Three anti-gay evangelical Americans presented a series of talks in Uganda last March about "the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family" which seem to have been a driving force behind Uganda's proposed legislation to execute some of its gay citizens, according to a New York Times article published on Sunday, January 3.
The United States has now demanded that the proposed legislation meet international human rights standards, but Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity recently said “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”
Although Ugandan leaders have indicated that they will curb the legislation to instead call for life imprisonment of some gay people, locals told The New York Times of the damage that’s already been inflicted by American religious leaders:
"What these people have done is set the fire they can’t quench,” said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.
Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans “underestimated the homophobia in Uganda” and “what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families.”
“When you speak like that,” he said, “Africans will fight to the death.”
But shortly after Uganda’s posed legislation drew international attention, anti-gay leaders began distancing themselves from their ties to Africa and its growing rate of homophobia. Most notably, evangelical Christian pastor Rick Warren issued a video statement in December that cited “lies and errors and false reports” as linking him to Uganda’s anti-gay sentiments. The New York Times noted, however, that Warren had visited the country as recently as 2008 and has been quoted as comparing homosexuality to "pedophilia."
The New York Times also published a related report, "Gay in Uganda and Feeling Hunted," on Monday, January 4, detailing the hardships LGBT people face in Uganda. The article included a compelling multi-media component on its website with commentary from LGBT people on the ground in Uganda. The Times also published a scathing editorial on Tuesday, January 5 calling upon the U.S. Government and others to make it clear to Uganda that if its anti-gay legislation becomes law, "it will lose millions of dollars in foreign aid and be shunned globally."
We applaud The Times for shining a light on this vital topic and ensuring that people around the world get a clear sense of the immense challenges LGBT people encounter on a daily basis in Uganda, and how they've learned to survive.
We'll keep you updated on the latest information surrounding Uganda's anti-gay legislation and the media's coverage of the topic.