Archbishop Desmond Tutu Condemns "Kill the Gays Bill" in Uganda. Why Can't Rick Warren?

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has spoken out in opposition to Uganda’s “Kill the Gays Bill.”

Speaking at the All Africa Conference of Churches meeting, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate said, “I am opposed to discrimination, that is unfair discrimination, and would that I could persuade legislators in Uganda to drop their draft legislation, because I think it is totally unjust.”

This statement makes Archbishop Tutu the most prominent faith leader to speak out against the draconian bill being considered in the Uganda parliament.

First proposed in 2009, the impact that the bill could have on the Ugandan LGBT population is devastating. Details of the bill are murky, with little reliable information being released. It criminalizes homosexuality—making it punishable by long-term jail sentences with manual labor, and—most tragically—death. Poised to become law in 2009, the bill was momentarily abandoned after intense international outcry—including that of prominent religious leadership. The bill returned earlier this year, and when it was recently passed through committee

Groundswell has started a petition aimed at clergy members to show widespread disapproval of the bill from faith leaders with over 3000 signatures. It is hoped that signatures on the petition will influence major denominational leaders to speak out in opposition to the bill.

Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, wrote a letter condemning the bill as, “an abhorrent violation of human rights against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and a grave threat to civil society in Uganda.” Jim Wallis’ evangelical organization, Sojourners, also released an article this week decrying what they called the, “draconian anti-LGBT bill.” 

Other faith leaders have condemned the bill in years past, but have remained silent this time around. In 2010, televangelist Joyce Meyers came out in opposition of the bill. HRC has publically called on influential faith leaders like TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, and Rick Warren to speak out against the bill. Wayne Self, Publisher of Owldolatrous Press, drafted an open letter to General Linda Bond, the head of the Salvation Army, an organization with a sizable African presence, asking for a public denunciation of the bill.

It is hoped that Archbishop Tutu’s voice and influence will lead other prominent faith leaders to speak out. There is renewed urgency, as Rebecca Kadaga, Uganda’s notoriously anti-LGBT parliamentary speaker, was quoted saying, "Ugandans want that law as a Christmas gift. They have asked for it and we'll give them that gift." 

Earlier this week, Rev. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of the Metropolitan Community Church wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling out Rick Warren for his CNN interview in which he compared being LGBT to wanting to “punch a guy in the nose”, yet remaining silent about a bill that would imprison or execute roughly 500,000 LGBT people in Uganda and those who know, love and support them. Rick Warren did speak out against the bill in 2009, but has remained silent as the bill was reintroduced in recent weeks.

Take action now

Ask Rick Warren to take a lesson from Archbishop Tutu, and reiterate his opposition to the bill. Tweet the following:

@RickWarren Follow Archbishop #DesmondTutu in condemning the #KillTheGaysBill in Uganda.