A bill passed Friday by the Ugandan parliament, has human rights and LGBTQ allies all over the world deeply concerned. The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality act, which enjoys a terrifying level of public support throughout the country, will, if signed into law by the nation’s president, make homosexuality a crime, punishable by up to a life sentence in prison.
In its criminalizing of LGTBQ people, the bill goes further by way of criminalizing the failure of citizens to report homosexual acts, threatening upwards of five years in prison if medical professionals treat, or landlords rent to those known to or suspected of being homosexuals, creating an international uproar in the process.
Backing for this frighteningly authoritarian and bigoted legislation is not merely limited to Uganda’s evangelical Christian population, but has found substantial financial and political support coming from American evangelical groups, such as the highly secretive organization known commonly as “The Family.”
“The Family” (also known as The Fellowship) which was originally founded in opposition to FDR’s “new deal” legislation, is group so bent on promoting a fundamentalist theocracy, that it has even come under fire from more mainstream right-wing evangelical groups who take issue with its violent rhetoric. The organization, which maintains considerable political ties to numerous evangelical politicians such as South Carolina House Rep. and former governor Mark Sanford, as well as Senators John Ensign of Nevada and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — and even 2016 Democratic Presidential favorite Hillary Clinton, began courting Ugandan officials in the hope of promoting their starkly strong-arm theocratic political view after conceding that it was “too late” to try such in the United States, in 2008.
As part of a propaganda campaign waged to sway the Ugandan public in favor of the laws, countless rumors and assertions were circulated, stating that gay and lesbian individuals and organizations would often “lure” young Africans into adopting homosexuality with promises of money and drugs. These misinformation campaigns came largely with the support of American religious conservative groups like The Family, causing the first (and thankfully failed) 2008 efforts in Uganda to call for the death penalty for any found or suspected of being homosexuals.
David Coe, the present head of The Family, who is said to have been at the forefront of the move to support Ugandan theocracy, denies his organization’s involvement, stating his organization was dedicated to dialogue and following the teachings of Christ. However given the close relationship between one of the bill’s biggest supporters in the Ugandan parliament, MP David Bahati and The Fellowship (the international outreach organization run as the public front of The Family,) the roots of support for these moves and the failed efforts throughout 2009 and 2010 (which sought to enforce a death penalty for homosexuality,) are rather impossible to ignore.
The current bill, which is still awaiting a signature from Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, also contains provisions banning the wearing of mini-skirts, although many policy analysts and human rights campaigners expect this portion to be removed in an attempt to give the appearance of a compromise effort in the fast-tracking on this inhumane legislation.
Beyond the connections to American groups like The Family, many are also speculating that the drumming up of demonizing laws focused on Uganda’s homosexual community, are also aimed at serving as distractions from a number of crooked energy policy deals which are said to favor western interests, that are expected to be struck in the near future.