Last Week Tonight with John Oliver focused on how far the United States has come in terms of LGBT equality, especially compared to other countries like Uganda. Oliver briefly discussed some of the anti-gay laws in Uganda, and then welcomed Pepe Onziema, a transgender Ugandan human rights activist. The audience saw a few clips of Onziema on a Ugandan morning show, where he admirably maintained composure while being questioned and simultaneously insulted by the uneducated host.
There are 81 countries that have laws discriminating against LGBTQ people, but Oliver shared the unfortunate news that the anti-gay laws in Uganda only exist because of Evangelical Americans. One example of such is Scott Lively, who is known for his opposition to LGBT people and his involvement in the ex-gay movement, and made himself a revered anti-gay figure in Uganda. When Oliver asked Onziema if he thought that the anti-gay law in Uganda would have happened without U.S. interference, Onziema said, "The answer is 'no'."
Onziema explains how the discrimination faced by LGBT people during the early 2000's was not associated with the words "recruitment" and "pedophilia," but that it now is. These two words suggest that the LGBT community preys on and "recruits" younger people. The apparent shift occurred in 2007 after a 45-day media campaign launched by LGBT advocacy groups in Uganda called 'Let Us Live in Peace.' After this point, Ugandan religious extremists joined together in their opposition to the LGBT community, and listened to the word of American anti-gay activists such as Lively. Oliver commented:
The crazy thing in researching this was realizing that homophobia is not indigenous to Africa; homosexuality has been there... forever. Homophobia has been introduced later.
Onziema agrees that homophobia has not always existed in Africa, and believes that it has been instilled in African people by people outside the continent. However, he doesn't want to blame other people anymore. He said:
However much homophobia came from the West or came from Britain, I think we have to move beyond blaming people. We've been educated over the years, we are learning more about our history, and we know the truth. But we are wasting our potential, we are wasting our intelligence, our human resource, our humanity, blaming people who have moved on.
Watch the full interview here: