For more than 35 years, NDI has worked to support democracy and human dignity in every corner of the globe. We work in 70 countries and partner with thousands of courageous and committed individuals who are working to build a democratic future.
In this DemWorks video, we honor Pride Month 2019, which also marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising—often referred to as the birth of the modern LGBTI movement. Today, we are speaking with Reverend Ecclesia Delange, executive director of Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM). IAM works to help churches accept and support LGBTI individuals in eight African nations, by working at the intersection of gender, sexual orientation, health and religion.
Reverend Ecclesia Delange: Inclusion is pivotal to building a democracy. Diversity makes you stronger, richer, more colorful, and the value in wisdom and variety cannot be found when everyone is not respected and included.
Whitney Pfeifer: At NDI, we believe that democracies are stronger when all people are included. What barriers to political participation do LGBTI communities face where IAM works?
Reverend Delange: Most of the laws are criminalizing same-sex engagements, and for us as an organization—for Inclusive and Affirming Ministries—it's not really about changing the laws in these different countries, but really building the capacity of individuals that are situated in a space where they can influence change.
Pfeifer: What progress have you made in helping LGBTI individuals in the faith-based community, and how has this increased political participation?
Reverend Delange: In the African continent, religious leaders and religious organizations play a pivotal role in formalizing laws and advising politicians. It has taken more than twenty years—the conversation about human sexuality within the Dutch Reformed Church started in the 80s. It's taken a number of years—the constant dripping of not letting go, and being visible and making at times silent noise.
Pfeifer: Why is it important that you operate as part of a global community?
Reverend Delange: It is knowing that we are not alone, that we can be united, and that there is a global movement, and it is finding momentum, and it's escalating. I think we find strength and courage in numbers.
Pfeifer: Thank you, Ecclesia. It's an honor for you to join us at NDI today, and we're inspired by the work you do for inclusion. NDI believes all people in a democracy have the right to peaceful participation, and continues to work with individuals and groups across the globe. On June 23, NDI partner organization KyivPride held the largest pride march ever in Ukraine, gathering about 8,000 participants from across the country. Please share this DemWorks video with all of your friends and family. For more information on democracy heroes like Ecclesia, go to NDI.org and sign up for our monthly newsletter. Thank you for joining us, and have a happy and safe Pride.