Fundamentalist US pastor Lou Engle

US LGBT groups have protested against fundamentalist US pastor Lou Engle’s homophobic rhetoric which they say has helped foster anti-gay fervour in Uganda.

On Sunday, the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights group in the US, and Soulforce, a civil rights organisation seeking freedom from religious and political oppression of LGBT people, held a vigil outside Engle’s International House of Prayer in Kansas City.

The groups said the the vigil was to protest Engle’s anti-LGBT rhetoric “which has played a key role in escalating the climate of anti-gay hatred in Uganda that most recently led to the murder of leading gay activist David Kato”.

More than 70,000 people have signed a petition asking Engle to immediately halt his rhetoric, and to travel to Uganda to denounce the criminalisation of homosexuality.

Immediately after the vigil, a group including Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, executive director of Soulforce and a member of HRC’s Religion Council, and Moses Kushaba, a gay Ugandan forced to flee the country, delivered the petition to members of Engle’s staff.

“I know first-hand how dangerous life is for LGBT people in Uganda. If anyone is guilty of supporting or fostering the climate of hate and violence, Lou Engle is,” said Kushaba, who was granted political asylum by the United States government.

He added: “Engle’s The Call and the other American evangelical groups have been exporting homophobia, misinformation and lies about LGBT people for far too long.”

Engle has agreed to meet with Rev. Love and Kushaba at a date to be determined.

In May 2010, Engle was criticised for taking part in a rally in Uganda during which he reportedly announced his support for pending legislation which would impose the death penalty in certain cases of “aggravated” homosexuality.

According to The New York Times he praised the country’s “courage” and “righteousness” in promoting the bill.

Engle’s organisation, The Call, later issued a press statement denying that it supported the bill, although it said that “we honor the courage and stand with the stated purpose of the many Church leaders in Uganda who are seeking to protect the traditional and biblical family foundations of the nation”.

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