uganda

A week from today I will be arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, to begin a three week visit to the Revd Michael Kimindu, leader of Other Sheep East Africa and Changing Attitude’s network person in Kenya and to Frank Mugisha in Uganda.

Michael is organising the programme for my visit. It includes meeting with the Other Sheep group and preaching on Sunday, meeting clergy and pastors, leaders of GLACK, chaplains and counsellors at the University of Nairobi and staff and students at St Paul’s University.

Michael is taking me to Mombasa for a seminar and a meeting with the bishop and to Kisumu for a seminar at the cathedral, and meetings with clergy allies and a group of gay pastors.

I have applied for a Ugandan visa and am in conversation with Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of SMUG, Sexual Minorities Uganda, about travelling to Kampala to meet leaders of the LGB&T groups working for equality and sexual health.

In Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Kampala I will also be available to meet, talk with and listen to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Kenyans, many of whom I am already connected with on Facebook and Yahoo. They are anticipating my visit eagerly and I hope to learn from them as well as bringing encouragement and hope.

I am going with confidence in the Holy Spirit who is already at work at all times and in all places, transforming hatred into love, prejudice into generosity and despair into hope. Yesterday morning in Mombasa a group of MSM (men who have sex with men) sustained injuries while escaping from an angry crowd of religious leaders and homophobes who barged into a meeting they were attending.

Ugandan gays live in the context of increasing homophobia resulting from the reintroduction of David Bahati’s anti-homosexuality bill which threatens life imprisonment and the death penalty for certain offences.  Against this hostile background, gay activists this week presented a demand to stop anti-LGBTI discrimination with regards to access to health to the Ugandan parliament.  On Thursday on a BBC Hard Talk interview, President Yoweri Museveni said he didn’t support the persecution of homosexuals but neither did he consider homosexuality to be normal, but it could be tolerated if kept behind closed doors. On February 14 State Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo broke up a gay rights activists conference at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe organised by Freedom and Roam Uganda. He ordered the arrest of the organization leader, Jacquline Kasha, but she escaped.

I am visiting countries where prejudice runs deep and is motivated and reinforced by the Christian churches, where pastors, priests and bishops often refer to the evils of homosexuality in their preaching and teaching. To be gay and Christian in Africa presents every individual with a deep conflict. How is it possible to be a healthy, spiritual, integrated lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person when you are subjected to a constant message of insidious hate? I hope to bring a message of hope and understanding to everyone I meet in Kenya and Uganda.

Changing Attitude England is fully-funding the cost of my visit, which is being undertaken on a minimal budget. I’d appreciate donations for one particular aspect of the visit – for individuals coming to attend the workshops and meetings or to meet me in other safe venues. Most will be living in virtual poverty. African tradition means they will expect hospitality from me. Donations that can be used to pay their travel costs and provide refreshments when they arrive would be of huge help.

We live in safety and comfort compared with the living conditions of Africans in general and LGB&T Africans in particular. Please consider making a donation – and hit the donate image at the bottom of the page.

I will be blogging from Kenya and Uganda, maintaining confidentiality and safety for myself and all whom I meet but at the same time, reporting on the meetings and on my experiences as they unfold. Please hold me, Michael Kimindu and Frank Mugisha and all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Africans and leaders in your prayers.

Join the discussion