Christian Right Leader Lauds Uganda Dictator as 'Kill the Gays' Bill Is Revived
Photo Credit: A.M. Stan
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In the past week the Family Research Council has been busy praising Uganda’s commitment to Christian faith and “national repentance” -- even as the Ugandan Parliament once again takes up a bill that would legally mandate the persecution of LGBT people. The bill appears to be part and parcel of dictator Yoweri Museveni’s “repentance” program, and its reappearance before the legislature has drawn no criticism from FRC or the other Christian right groups allied with the dictator. If anything, it seems to be drawing tacit, artfully-phrased praise.
Many who have followed the human rights crisis for LGBT people in Uganda know that, in 2009, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced into the Ugandan Parliament to supplement laws that already banned homosexuality. The bill, quickly dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill because of its provision of a death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” also includes severe penalties for other actions and non-actions, including the “failure to disclose the offense” by anyone who might be aware of another person’s same-sex sexuality. Although the bill has not been yet passed, it has attracted harsh international condemnation, and many attacks on LGBT people and activists have been attributed to the public debates surrounding it.
It is in this context that last month Uganda’s pious President Museveni delivered a speech in which he dedicated his country to God and renounced “the Satanic influence” of “the last 50 years of [its] history.” (It is not clear whether Museveni considers it inconvenient that he has governed Uganda for over half of the country’s 50 years of said sinfulness.) While he did not mention homosexuality specifically in the long list of sins for which Museveni called upon the deity to forgive the nation, he did name “sexual immorality.” In any case, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has taken up the challenge of national repentance by promising passage of the “Kill the Gays” legislation as a “Christmas gift” to the people of Uganda.
Naturally, Christian conservative leaders in the U.S. are thrilled with what FRC has called an “inspirational moment for the [Ugandan] nation.” As Alvin McEwen pointed out, FRC President Tony Perkins tweeted a big, warm hug to President Museveni for “leading his nation in repentance” and thus helping to create a “nation prospered by God.” But Perkins’ tweet was an hors d’oeuvre for the main course, a November 26 email alert sent out to FRC subscribers entitled, “During Revival, Media Still Atone Deaf.” As the title suggests, one target of the longer commendation of Museveni is the mainstream media in the U.S. which, having drawn attention to violations of LGBT peoples’ human rights in Uganda, is accused of being “so threatened by religion that it refuses to leave another country alone to pursue its own views on sexuality and faith.”
Museveni, dictator of Uganda, and aspiring president-for-life, obviously is a favorite of U.S.-based Christian Right leaders even though his government’s approach to the “homosexual problem” and the ongoing nightmare for Ugandan lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people causes them some heartburn back home. Among them is Rick Warren, pastor of California’s Saddleback Church and the author of the bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life, who, in 2008, conferred on Uganda the label of “purpose-driven nation.” In 2009, after first refusing to condemn the proposed anti-gay legislation, Warren capitulated, after initially saying, according to Time.com, that he didn’t want to interfere in Ugandan politics. Finally, “after criticism grew in the U.S.,” Time reported, Warren relented, releasing a statement criticizing the legislation. Now on a book tour hawking an updated version of his bestseller, Warren has yet to comment on the revival of the anti-gay bill he reluctantly condemned three years ago -- though he did stop by CNN last month to compare gay sex to “punch[ing] a guy in the nose.”