U.S. Anti-Gay Influence Exposed in Uganda
American Evangelicals Set "A Fire They Can’t Quench"
But the three evangelicals who spoke in Kampala last spring say they had no intention of sparking an attempt to put Ugandan gays to death. "I feel duped," Schmierer told The New York Times. According to Schmierer, he was asked to talk about "parenting skills" and how parents might cope with the news that their child was gay. "That’s horrible, absolutely horrible," Schmierer said of the proposal to punish gays with death. "Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people."
Lively, in the meantime, has admitted to talking with Ugandan lawmakers about the bill, though he has also spoken out against the extremity of its proposed punishments, which also includes a sentence of up to seven years in prison for those who fail to report gays to the authorities.
But some see the bill as an almost predictable result of the Americans’ involvement. Even before the evangelical message that homosexuality is a "choice" fell on Ugandan ears, the nation’s gays endured persecution and threats--as well as violence-spawning myths such as the belief that rape can be employed in a "correctional" manner to "convert" gays to heterosexuality.
"Now we really have to go undercover," Stosh Mugisha, a transman and GLBT equality activist, told the Times. Mugisha was born female, but lives as a man; he says that he was subjected to "correctional rape" by a man who did not "cure" him of either his gender identification or of his attraction to women, but who did transmit HIV to him. In the aftermath of the bill, such vigilante actions--or criminal activities justified by anti-gay sentiment--might, some fear, intensify.
"What these people have done is set the fire they can’t quench," Rev. Kapya Kaoma told the Times. Kaoma, who hails from Zambia, attended the conference last March and heard the three Americans speak. He has also investigated the link between American evangelicals and homophobia in Africa. The Americans’ rhetoric only made a bad situation worse, Kaoma indicated, saying that the visitors had "underestimated the homophobia in Uganda."
Worse, the American speakers did not have a firm grasp on "what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families," Kaoma said. "When you speak like that, Africans will fight to the death."
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