Bahati was well prepared and framed his "kill the gays" bill as a means to “protecting children and families,” but said that gay people would be punished by God for being who they are and that “the wages for sin is death—whether that is implemented by legislation like mine or a mechanism of a human being.”
Although GLAAD pitched two top Ugandan spokespeople who are here to attend a United Nations Consultation on LGBT Human Rights, to the Rachel Maddow show producers, they have not featured pro-LGBT Ugandan voices on her show this week. GLAAD is working with advocates for media coverage since the “kill the gays” bill is still on the table and Bahati is still clearly in support of the death penalty for LGBT people.
Huffington Post and The Advocate reported on the show and by default, gave Bahati another platform for his messages. Although Maddow provides challenging questions, not providing a pro-LGBT Ugandan perspective to counter Bahati, leaves progressive audiences in the United States with the impression that Bahati represents the Ugandan viewpoint.
Rachel Maddow is a wonderful spokesperson for the outrage and concern that many Americans feel upon hearing about Bahati’s bill. She speaks for all of us who are upset that a measure like this would ever see the light of day in any country’s government. But no matter how hard her questioning might be, she does not, and CANNOT speak for the men and women of Uganda who have been on the receiving end of this type of institutionalized hatred. She cannot speak for those who have suffered at the hands of those like Bahati and the culture that created them.
Just weeks ago, a new Ugandan tabloid published photos of Ugandan pro-LGBT leaders along with a death threat. Advocates were able to use the courts to file an injunction on the publication, but the sentiment that led to the very idea of publishing something like this is still widespread and cannot be quashed through the courts. The only way to truly make change is for the men and women of Uganda who struggle under these hurtful attitudes to tell their stories. Their voices must be heard, and activists say they do not have access to the media in their country, so it’s up to global media figures like Rachel Maddow to give them the same opportunity she gave David Bahati to tell his story.