Faces of Faith: Where Religious Leaders in Uganda Stand on LGBT Rights

"Religious leaders are here to shape the world. Everyone listens to them, everyone looks up to them. And we need to listen to all of our people, not just the ones we think are most righteous." Rachman Nagwere, Rabbinical Assistant, Kampala Jewish Synagogue. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

"We pray for love, we pray to be a better part of our community, but above all else we emphasize tolerance and unity. All of the different religions are just chapters in one big book. We cannot chase you away for having different beliefs." Moses Kasule, Committee Member, Mother Temple of Africa, Bahá'í. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

"Spiritually, it is against God's will. God created a man and a woman for reproduction. That is how we sustain humanity. If homosexuality continues, the human race will be wiped out." Ibrahim Kagolola, Head of Laity, St. Paul's Church Kiwuliriza, Evangelical. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

"Today you say you hate gay people, tomorrow God will give you a gay son. And what will you do then? Hate him? You have to work with people who have different beliefs." Hassan Kimbugwe, Chairman, Kabalagala Islamic Center Kassam Mosque. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

"You can be gay and you can be a Christian. It is your choice to come to the church and talk about salvation." Reverend Ruth Galimaka, St. John's Kamwokya, Church of Uganda, Anglican. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

"The Bible says homosexuals are sinners, just like thieves and prostitutes. But as Christians we have to love them and help them. Discriminating against them will not change anything." Brother Martin Walugembe, Grace Church Ntinda, Pentecostal. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

"I've never talked to a gay person, but I would like to be friends with one to learn more and help him understand that his actions are disobeying God." Eddie Damba, Youth Minister, Christ Centered Church, Born Again. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

"Homosexuality is abnormal, and we have to do anything we can to stop it. These people need to repent, need to feel guilty, need to feel that they have sinned." Imam Sheikh Ahmed Lubega, Kololo Jamia Mosque, Muslim. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

"If the West would stop putting so much pressure on Uganda and let us evolve for ourselves, I think our outlook could change." Murungi Mukuru, Youth Leader, St. John's Kamwokya, Church of Uganda, Anglican. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

"People need to be really taught about homosexuality first before they make up their minds about the law. I haven't heard enough about them, so I don't want to give my opinion because I don't know the facts well enough yet." Pastor Emmanuel Wambala, Holy Temple Church, Born Again. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

"Why should we want to kill homosexuals for doing something in private that affects no one else? Our job is to love them, to bring them close and show them God's love." Reverend Fred Komunda, St. Peter's Church, Church of Uganda, Anglican. Image by Daniella Zalcman. Uganda, 2014.

Uganda is a deeply religious country, with diversity woven into that fabric. Much of its population practices Catholicism or belongs to the Church of Uganda (Anglican), resulting from European missionaries and British colonialism in 1962. But American-style Evangelism is quickly gaining a foothold; there are also significant pockets of Muslims, Hindus and those who practice local traditional religions.

Thus, pastors, priests and religious leaders wield huge influence in Uganda. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the national discussion of sexual and gender identity spurred by the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in 2014.

Unfortunately, when we read about anti-gay legislation in Uganda, we mostly hear from the most extremely homophobic religious leaders — those who violently condemn sexual minorities and spread a message of hate.

In some ways, the skewed coverage is telling of the state of today's media. Headlines like "Uganda’s Anglican leader doubles down on anti-gay law" (in The Washington Post) or "How anti-gay Christians evangelize hate abroad" (in the Los Angeles Times) grab more attention than "Ugandan pastor not entirely sure what he thinks about homosexuality." But it doesn't give an accurate cross-section of what many religious leaders in the capital actually believe.

That's not to say that they all condone or support the LGBT community; 96% of Ugandans believe that "homosexuality is a way of life that should not be accepted by society."But there is greater breadth and nuance to their opinions, and to the messages they deliver.

On my last trip to Uganda, in the wake of the Constitutional Court striking down the Anti-Homosexuality Act on a procedural technicality, I realized that I hadn't always engaged those on the other side of the conversation, despite the fact I spent more than three years covering the LGBT rights movement in Kampala. So I spent a week speaking with and photographing religious leaders of all faiths, asking them not only about their own views on homosexuality and the criminalization of sexual minorities, but also about how they interacted with their congregations regarding those topics.

It's easy to dismiss many of these perspectives if you don't agree with them, but their opinions are not only important, they are widely and globally held. Furthermore, they are a critical element of one of the most important contemporary dialogues on human rights and equality. These individuals represent the discourse on all sides of the LGBT rights crisis in Kampala.