Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), together with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM) and Trans Network Uganda partnered to celebrate International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) 2017 under the global theme “Diversity and Family”.  The Fellowship Global Pan African Network represents a coalition of faith and civil society organizations working for the dignity of sexual minorities in Africa and throughout the diaspora. This network has grown with representatives in most parts of East and central Africa.

Created in 2004, this day was declared to draw the attention of policy makers, opinion leaders social movements, the public and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people internationally. Since then, May 17th is now celebrated in more than 130 countries including those where same-sex acts are illegal

The event brought together several members of the Ugandan LGBTI community and their allies. Most notable this time round was the service that attracted religious leaders from different parts of the country; in their preachmonies, they focused on an inclusive gospel with the virtues of courage, forgiveness and love making a core part of their messages.

Pepe Julian Onziema, the Programs Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) gave preliminary remarks elaborating why they thought it  necessary to celebrate the day with supplications. He pointed out that most traditional religions such as Islam, Catholicism and Anglicanism have for so long pushed away sexual minorities from the church on the basis that “homosexuality” is evil. He further stressed how evangelism and other forms of newly adopted religion have brought with them a much needed sense of flexibility to counter  propaganda against queer people.

“The centre of our humanity is love and that is what we shall emphasize today. Most of us have been deprived of love and we feel rejected by our biological families but we shouldn’t despair because this here is your family,” Pepe affirmed

The service was followed by a session of praise and worship led by the team from Divine Liberty Centre Uganda.

In his sermon, Pastor Simon from Living Gospel World Mission said that God through the creation story was the first to create family but he knew that the two people he had created were different. He further stressed the example of Cain and Abel the two brothers who were different as could be, one being an agriculturalist and the other a shepherded to elaborate the theme of diversity.

“God is the starter of diversity and it is not a guarantee that all the people in a family have to be the same because they are given different tasks to accomplish. Everybody has a responsibility to finish. God created Cain and Abel differently but he knew they were family and that is why he always made each a brother’s keeper” he noted.

He said that despite the differences, we are family and being different shouldn't matter because for every different person that the Lord has created, he has created a special divine helper.

The service was followed by entertainment that had a lineup of Bryan, who is the Executive Director for Ice Breakers Uganda and doubles as the founder Talented Kuchus Uganda (TUK) . He sang a couple of his original compositions which he write in light of the kuchu situation in the country.

Frank Mugisha the Executive Director of SMUG closed the event with a brief speech-he thanked SMUG for the great networking efforts that led to a spectacular event and appreciated the partners that collaborated with SMUG in the organisation.