The Ugandan parliament is currently considering an “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” under which any person “convicted of gay sex is liable to life imprisonment.” If that person is HIV positive or has sex with a minor or a person with a disability, he or she would be guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” and face the death penalty. The bill also proposes up to three years of imprisonment for anyone who “fails to report within 24 hours the identities of everyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or who supports human rights for people who are.” The bill would even “apply to Ugandans who commit homosexual offences, but who live overseas.” There are approximately 500,000 gay men and women living in Uganda.
The author of the bill is Ugandan Parliamentarian David Bahati, who organizes the Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast and has been embraced by the far right in the United States. Journalist Jeff Sharlet, who has chronicled the secretive international fundamentalist Christian organization known as “The Family,” says that Bahati is “a core member” of the group, which has links to prominent U.S. politicians. In his book, Sharlet reveals the effects of some of The Family’s other work in Uganda (p. 328):
Uganda, which following the collapse of Siad Barre’s Somalia became the focus of the Family’s interests in the African Horn, has been the most tragic victim of their projection of American sexual anxieties. Following implementation of one of the continent’s only successful anti-AIDS program, President Yoweri Museveni, the Family’s key man in Africa, came under pressure from the United States to emphasize abstinence instead of condoms. … Meanwhile, Ugandan souls may be more “pure,” but their bodes are suffering; following the American intervention, the Ugandan AIDS rate, once dropping, nearly doubled.
Museveni has allowed Bahati’s bill parliamentary time and given homophobic speeches, warning Ugandan youths that “’European homosexuals are recruiting in Africa,’ and saying gay relationships were against God’s will.”
Pastor Rick Warren — whom President Obama controversially chose to deliver the invocation at his inauguration — is now refusing to condemn Bahati’s bill, which has been endorsed by Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa. Ssempa has been welcomed by Warren’s family and made appearances at his church. Newsweek reports that although Warren has distanced himself from Ssempa’s views, he won’t come out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.
On Meet the Press yesterday, Warren reiterated, “As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides.” He has, however, said that abortion is a “holocaust” and pushed for the passage of California’s Prop. 8.