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Human Rights, Queer Politics

US / Uganda / Rwanda Christian connections

Over the past week there has seen a string of blog posts and news articles criticising the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Below is a roundup of some of the more interesting and useful ones including a video from the October protest outside the London High Commission for Uganda. There will be another protest on December 10th from 12-3pm.

In my post from last week I mentioned the connection between US Christian fundamentalist churches and the export of homophobia to Africa and Asia.

Various reports have been circulating the internet over the past week on the export of homophobia by the US religious right to Asia and Africa and anywhere they can find an entry with their doctrine of hate justified by fallacious readings of religious texts. The comments are based on the report by Kapya Kaoma “Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia“] The report is important for a number of reasons. Because it places the homophobic project of the religious right in a global context; because Kaoma makes the additional connection between the export of culture and hatred with the dumping of toxic and electronic waste etc on continental Africa; because of “Gay Imperalism” the critique of which is presently under attack by Peter Tatchell and Outrage.

Two reports name specific individuals from both Uganda and the US who are directly involved in the “anti-gay” movement.  The first mentions North Carolina Democratic House members, “Reps. Heath Shuler (NC-11) and Mike McIntyre (NC-07)” and “Nevada Republican U.S. Sen. John Ensign and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.”  All four are members of a group called “The Family”.   In the second report  goes further and lays the origin of the Bill with members of this group who work their hate via their African outreach programmes.

In March of this year, American anti-gay activists traveled to Uganda for a conference that pledged to “wipe out” homosexuality. Seven months later, David Bahti, a Ugandan lawmaker and a member of the Family sponsored the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.”

The Family had converted Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to its anti-gay brand of Christianity. The organization’s leader, Doug Coe, calls Museveni the Family’s “key man” in Africa. The Family and other anti-gay groups have long viewed Uganda as a laboratory to experiment with Christian theocracy.

The next connection is between Pastor Rick Warren [supporter of Prop 8] and Ugandan Pastor, Martin Ssempa who apparently is a regular guest at Rick Warren’s church.   Ssempa is a vicious hate driven individual responsible for outing gays and lesbians.

Warren has since disowned their relationship but not Ssempa’s ideas. He has remained silent and refused to speak out against the Bill claiming saying  he believes in the fundamental rights of all he  but does not get involved in politics.     Warren also has strong ties with the equally homophobic church and state in Rwanda.  The man has a tendency t0 speak with a forked tongue so it is not clear where his relationship with Ssempa stands.

About Rick Warren, Kaoma notes: “In America Warren says ‘I love gays.’ In Africa, he says it’s not a natural way of life. He’s said, “I can’t say this in America, but I can say it in Africa.” In America, people will hold him responsible, and in Africa, nobody will.

The Christian fundamentalist connection  is far more insidious and threatening than just the involvement of  these individuals as Michelle Goldberg explains…

Warren’s silence has repercussions beyond Uganda. Draconian anti-gay legislation is appearing throughout the continent, often closely tied to the explosion of American-style evangelical Christianity. Warren has been a crucial part of that explosion and has tremendous clout with conservative African clergy and with many politicians.

Warren is very close to both the Ugandan and the Rwandan leadership. He counts first lady Janet Museveni, who has spoken at Warren’s Saddleback church, as a personal friend. During a visit to the country last year, Warren lent his voice to the anti-gay stance of Uganda’s Anglican bishops. “Dr Warren said that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right,” reported one Ugandan newspaper. “‘We shall not tolerate this aspect at all,’ Dr Warren said.”

Goldberg also makes an interesting point about the language of the Bill which further reinforces the connection between the US and Uganda. For example the mention of adoption which is ridiculous since homosexuality is already illegal in the country and applies to the US not Uganda.

However not all church leaders have been silent on the Bill.   The United Reform Church in the UK has condemned the Bill as has Exodus which  is busy saving us from ourselves by “overcoming same sex attractions” – Their support is most definitely not wanted with their disingenuous motives and agenda.    Sour Grapes picks up on the “False Witnesses”  who claim to have been saved from eternal damnation by being “cured of homosexuality” and mentions one Ugandan man who was paraded as “saved” and then proceeded to make all sorts of false claims about events and people  only later to be found out to be still gay and hopefully “unsaved” after causing so much harm.

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4 Comments

  1. Comment by post author

    Sokari

    “but what worries me most about the anti-gay bill in Uganda is how easily it can be replicated across the continent. ” This indeed is one of the most worrying aspects of this bill outside the consequences to LGBT Ugandans that is. You present an alternative and valid argument as to the bigoted and utterly nonsensical reasons behind the bill. However I am not at all clear what exactly you are saying from the sentence beginning “But homosexuality is so egregious because it belies our humanity” and before I comment further I would hope you can provide further explanation?

    As you infer the concept of “sin” is to a large degree subjective and in a case where people are calling for the punishment and incarceration of people who are engaged in loving relationships or even just sex then that policing of what is moral or not is entering into the personal choices of consenting adults where no abuse is taking place. Conversely it is unfortunate that the same moral police fail to address violence against women including that committed in the domestic sphere including marital rape. One then has to ask why the former is the focus of religious and cultural fundamentalism and not the latter. Could it possibly be the issues raised around the intersection of sexuality and power which are at play here. The challenges to masculinity whereby two men engage in loving relationships? Or two women which challenges the role of masculinity and power over women who claim the right they have to their own bodies and sexual expression? Yes there is a “sin” being committed here but it is being done by the lawmakers and bigots not by lesbians, gays and trans people.

    Cross posted comment from Nigerians Talk.

  2. Once again, American fundamentalist evangelicals have defecated on African soil, and refuse to do the clean-up. This first manifested itself with the exportation of the American version of the prosperity gospel to Nigerian and other African megachurches – in which CEOs, err, I mean pastors, live fabulous lives on the backs of their struggling flock. Gross homophobia is the latest export. Hopefully moderate Christians will rise up against such grave injustices….but then again, it hasn’t really worked successfully for Muslims either…

  3. Comment by post author

    Sokari

    @nneoma – Fundamentalism – whatever the religion – I think there is a deep seated fear or loosing control. These churches have become super rich with their own mini “states” – universities, schools, clinics, professional services etc which allow them and their members to exist in vacuums. What is ironical is that they cite the Bible and the law both of which were imported into Africa……

  4. CD

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