Previously I noted that the extreme anti-gay legislation under consideration in Uganda was underwritten by the secretive American evangelical organization known as "The Family."
Yesterday, the New York Times reported that three American evangelicals affiliated with gay conversion organizations, including the infamous Exodus International, gave "a series of talks" in Uganda last March on "the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda" and "the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family."
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how "the gay movement is an evil institution" whose goal is "to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity."And the three Americans—Scott Lively, missionary and author of anti-gay screeds like 7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a "former" gay man who leads "healing seminars"; and Don Schmierer, who sits on the board of the heinous anti-gay Exodus International, which purports to degayify Christians being tested by God with same-sex attraction or whatever—are positively shocked! by the proposed legislation, and had no idea! they would be associated with such hatred blah blah yawn more total bullshit.
Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.
One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals.
"I feel duped," Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on "parenting skills" for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.Because here in America, evangelicals constantly engage in absurd hyperbole, like "War on Christmas," and don't think that "a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda" could actually mean that gay people will be killed as a result of their horseshit. Of course, queer people and trans people and religious non-Christians and atheists and feminists are harassed, abused, and killed in this country because of their horseshit, too, but it's not mandated or sanctioned by law; the connection is less obvious, less direct, and thus easier for the purveyors of Good Christian Hatred to deny and ignore. I would say I'd hope this would make them think twice about engaging in the same rhetoric in America, if there were even an infinitesimal chance of that happening. But there isn't. And I digress...
"That's horrible, absolutely horrible," he said. "Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people."
Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to "a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda." Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.
Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like "Die Sodomite!" scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.Set the fire they can't quench. And, at best, their defense is: "We didn't know!" At best, they were totally ignorant of the culture, and just saw speaking in Uganda as another opportunity to make money and get notoriety back home. I mean, hey—it's not like they wanted anyone killed; they just wanted to be able to crow to the rubes back home about what great anti-gay missionaries they are and justify holding out the coffers once more. "Your dollars will help stop the gay agenda in its tracks all over the world!" But they didn't want anyone dead. Heavens, no! Geez, we didn't expect the Ugandans to take us so seriously.
"Now we really have to go undercover," said Stosh Mugisha, a gay rights activist who said she was pinned down in a guava orchard and raped by a farmhand who wanted to cure her of her attraction to girls. She said that she was impregnated and infected with H.I.V., but that her grandmother's reaction was simply, "'You are too stubborn.'"
Despite such attacks, many gay men and lesbians here said things had been getting better for them before the bill, at least enough to hold news conferences and publicly advocate for their rights. Now they worry that the bill could encourage lynchings. Already, mobs beat people to death for infractions as minor as stealing shoes.
"What these people have done is set the fire they can't quench," said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.
Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans "underestimated the homophobia in Uganda" and "what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families."
"When you speak like that," he said, "Africans will fight to the death."
At best, they colluded with murderous bigots because they were too uninformed, cavalier, daft, hasty, greedy, eager, selfish, irresponsible, ignorant. Too something to understand what the fuck they were doing.
At worst, they colluded with murderous bigots because deep in their hard, dark little hearts, in places they never reveal in press releases, they don't much care if gay people die, as long as their names aren't anywhere near the death warrant.
If I had to guess, it's a little of both.
[Previously: Anti-Gay Legislation in Uganda, Anti-Gay Legislation in Uganda Sponsored by The Family, Quote of the Day, World AIDS Day, Uganda Drops Death Penalty, Life in Prison from Bill, White House Strongly Opposes Ugandan Anti-Gay Legislation.]