Same-Sex Love a Gift from God: African Faith Leaders Urged to End LGBTIQ+ Hate


Reverend Nokuthula Dhladhla (left) became the first black and out queer individual from Africa elevated to the position of Elder in the MCC’s Council of Bishops (Photos: Supplied)

The Council of Elders of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) recently marked Africa Day by calling on faith leaders across the continent to speak out against anti-LGBTIQ+ laws and hate.

Founded in Los Angeles in 1968, the MCC is an international LGBTIQ-affirming Protestant Christian denomination with congregations in 37 countries.

In a powerful statement, the elders said “it is impossible to ignore the rise in hate speech against those who identify as transgender, those in same-sex relationships and, more broadly, the LGBTIQ+ communities.

“We know that words do not exist in a vacuum. Words can hurt and harm. Words can also spur acts of violence and cause others to pass laws that discriminate and divide us from one another,” they asserted.

The statement was released to coincide with a ceremony in Soweto on 25 May to elevate Reverend Nokuthula Dhladhla to the position of Elder of the Council of Bishops within the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

Rev Dhladhla is the first black and out queer individual from Africa to hold the position, a significant development amid a wave of anti-LGBTIQ+ rhetoric and enactment of repressive laws criminalising sexual and gender minorities in several African countries.

In their statement, the elders expressed that they are “called to stand up and speak out for love and human dignity and to denounce misguided hateful words that are fuelling anti-transgender and anti-gay laws that legalise discrimination and criminalise love.

“Such hateful words foment fear and hysteria generally – and, specifically in schools, creating a hostile learning environment for students; who are our future leaders and our best hope,” they said.

Everyone Has the Right to be Seen

Both Christian and Islamic faith leaders have led recent campaigns against LGBTIQ+ people and championed the introduction of new laws to oppress them in countries including BotswanaGhana, MalawiNamibia and Uganda.

The MCC elders, however, argue that “embracing one’s gender identity and sexual orientation is, in fact, expressing self-love as commanded by Jesus” and that “same-sex love, like all love, is a gift from God and rooted in the command to love others — as we love ourselves.”

They added: “Every day, we choose love or hate as the source of our words and actions – in places of worship, government buildings, schools, homes, and wherever humans are present. Everyone has the right to be seen, to be held, and to have a safe place to call home.”

Speaking to MambaOnline after her elevation ceremony, Rev Dhladhla said: “This has been overwhelming for me because I never thought that I’d be elected to such a position. As I processed it, I realised that this is a very significant role; that this is for all of us LGBTIQ+ people in Africa. For the first time we can sit at the table and have our voice heard and not have other people speaking on behalf of us as Africans.”

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