¨When he arrived at Kampala’s Hotel Triangle for a three-day conference, the Rev Kapya Kaoma* knew that he would not like what he heard... A protestor mocks dangerous/irrational religious ignorance in Uganda.
...The clue was in the event’s title — “Exposing the truth behind homosexuality and the homosexual agenda” — and in the line-up of guest speakers arranged by Stephen Langa, head of the Ugandan-based Family Life Network (FLN), and an outspoken advocate for the criminalisation of homosexuality in Uganda.
Given top billing at the event hosted by the FLN was Scott Lively, president of Abiding Truth Ministries, an American conservative Christian group from California, and a Holocaust revisionist whose controversial book The Pink Swastika names homosexuals as “the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities.” Please Note: THE PINK SWASTIKA AND HOLOCAUST REVISIONIST HISTORY, by Judith A. Reisman, Ph.D., HERE
Weeks after the Kampala conference in March last year — which followed a meeting between the speakers and members of the Ugandan Parliament — a clause appeared in the country’s draft Anti-Homosexuality Bill recommending life imprisonment for certain homosexual “crimes” or, for “serial offenders”, the death sentence.
To Mr Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia who is project director of Political Research Associates — a Massachusetts-based progressive think-tank — it was further evidence of how America’s Christian Right has stoked intolerance to homosexuality in Africa.
Persecution, Demonizing, Outcasting and initiating Crimes of Hate are in part MADE IN AMERICA
After a 16-month investigation, during which he interviewed scores of witnesses in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria, Mr Kaoma concluded that Africa’s anti-gay crackdowns are, at least in part, “made in the USA”.
“Through their extensive communications networks in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible schools and educational materials, US religious conservatives warn of the dangers of homosexuals, and present themselves as the true representatives of US evangelicalism,” he wrote in Globalising the Culture Wars: US Conservatives, African Churches and Homophobia, a damning report on the issue.
He told The Times: “We are not dismissing the fact that some of the money they send for Africa is going to good use. What we are concerned about is that the people who receive it are being trained in a conservative ideology. It will be like, ‘If I give you this, you must dance to my tune’.”
The results are becoming clear. In Malawi, where this week an openly gay couple were sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour, and across the continent, gays and lesbians face lives of increasing dread.* It is hard to underplay the depth of anti-gay sentiment expressed in Africa. “Everyone is looking over their shoulders,” said Mwangi, a gay man from Nairobi, who did not want his family name published. “People don’t even want to come to this bar now because they know it has a reputation as a meeting place for gays. Before, no one gave a damn. Everyone came here, prostitutes, straights, the lot,” he said.
It wasn’t always like this. A decade ago Uganda seemed at the forefront of a liberal renaissance sweeping Africa. Then, Angela, a Ugandan transvestite, led a dance troupe that regularly played to packed audiences. Now she fears for her life. “This is the worst it has ever been; they say we are evil and blame us for everything,” she said.
A large tear trickled down her cheek and splattered on the concrete floor of her modest home, its walls plastered with photographs of her in dancing costumes — souvenirs of happier days. “It is bad, my brother, it is bad,” she whispered. “They want to kill us.”
Fomenting this hatred are politicians. When President Mugabe of Zimbabwe famously proclaimed that “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Adam”, most people in Africa nodded in agreement — along with preachers like Mr Lively.“Homosexuality is ... equivalent to paedophilia, sadomasochism, bestiality and many other forms of deviant behaviour,” he told his audience in Kampala.
Referring to gay people as sinners who pose a “danger” to society and represent an “evil institution” hell-bent on seizing power, he added: “Nobody has been able to stop them so far. I’m hoping Uganda can.”
Mr Lively said he had subsequently sent a letter to the Ugandan MP promoting the proposed anti-homosexual legislation “saying that the death penalty is overly harsh”. But he added: “I think there’s far, far, far greater violence against Christians around the world today than there is against homosexuals, and for some reason that doesn’t make the news. Just the fact that someone is a victim of that kind of activity doesn’t validate what the victims do . ... [The] gay agenda is to re-create society on a different moral foundation that brings harm to everyone”.
Also on the speakers’ list at the conference were Don Schmierer of Exodus International — an organisation that argues that same-sex attraction can be “cured” — and Caleb Lee Brundidge, a counsellor who claims that he was healed of his homosexuality and promotes others to do the same through “healing seminars”.
Richard Cohen, founder of the International Healing Foundation — which seeks to help people with “unwanted same-sex attraction” through counselling — was behind the decision to despatch Mr Brundidge to the conference, but now he says that they were “blindsided”.
“The purpose of the conference, as we understood it, was to inform people about the causes and potential healing of unwanted same-sex attraction. We had absolutely no idea that the teachings at the conference would be misused to contribute in any way to the persecution and criminalisation of homosexuals ... If we had had any inkling of such an outcome, we never would have considered participating,” he wrote to President Museveni.
He added in an interview with The Times: “We found this Bill reprehensible. As we are both former homosexuals, under such a Bill, we could have been incarcerated for life ... It came out of left field, and [my reaction] was ‘What . . . ?’ ”
Ugandan human rights advocates say that, informed or not, the American evangelists who attended the conference took part in a dangerous process of human rights erosion.
“Just as the United States and other northern societies routinely dump our outlawed or expired chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, and cultural detritus on African and other Third World countries, we now export a political discourse and public policies our own society has discarded as outdated and dangerous,” said Tarso Luis Ramos, executive director of Political Research Associates.
Mr Kaoma said: “It’s a political agenda being driven by so-called evangelism in the US and being pushed on to Africa.
Unless the world moves fast, we should expect a lot of killings of gays, not by state sanction but through mob violence. This will continue unless the international community can start talking about gay and lesbians having human rights that need to be protected and defended.” HERE
*The Reverend Kapya Kaoma is a Project Director at Political Research Associates, and an Anglican priest from Zambia now leading churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. A doctoral candidate at Boston University School of Theology, he has studied in evangelical schools in Zambia and the United Kingdom. From 1998 to 2001, he served as dean of St. John’s Cathedral in Mutare, Zimbabwe and lecturer at Africa University, where he coauthored a text in ethics, Unity in Diversity. From 2001 to 2002, he was academic dean of St. John’s Anglican Seminary in Kitwe, Zambia, where he launched its women’s studies and church school training programs.¨ HERE
*ACTION: Support Tiwonge and Steven in prison in Malawi
Three things you can do to support our heroes
London - 21 May 2010
Big thanks to everyone who has shown their concern and anger at the outrageous 14-year jail term handed down to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in Malawi.
Here are three ways you can help:
Send a letter or postcard of support to Steven and Tiwonge. In this difficult time, they need to know that people around the world love and support them. Get all your friends to do the same. Write to:
Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, Prisoners, Chichiri Prison,
P.O.Box 30117, Chichiri, Blantyre 3, Malawi
Write a letter to your elected political representative. Urge him or her to write a letter of protest to Malawian President and to the Malawian Ambassador in your country.
If you live in the UK:
Email your MP and all your MEPs via this website: www.writetothem.com
Ask your MP and MEPs to protest to the Malawian President and to the Malawi High Commission in London.
Ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 564, which protests against the prosecution of Tiwonge and Steven. HERE
Make a donation by post or BACS electronic transfer to the Malawi Defence Campaign, organised the UK-based LGBT organisation OutRage!
OutRage! will use all money donated to support Tiwonge and Steven with food parcels, medicine, clothes, blankets etc. and to help fund the campaign for their release.
By BACS electronic transfer:
Account name: OutRage!
Bank: Alliance and Leicester Commercial Bank, Bootle, Merseyside, GIR
0AA, England, UK
Account number: 77809302
Sort code: 72-00-01
For electronic transfers from overseas (outside the UK), please
ADDITIONALLY quote these codes:
IBAN: GB65ALE1720001778093 02
Write a cheque payable to "OutRage!" and send to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT. Enclose a note giving your name and address and stating that your donation is for the Malawi Defence campaign.
Thanks for your concern and commitment to justice for Tiwonge and Steven.
Solidarity! Peter Tatchell, OutRage!
· Thanks to Times Online, U.K., sidebar
· Thanks to Jacqui Goddard, Miami
· Thanks to Jonathan Clayton, Nairobi
· Thanks to The Reverend Kapya Kaoma, Zambia
· Thanks to ¨Unity in Diversity¨
· Thanks to Democracy Now, sidebar
· Thanks to Political Research Associates
· Thanks to Getty Images, Shaun Curry
· Thanks to The Huffington Post, sidebar
· Thanks to Judith A. Reisman, Ph.D
· Thanks to The Pink Swastika and Holocaust REVISIONIST History
· Thanks to Flickr Photo Sharing
· Thanks to Tarso Luis Ramos
· Thanks to Peter Tatchell, OutRage
TAKE ACTION AGAINST BIGOTRY, IGNORANCE, HATE CRIMES and SPIRITUAL/SOCIAL ISOLATION: The ANGLICAN UN, United Nations, HUMAN RIGHTS Observer, Mrs Hellen Grace Wangusa from Uganda, has an office and staff provided by the Episcopal Church (USA) at the Church Center 815 Second Avenue, New York, 10017. The direct office line is (001) 212-716- 6263 and the email address email@example.com
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