Christians in Uganda have cancelled a planned protest march against homosexuality at the last minute because of fears that it would turn violent.
Organizers say the march through the capital Kampala, scheduled for 21 August, was to have urged the government to crack down on those who are not heterosexual.
Christian critics of homosexuality in Uganda nevertheless went on to express public anger over what they say is an increasing number of homosexuals in the country
"We want to express our public anger over homosexuality. We want everyone to know that we are disappointed. Homosexuality is a terrible thing. It’s illegal under our laws," Aaron Mwesigye, the provincial secretary of the Anglican Church of Uganda, told Ecumenical News International from Kampala on 21 August.
On the same day, Mwesigye spoke at a churches’ rally held to mobilise action against homosexuals, and he asserted that young people in Uganda were paid to become homosexuals.
"They [the government] must make a clear policy over the issue, as they have done with HIV and AIDS," he said.
The 75-million strong global Anglican Communion is deeply divided on the issue of homosexuality, with many of its African members deeply opposed to it, while one of its churches, the Episcopal Church in the United States, has consecrated an openly gay person as bishop.
Hundreds of Christians had turned up ready for the planned procession through Kampala’s streets on 21 August, but the march was put off at the last minute over fears it might turn violent. Some who gathered bore placards with messages such as, "Homosexuality is crime. That’s the Law. Keep it;" and "Homosexuality spreads AIDS". Organizers said the theme of the rally was, "A call for action on behalf of victims of homosexuality".
"It’s a crisis for us because people are suffering, seeking justice and are confused about their gender. They do not know what to do after being sodomised and molested," Martin Sempa, a Ugandan Pentecostal pastor, told the Monitor, Uganda’s only independent newspaper, on 20 August.
Last week, the Sexual Minorities Uganda group, a coalition of gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex organisations, launched a media campaign advocating their rights, while complaining of police harassment. "Let us live in peace … We must treat everyone with dignity and the respect they deserve," coalition members said in a statement.
Some analysts say homosexuals are pushing their cause ahead of a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting that is due to be held in Kampala from 23 to 25 November, when leaders from Britain and most of its former colonies are expected to attend.
(c) Ecumenical News International
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