Political Research Associates condemns the criminalization of sexual minorities and calls on American and international religious and political leaders to denounce the reintroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, which reportedly passed out of committee on Friday and is expected to come to a floor vote imminently. With the vigorous support of Uganda’s Speaker of the Parliament and religious leaders, passage of the bill that would sentence LGBT persons to long prison terms and potentially death is a real danger. (Despite media reports, there is no confirmation that the death penalty provision has been removed.)
“Because of the decisive role conservative religious leaders played in launching this inhumane bill, Political Research Associates calls on faith leaders in the U.S. and internationally, particularly Evangelicals and Roman Catholics, to speak out against it,” stated Tarso Luís Ramos, PRA executive director. “We especially call on Roman Catholic Bishops in Uganda to follow the 2009 Holy See statement in opposing State violence against LGBT persons.”
Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) bishops – from Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Churches – together with their evangelical counterparts originally petitioned parliament to enact an anti-homosexuality law in 2009 after attending a seminar by Scott Lively, an American Holocaust revisionist and infamous anti-gay campaigner. Although international outcry slowed its momentum, Speaker Rebecca Kagada resurrected the bill this month after reacting against pressure from Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird to end Uganda’s persecution of gay people.
“It is shameful to see the bill pushed on the premise of defending Christian and African values. Persecution of another person is neither a Christian nor an African value,” said Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya Kaoma, PRA’s religion and sexuality researcher and author of the 2012 report Colonizing African Values: How the U.S. Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa. “This is another reason why we must hold accountable those American religious conservatives responsible for exporting politicized homophobia around the world. While we respect the right to hold various positions on issues of sexuality, we can still agree that criminalizing LGBT persons and targeting a group of people is reprehensible.”
The bill is based on false claims about LGBT people; in recent weeks, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, defrocked Roman Catholic Priest Simon Lokodo, joined bill author David Bahati and the UJCC in claiming that homosexuals are by nature pedophiles and thus the bill would protect the children of Uganda. Both African religious and political leaders, in particular the African Council of Elders – former South African President Nelson Mandela, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Graça Machel, longtime children’s rights campaigner – have an obligation to refute these lies and address with parliamentarians and Speaker Kagada the harmful implications of this bill for Africa.
Some of the lies, in particular the claim that LGBT people are child molesters who will destroy the nation, are rooted in the beliefs of anti-gay Americans who seek out Africans as allies. It is therefore also vital that the voices of respected American faith leaders be heard denouncing the false theology peddled by these U.S. anti-gay activists.
Ugandan LGBT human rights campaigner Victor J. Mukasa, who now lives in exile, offered a statement to PRA:
This bill, which has its roots in the American evangelical movement, is a blow to human rights in Africa. It has a ripple effect on other parts of Africa and has to be stopped. It is time for Americans to denounce the evangelical anti-gay movement, expose them and their hate ministries. In addition, America should channel its resources to Africa to benefit initiatives that improve the livelihood of Africans not those that work to promote discrimination.
Homophobia is destroying our lives. The only export that should come from America should be LOVE and not hate. America should act NOW!