Apr 8, 2013

Traditional Zulu Gay Wedding in South Africa

Breaking ground in South Africa with a traditional Zulu gay wedding
By Melanie Nathan, April 07, 2013.
South Africa is a leader in the world of equality, enjoying an all inclusive constitution, where same-sex marriage is legal and discrimination against LGBTI people outlawed. However that has not stopped homophobia and fear to embrace LGBTI South Africans as fully equal.
[...] the report of the marriage that followed, shows an extraordinary example of new-found acceptance, as a small community embraces a young gay Zulu couple, about to embark upon, not only a legal marriage, but also a traditional marriage.
As reported from South Africa:Zulu wedding
Two young men tied the knot in a rare South African gay wedding in KwaDukuza (Stanger) on Saturday.In what was described as the town’s first gay marriage, Tshepo Modisane and Thoba Sithole, both 27, walked down the aisle in front of 200 guests at the Stanger Siva Sungam community hall.
The wedding was a jubilant, exciting affair, attracting even uninvited members of the local community.
Thoba, a Joburg-based IT specialist, is from Shakaville, KwaDukuza and Tshepo an audit manager at PwC. They have known each other for years and dated on and off, before stabilising their relationship.
Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 10.04.02 AMNow that they are wedded, they will take on the double-barrelled surname of Sithole-Modisane.
The couple appeared to enjoy the support from the community, family and friends.
The couple are reportedly planning to have children through a surrogate.
“Family is important to us and that is the number one reason why we want to have children,” said Thoba.
“We also want our children to grow up in an environment where they are loved greatly by both parents who appreciate them.” (SA Report)
This wedding will go down in history as one of the most significant events in South African LGBTI history, as it breaks unknown barriers in the face of last year’s assault by the Zulu traditional chiefs, who sought to remove sexual orientation as a protected class from the South African Constitution. The South African gay community held numerous protests against the move and it was thwarted.
There is hope that Africa can become more open by embracing all its people and allow tradition to embrace all forms of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation has always included heterosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality. Now traditionalists have an opportunity to recognize it too.
As one groom noted, “Being gay is as African as being black.”
This community shows that when it comes to the bottom line, it is all about love and acceptance and even tradition has its seat at the table of evolution.
By Melanie Nathan, nathan@privatecourts.com
Cathy Kristofferson contributed to this article.

Mar 19, 2013

Gay Men Allegedly Stoned to Death in Somalia

MOGADISHU, March 18 – A GAY man was allegedly stoned to death as punishment for homosexuality, a gay Muslim group has said Saturday.

According to Somali Gay Community, the young man, Mohamed Ali Baashi ,18, was buried in a hole up to his chest and then pelted with rocks by members of the Al Qaeda link group Al Shabaab on Friday, March 15, in Barawe, about 50 miles from the capital, Mogadishu.

The group, through its Facebook page, Somali Gay Community, posted three photos of alleging they were from the stoning.

However, Identity Kenya could not independently verify this claims or the alleged stoning and efforts to reach the group have not been successful.
The group said the young man was accused of sodomy and was stoned to death by Islamic rebels while horrified villagers were forced to watch.
According to the reports, a judge announced that Mohamed Baashi, along with a man who had been accused of murder, had both confessed to their crimes. The alleged murderer got a more merciful punishment. He was shot to death, the group said over the weekend.
“This is their day of justice,” the judge, told the hundreds of villagers who had been forced to attend.
“We investigated, and this man did what Muslims shouldn’t do and as a result, he will be stonedto death and the one that killed someone will be shot because homosexuality is more punishable in Islam,” the judge is alleged to have said.

Source: www.identykenia.com

Mar 13, 2013

Ethiopia online users call for death to gay people

timthumb.phpADDIS ABABA: An article recently published by Bikyanews.com has received virulent anti-gay sentiments from users inside the country. A number of comments and angry emails have been flowing in that call for the death of Ethiopia’s small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

“kill them all these rubbish people ,the country never allowed this kind of community,” one comment at the end of the article stated.

In yet another, a user linked anti-LGBT sentiment to the Bible in claiming that Ethiopia’s LGBT community should leave the country or face reprisals.

“No the same sex marriage in Ethiopia because that is the historical and Christianity country so that is the better thing …in the bible also not allow to be same sex marriage it is a big sin ..sorry for you guys who is the gay ppls …shame on you …also,” it read.

The article detailed a young man who was hopeful that Ethiopians were becoming more accepting and open to the gay community, but the comments show that there remains a staunch anti-LGBT sentiment in the East African country.

“Sometimes you just can get around those types of people,” David Emete, the man featured in the article, told Bikyanews.com after seeing the comments. “If they don’t understand or meet gay people, they won’t know better.”

But the community as a whole seemed bent on attacking LGBT people.

“Our community dont tolerate such disgusting practice, if you want to be a gay then please leave our country and practice where ever fits your bulshit place,” wrote another comment.


By Mohammed Awad, source:  http://bikyanews.com/86533/ethiopia-online-users-call-for-death-to-gay-people/

Mar 7, 2013

Africa Pays for LGBT victories in USA

uganda-460x259Standing amid the grandeur of the Capitol’s West Front on a clear, frigid Monday, Barack Obama made history as the first president to call for equal protection for “our gay brothers and sisters” in his second inaugural address. It was a huge moment for the LGBT community and a sign of growing acceptance in American culture. It seems that the toughest battles have been won as public opinion continues to move in our favor. Yet our victories here may result in increased discrimination abroad as zealous American Evangelicals turn their energy and influence elsewhere.
Foto: Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of ’s parliament

In recent years, as Christian conservatives have realized they are beginning to lose the culture war here at home, many groups began looking to places like Africa and Eastern Europe to promote their anti-gay agenda. “The West has been in a decline,” Lou Engle, Senior Leader at the International House of Prayer, told The New York Times documentary “Gospel of Intolerance: American Evangelicals finance Uganda’s anti-gay movement.” “I think Africa; it’s the firepot of spiritual renewal and revival. It’s very exciting to me,” he said.

Engle was referring to the millions of dollars and hundreds of missionaries that the International House of Prayer sends to sub-Saharan Africa — especially Uganda — to promote homophobic rhetoric among the population and support anti-gay politicians. These efforts have influenced the most atrocious anti-gay bill in modern history, which until recently contained language promising the death penalty to homosexuals in Uganda. It now gives the generous sentence of life in prison.

The “Kill the Gays” bill is currently in limbo (its status has been fluid since 2009). Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of Uganda’s parliament, broke her promise to pass it before the New Year as a “Christmas present” to the Ugandan people. That doesn’t mean it’s dead, though. Most American Evangelical leaders have said they are against the death penalty as punishment for homosexuality, but they agree that it should be illegal to some extent. While their money has failed to make this a reality in the U.S., American dollars can pack way more bang for their buck in developing countries. As we well know, money means political influence.

The International House of Prayer is just one of the groups sending millions of dollars to Uganda, Malawi, Kenya and other African nations they see as ripe for political intervention. This sort of outside influence greatly resembles the era of colonization, where Western powers imposed their will on nearly all of Africa.

The irony here is that many in Uganda believe homosexuality did not exist in Africa and was imported from the West. Politicians continually blame the nation’s many problems on the “evils of homosexuality.” This only makes Evangelical groups look more like saviors.

Unfortunately, People tend to fear what they do not understand, and since it is illegal to “promote” gay culture or gay rights in Uganda, there never can be an open dialogue. Adding in religious zealotry, hunger and extreme poverty only makes the situation more toxic. American conservatives claim they only want to promote pro-life, pro-family values. Regardless of their intentions, though, their money has created an unlivable environment for Africa’s gay and lesbian community. Innocent people who cannot change their sexuality are harassed, beaten, left out of society, or even killed.

The international reaction has mostly stopped at condemnation. Recently, however, some European governments have cut $180 million of aid funding to Uganda in response to the “Kill the Gays Bill,” a possible reason for its sluggish progress. But the fact that the bill has not been scrapped means that more can be done.

The United States, as the self-appointed guarantor of freedom worldwide, has much more leverage to influence nations considering the genocide of their gay populations. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an important speech about the State Department’s responsibility to gays that face extreme discrimination abroad … but actions are stronger than words.

Hopefully Obama’s powerful inaugural speech was more than just flashy rhetoric. As battles are won here at home, the U.S. can turn its own energies overseas and put pressure on countries that criminalize homosexuality. If the president truly cares about LGBT equality, his administration has a lot of work ahead of him in his second term.

Article by: Matthew Watson posted in Chicago Phenix

Feb 7, 2013

Out-Right Namibia (ORN) – Press Release

6. February Press Statement

Out-Right Namibia (ORN) calls on Mr. Hamutenya and The Villager to respect people’s right to privacy and dignity. It is with great concern that Out-Right Namibia (ORN) has taken note of a statement by Wendelinus Hamutenya, entitled To be or not to be gay, published by The Villager on 04 February 2013.

As an NGO representing and lobbying for the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Namibians, ORN is concerned that Mr. Hamutenya wants to lead the debate on sexual minorities by naming those “who try to hide what is obvious”.
Although he was stripped off his title Mr. Gay Namibia 2011, Mr. Hamutenya appears to feel that his crowing as Mr. Gay Namibia for 2011/2012 also gives him the responsibility to undertake this action. ORN would have wholeheartedly agreed with and supported Mr. Hamutenya if he had chosen to lead the debate on sexual minorities in Namibia during his reign. However, we would not have supported Mr. Hamutenya if he chose to “openly debate the issue of gays and lesbians without fear, favour or retribution”, in the manner he chooses to do so now.

ORN is of the opinion that we cannot have a constructive debate by naming and shaming those who choose not to declare their sexual orientation publicly for fear or stigma and discrimination. The reality is that we live in a society where alternative sexual orientations or gender identities are frowned upon. We still have Namibians who are rejected, isolated and victimised by their family and community if they disclose, or are forced out of the closet by circumstance or the disclosure of their sexual orientation by another.

We must admit that there is increasing tolerance of sexual minorities in Namibia among communities, the media, and in particular by political  leaders who have not made homophobic statements in recent years.

We however acknowledge that there is still a long way to go before we can achieve the full realization and recognition of the rights of LGBTI people, and we fear that tactics such as those applied by Mr. Hamutenya negatively affect the process, and perpetuates the negative stereotypes attached to LGBTI people.

Furthermore, ORN is highly disturbed by Mr. Hamutenya’s declaration that he’s been supplying “boys” to these well-known individuals for sex at a price. We are shocked and outraged by this and call upon him to immediately cease such actions. Mr. Hamutenya also states that he does not mean to “hurt anyone or break families” by disclosing a list of well-known personalities “who are involved in gay activities clandestinely”, but that is exactly what will happen if he discloses the identities of these individuals. Not only will families be destroyed, these individualized will be victimised at work and by their communities. There may be so much pressure that some may attempt suicide to escape the public’s wrath, and this is not what ORN would want for anyone. ORN thus hereby calls upon Mr. Hamutenya and The Villager to cease any action regarding
the  disclosure of LGBTI Namibians who choose to keep their sexual orientation private. We appeal to you to respect the privacy and dignity of these individuals and allow them to deal with the challenges of being an LGBTI Namibian privately. If these individuals lived and worked in a society that accepted them for who they are, they would not have engaged in marriages and relationships to satisfy an intolerant society’s demands. Let us thus work towards achieving a society that accepts everyone as equal, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
A society within which people can engage in relationship with people they are truly attracted to, and not people society expects them to be attracted to.

As an NGO responsible for addressing the marginalization of LGBTI Namibians, we recommit ourselves to ensuring their equality, dignity and safety.

For more information: Linda RM Baumann- Director

Tel: +264 61 245556 / mobile: +264 81252 8259


Feb 3, 2013

Ghana appoints Pro-Gay Minister Despite Fierce Opposition

GHANA, Feb 2 – DESPITE A grueling vetting process and grilling on her stand on gay rights, lawyer Nana Oye Lithur has been appointed as the new Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection.

Ms Oye’s nomination by President John Mahama led to public discussions on her past remarks that seemed to indicate she was pro-gay. Her confirmation was contained in
a recommendation by the Parliament’s Appointments Committee released Friday.

Her vetting, among other ministerial nominees, was beset with controversy after some members of the clergy resisted her nomination and approval largely because of her liberal stance on homosexuality.

A group calling itself ‘Concerned Clergy Association of Ghana’ mid last month opposed Ms Oye’s appointment as Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection saying she was a ‘proponent and supporter of gay rights’. Presbyterian Moderator Prof Emmanuel Martey had described her as a lady with little integrity and protested her nomination and approval. ‘To appoint Ms Oye to this sensitive position as a Gender, Children, and Social Protection Minister is detrimental to our social cultural norms and religious beliefs,’ group spokesman Bishop Prince Benny Wood is quoted in various outlets. ‘As Ghanaians, we think that the President must take a second look at that kind of position that is being given to Ms Oye because we think that her views as far as homosexuality is concerned is too much to the extreme,’ he added.

At her vetting, Ms Oye reiterated she had never called for the legalization of homosexuality in the country but remarked that every Ghanaian has equal rights.’Not even the President of Ghana can deny anybody’s human rights irrespective of the person’s sexual orientation, ethnic group, gender and what have you,’ Ms Oye is quoted in various sources.’These are guaranteed in our constitution and everybody in Ghana has an obligation to respect that constitution.’

Article 17(1) of the 1992 Constitution states, “All persons shall be equal before the law (2) A person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status”. Ms Oye is a well known human rights activist and lawyer having served in various human rights bodies in different capacities. After her approval was made public, a statement from ‘Concerned Clergy Association of Ghana’ read “They have betrayed the people of Ghana including themselves… because what they did in Parliament today is a bit of a drama,” said the spokesperson for the group, Bishop Prince Benny Wood.

He urged President Mahama to issue a statement “to make Ghanaians have a rest in their minds. What is the position of government or Ms Oye herself because she does much with the human rights aspect? …What is the government’s position on the civil rights of homosexuality act itself and not the people?” In related news, a law lecturer has announced he will soon launch an anti gay lobby group called Forum for True Social Protection which will be a watchdog over any institution that wants to push the homosexual agenda.

Law lecturer at the Ghana School of Law, Moses Foh-Amoaning, is reported to have taken a swipe at the Majority side in Parliament for approving Ms Oye.

Source: Identity Kenya – The Kenya Sexual and Gender Minorities News Service

Feb 2, 2013

How Poverty Further Oppresses The LGBT Community

How Poverty Further Oppresses The LGBT Community

Posted by on Thursday, June 7th, 2012


Of all the hot-button political issues in the media right now, perhaps LGBT rights are the most prevalent. Yesterday, former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was sentenced to thirty days in prison for a bias crime after he used a webcam to secretly record a sexual encounter between his roommate Tyler Clementi and another man, driving Clementi to suicide. Last week, President Barack Obama went on record in support of marriage equality (and, in the process, won the support one of Mitt Romney’s more well-known donors and inspired the NAACP to call same-sex marriage a civil right). But something that often gets left out of the conversation is how central economic justice is to the LGBT movement.

Dharun Ravi at his sentencing

Image from: blog.zap2it.com


Economic justice is defined by the Center for Economic and Social Justice as follows:

Economic justice, which touches the individual person as well as the social order, encompasses the moral principles which guide us in designing our economic institutions. These institutions determine how each person earns a living, enters into contracts, exchanges goods and services with others and otherwise produces an independent material foundation for his or her economic sustenance. The ultimate purpose of economic justice is to free each person to engage creatively in the unlimited work beyond economics, that of the mind and the spirit.

President Barack Obama on the cover of Newsweek

Image From: thepoliticalcarnival.net

Essentially, in a world with true economic justice, no person would have to worry about being able to make a living regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Unfortunately, we do not live in a world where that is universally true. In an article on Huffington Post, Chi Mgbako of Fordham Law School shared stories of economic exclusion. “Aziza”, a transgender woman originally from Algeria, found it nearly impossible to find work as a nurse in Beirut despite her degree and extensive work background. When she did find work, she was forced to work long shifts with no days off, because her employer knew how limited her options were for other employment. “Gloria” was driven out of the Lebanese military by sexual harassment due to her status as a transgender woman. “Ramona”, also in Beirut, had her salary lowered by her boss when she began transitioning from man to woman.

This kind of treatment is not limited geographically to Beirut. Indeed, at a recent Association for Women’s Rights in Development international forum, advocates from all over the world emphasized that LGBT people in their countries experience unemployment, underemployment, and economic discrimination at a disproportionate rate. All concurred that there needs to be more research into the extent of poverty experienced by LGBT individuals in order to construct appropriate interventions and begin to make a change.

Women attending a workshop in Bekkerdal

Image From: calbia-foundation.org

While there is a dearth of data and resources on the international governmental level, there are organizations out there that exist to help bridge the economic gap in the LGBT community. The U.S.-based Point Foundation provides financial support and mentoring to students who have been marginalized due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The Point Foundation scholarships provide a vast array of scholarships (including one named for Tyler Clementi), that provide LGBT youths without family or community resources the opportunity to continue their education. Perhaps more importantly, they pair each student with a prominent and caring mentor from the LGBT community. Not only do these mentors serve as role models and provide emotional support and guidance, they can assist with post-educational resources, including job opportunities. The Point Foundation is not currently seeking volunteers, but they are always accepting donations at a variety of levels to further their mission.

On a more international plane, the Coalition for Advancement of Lesbian Business in Africa (or, CALBiA Foundation) economically empowers lesbians and transgender people in Africa by providing needed start-up capital for small and medium businesses. Like the Point Foundation, CALBiA provides mentoring and sponsorship for entrepreneurs, in this case to help create a sustainable economy in Africa. CALBiA believes that lesbian women and transgender people can achieve equality through financial independence, and they take a holistic approach toward achieving this goal. Everyone involved in CALBiA is a volunteer. If you would like to help further their cause, you can become a member here, and determine your own level of involvement. Other organizations exist in Africa that help women, but no one else there is helping the LGBT community at the level of CALBiA.

Jan 26, 2013

David Kato remembered: A hero then, and a hero now

“David Kato was born to the Kisule clan in its ancestral village of Nakawala, Namataba, Mukono District, in Uganda. The younger of twins, he was educated at King’s College Budo and Kyambogo University and taught at various schools including the Nile Vocational Institute in Njeru, where he became aware of his sexual orientation and was subsequently dismissed without any benefits in 1991.

Later, He came out to his family members and then left to teach for a few years in Johannesburg, South Africa, during its transition from apartheid to multiracial democracy, becoming influenced by the end of the apartheid-era ban on sodomy and the growth of equal rights for LGBTI South Africans.

David Kato

He returned to Uganda in 1998 and decided to come out in public through a press conference; he was arrested and held in police custody for a week. He continued to maintain contact with pro-LGBT activists outside Uganda, and served as one of the catalysts for the movement of LGBTI pride that developed in Uganda.

Kato was among the 100 people whose names and photographs were published in October 2010 by Giles Muhame in the Ugandan tabloid newspaper Rolling Stone in an article which not only outed him and the others, but also alluded to their execution through an the caption “HANG THEM,” which appeared next to a picture of a noose.

Together with others outed LGBTI Ugandans such as Kasha Jaqueline Nabagesera and Pepe Julian Onziema (SMUG), Kato successfully sued the newspaper to force it to stop publishing the names and pictures of people it believed to be gay or lesbian.

The court ordered the newspaper to pay Kato and the other two plaintiffs $600 USD.

David Kato’s story as an activist is elucidated in the must watch documentary film, “Call Me Kuchu,” and if you never had the opportunity to know or meet David, after watching the film, you will feel as if he is your brother too.

The film received acclaim around the world and played to an historic 6 minute standing ovation in the Castro, San Francisco. In the midst of making the film, David Kato was murdered, sending friends, his dear family and dedicated comrades around the world into deep shock and grief.

Kato had spoken of an increase in threats and harassment since the court victory against Muhame, and it is clear that his sexual orientation and his activism were the motive for his murder. Kato’s murderer was caught and tried and is now serving a 30 year prison sentence.

Even though the local Ugandan media and prosecution tried to spin the motive as if to seem David had made advances on his attacker, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary and it is highly likely that the murderer was set up to commit what was indeed an assassination of a great leader, who barely had time to realize his full potential.

Kato advocated for the freedom of LGBTI Ugandans and for their right to their natural born sexual orientation in a heightened climate of hostility and homophobia, occasioned by extreme misunderstanding through the violent and harsh delivery of hyperbole and rhetoric, on Ugandan soil, by extremist American Christian Evangelicals, such as Scott Lively and Lou Engle, exporting hate in the name of their version of Christianity.

Today on this second anniversary of the death of David Kato, his friends, comrades, human rights defenders, and LGBTI people around the world are expressing their love, comforting each other and extolling the virtues of this great hero, with comments, memories and prayer for the peace of his dearly departed soul.

“Today we remember a fallen comrade who did everything in his power to stand for the truth. As we mourn his passing we also celebrate a true human rights defender, strong at heart and a great example to many young LGBTI persons. He used to say “Until it knocks on your door”; now that his passing knocked on our doors,we know that this fight is more than ever not going to be easy, but it keeps us going strong knowing that many are willing to die for it.”

And this from another heroic comrade and beloved friend of David, Viktor Mukasa:

“David was a glue for activists for effective activism. He acknowledged the role of every individual in the struggle, which is a rare thing in our struggles today. He went to great lengths to save his community. He cared about people so much that he used his personal resources to save others. He is irreplaceable.”

Frank Mugishu of SMUG noted in a statement remembering David Kato:

“Today we remember a chilling day for all LGBTI people in Uganda and around the world. The evening that followed was one of fear, apprehension, utter disbelief, horror, and uncertainty. The manner in which David was killed speaks of the sheer hate that can exist in human beings who have not opened up their hearts to love and reason, the martyrdom and the blood that David shed planted the seed of love that we all need to share, LGBTI to straight, straight to LGBTI, one to another.”

This year the coalition group of Ugandan human rights defenders (SMUG) is suing American Evangelical Pastor Scott Lively in the U.S.A. under the Alien Tort Act, for the acts and deeds in Uganda that sparked the wave of persecution against the Ugandan LGBTI community, noting his complicity in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, also known as The Kill the Gays Bill.

Through this extraordinary fight and act of bravery by SMUG and its individual members, it is clear that the spirit of David Kato is alive and well and breathing victory into the hearts and souls of his comrades.”

Article of Melanie Nathan in LGBTQNation

Dec 29, 2012

Still time to stop Uganda’s horrific anti-gay law

In 2013 CALBiA Foundation is expanding activities to Uganda in order to help LGBT community there in common efforts for equality and human rights for LGBT people in this country.
Please sign the below petition to stop anti-gay law in Uganda.



Nov 1, 2012

There is no place for homophobia in the church, anywhere in the world

Source: Guardian by Tim Steven, 

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu looks on during his autobiographical book launch in Cape Town

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said that persecuting LGBT people was the ultimate blasphemy. Photograph: Reuters

In 1967 it was the then archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, who spoke in the House of Lords to support the decriminalisation of homosexuality in this country, thus making a clear distinction in British law between a moral and a criminal issue.

No such distinction exists in many parts of the world and, as a result, people are suffering horrendous abuse and even death for being who they are and loving who they love. Many of us have met people who have shared the most disturbing personal stories, including a very small number who have been granted asylum on grounds of sexual orientation in this country.

Others in this debate have rehearsed the ways in which laws criminalising same-sex sexual activity between adults have been repeatedly found in international law to violate fundamental human rights, and this debate serves also to highlight effectively the way in which criminalisation gives rise to persecution. I want, however, to concentrate on the way in which discriminatory interference in the private sexual conduct of consenting adults is an affront to the fundamental Christian values of human dignity, tolerance and equality.

It is of course no secret, as others have made clear, that on the ethics of homosexual practice the churches in general and the Anglican communion bishops in particular are deeply divided, but that cannot and must not be any basis for equivocating on the central issue of equality before the law of all human beings whether heterosexual or homosexual. Further, many of us who are bishops in this country value and treasure our links with particular dioceses around the Anglican communion. We respect and appreciate the different, and often sharply divided, theological approaches which lead to different stances on the ethical issues. But, as the Lambeth conference of 1998 made clear, there is not and cannot be any place for homophobia in the church, and all are to be welcomed regardless of sexual orientation.

Few have spoken on this issue as unequivocally as archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said in 2010 at a United Nations high-level panel:

“All over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are persecuted. They face violence, torture and criminal sanctions because of how they live and who they love. We make them doubt that they too are children of God – and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy.”

Indeed, in recent years, successive statements from the leaders of major Christian denominations in the west have made similar points, including perhaps most consistently, those from the Society of Friends, which has stated:

“We affirm the love of God for all people, whatever their sexual orientation, and our conviction that sexuality is an important part of human beings as created by God, so that to reject people on the grounds of their sexual behaviour is a denial of God’s creation.”

Many people the world over are now asking the churches to put their position beyond all doubt, by saying simply and clearly that criminalisation is wrong. I will put my position beyond all doubt by stating it in as clear terms as I can. If criminalisation leads, as it evidently does, to gay people concealing their own identity, that must be wrong; if criminalisation leads to many living in fear, that must be wrong; if criminalisation leads to the prospect of persecution, arrest, detention and death, that must be wrong; and if criminalisation means that LGBT people dare not turn to the state when facing hate crimes and violence, that must be wrong too.

It is within the adult lifetime of most of us in this House that the law was changed in this country to decriminalise homosexual acts. However, for our children’s generation, such a state of affairs must feel like ancient history – as appropriate to the moral climate of today’s society in this country as the burning of witches. We must all urgently pursue this journey to a completely new climate in those many countries of the world where same-sex relations are criminal offences.

• This is an edited version of a speech delivered in the House of Lords debate on homosexuality in the developing world