Fernando Cabrera (D) is the senior pastor at New Life Outreach International in the Bronx and represents his district on the New York City Council, but he is currently challenging state Sen. Gustavo Rivera in the upcoming primary for his seat in Albany. Cabrera’s social conservative positions are well established, but a new video showing him praising Uganda’s Christian lawmakers for their anti-gay positions demonstrates just how extreme they are.
In the video, Cabrera praises the power religion has over Uganda’s government, explaining, “The Christians here took the opportunity to take their rightful place.” He notes that “gay marriage is not accepted in this country,” and that even when financially pressured by the United States, “they have stood in their place.” This, he reasons, is “because the Christians have assumed the place of decision-making for the nation.” Those same lawmakers continue to advocate for legislation that would punish homosexuality with life in prison.
He then claimed that Uganda “went from 30-something percent of AIDS… down to 6 percent,” again crediting the fact that “the righteous are ruling.” HIV rates in the country had, in fact, declined to about 6 percent, but that decline took place gradually from the height of the epidemic in 1991 until about 2007. At its highest, the rate was just under 15 percent — hardly “30-something percent.” Furthermore, Uganda’s HIV rate actually rose from 6.4 percent in 2005 to 7.3 percent in 2012, and conservative abstinence-only policies have largely been to blame. Uganda’s recently passed law increasing criminal penalties for homosexual conduct and advocacy — which has since overturned on technical grounds — further limited how HIV/AIDS organizations could do their outreach.
Watch Cabrera’s video praising Uganda’s conservative Christian government (starting around 10:30):
Cabrera has previously been criticized for his affiliation with numerous anti-LGBT organizations. He appeared in a video produced by the Alliance Defending Freedom, in which he claimed that being a pastor is more difficult than being a Marine sergeant or a police officer in an urban area. He also spoke at a 2012 event organized by the American Family Association and the Family Research Council and has appeared on the organizations’ radio shows.
New Life Outreach International explains in its statement of faith that it refuses to recognize any union other than what it defines as marriage, the “exclusive covenantal union of one man and one woman.” The church opposes any sexual activities outside of that marriage structure, including “adultry, pre marital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, and pedophilia,” and further condemns “lascivious conduct, transgenter [sic] behavior, and the creation and/or distribution and/or viewing of pornography.” Cabrera has also preached that evolution cannot be a true explanation for the origin of life because, “I just simply believe there’s an almighty God who’s the uncaused cause who just said it and it happened.”
Cabrera’s primary race against Rivera is next Tuesday.