A single garment of destiny: Global solidarity with LGBT people

Resolution for the 2013 annual conference

Whereas, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Martin Luther King famously said in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly”; and

Whereas, we must be equally committed to fighting systems of racial and ethnic oppression as we are to fight systems of oppression based on sex, gender and sexual orientation, seeing the interconnectedness such systems; and as Christians we have a special obligation to actively resist such systems when they are perpetuated and reinforced in the name of our faith; and

Whereas, rising anti-gay repression and violence in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe is being directly fueled by a significant minority of American Christian leaders, who have warned of the dangers of accepting homosexuals and urged their criminalization; and

Whereas, these Christian leaders have: headlined the notorious anti-gay conference in Uganda that gave rise to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (better known as the “Kill the Gays” bill for its death penalty provision) and met with its sponsors, and one of them proudly describes himself as the “father” of the Ugandan anti-homosexual movement, a movement that has included newspapers calling for the death of gay activists; urged Russians to “criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality” in an “Letter to the Russian people,” a wish that came to pass with the recent passage by the Russian Duma of an “anti-propaganda” bill that bans the promotion of gay events; founded a virulently and violently anti-gay organization in Latvia, Watchmen of the Walls, which is known for its anti-gay demonstrations where gays and lesbians are pelted with bags of excrement; founded and funded a Brazilian branch of the anti-gay American Center for Law and Justice; among many other, similar specific interventions in foreign countries where LGBT people are vulnerable; and

Whereas, in some cases these same U.S. Christians have claimed, apparently without any capacity for irony, that the spread of LGBT rights in other countries is a Western idea; and

Whereas, violence and repression against LGBT people has increased in many of the countries where U.S. Christians have urged people to take up an anti-gay crusade; and

Whereas, the leading researcher on U.S. evangelical influence in Africa, Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, reported in 2012:  “Pejorative attitudes toward LGBT people in Africa have long been widespread. But the recent upsurge in politicized homophobia has been inspired by right-wing American evangelicals who have exported U.S.–style culture-war politics….The Christian right has been involved in legislative or constitutional efforts to crack down on the LGBT populations of Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe as well. Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill has become a kind of template for other countries, including Nigeria and Liberia, where similar laws have been proposed…. It is homophobia, not homosexuality, that is being imported to the continent by neocolonialists with an agenda: to spread U.S. culture wars worldwide”; and

Whereas, the growth of U.S. evangelical Christian influence in Africa and its specific agenda of stoking anti-gay fears and criminalizing LGBT people is well documented in a number of places, including the 2009 Globalizing the Culture Wars report and the 2012 Colonizing African Values: How the U.S. Christian Right is Transforming Politics in Africa report; therefore be it

Resolved, the New York Annual Conference publicly condemn the spread of anti-gay hate to other countries by U.S. Christian leaders and call upon all U.S. Christians to cease all efforts at vilifying and criminalizing LGBT people in other countries; and state clearly that we believe such hate advocacy is contrary to the Gospel call to welcome and defend the marginalized and the oppressed; and be it further

Resolved, that the New York Annual Conference send copies of this resolution along with letters of solidarity and support to beleaguered LGBT organizations in Uganda, Russia, Latvia, Brazil, Honduras and Belize, letting them know that there are American Christians who support them and their civil right and who believe in the diversity of God’s creation.

Passed June 7, 2013