In 2020, OpenDemocracy, a London-based, global social issues watchdog, found that between 2008 and 2018, 20 American religious organizations had spent over $25 million in Uganda to advocate against LGBTQ rights, safe abortion, contraceptives, and comprehensive sex ed. This week they saw their bigotry rewarded as Uganda expanded its legal war on gay citizens.
On Tuesday, the Ugandan legislature passed a far-reaching, anti-LGBTQ law that included the following:
- A person convicted of grooming or trafficking children to engage them in homosexual activities faces life in prison.
- Individuals or institutions which support or fund LGBT rights, activities, or organizations - or publish, broadcast, and distribute pro-gay media material and literature, also face prosecution and imprisonment.
- Media groups, journalists, and publishers face prosecution and imprisonment for publishing, broadcasting, and distributing any content that advocates for gay rights or "promotes homosexuality."
- The death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality - defined as the sexual abuse of a child, a person with a disability, vulnerable people, or in cases where a victim of a homosexual assault has a life-long illness.
- Property owners risk jail if their premises are used as a "brothel" for homosexual acts or other sexual minority rights activities.
How giddy must these American men and women of God be that they could oppress people in a country 7,000 miles away, just for being themselves? How can you say you are ‘pro-life’ when you spend millions to make being gay potentially a death sentence? How do they think they are honoring their Savior by ruining the lives of innocents?
I hope Uganda will not see a wave of state-sponsored murders of some of God’s children. However, even if it does not murder gays wantonly, it has made life harder for people for simply being themselves.
As a rights activist told the BBC, the debate around the bill had led to fear of more attacks on gay people. "There is a lot of blackmail. People are receiving calls that 'if you don't give me money, I will report that you are gay.”
Amnesty International has called the bill, which criminalizes same-sex between consenting adults, "appalling", "ambiguous" and "vaguely worded". Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International's director for East and Southern Africa, says,
"This deeply repressive legislation will institutionalize discrimination, hatred, and prejudice against LGBTI people - including those who are perceived to be LGBTI - and block the legitimate work of civil society, public health professionals, and community leaders.”
Beyond the hate, is homophobia the best way to express your ‘pro-life’ beliefs?
Uganda’s maternal mortality rate is 336 per 100,000 live births. If an organization were legitimately pro-life, it would spend its last dollar on keeping Ugandan mothers alive. But conservative American evangelicals do not give a shit.
Each year in Uganda, approximately 200,000 children under five die from illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria, which are largely preventable or treatable, and diseases that timely vaccination could eliminate. But conservative American evangelicals are indifferent.
At 64 years, Ugandan life expectancy is 170th in the world. Pro-lifers would tackle that number. Conservative American evangelicals have a different priority.
Religious conservatives say are “pro-life.” They lie.