Christian UN staff in Kenya refuse aid to gay men fleeing persecution

It’s hard enough being gay in a country where the government wants to put you in prison, and will look the other way while a vigilante mob attacks you, simply because of who you love. What are you supposed to do when the United Nations — an organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights — won’t help you when you run from that kind of persecution, and for the same reason?

From the BBC:

Anti-homophobia protest in Uganda, via Creative Commons

Anti-homophobia protest in Uganda, via Creative Commons

His country made international headlines in recent years when it tried to introduce a tough new anti-homosexuality law, which allowed life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”.

Although the courts struck it down, the environment has proved too dangerous for a growing number of Ugandans.

But in Kenya they face constant attacks, kidnappings, extortion and police harassment.

Recently, almost a dozen LGBT people were taken by the United Nation’s refugee agency (UNHCR) to a safe house in Nairobi, after they were attacked on a night out.

Even that agency – the very group tasked with protected LGBT people – has admitted its own staff are hostile.

The deputy head of protection for UNHCR told me that staff have said that as Christians they could not work with, or talk to, a gay man.

“It’s difficult for people to go beyond all the prejudices they have. And this is what we faced with our own colleagues,” Catherine Hamon explained.

Discrimination from UNHCR staff has also led to delays in determining refugee status for gay Ugandans who have fled to Kenya seeking asylum.

The next time someone tells you about all the great humanitarian work religious organizations — particularly Christian organizations — do, remember this story. Every year, thousands of Christians stream into Africa; many are called to make the continent a better place, but all are called to make the continent a more Christian place. And when the West’s involvement in the continent is so heavily skewed toward the religious that aid workers employed by the United Nations feel comfortable saying that persecution and violence are bad, but being gay is worse, it’s time to seriously reconsider just how great the mission is.

(h/t Religion Dispatches)


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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78 Responses to “Christian UN staff in Kenya refuse aid to gay men fleeing persecution”

  1. Allen says:

    Nt aside. Wasn’t it God who inspired the laws of the Law? Didnt the law say for all gays to be killed? Don’t Christians believe Jesus is God from the Ot?

  2. Allen says:

    yea even when Christianity says that all gays should burn and another context say they should be put to death. Quit kidding yourself

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  4. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    It seems you don’t understand the First Amendment.

  5. dcinsider says:

    This ought to be on the bar exam.

  6. Moderator4 says:

    We thank you.

  7. The_Fixer says:

    I’ll try to kjeep an eye out, thanks!

  8. Jim Olson says:

    You’re a different kind of Christian than I am, friend, and you don’t get to tell me that my version of Christianity is incorrect.

  9. Jim Olson says:

    Nice big brush you’re painting with there. Perhaps, I don’t know, you ought to go meet a few Christians who are not like this. May I suggest the United Church of Christ?

  10. Moderator4 says:

    Time for us to just delete his comments whenever we see them. Keep flagging them when you do, it will help us notice them.

  11. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    “If I were going to try to bring people to Christ I would lead with forgiveness, not “hey your lifestyle is a sin”.

    I need to call my pastor. I thought Christ would forgive my sins, not you.

  12. The_Fixer says:

    Your comment has been flagged as you have openly admitted that you purposely circumvented the rules by changing IP and E-Mail addresses.

  13. Jeff says:

    I found this page because I look through the Internet news (which I look through everyday), and this article was listed there. And I was not proselytizing. It would be incredibly unwise to enter into an Internet discussion filled with people who are clearly hostile towards Christians/Christianity, and start telling them that their lifestyle is a sin, and hope to convert them. If I were going to try to bring people to Christ I would lead with forgiveness, not “hey your lifestyle is a sin”. And people were bashing Christianity/Christians before I entered into the conversation, because the article above is about Christians/christianity. How can I explain that the behavior listed above is not appropriate Christian behavior without diving at all into what IS appropriate Christian behavior. I was not preaching.

  14. Jeff says:

    Obviously Free thinker, John, and Jeff are the same person, I switched because free thinker, and John got blocked.

  15. Moderator3 says:

    I’m certain you are correct. Since they keep changing their email address and IP address, I can’t prove.

  16. The_Fixer says:

    It appears that this is the same person under 3 different user names – Free Thinker, Jeff and John. I am not going to engage this person any more and that would just be promoting sock puppetry.

  17. Moderator3 says:

    The commenters will leave Christians alone, if the Christian doesn’t proselytize, and you are proselytizing. In return for Christians not proselytizing, we should expect to not be proselytized by non-Christians, and I have not been proselytize.

    Why did you come to this blog? How did you find it? Although there are of LGBTQ folk here, it is not the primary focus. It’s a progressive political blog. However, I would like to introduce a phrase to you, it’s “Bible burn”. It’s how LGBTQ folk feel after their mistreatment from Christians. I don’t believe I know any gay folk who have not been hurt in some way, even those of us who have chosen to remain Christian. When the day comes that I am accepted in all Christian congregations as an openly gay person, I will believe things have changed.

    I do not like interjecting myself in a discussion, but it seemed appropriate at this time. I will leave things at this – are you basing your ideas on the original Greek and Hebrew Bible or a translation? That means, that you personally are reading the original texts yourself. Move on to a different topic, before I ban you and that horrible email address.

  18. Jeff says:

    I didn’t mean it in the sense that I am protected from being thrown out of chat rooms. I am saying that we should respect other people’s right to speak. I wasn’t even referring to this chat room when I said that, I was referring to preaching to the public in general. As far as comments under web articles go though, I respect that you should be able to share your opinion no matter how different from my own it may be, and no matter how offensive, and I hope to be shown, the same curtesy.

  19. Kristen Tyson says:

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  20. Jeff says:

    (No Subject)

    I want to make something very clear, I didn’t post comments on here in an effort to preach. I saw that in response to this story people were posting hateful comments about Christians and Christianity that were not accurate, and I wanted to make it clear to people that the behavior discribed in this article is not how Christians are supposed to act, and that we aren’t all like that. Think of it like this.. If there was an article about a homosexual serial killer, and below it were written comments about how all homosexuals are homosidel maniacs, wouldn’t you want to write a comment to set the record straight? After I made my comments people proceeded to argue with me, and so I responded, and that too should be an understandable, and not punishable response. I did not come in here to bully people into believing what I believe. Also I have been moderator to disgusions before, and I let every view point be seen, because that allows people to gain a greater understanding of each other, and to learn things that they may have not have know before. The only thing I do not allow is for people to insult each other, because that is just childish, and serves no purpose. What purpose would an open forum serve if the only comments allowed are the ideas that the majority agrees on, and have already adopted as their own?

  21. The_Fixer says:

    I’ll answer, and have already. The First Amendment only protects you against the government abridging your right to free speech.

  22. The_Fixer says:

    Freedom of Speech, as in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, is a governmental construct. It says that the government cannot abridge your right to free speech. It says nothing of Internet comment threads – they have rules that are enforced by those who provide the forum.

    It’s a common mistake that is made by people everywhere. If a moderator of an Internet forum tells you to go away, that is not the government abridging your right to free speech. Consequently, the First Amendment has no application here.

  23. spiralx says:

    That’s self-styled “Christians” for you. Stick to plain simple decent human beings, next time.

  24. Shannon Hatfield says:

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  25. Moderator3 says:

    This Christian moderator will have the courtesy to not come into your house, and say what I want to say.

  26. John says:

    The people that control this page are so open minded. I didn’t insult anyone, just offered a different opinion, and got blocked. Had to use another name.

  27. John says:

    If there are no absolutes then we can do whatever we want. We can kill, steal, rape, you name it, we can do it free of conscience. If that is your idea of a modernized far more intelligent world than the future is looking very grim. Without guidelines there is no limit to what evils men will do. People always talk about how civilized the modern world is and how primitive religion is, but no moral absolutes sounds like a much more primitive and uncivilized world to me. As for the rediculousness of believing such things… I don’t think God is real, I know he is. Think what you want, mock me all you want, if I’m wrong about there being an afterlife there is no consequence. If you are wrong you will have to pay for it for all eternity. So There is nothing you can say that will make me feel like a fool, you are the one taking the bigger chance.

  28. John says:

    Freedom of speech, I can say what I want to who I want, and likewise you a free to bad mouth Christians, and insult me all you want. Equality.

  29. John says:

    I’m not cherry picking. This is where it helps to know the bible in great detail, and I do. It says a lot in the New Testament that homosexuality is a sin. What you are thinking of is when did Jesus say that homosexuality is a sin. Jesus didn’t say it specifically, the closest he came was Matthew 19:5 – and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ If Jesus was supporting homosexuality he would have been more vague in his terminology, like “two people.” Second, the bible specifically says that Jesus was preaching to the Jews. The Jews already knew the law, in fact they emphasized the law. Jesus didn’t have to tell them what the Old Testament law said, but Jesus did have to teach them the purpose (meaning behind) the law. Jesus also said that he did not come to abolish the law (the Old Testament law), but to fulfill it. There is a lot of Old Testament scripture that says that homosexuality is a sin, and Christ outright says that the Old Testament laws still apply. And Christians (the ones following the bible correctly) do not pick and chose. There are 3 kinds of laws in the Old Testament… 1. Laws on morality, 2. Laws ment to govern the nation of Israel, 3. Laws that hold the Jews to a higher standard, therefore setting them apart from everyone else. I am by definition a gentile, and therefor only the moral laws apply to me. Only the Jews are held to the laws regarding beard size, and what to do if someone steals your live stock, and which foods you are allowed to eat. So Christians following the bible as it is written, are only following the moral laws, because those are the only ones that biblically apply to us as Gentiles. We are not cherry picking as you say.

  30. Nancy Green says:

    Christians creating refugees.

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  32. hauksdottir says:

    No gray area….

    Black and white.

    Good and Evil.

    Absolute and complete duality.

    Zoroastrianism.

    “Zoroastrianism or Mazdaism[n 1] is one of the world’s oldest religions, “combining a cosmogonic dualism and eschatological monotheism in a manner unique… among the major religions of the world.”[1] Ascribed to the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster, its Supreme Being is Ahura Mazda. Leading characteristics, such as messianism, the Golden Rule, heaven and hell, and free will influenced other religious systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism

    Only in a desert of searing light and smothering dark could such a belief system arise and take root. After 3500 years, man has grown to understand much of the complexities of this universe, but some people are more comfortable with easy divisions… good guys and bad guys… and let authority figures tell them which are “good” and which are “bad”… and, of course, these authority figures, kings and popes and preachers, are always “good,” while the people they want killed (economic rivals, popular figures, anyone perceived as vulnerable to their bullying, etc.) are “bad.”

    Good and Evil are artificial constructs, semantic boxes.

    THIRTY-FIVE HUNDRED YEARS.

    Isn’t it time to think for yourselves?

    Our very real universe is one where the sun has spots, and where, in the furthest reaches of darkest vacuum, neutrinos and other particles bustle through.

    There are no absolutes.

  33. Moderator3 says:

    Tell it elsewhere.

  34. hauksdottir says:

    Thank you! I was waiting for someone to explain the First Amendment.

  35. hauksdottir says:

    And where in the NEW Testament does it say that homosexuality is a sin?

    You cherry-pickers keep pulling quotations from Old Testament goat-herders every time you need an excuse for bigotry and abuse.

  36. Free Thinker says:

    People misinterpret what Christ meant by “judge.” First consider other things that Christ says about judgement. He refers to the final judgement, when God will come and hand down punishment for our evil deeds. Also when he says judge not lest ye be judged, he is implying that if we judge others, then God will not forgive our sins, but punish us as we deserved before his sacrifice. But realize the balance of that statement, he is saying that we will get the same in return. So if the second half of that statement involves unforgiveness and punishment, than the first half must mean the same. Therefor “judge” in it’s proper context must mean to not forgive, and to punish for. Now consider what the role of a judge is in court. A judge makes a decision based on what he knows of about a case, and then hands down an appropriate punishment, or reward. Also, you are basically telling me that I am judging by simply telling people what God’s law says. Do you really think that God would instruct us not to tell anyone what his law is, or what he said? Wouldn’t that mean we are guilty of judgement every time we read God’s word aloud? Take all of this information, put it all together, and it is impossible to think of judging as simple telling people that what they are doing is a violation of God’s law. Also when you know God’s law, it is impossible not to have set values and to know what is right from wrong. You can not stay neutral on what is right and wrong when God lays it all out for you. Man kind has gray areas because we don’t understand everything. But God knows everything, there is no gray area for him, there is only right and wrong. As his followers we must follow his lead, therefor what he says is right is right, and what he says is wrong, is wrong. I will not argue with God.

  37. Free Thinker says:

    In the name of communism, people commit mass murder. In the name of proving the superiority of certain people, people commit mass murder. In the name of ethnic cleansing, people commit mass murder. in the name of self defense, and survival, people commit mass murder. Religion is not the source of all of these atrocities, man kind is.

  38. Free Thinker says:

    I was saying not to group the people who call themselves Christians but don’t follow Christ instructions in with the Christians who do not follow Christ Instructions. When I said our goal I was referring to the goals clearly spelled out in the bible. We have a doctrine which we are all supposed to believe, and follow. All of those actually following the doctrine properly can be clumped together. Let’s face it, for ever group that exist, there is always at least one nut job claiming that they are part of a group, but not representing the same values of the group they are claiming to be a part of.

  39. Free Thinker says:

    My religion instructs me to preach to others, so In order to follow Christ instructions, I have to tell others.

  40. Free Thinker says:

    Think what you want, God believed in your right to choose. But I’m saying that the Christians who actually follow the bible, and Christ teachings, don’t hate gay people, they just can’t support something that God clearly called a sin.

  41. Free Thinker says:

    The bible clearly says that no sin is greater than another. However, in order to be forgiven. You must want to be forgiven. You must repent, and ask for forgiveness.

  42. Free Thinker says:

    As I said… I don’t hate gays. And the bible doesn’t teach christians to hate gays. It teaches Christians to love everyone, but not to love the evil actions of men. As for all of us believing lies, You haven’t experienced what we have experienced, so I can’t show you proof. But I have experienced the power of God so directly that it is impossible for me to ever deny his existence. As for The disciple… Think about their stories logically. It is a fact that Christ was crusified, Was he God… We can’t prove that. Can we prove that he was raised from the dead, no. However, it is also a fact that his disciple died refusing to say that it was all a lie. If the creation of Christianity was all a lie, and it was all about making money, wouldn’t they have confessed that it was all a lie when their lives were threatened? So at the very least you have to believe that they believed that Jesus was raised from the dead. So how exactly do 12 people all have the exact same dilusion? The. You have Paul , one of those who it is a fact died refusing to admit it was all a lie. He was going around killing Christians, not to mention he was moving up in status for killing Christians. Then all of a sudden he joins the people he is trying to kill and spends the rest having people threaten him until he is finally put to death as well. What about what he did makes any sense if he did not see something very convincing that Christ was risen? believe it is a myth all you want, but I know better.

  43. Free Thinker says:

    The fact that I’m even here on this page shows that I read sources outside of Christian sources. Most of my news comes from secular sources.

  44. Free Thinker says:

    I didn’t say that the story didn’t sound believable, I said that there are no other sources to confirm it. Without other sources to confirm a story people could make up just about anything. For instance last year a bunch of people believed an article that said that scientist found marijuana plants on some distant planet. People believed a story that Obama had publicly mocked Putin. People believed a story that two weeks after the surpreme court ruling on a gay marriage that a pastor was thrown in jail for not wedding a gay couple. All of these stories I had to prove to other people that they did not happen because there was only one source, and people believed the stories. You should never trust a news story without more than one source, or else you will be fooled into believing a lie, sooner or later.

  45. Kafir istani says:

    All christians are the same = they believe lies . Lies that are so blatant and they continue to brainwash the next generation into this cult . They all worship a figure ( jesus ) that has zero eye witness accounts – his gospels all written by unknown peoples – the founder of this cult – paul never even met jesus himself .= it’s all made up and they use myth to hurt other real people .You would have fit right in at the kill the gays conference were a poster mockingly proclaimed “freedom” while they talked about throwing homos of cliffs – as it happens in Syria today .Myth is no excuse to hate .

  46. Kafir istani says:

    This is exactly the evil that comes from religion . That these Kenyans can still keep there jobs while degrading other human beings is sick . I never give a cent to christians for any thing .

  47. Kafir istani says:

    the story is totally believable , any person ( like you ) has an other motive , you fool no one but your self .

  48. Moderator3 says:

    This Christian moderator feels that you are overstepping your position as visitor. Stick around and join in more discussions to become part of the family. Right now, you are harping on one thing. Don’t become an unwanted visitor.

  49. Brady Moore says:

    There are a few sources such as wikipedia (also not a reliable source in and of itself) that support the general idea of this article, but I could also not find his article anywhere else, which may or may not be a coincidence… but the premise is very feasible, even though I cannot vouch for the verity of the article.

  50. Indigo says:

    That’s nice but it doesn’t work. There’s far too much water under the bridge since Constantine to get away the nice-guys argument. Oh, no! Disassociate! Call your self Gnostic or Nag Hammadi or Coptic or even Mithraic, but drop the Nicene facade, it doesn’t work without an emperor to hold it up.

  51. Indigo says:

    Yes, but problem area: sin is a Christian category. How does the source of a category also be a category of itself?

  52. 2karmanot says:

    You truly are a free stinker.

  53. 2karmanot says:

    Bingo! Win the Internets for today!

  54. nicho says:

    While you’re at it, apologize for the Christians who used the bible to support slavery, the Christians who spent and continue to spend hundreds of million dollars on a campaign of lies to take away my civil and human rights, the “Christian” ministers who swindle poor people out of millions of dollars on a weekly basis.

    With or without religion, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But to get good people to do bad things, you need religion.

  55. nicho says:

    Yeah, I pretty much see the BBC as a reliable source. So, I’m pretty sure it’s true. Of course, you won’t find it in the Jesus Journal, but then they’re not known for being reliable.

  56. Brady Moore says:

    HaHah! Nice, and well put.

  57. Brady Moore says:

    Well put sir. And who am I to condemn when we know that we should all be condemned.

  58. Brady Moore says:

    I also want to apologize for the crusades, which I am sure you are referencing, and Westboro baptist church, and church figures who are off molesting boys, or cheating on their wives, I apologize other organizations and groups of radically NOT-CHRISTIAN groups who claim to have some kind of christian faith. But I am compelled to ask for more, because so many other people have committed heinous crimes against the God, the church, and those who are watching. I apologize, and ask for you to forgive me for judging others for judging, and for the times I have argued just so I can be right, and when I try to correct or condemn others struggles when my pride and rudeness, and perverseness are rampant in my life. If you could forgive me for these, then I would love to meet the decent people. This world needs more decent people.

  59. Brady Moore says:

    So you agree that i am legally or ethically entitled to my beliefs? (That is a statement, I think that’s a yes.)

    But you don’t think I am legally or ethically entitled to tell others what I believe? (That is a statement, I think that’s a no.)

    I’m not a paid teacher, so Its not illegal. And I seem to remember something in the first amendment about freedom of speech…

    Do you think that I am abusing my right, or do you think that I am misinterpreting my rights? (That’s a question, you probably don’t want to answer.)

  60. nicho says:

    I don’t hate Christians. I just find their sins against humanity hateful and disapprove of their chosen lifestyle.

  61. nicho says:

    Which Jesus? Jesus the Zealot terrorist or Jesus the Greek itinerant preacher?

  62. dcinsider says:

    I’m an Atheist and find your proselytizing offensive. You are entitled to your religious beliefs, but don’t preach to others.

  63. Max_1 says:

    Who is to decide whose sins are greater?
    Man or God?

  64. Max_1 says:

    “I love how this article clumps all Christians together like we all act like this.”
    “Our goal… ”

    It’s not group mind think when you group mind think?
    Jesus was correct… Filled with excess and ugliness, gilded on the outside.

  65. Max_1 says:

    Dude, your “disapproval” is a judgement.

    What did Jesus Christ say about judging others…
    … And why is it His Word should be ignored?

  66. Free Thinker says:

    I would also like to point out that any time I read a news article I look for multiple sources to prove whether the story is true or not. This story can not be found anywhere else on the Internet, so it’s really doubtful that it is true.

  67. Free Thinker says:

    I’m a Christian, and we don’t hate gay people. We disapprove of their sin just like we disapprove of adultery, or sex before marriage. We don’t want anyone to go to Hell, that is why we tell people about Christ. Our goal is for everyone to be saved, so that no one will go to Hell.

  68. Free Thinker says:

    I love how this article clumps all Christians together like we all act like this. Would it be fair to do this to any other group of people? People always talk about how unfair it is to treat all Muslims like terrorist just because there are a lot of terrorist who are Muslims, but it’s fair to do this to Christians? It is not even close to biblical Christian behavior to turn away people who need help no matter what their sin, as long as you aren’t participating in their sin somehow. So the people that did this really don’t really fit the description of “Christian.” On the other hand the UN is known for being useless in terms of helping people. Before the Iraq war a man jumped into a UN car wanting to give them information in exchange for protection. They sent him away knowing full well that he would be killed for trying to give information to the UN.

  69. nicho says:

    Yeah, you kind of are.

  70. nicho says:

    Christianity is more of a sin than being gay. It is a choice. It is hurtful to a lot of people. It has been responsible for more death and destruction than almost anything else in human history. But, take heart, Christians can repent and, if they work hard enough, they can be forgiven and welcomed back into the company of decent people.

  71. Brady Moore says:

    All i’m trying to say dude, is that I don’t want anyone to “Go to hell”, and i’m not hating you for your orientation.

  72. Glen Thompson says:

    Of course God loves the gay!! Look at Jesus. Single, adored his mother, didn’t understand his “earthly” father, best friend was a hooker, he wandered around the desert with 12 other men, stated: “and John, you are MY favourite”. Besides, the only man who could wear white and sandals after Labour Day. Go figure.

  73. JohnMyroro says:

    My orientation is not a “sin.” Neither is my relationship. Go to hell.

  74. Brady Moore says:

    Hey guys, I just want to lend another perspective so we can all the world differently. I completely agree that the gay community is being persecuted, I see it a school, probably everyday. And I also know that the struggle is far more real in Kenya than other places, the are somewhat unofficially ranked the fifth least friendly to the lgbti community. But, (meaning I do disagree with part of this.) I am a christian. I believe that there is a God, and a God of love! I believe any sexual thoughts or actions that are out of the context of one married man and women are sinful, but are forgiven, and no different from any other sin. So God loves people who are gay, just as he loves everyone and wants them to love him, so that is what I think christians should do, like I strive to do, love everyone, not hate them for their sins, but love them in spite of their sins. Any christian who is living a life a hate, and prejudice to anyone, is not within the steps of God, and is not acting as part of the christian faith. I really just want to apologize for the hurt and pain that these “christians” by name give, and want to stress that this is not what real love looks like, and that this is not the church, and what the church should be. Thank you if you can forgive those who are spreading hate, and accept my apology on their behalf.

  75. 2patricius2 says:

    “Christian” – for some an excuse for being hateful toward LGBT people. They’re doing it all in the name of Jeebus.

  76. The_Fixer says:

    And it’s all because of their “Christian love.”

    How nice. How very fucking nice.

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