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U.S. Anti-Gay Influence Exposed in Uganda

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Jan 4, 2010
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The so-called "Culture of Life" spoken of by American evangelicals seems to have played a part in sparking a bill in Uganda that proposes dealing out death to some gays.

The bill was sponsored by David Bahati, a little-known politician who became know overnight all around the globe for the bill he authored that steepens penalties against gays and provides stiff punishments against those who decline to report gays to the police.

In Bahati’s original version of the bill, gay men who have repeated sexual encounters with consenting adults of the same gender would be put to death, as would any HIV-positive men who engaged in sexual activity or sexually assaulted others.

There is some evidence that the bill was prompted in part by claims made by American anti-gay evangelicals who visited Uganda nearly a year ago. In March of 2009, several American evangelicals traveled to Uganda and presented what they called the "Seminar on Exposing the Homosexuals’ Agenda." Their talks contained assorted claims about gays and the "dangers" that gays pose to society, reported the New York Times in a Jan. 3 article.

The conference was put together by the Ugandan group the Family Life Network, which purports to uphold "traditional family values." The speakers included anti-gay writer and missionary Scott Lively--author of a book that purports to tell parents how to "gay-proof" their offspring--and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus international, an organization dedicated to the idea that gays can be "cured" through prayer and counseling.

A third speaker was also in attendance: Caleb Lee Brundidge, who claims once to have been gay, but now to be heterosexual. Mr. Brundage heads seminars focused on "healing" gays (that is, attempting to turn them straight).

The views set out by the Americans ranged from highly dubious claims that gays can be "converted" to heterosexuality to wild, undefined assertions that a "gay agenda" was at work "to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity," as well as stereotype-based pronouncements that gay men prey on teenaged boys.

Exporting Hate to Africa
Some worry that the presence of anti-gay "missionaries" in Uganda is evidence that Africans are in danger of becoming "collateral damage" in the struggle by U.S. religious conservatives to deny gay individuals and families equal legal recognition and protections, with those denials based on the claim that homosexuality is a "choice."

Indeed, the repercussions in American society have largely had to do with assigning blame; some have pointed at prominent megachurch pastor Rick Warren, taking his initial reluctance to issue a statement to be approval and even accusing Warren of helping to create the anti-gay bill. Warren refuted this in a video addressed "to the pastors of the churches of Uganda" in which Warren stated that, "As an American pastor, it is not my role to interfere with the politics of other nations, but it is my role to speak out on moral issues, and it is my role to shepherd other pastors who look to me for guidance... a law that I had nothing to do with, I completely oppose, and I vigorously condemn."

Warren has not, however, denounced his fellow American evangelicals for their purported role in the creation of the proposed Ugandan legislation.

The American evangelicals gave their addresses in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, over a three-day period. The crowds who heard them speak included not only lawmakers, but also law enforcement officers and teachers, the New York Times article reported. The politician who subsequently introduced the bill has said that he counts as friends American evangelicals in U.S. government positions; a Ugandan minister stated plainly that, "Homosexuals can forget about human rights."

The Times article characterized the controversy that the proposed law has created in Western nations as turning Uganda in to "a far-flung front line in the American culture wars," and noted that in the face of international pressure--including threats to withhold development aid money--the Ugandan government has said that the bill will be revised to scale the penalty back from death to life imprisonment.

For Americans on either side of the issue, the outcome is crucial enough to warrant the sort of response that domestic gay-related issues have generated in the past; in a response reminiscent of the struggle over California’s anti-gay ballot initiative Proposition 8, both sides are sending money and manpower to the African nation. "It’s a fight for their lives," Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice director Mai Kiang told the New York Times.

Next: American Evangelicals Set "A Fire They Can’t Quench"



Comments

  • Anonymous, 2010-01-05 10:33:50

    What an American-centered view of the situation! This article makes it sound like, without the anti-gay Americans’ visit & conferences, these Ugandans never would have come up with this anti-gay sentiment on their own. Like they’re a bunch of idiots with no original thoughts; blank slates just waiting to be indoctrinated by the white man. What a completely condescending view of Africans! The truth is, many Africans, all over the continent - without the proselytizing of the American evangelicals, have such views. Why not analyze this fact? Why do you always make it about YOU, America?? Get over yourselves!


  • Anonymous, 2010-01-05 12:16:01

    I’ll give you a suggestion for healing prayer. Why don’t we pray for those people who "choose" to try to hurt and oppress those who are even remotely different from them, because now these homophobes who fabricate arguments just to get rid of that bothersome feeling that comes from knowing that some straight people do accept homosexuals have gone to a new low. And I may be speaking of a monumentous portionnof our population, unfortunately, but it still has to be said. So you homophobes that might be reading this right now, educate yourself, for understanding breeds acceptance. It is scientifically PROVEN that biology plays a part in sexual orientation. Don’t believe, inbred beliefs still overpowering logic? Google it.


  • Anonymous, 2010-01-05 17:16:33

    I need to speak out as a Christian Gay man. For the main part of my life, I hid away, and tried to be what everyone wanted me to be ... straight. It was a "bad time". Drugs, alcohol, depression was my escape. Then in 1988, I accepted myself as the Gay man God created me to be. My life changed! I was, and have been, constantly blessed with a most wonderful life, and awesome miracles. God created Gays for God’s reason. Curb the overpopulation of the world, find loving parents for children abandoned by straights. We need to trust in God’s plan. The greatest "gift" any Gay person can give their straight brothers and sisters is the TRUTH ... that you were born Gay! From there, it is between them and God to fight. We needn’t debate our existence. God created us, and God will stand by us. When the truth is finally proven scientifically, that being Gay is biological, not chosen, then all who have spread the "words" of hate, fear, and hurt will be held accountable. They already are...WHAT ONE SOWS, SO SHALL THEY REAP. Join me in the prayer, "that these people will be enlightened as to WHY they are presently reaping what they are". Perhaps only then will they be able to walk in an other’s shoes, rather than throw their own at them. Steve Leong Hawaii


  • Anonymous, 2010-01-06 05:20:53

    The American evangelicals who have exported to Africa their vitriol and causing the subsequent terror upon a segment of the Uganda populace is actually no different from what Al Qaeda is doing in northern Africa and the Middle East. Each is spreading their poison to the susceptible masses. The American evangicals (including those American politicians involved) should be prosecuted as terrorists for what they are doing!!


  • Anonymous, 2010-01-06 21:17:43

    stay home and sort out the problems in your own country , stop spreading hate against gays , people like this are hateful , i suppose they also call themselves christians ??:( !!!!!


  • Anonymous, 2010-07-06 20:56:09

    It is not so funny to see this man smiling and obese while people are being murdered for being truthful about their expression of self.The lynching of homosexuals in any African country is the same spirit of wickedness which plagued The United States during our "100 years war" from approxiamately 1968 to 1968. It is sick, satanic, and wrong. You really think what you call evil is going to be solved by committing evil?


  • Anonymous, 2010-07-07 08:31:37

    Correction:1868-1968


  • Anonymous, 2010-07-07 15:52:40

    Anonymous wrote, 2010-01-05 10:33:50 "What an American-centered view of the situation! This article makes it sound like, without the anti-gay Americans’ visit & conferences, these Ugandans never would have come up with this anti-gay sentiment on their own. Like they’re a bunch of idiots with no original thoughts; blank slates just waiting to be indoctrinated by the white man. What a completely condescending view of Africans! The truth is, many Africans, all over the continent - without the proselytizing of the American evangelicals, have such views. Why not analyze this fact? Why do you always make it about YOU, America?? Get over yourselves!" Anonymous, it is not at all clear where you are coming from, but it appears suspiciously like you are trying to exonerate the damage caused by misguided, meddling and homophobic American Evangelical Missionaries. In a sense, you are right, homophobia is unfortunately rampant in Africa (as it is in much of the world. The difference is, that in Africa, stigmatization all to frequently leads to a bloodbath as it did in Rwanda, The Congo, Darfur ... just to name a few places in the news lately. The fact is that many in Africa spend their entire lives in fear of being lynched for one reason or another, often based on superstition. Into this mix come a bunch of bigots who have hijacked Christianity as a smokescreen to "legitimize" homophobia. Maybe some of them even wish death to gays & lesbians, although possibly not. However, they have become the catalyst in a culture that they understand little and treat as fertile ground to attempt a (second) cultural colonization. Whether they intended to incite the death penalty for gays & lesbians or not, is a moot point. The fact is that this is the result of their meddling. I wonder how many of these homophobic bigots are also "pro-life" ... if so, how do they reconcile the death of adult sentient humans with their activism in support of right to life of a recently conceived embryo that has little or no sentience?!?


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