LGBT+ issues and human rights was the topic of an inspiring gathering at Church recently. Fr Chris and Prossy Kakooza lead the discussion. Fr Chris opened with an interesting whistle stop tour of the legal position of LGBT + people through the centuries in the UK. It was a great reminder to me of how far we have come in a matter of a few generations, but, in our discussion, another member of the group shared his own story of the rejection he had experienced coming out as a gay man later in life only a few years ago.
Prossy shared her story with us and I do not wish to paraphrase any of it because to do so would do her a great disservice. In summary, she told us of her struggle as a lesbian in Uganda and then her further struggle to secure asylum here in the UK.
Prossy’s story was a harrowing personal account of the fate of many LGBT+ people in a number of countries across the world. Above all though was the remarkable strength and tenacity of Prossy not only to escape and fight for the right to stay in the UK, on the basis of the risks posed to her in the country of her birth because of her God given nature, but she has gone on to work seemingly relentlessly to help others in similar situations.
I asked Prossy, leaving the law to one side, what she thought was the key reason people in Uganda were generally anti LGBT+ and she said she thought it was driven by fear and obsession with sex; so on the one hand the problem is just the same as all prejudice but on the other hand there is something unique about homophobia which is distaste/fear/obsession of what gay people do in bed!
So what might help? Prossy told us she had experienced rejection here in Manchester by some LGBT+ people because they had their own fears and prejudice about immigrants so she asked LGBT+ people particularly to be kinder and befriend other LGBT+ people seeking asylum.
Prossy told us that she and God had fallen out a number of times but they had fallen back in with each other and she and her partner, who also came to the UK for the same reasons, found strength in prayer. Prossy told us she thought the Bishops in the UK could do more to help by speaking out against homophobia in our world and there were lots of nods and affirming comments.
I hope and pray that the positive and inclusive folk within the church will give strength to gathering momentum for change that starts with us.
We must make an effort to understand what is going on elsewhere in the world and indeed closer to home, take part in the debate whenever we can, extend friendship and welcome to brothers and sisters seeking asylum and hopefully too the Bishops will be strengthened and inspired to do more.