By Wayne Besen
In March, American anti-gay activists traveled to Uganda for a conference that pledged to “wipe out” homosexuality. Seven months later, a draconian bill has been introduced that pledges to make good on this threat. The “Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009” is so severe that it is designed to shred the spirit and suffocate the soul of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Ugandans. If it passes, Uganda will become a predator state that actively hunts down GLBT people to destroy them.
Uganda already punished gay intimacy with life in prison. But, apparently that was not harsh enough, with this bill penalizing anyone who “attempts to commit the offence” with up to seven years in jail. Additionally, a person charged will be forced to undergo an invasive medical examination to determine their HIV status. If the detainees are found to be HIV+, they may be executed.
This barbaric legislation stifles free speech by threatening anyone who is accused of “promoting” homosexuality with five to seven year prison sentences. Snitching on gay friends and family members is strongly encouraged because “failure to disclose the ‘offence’ within 24 hours of knowledge makes somebody liable to a fine or imprisonment of up to three years.”
Sadly, this witch-hunt has the blood stained fingerprints of leading American evangelicals. The Fellowship, (aka The Family) one of America’s most powerful and secretive fundamentalist organization’s, converted Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (pictured top) to its anti-gay brand of Christianity, which is the “intellectual” impetus behind the anti-gay crackdown. The clandestine organization’s leader, Doug Coe, calls Museveni The Fellowship’s “key man” in Africa. Jeff Sharlet’s, author of “The Family”, writes of the African strongman’s conversion:
“So,” Doug Coe told us, “my friend said to the president, ‘why don’t you come and pray with me in America? I have a good group of friends—senators, congressmen—who I like to pray with, and they’d like to pray with you.’ And that president came to the Cedars (a religious retreat), and he met Jesus. And his name is Yoweri Museveni…And he is a good friend of the Family.”The Family, of course, recently made headlines because one of its key members, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) had sex with his best friends wife, while they were working together. Another member, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), used one of the Family’s Washington properties to try to broker a deal to buy off the furious husband, who has since gone public with the Ensign scandal.
It is important for people to understand that The Fellowship and other anti-gay groups have longed viewed Uganda as a laboratory to experiment with Christian theocracy. For example, fundamentalist organizations recently undermined successful HIV programs in Uganda by demanding abstinence only education, over condom use, which had been working to reduce infection rates.
This year’s notorious Kampala conference was the opening salvo in a campaign to crush GLBT lives. The seminar featured Scott Lively, author of The Pink Swastika, who blames the holocaust on gay people.
The hate forum also featured Don Schmierer, a board member of the “ex-gay” organization Exodus International, and Caleb Lee Brundidge, who works with discredited ex-gay “reorientation coach” Richard Cohen. These American “ex-gay” activists clearly left their stamp on this evil legislation, giving Ugandan officials a way to justify the abuse because they can claim that “sinful” gays can choose to change.
“This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic and that people who experience this mental disorder can and have changed to a heterosexual orientation,” the bill said. “It also recognizes that because homosexuals are not born that way, but develop this disorder based on experiences and environmental conditions, it is preventable, especially among young people who are most vulnerable to recruitment into the homosexual lifestyle.”Following the infamous conference, a Kampala newspaper named local gay people, placing their lives in immediate danger. Now, the government may soon declare it open season on GLBT individuals.
In 1994, I brought Rev. Mel White down to speak at an event in Fort Lauderdale. In his address, the former Christian right ghostwriter proclaimed of his previous employers, “They want you dead.”
The comment was at once riveting and alarmist to some in the crowd. Yet, the painful silence of anti-gay activists at home is making White appear downright prophetic. These Christian Colonialists invaded Uganda’s politics and culture, and the result is that they have ruined the lives of its GLBT citizens. The Fellowship, Exodus and other American fundamentalist organizations, appear quite unbothered by the poisonous fruits of their labor.
Uganda is a proxy in their culture war and we are witnessing exactly what these fanatics might do if they did not have the United States Constitution blocking their pious path to power. Let the record show that their “key man” controlled Uganda when a religious terror campaign was waged against an innocent minority – and these good Christians stood by and did not lift a finger to stop the horror.