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Bishop Christopher Senyonjo to be honored with Clinton Global Citizen Award for support of LGBT rights

NEW YORK -- Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda will receive a Clinton Global Citizen Award at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting tonight for his outstanding work to support the rights of LGBT people through the St. Paul’s Reconciliation and Equality Centre in Kampala.

The award will be presented by former President Bill Clinton, recognizing Bishop Senyonjo’s courageous work in promoting the equal rights of LGBT people in Uganda and across more than 70 countries where being LGBT is illegal and often persecuted and national and local levels. Clinton also honored Pepe Julius Onziema from Sexual Minorities Uganda for his leadership in Uganda’s LGBT community.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award and President Clinton has moved the world one step closer to a place where it should no longer be illegal to love someone or persecute those of us who want to provide pastoral care and support,” said Senyonjo, who is a frequent visitor to San Diego where he gets a lot of support.

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation in San Diego, has gathered financial support from donors such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Ford Foundation. He is in New York today with the bishop.

“President Clinton is honoring a great man who has helped many of us realize the extent of homophobia in our churches and cultures and the profound economic and psychological damage it does to millions of human beings every day. Today’s award is also a recognition of the foresight of donors and Foundations who have stepped out over the past three years to support our work. Thank you for making the bishop’s prophetic leadership known to the world,” Ogle said.

Over the past decade, Bishop Senyonjo, a straight ally, has recognized that the rights of LGBT people are tightly linked to a range of development challenges, including women’s rights, gender equality, economic empowerment, HIV/AIDS prevention and employment. Through the St. Paul Foundation and the support of organizations like the two aforementioned foundations, the bishop has inspired other of gay-straight alliances to counter prejudice and promote equality.

Making history

This is the first time CGI has recognized leadership on LGBT issues, and symbolizes the increasing need to mainstream LGBT rights as an important dimension of human rights and economic empowerment.

In July, Bishop Senyonjo was invited by St. Paul’s Foundation to lead a delegation of people of faith from 26 countries where being LGBT is illegal to the International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C.

“If it is illegal to be LGBT, it often follows that it is illegal to receive HIV prevention and health services. So LGBT people are one of the most at risk populations in the world. Governments need to decriminalize homosexuality if we are going to get to zero new infections and zero stigma,” the bishop said.

The Foundation reported within two weeks of the Spirit of 76 event, two of their 26 people were harassed by government authorities when they returned home from the conference, simply for working on this issue. One lost his job and the other was tortured by local police. Support for the emergency needs of these individuals and the work of the Foundation may be made HERE . More information on the 76 countries may he found HERE or by contacting Ogle at aogle@stpaulsfoundation.org or 949-338-8830.

About the Clinton Global Initiative/b>

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI annual meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists and media. To date, CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.

CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit HERE and follow on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook.