Christian extremists, often led by U.S. ministers, have been a dominant force behind hateful legislation.
Uganda’s parliament recently week approved a law making it a crime for individuals to identify as LGBTQ+. The bill also provides the government with extensive powers to target gay Ugandans.
While more than 30 African countries ban same-sex relations, according to Human Rights Watch, this new law is the first to outlaw merely identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. The legislation promotes some of the world’s harshest anti-gay laws, making some crimes punishable by death and imposing up to 20 years in prison for people identifying as LGBTQ+. Ugandan President Yoweri Musevni has spoken in favor of the statute and is expected to sign it into law.
Christian extremists, often led by U.S. ministers, have been a dominant force behind this hateful legislation. Christianity is the dominate religion in Uganda with more than 80% of the population identifying as Christian. The U.S. Christian Right has been in the forefront in promoting homophobia, reconstructing African history and creating strong sexual politics in Uganda and Africa. U.S. religious leaders actively organize and fund influential African religious organizers to denounce any movement toward LGBTQ equality. In a carefully documented study, Evangelical Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma from Zambia followed the work of the “renewal movements” in three denominations — the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church USA and the Presbyterian Church. Kaoma demonstrates the ways these movements partnered with African religious leaders to destabilize progressive movements within the church and promote homophobia in Africa. The impact has been profound. Tragically, these religious efforts have been successful in painting LGBTQ people as pedophiles, “groomers,” and threats to African children.