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)