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American Jewish World Service and GLBT issues in Africa

Ruth Messenger  President of American Jewish World Service sat in my office a couple of months ago to discuss the work of AJWS and particularly its work in Africa. 

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has done incredible work in Africa helping NGO’s with many micro grants to deal with the myriads of poverty and human rights issues that abound there.  Because of her leadership and vision, Ruth explained to me back in October that AJWS also deals with a number of small organizations in Africa that are dealing directly and indirectly with GLBT rights in Africa. 

It is often deadly work dealing with Gay issues on the African continent with the noted exception of South Africa which has legal marriage of GLBT people.  In Malawi recently a gay couple had an engagement party. Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza could be sentenced to as much as 14 years in prison if they have been found guilty of “unnatural practices between males”.  In Rwanda and Uganda there are terrible bills criminalizing homosexuality, often fueled by Christian religious right missionaries and their fundamentalist Christian view of gay people.  Ruth writes eloquently about the Uganda bill and it is good to hear mainstrean Jewish organizations add their voice and clout to repudiating this violence against gay people.  

Read her article printed in the Forward here –article

More people in the Jewish community must speak out.  Lives are a stake.  Human rights are at stake.