In conjunction with the inaugural International Advocate for Change Award to be presented at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, GLAAD is highlighting international advocates working through the media to advance equality across the globe. Earlier this year GLAAD launched the GLAAD Global Voices program, which aims to build support for LGBT equality across the globe by sharing culture-changing stories of LGBT people and families in national and international media. One of these individuals is Bishop Christopher Senyonjo.
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, an 82-year-old excommunicated member of the Anglican clergy in Uganda, has long been an active, dedicated advocate for LGBT people around the world. Over the weekend, he spoke with HuffPost Live about the faithful motivation behind his inclusive ministry.
Last month, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a draconian law that attaches a sentence of life imprisonment to being gay. Bishop Senyonjo has opposed these efforts to criminalize being LGBT for years, and was removed from his position of church leadership in 2006 as a result.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Senyonjo discussed the role that American missionaries have played in intensifying the anti-LGBT environment abroad. "Missionaries have been trying to bring the gospel, but the way they've been preaching, one wonders if it's really good news, because gospel means 'good news.' But when you tell people, 'if you don't change from being what you are, you are going to destroy the country,'…you cause a lot of hatred. There's a lot of this going on. So the preaching should really not…cause each other to hate each other more."
Bishop Senyonjo also explained the ways in which his advocacy is rooted in his faith, and how more religious leaders should take a stand of acceptance and love. He said, "God did not only create heterosexuals, but there are also LGBTQ people. And they are real people. I've met them by counseling, I'm not just reading about them. I know who they are. I know young people who have committed suicide. But by trying to help them understand themselves, they know they are human beings, like me, like another person. These churches should speak out and say 'being gay is not a sin.'…The way you try to live your life is not, in itself, a sin."
Watch Bishop Senyonjo's earlier interview with HuffPost Live below:
The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held in Los Angeles on April 12, 2014 at The Beverly Hilton and in New York on May 3 at the Waldorf Astoria New York. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD's work to amplify stories from the LGBT community and issues that build support for equality.