What do US evangelicals have to do with the ongoing attacks against homosexuals in Uganda?
Remember this video going viral a couple of years ago? The video garnered notoriety through a portrayal of homosexuality that is so ridiculous, it borders on the hilarious. The unintentionally funny subject of the video is Pastor Martin Ssempa, who describes to his audience homosexual activity by uttering the immortal phrase that they, gay people, “eat da poo-poo”.
The video put a hilarious spin on a deadly serious problem: the increasing hysteria over homosexuals in Uganda, which has culminated into the Anti-Homosexuality Bill being signed into law by President Musuveni on the 24th of February 2014.
Where did this latent hatred begin? Why, when most of the rest of the world remains either stagnant or grows positive toward gay issues, does Uganda grow more discriminatory to the estimated 500,000 LGBT Ugandans? What kick started the change that turned Uganda into a relatively tolerant society into one of the most violently homophobic places in the world?
There are obvious signs in the viral video itself, that the subject is a pastor, and the signs behind him proclaim such things as “BARACK OBAMA BACK OFF”, “IN GOD WE TRUST FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY” the latter displaying two flags, one the flag of Uganda, the other, curiously enough, an American flag.
The key public figures here are Pastor Martin Ssempa and David Bahati, the former an evangelical Christian who rejects the separation of church and state and opposes the use of contraception and supports abstinence, the latter an MP of the Ugandan parliament who came to international attention after proposing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. They have both been accused, by US diplomats in leaked cables, of channeling anger over Uganda’s failings in politics and economics into a violent hatred of a “previously unpopular but tolerated minority“.
Behind the scenes however, there are equally sinister, and infinitely more deceptive forces at hand. As shown by a powerful documentary that was released in mid-2013 but has since again received attention in recent days, it shows how US evangelical missionaries are being sent to Uganda to garner new support and legitimacy in a fast developing nation.
The documentary details how US evangelicals export their prejudices and culture wars to Africa. One of the main figures behind the evangelical movement is Pastor Scott Lively, who has traveled extensively advocating anti-homosexuality, including Moldova, Riga and Uganda. In a CNN interview, God Loves Uganda film maker Roger Ross Williams speaks about how in America, Scott Lively would be seen as an extremist but in Uganda he gets taken seriously because of what he represents: wealth and power, backed up by the legitimacy of the Church.
It all started in March 2009 when 3 American evangelical Christians arrived in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. During the three days of talks, thousands of Ugandans, “including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as expert on homosexuality“. These 3 Americans, Scott Lively, Caleb Brundidge, self described former gay man, and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, have all tried to distance themselves from the bill but there is absolutely no doubt that they aggressively advocated against homosexuals and further blamed them for many troubling social issues – Scott Lively even makes the claim that gays were responsible for what happened in Nazi Germany.
It is ironic then, that following signing the bill into law, President Musuveni said “Outsiders cannot dictate to us. This is our country”, referring to the US and other nations as importing cultural imperialism by defending homosexuality, when he so eagerly and enthusiastically takes on board the teachings of a foreign based evangelical religious mission.
N.B. There can only be more persecution and pain – as of the time of publishing this article a Ugandan tabloid has printed a list of “top 200 homosexuals”