Monday, July 16, 2012

Other Sheep LGBT Rwanda Seminar

This past weekend Rev. J. Elie Gasana, Other Sheep Coordinator for Rwanda & Democratic Republic of the Congo, hosted a one-day LGBT workshop in Gisenyi, Rwanda. Other Sheep Executive Director Rev. Stephen Parelli offered 2 papers in French & Alfred Ssekabanja of Uganda Victim Support Organization was guest speaker. Twelve clergy & one lay leader, whose ministries range from the local to national level in Rwanda, participated. The attendees were arranged into discussion groups, with designated leaders, to read & interact between themselves on the 2 papers & to prepare written questions for Parelli to address before all the attendees. The first paper, authored by Parelli, dealt with his own journey through his ex-gay experience. The second paper, authored by Dr. Ralph Blair addressed the Bible texts traditionally used to condemn sexual minorities. Each attendee received a hard copy of each paper. The majority of the time was spent on the first paper with discussion & questions around homosexuality as an orientation. Parelli said, "Whatever questions you have about homosexuality, ask the same question about heterosexuality & you will have your answer." Alfred Ssekabanja, guest speaker from Uganda & himself Rwandan, shared his personal story as to how he came to work on behalf of the human rights of LGBT people in Uganda. He said he must help affirm the human rights of LGBT people even at the risk of being rejected by the church. He said he cannot stand silent in Uganda & watch the discrimination, rejection & even the possible death of LGBT people. Uganda cannot become another Rwanda where people are judged 'by their nature & not by their character.' He said if we have learned nothing from the Rwanda genocide, we will still discriminate. In group discussion, one member evoked the word 'kwihanganirana' which means: "I am different; you are different; but we must live together." This report was provided by Other Sheep Executive Director Rev. Stephen Parelli. Updates to Come…:)
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