Uganda should not be allowed to attend the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, writes Garry Otton
In Uganda, in 2010, popular newspaper Rolling Stone ran a story on “100 PICTURES OF UGANDA’S TOP HOMOS” printing their names and addresses and calling for the hanging of homosexuals. Amongst the list of names was Kasha Nabagesera whose workshop at a hotel in Entebbe for LGBT activists was raided by the country’s Ethics Minister, a defrocked Catholic priest called Simon Lokodo. Ms Nabagesera was arrested. Lokodo was reported saying: “I have closed this conference because it’s illegal. We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home”. Another listed homosexual was David Kato, a gay human rights activist, who within three months of the article being printed was found, bludgeoned to death. An Anglican priest used his funeral to condemn homosexuality. The Rolling Stone stirred hatred with stories under headlines like “WE SHALL RECRUIT 1,000,000 KIDS BY 2012,” and “PARENTS NOW FACE HEARTBREAKS AS HOMOS RAID SCHOOLS”. Video footage was already widely available on the Internet purporting to be of two young gay men beaten to death by planks of wood and another set on fire by a mob near a railway track.
Evangelical Christian lawmakers in Uganda had to be held back from putting into place laws that would put all homosexuals to death. When President Museveni signed an Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law the act sentenced anyone suspected of same-sex relations to life in prison. The law punished anyone associated with ‘promoting’ LGBT activities, be they health workers conducting HIV tests or even offering advice. The punishment extended to anyone who failed to report violations of the Act to authorities within 24 hours of the event.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced not long after a big seminar in Kampala called “Exposing the Truth behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda”. It featured two rabidly homophobic speakers, Scott Lively, head of Abiding Truth Ministries in Massachusetts and author of the Pink Swastika, which claimed homosexuals invented Nazism and were instrumental in the Holocaust, and Dan Schmierer of the ex-gay group Exodus International. At the seminar, Lively told the audience that a powerful global gay movement had now set its sights on Africa and that the “gay agenda” was unleashing epidemics of divorce, child abuse, and HIV/AIDS wherever it gained a foothold. He warned that by permitting homosexuality, “you can’t stop someone from molesting children or stop them from having sex with animals”. The Rwandan genocide was also blamed on homosexuals. Influential evangelist Rick Warren, head of California’s Saddleback megachurch had already travelled to Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda declaring, “homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right”. Scott Lively later met with Ugandan government ministers and David Bahati who would go on to draft the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Bahati was connected to the secretive Christian fundamentalist organisation the Fellowship which is behind National Prayer Breakfasts. The organisation pours millions into student leadership programmes that places student disciples of Jesus into the government and media. According to Jeff Sharlet, a contributing editor for Harper’s, Joe Pitts, a Republican congressman has diverted millions in US aid to Uganda from sex education programmes to abstinence programmes and evangelical revivals that have included condom burnings. Africans were being duped as their traditions of not only homosexuality but the extended family or ubuntu was being smothered by western culture wars over an idea about a nuclear family which had more in common with I Love Lucy than a family living in the African bush.
With the modernisation of Christian missions and crusades, Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and the evangelical Trinity Broadcasting Network are both seen across sub-Saharan Africa with the addition of many other Christian-right radio networks. Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, author of the investigative report Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, & Homophobia writes that, “Evangelical churches and groups provide scholarships for African clerics to receive conservative theological training at U.S. institutions. They sponsor orphanages, Bible schools, universities, and social-welfare projects”. The crazy is spreading fast.
While Scott Lively joined other Christians in Russia, Latvia, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and other countries eager to further his extremist agenda, the Center for Constitutional Rights under laws permitting foreigners to sue American citizens who violate international law, helped the Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) file a suit in a US court against Lively for denying Ugandan’s their human rights.
Glasgow must do its bit. Ban Uganda from the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Garry Otton is the author of Sexual Fascism, Examining Sex in the Scottish Media. His new book Religious Fascism, the Repeal of Section 28 will be published later in 2014.
Garry Otton 2014