Monday, June 30, 2014

LGBTI People in Africa: Chicago Stands in Solidarity

Sunday, June 29, was the Chicago PRIDE Parade and the culmination of weeks of activities focusing on the situation of LGBTI people in Africa.  Chicago stands in solidarity . . . .

From Facebook: "Happy Pride week. This is how my church celebrates:
programs and meetings all week long inviting our GLBT sisters and
brothers to come worship with us or other reconciling ministries.
Supporting the Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program, helping LGBT
people seeking safety in Chicago,,
contact Dennis Ojiyoma,, supporting marriage
equality in Illinois and putting on our marching shoes."
(Photo and post by Paula Roderick)

Gay Liberation Network (GLN) featured huge banners in support of African
and other LGBTI people seeking in asylum in the U.S. as the avoid
violence in their home countries. (Photo proudly posted by Chicago
political candidate Denice Davis.)

GLN Placards:
"Open the borders
to LGBTs & others fleeing violence abroad!
STOP Deportations!"

Putting the whole picture together . . . .
(Photo by Roger Beltrami - see full album)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chicago - More PRIDE Events in Solidarity with LGBTI People in Africa

Please join us for these additional activities in support of LGBTI people in Africa during PRIDE month in Chicago:

Sunday, June 22: Ecumenical PRIDE Worship

Solidarity: Standing on the Side of Love. At this Second Annual Ecumenical Pride Worship Service, we'll celebrate the sustaining power of solidarity in all justice gained. Joyous and justice-affirming, we'll lift up thanksgiving for progress made and invoke spirit for depth of engagement yet needed. Mission offering will support Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program (CLASP).

Reception: 5pm; Worship: 6pm followed by more reception.
University Church Chicago
5655 S University Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60637
Ample street parking and nearby garage on 55th.

Join the Facebook event and invite others!

Sunday, June 29: PRIDE Parade

Open the Borders! Immigrant solidarity contingent in this year's Pride Parade. The Gay Liberation Network invites all who support immigrant and refugee rights to join a contingent to help spread that message in this year's Pride Parade! Hundreds of thousands will see it! 11 AM SHARP - meet at the corner of Broadway and Sunnyside (in front of the Target). Day-of cell phone contact: 773.209.1187

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Introducing: the Global Interfaith Network for People of all Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions (GIN-SSOGIE)

On Sunday afternoon, June 15, 2014, meeting with a small group at St. Luke's Lutheran Church Logan Square, Judith Kotzé from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries (IAM) in South Africa provided an introduction to the work of a group formed earlier in 2014: the Global Interfaith Network for People of all Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions (GIN-SSOGIE).

GIN-SSOGIE's vision is:
We envision a just world in which the dignity, faith, spirituality and human rights of persons of all sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions are honoured, supported, and protected.
Further information is provided in the detailed GIN-SSOGIE press release below. In addition, a letter by GIN-SSOGIE on harsh legislation in Nigeria and Uganda against LGBTI people is also posted below; it provides an important picture of the work of GIN-SSOGIE.

For more information:

Twitter: @ginssogie
Facebook: Global Interfaith Network

Read about all the events in Chicago's 2014 LGBTI Solidarity in Africa Weekend .  .  .

(Photos courtesy Robert Castillo)

Global Interfaith Network Press Release: 17 February 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: GIN Steering Committee

We are very pleased and proud to announce the formal establishment of the Global Interfaith Network for People of all Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions (GIN-SSOGIE) following our first annual conference, held in South Africa in January 2014.

The idea for a global network of activists engaged in faith work around issues of sex, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions germinated at the 2012 International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (ILGA) World Conference in Stockholm. GIN recognizes an urgent need to eradicate the religion-based violence, criminalization and persecution of our community.

The South Africa conference gathered 68 delegates from more than 35 countries, representing a wide array of faiths and denominations. The participants represented an authentic and rich diversity of sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions that are a part of the human family. Since day one, GIN has centered its leadership and organizing base in the countries where violence and bigotry are greatest, including, but not limited to, places in the Global South.

The four-day gathering focused on the pillars that ground our work: creating safe spaces, organizing skills, scriptural and academic resources, founding structures, and building a new faith-convicted and inclusive narrative in human rights arenas. The Steering Committee, elected from a uniquely diverse membership representing many faiths and backgrounds, had this to say about the new network's purpose: "People from all over the world have worked together across cultures and faiths to give birth to a new organization and a new narrative in human rights and religion.

GIN aims to create solidarity amongst our community's people of faith, to promote interfaith dialogue, and strengthen our voices within the institutions and structures that govern our lives. We seek to overcome the falsely fabricated rift between our community and faith traditions."

GIN will also provide resources, training, and collective programmes to help individuals and organisations engage in meaningful, constructive dialogue with religious leaders and advocate at the regional and international level for dignity and rights. GIN's goals are mutual understanding, respect, inclusion and acceptance.

Global Interfaith Network Condemns Anti-Gay Laws in Nigeria and Uganda

On 7 January 2014, Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan signed an extraordinarily repressive bill into law: the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill criminalises Lesbians and Gays in Nigeria. The law also criminalises anyone who advocates for human rights for LGBTI people.

After months of delay, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, signed the Anti Homosexuality Bill in to law on 24 February 2014; the law makes some homosexual acts, namely “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life in prison.

The new laws in both Nigeria and Uganda, which add to previously existing legislation, mandates years in jail for people in same-sex relationships. According to existing laws, consensual same-sex activity is punishable by the death penalty in Northern Nigeria.

The new law has unleashed a wave of anti-lgbt violence across Nigeria and Uganda; many people have lost their homes, their jobs and live in fear of their lives. There have been reports of mass-arrests and on Sunday 9 February, the New York Times reported that a court in Nigeria's Bauchi State publicly whipped a man after being convicting him of having consensual sex with another man.

Naome Ruzindana, a Ugandan human rights defender now based in Sweden but still very much involved in the struggle, commented, "Museveni's statements are contradictory, once he said Uganda does not have gay persons, another time, he said the only problem is exhibition of sexuality is not in the African tradition which meant he acknowledged their existence but his problem was their action in public.”

On 30th January, a video of two gay men forced to perform sex acts with each other in public in Nigeria went viral. The video shows a mob of people jeering and abusing the victims as they were forced to perform in a way that was both degrading and humiliating.

"Shocking... many Nigerians are still ignorant of the full implications of the antigay law and extent to which it criminalizes everyone for everything" says Dorothy AkenOva, spokesperson for the ‘Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights’ Nigeria. She continues, "Our success to repeal this law or render it redundant lies in building alliances and mass education on the content of the bill".

On 24 February, Uganda's Red Pepper Newspaper published the names and photographs of 200 people known to be gay or lesbian and incited further violence and arrest under the new law.
"It is totally sickening," said Ugandan refugee Stosh Nate Jovan.

Not only does the law violate Nigeria and Uganda’s own constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of assembly, it also contravenes many of the international treaties ratified by both countries. UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay had this to say about the law:

“Rarely have I seen a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights.” She added, “Rights to privacy and non-discrimination, rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, rights to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention: this law undermines all of them.”

The Global Interfaith Network strongly condemns the undemocratic and discriminatory laws and calls on Nigeria and Uganda to meet their obligations under international human rights law. We believe that under no circumstances can religious belief sanction or allow the alienation and violence which these bills are already inciting against people simply on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

GIN urges the Nigerian and Ugandan government to:

• Ensure that the human rights of LGBTI individuals and human rights defenders are not violated.
• To reject and repeal discriminatory laws and eliminate all existing legislation that discriminates based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
• To take measure to recognise the health, safety and rights of all minorities.


Global Interfaith Network

We envision a just world in which the dignity, faith, spirituality and human rights of persons of all sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions are honoured, supported, and protected.

June 14 in Chicago: Forum on LGBTI Solidarity in Africa 2014

UPDATE July 3, 2014: Did you miss the Chicago Forum on LGBTI Solidarity
in Africa program in early June, or simply want to revisit that great event?
Chicago Access Network TV has you covered!

Here are re-broadcast dates, times and channels available to everyone who has
cable TV in Chicago. CAN TV will rebroadcast the program on the following schedule:

Sunday, July 6th, 11:30 AM, Channel 21
Tuesday, July 8th, 8:00 AM, Channel 19
Wednesday, July 9th, 12:00 PM, Channel 21

Advocacy!      Support!      Accompaniment!

Thank you! to everyone who participated in the outstanding forum held yesterday afternoon at the Episcopal Church Center in Chicago!

You can learn more about the forum below, and in the soon-to-be-uploaded video recorded by CAN-TV.

Many people remained after the forum for a reception, film screening, and fundraiser to benefit:

Encouraging faith communities and others in South Africa and 
throughout Africa to become advocates for LGBTI inclusion and affirmation.

Helping LGBTI people live safely in Chicago by provide direct 
living support and welcoming environments to asylum seekers

Pledges and donations for the work of these important organizations are still being accepted! You can make a donation by check or online through the CLASP fiscal agent, Broadway United Methodist Church:
By check: Mail check payable to “Broadway United Methodist” to Broadway United Methodist Church, 3338 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657. Memo: “June 14 Forum”)

Online: Use the Broadway United Methodist online donation portal - check "special contribution" with the memo "June 14 Forum" 
Read more below about the forum panelists and topics.

Read about all the events in Chicago's 2014 LGBTI Solidarity in Africa Weekend .  .  .

Forum on LGBTI Solidarity in Africa 2014
Saturday, June 14, 2014
2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Learn about the current situation of LGBTI people in Africa and discover ways to provide advocacy, support, and accompaniment.

Speakers from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries (IAM) in South Africa and CLASP (Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program).

Some of the questions the Forum will examine include:

What is happening in Africa?

* what is the general environment in which scapegoating of LGBTI people is occurring?
* what role does politics play?
* what is the role of the churches?

What are the special public health concerns arising out of persecution of LGBTI people in Africa?

What pathways exist for persecuted LGBTI people in Africa to find safe haven?

* what is the scope and nature of the refugee challenge?
* how can travel be funded?
* how can people obtain the necessary documents?
* how else can we help meet the needs of refugees?

The Forum will include opportunities for activists with specific interests to work together, particularly in the areas of:

* Refugee settlement in the Chicago area
* Advocacy globally – how can churches and others support African efforts to protect LGBTIs?
* Advocacy to effect US government posture toward African LGBTIs seeking refuge
* Offering pathways to safe haven - other facets


John Adewoye is a Nigerian/American gay man resident in Riverdale, IL. He came to the United States in 1999 as a Catholic priest with a secret agenda of pursuing anti-gay "conversion therapy" but discovered it to be false. This discovery and the U.S. environment emboldened him to accept himself and come out as a gay man, but at the cost of his homeland and by choice, the priesthood. He is the founder of Courage Nigeria and the Center for Integration and Courageous Living, and a co-founder of CLASP. Despite his exile, Mr. Adewoye is an active member of two coalitions working hard to overturn the “Same-sex Prohibition Act 2013” signed to law in Nigeria January 2014. He is a Chaplain at University of Chicago Medicine, a member of Chicago Gay Men Chorus, the Arch-diocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach and Adodi National. He became a US citizen on April 7 of this year.

Victor Charles Aweke is a 31-year-old Nigerian who worked openly as a volunteer HIV and human rights advocate in his home country until recent threats of violence forced him to flee. Mr. Aweke previously worked with Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights as an Outreach Coordinator, Center for the Right to Health as the diversity program officer, on HIV Prevention Intervention Program for most-at-risk persons, Institute of Human Virology as the liaison officer on the trust research for most at-risk persons within the Abuja metropolis in Nigeria. An experienced public speaker in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States, Mr. Aweke is currently working with the Center for Integration and Courageous Living and the Chicago LGBT Asylum support program (CLASP).

Rev. Judith Kotzé is Director, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM), South Africa. She is a lesbian who in 1995 qualified as one of the first woman ministers in the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC). She served the DRC from 1996 to 2000 in the multi-disciplinary ministry regarding prostitution. She has a Master’s degree in Missiology, working on Interreligious Dialogue as a model for the Intra-faith Dialogue around sexual orientation. Rev. Kotzé became Director of Inclusive & Affirming Ministries in 2011, having served in IAM in various capacities since 1997, and has traveled widely in Southern Africa as part of her activism.

The Forum is a collaboration of:

Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches
CLASP (Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program)
Gay Liberation Network (GLN)
Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM)
South Africa
St. Luke's Lutheran Church Logan Square
Truth Wins Out

Endorsed by:

Affinity Social Services
Chicago World Can’t Wait

Special thanks to:

Chicago-based activist Brent Holman-Gomez for moderating
this afternoon’s forum. Brent works within the welcoming church
movement, immigration equality, and Gay Liberation Network.

Truth Wins Out for underwriting support for the day’s events.
Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a non-profit organization that works
to demolish the very foundation of anti-gay prejudice. See

Forum photography: Andy Thayer

Gay Pride 2014 in Cape Town (more images)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

June 13-15, 2014 - LGBTI Solidarity in Africa Weekend

Below is a schedule of events currently under development for LGBTI Africa Solidarity Weekend in Chicago - June 13-15, 2014.

Please promote these events and email to find our how your organization can provide additional support.
UPDATE JUNE 12 - On Wednesday, June 11, John Adewoye and Victor Awekewere featured on Jerome McDonnell's Worldview program on WBEZ: Gay Nigerians fight for rights against anti-gay law. They introduced the issues and gave a preview of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday events.

Friday, June 13


2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Symposium: Theological Resources for LGBTI Liberation
Broadway United Methodist Church - 3338 N Broadway St, Chicago

Judith Kotzé and Ingrid Schoonraad from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries (IAM) South Africa will join in conversation and reflection on the theological resources for the work of LGBTI liberation in Africa. We will consider the intersections of North American liberation theology and South African post-apartheid theology, as they inspire, encourage, and challenge the work of solidarity and liberation for LGBTI people. Join us for the conversation!

UPDATE JUNE 14 -About 30 people participated in Friday afternoon's liberation theology discussion. There was moving testimony from numerous participants, including several people from Nigeria now living in Chicago. (Photo at right: John Adewoye. Photo courtesy Pastor Lois McCullen Parr, Broadway United Methodist.)


6:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. GLN-TV on LGBTI Solidarity in Africa
Chicago Access Network TV - cable channel 21 in Chicago

Rev Judith Kotzé joins the Gay Liberation Network's Brent Holman-Gomez to discuss issues of LGBTI solidarity in Africa, and preview the Saturday and Sunday events in Chicago (see below).

Saturday, June 14


2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Chicago Forum on LGBTI Solidarity in Africa 2014
Episcopal Church Center - 65 E. Huron, Chicago

Connect with the current situation of LGBTI people in African and discover ways to provide advocacy, support, and accompaniment.

Africans from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries (IAM) South Africa and CLASP (Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program) will lead us. Breakout roundtables will allow everyone to get involved in efforts for US Policy, worldwide/church advocacy, pathways to safe haven, and Chicago re-settlement. Come participate in making a better day for all of us as Chicago connects with Africa!

UPDATE JUNE 15 -About 50 people participated in Saturday's event. There was moving testimony from numerous participants, including several people from Nigeria now living in Chicago. (READ FULL EVENT DESCRIPTION.) (Photo courtesy Andy Thayer.)


5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. -- FUNDRAISER: Reception and Film screening: Call Me Kuchu

Suggested donation: $25.  Donations benefit Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) in South Africa and CLASP (Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program .

Wine and cheese reception at 5:00 p.m., followed by 6:00 screening of the film, Call Me Kuchu:
David Kato, Uganda’s first openly gay man, is one of the few who dare to publicly protest state-sanctioned homophobia. Working with an idiosyncratic clan of fellow activists, David fights Uganda’s government and tabloids in the courts, on television, and at the United Nations. Because, he insists, “if we keep on hiding, they will say we’re not here.” With unprecedented access, CALL ME KUCHU depicts the last year in the life of a courageous, quick-witted and steadfast man whose wisdom and achievements were not fully recognized until after his death, and whose memory has inspired a new generation of human rights advocates. (More at )
There will be time for audience discussion following the film.

Special thanks to Truth Wins Out for providing for the costs of this event.

DONATIONS STILL BEING ACCEPTED - click here to help support this important work.

Sunday, June 15


 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon Worship Service of Solidarity and Welcome for LGBTI Activists from Africa
St. Luke's Lutheran Church Logan Square - 2649 N. Francisco, Chicago

(l to r) John Adewoye, Ingrid Schoonraad, Rev. Erik Christensen,
Rev. Judith Kotzé, Joe Scarry (Photo courtesy Robert Castillo.)


2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Introducing: the Global Interfaith Network for People of all Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions (GIN-SSOGIE)
St. Luke's Lutheran Church Logan Square - 2649 N. Francisco, Chicago

Friday, April 25, 2014

Resolution of the Metro Chicago Synod of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) for solidarity with those experiencing and resisting harsh anti-LGBTI legislation across Africa

UPDATE June 1, 2014: The following is the amended text of the resolution that was PASSED at the 2014 synod assembly of the Metro Chicago Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, on March 30-31, 2014. (The theme of the 2014 assembly is "Into All the World.")


WHEREAS, in “witnessing as an institution” the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has committed to:  “speak out on timely, urgent issues on which the voice of the church should be heard,” and “defend human dignity” (ELCA social statement, Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective, 1991, p. 1, 7); and

WHEREAS, “in the area of international peace we strive to strengthen our global perspective as individual Christians and as a church body, in spite of strong currents that push us to turn in on ourselves” and in taking up the task to “promote respect for human rights” and commit to “teach about human rights... and protest their violation” with priorities to “defend the human rights of groups most susceptive to violations, especially all minorities, women and children; and “in our own country to support a generous policy of welcome for refugees” (ELCA social statement, For Peace in God’s World, 1995, p. 1, 14, 20); and

WHEREAS, thirty-eight countries in Africa as well as other areas of the world are experiencing rising levels of state-sanctioned homophobia and violence through the imposition of harsh and even brutal  laws criminalizing homosexuality with sentences including lifelong imprisonment to the death penalty for lgbti persons1; and in some cases jail time for those associating with, found in the company with, advocating for or accused of supporting organizations connected with such human rights -- including religious leaders;2 and,

WHEREAS, in 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution 17/19 as the first United Nations resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity, presented by South Africa and expressing “grave concern at violence and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity” and establishing human rights for lgbti persons as an international norm (A/HRC/RES/17/19); and, 

WHEREAS, the detrimental effects of these discriminatory laws includes targeted violence toward persons; scapegoating; the spread of HIV/Aids through such violence, through fear, intimidation and limiting access to service and other human rights; limiting the ability and scope of vital NGO aid; and deliberately drawing attention from other human rights issues;3 and,

WHEREAS, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America “acknowledges that consensus does not exist on how to regard same-gender committed relationships” while confessing “hate crimes and violence against those who are regarded as sexually different sometimes have been perpetrated publicly in the name of Christ” and that despite our differences this church unequivocally “oppos(es) all forms of verbal or physical harassment and assault based on sexual orientation” and denounces the behavior leading to the violence against those regarded as sexually different (ELCA social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, 1993 pg. 19, 24); and,

WHEREAS, Metropolitan Chicago Synod has a companion relationship with the Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA), a relationship that “opens our eyes to the global challenge that Christ offers us today” through the lens of accompaniment, “an endeavor shared by mutual participation in the body of Christ” (MCS website, Companion Synod); and, 

WHEREAS, while South Africa currently extends same gender marriage and other rights to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual transgendered and intersex individuals yet is susceptible to the effects of harsh anti-gay sentiment and lgbti South Africans continue to face considerable challenges, including social stigma, homophobic violence (particularly “corrective rape”), and high rates of HIV/AIDS infection;4 and, 

WHEREAS, our companion synod is a participant in the Speak Out Campaign Against Sexual Violence in relation to the Diakonia AIDS Ministry it supports with ecumenical partners, recognizing that “violence against people of different sexual orientations is one of the causes that contributes to the continuous spread of HIV” and thus encouraging ministries to speak out and work to end sexual violence (Diakonia AIDS Ministry Newsletter December 2012 - February 2013); therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Metropolitan Chicago Synod stand in solidarity with those in our companion synod and throughout Africa who are experiencing and resisting the rising tide of hatred and harsh anti-lbgti legislation in many African countries, and be it further 

RESOLVED, that the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, through its companion synod working group and in partnership with Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA), continue to call the synod to prayer as well as inform this synod and its congregations of other ways we can be in active solidarity, and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, through its companion synod relationship in South Africa and appropriate other partners (e.g. such as the global mission unit of the ELCA, LIRS/RefugeeOne and the ecumenical community), facilitate further conversation to explore the global accompaniment we can offer and responses we can make to violations of human dignity and human rights in this developing crisis.

1lgbti is the initialism most commonly used across Africa for this human rights movement. Lgbti stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.
4See also Violent Hate Crime in South Africa a report submitted to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for the thirteenth Universal Periodic Review May 12 – June 1, 2012.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

About Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program (CLASP)

Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program (CLASP) was established in early 2014, in partnership with the Broadway United Methodist Church and Centre for Integration and Courageous Living, following the LGBT-FAN inaugural retreat. CLASP aims to provide direct living support and welcoming environments to asylum seekers, as works closely with the Center for Integrated and Courageous Living (CICLiv) to this end. The group is currently seeking to connect with local human service providers and develop fund-raising and service provision strategies.

Download the full CLASP flyer. 

More about CLASP . . . 

" At the end of January, a coalition of faith leaders and advocates launched CLASP. The organization works to provide a network of support for people who have left their home countries and found their way to Chicago and are applying for asylum. Due to anti-LGBT laws in countries including Africa, Russia and India, the lives and well-being of LGBT people are threatened. They are forced to escape their home countries, CLASP said. In more than 80 countries, there are laws against being LGBT and in more than 75 countries, a person could be imprisoned, while in seven of those countries, the punishment for being LGBT is the death penalty." (See "CLASP group forms for LGBT asylum seekers," March 6, 2014, in the Windy City Times)