30 Jun

Today, the Unitarian-Universalist General Assembly overwhelmingly voted support for the Friends New Underground Railroad

UUA Support for “Uganda New Underground Railroad” to safely extract LGBTQ people from persecution in Uganda.

Our Unitarian Universalist principles, faith and values call us to witness and advocate for human worth and dignity, justice, equity, compassion and the goal of world community.

In Uganda, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) people are being rounded up and killed at an escalating pace.

As of February 2014 a Ugandan law now criminalizes homosexuality. The penalty can be as severe as life imprisonment. Supporters who are perceived as aiding and abetting LGBTQ people can be jailed for up to seven years. According to the newly formed Quaker group, Friends New Underground Railroad (http://friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org/), there have been many arrests with few emerging from the jails. University and high school students are being expelled, seminarians are being dismissed from theological colleges, people are being fired from their jobs and evicted from their homes. Lawyers are afraid to represent LGBTQ people and their allies for fear that they themselves may be prosecuted.

The Friends New Underground Railroad is working with the Friends’ “Safe Passage Fund,” which was created to “provide travel funds and support to LGBTQ individuals and allies who face immediate threats of arrest, attacks, violence and persecution in countries where harsh laws have fostered a climate of extreme homophobia.”

As of late June 2014, the group reports:

In two different incidents in two different locations, we’ve had 58 LGBT people evicted from their “safe” houses and running for their lives. This follows on the heels of suicides by two people who lost hope of getting out, and also with the names of LGBT folks who are being hunted read out over the radio. Due to some extraordinary acts of heroism on the part of several of our conductors, the 58 are now in two separate locations (32 and 26 people respectively) and temporarily out of harm’s way.

The UUA has a proud history, working with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) to rescue persecuted people in harm’s way. The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UUUNO) has been a strong voice at the United Nations on behalf of LGBTQ people in developing countries, especially since President Museveni came to power in Uganda.

Therefore, be it resolved that the UUA General Assembly call upon Unitarian Universalists everywhere to:

  • Support the Friends New Underground Railroad by, among other things, contributing financially to it; and
  • Join with Quaker Meetings in your area to collaborate on this Action of Immediate Witness; and
  • Invite the United Church of Christ and other progressive religious groups in your area to join this action; and
  • Obtain and share updated information in worship services; and
  • Support efforts to allow resettlement of these asylum seekers in the US.

Therefore, be it resolved that the 2014 General Assembly encourages us to join with the Quakers in this movement.

What could be a better symbol of “Love Reaching Out” than to join with Quakers in support of the New Underground Railroad.

UUA General Session VII, General Assembly 2014 – http://www.uua.org/statements/uua-support-uganda-new-underground-railroad-safely-extract-lgbtq-people-persecution (pdf file)
[With some amendments, AIW F, UUA Support for “Uganda New Underground Railroad” to Safety Extract LGBTQ People from Persecution in Uganda (PDF), is adopted.]

You can watch the video “GA 2014 Event 503 General Session Captioned” here: http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vii/index.shtml
The part of the video where they discussed and voted on this is from 35:30 to 49:20 minutes.

Thank you, Unitarian Universalist Association!