The rhetoric over an anti-gay bill in
Uganda has reached new heights this week as the controversy received
In Uganda, the bill's sponsor, MP David
Bahati, told Kampala-based The Observer that he was undeterred
by international pressure to drop the bill's death sentence
provisions for repeat offenders and people who are HIV-positive.
“Since we started this cause, there
has been a lot of speculation and manipulation on the part of the
pro-gay community to try and divert us from defending our family
values,” Bahati said. “There is no amount of pressure or
intimidation that will deter us from preventing our children from
being lured into this evil.”
Earlier reports indicated that the
death provisions might be dropped in the bill's final draft. There
is wide support for the bill that increases penalties for being gay
in a country where it's already illegal.
While anti-gay sentiment in Africa has
risen significantly in recent years and being gay is illegal in 37
nations on the continent, Uganda has received the lion's share of
attention because of the involvement of prominent U.S. evangelicals,
including the Rev. Rick Warren, who recently distanced
himself from the bill.
Scott Lively, founder of the anti-gay
Abiding Truth Ministries, is often mentioned as an architect of the
bill. Lively has promoted controversial anti-gay theories, including
the idea that gay rights are dangerous because Germany's Nazi Party
was ruled by gay men. While Lively admits traveling to Uganda in
March, he says his testimony in front of the nation's leaders was
post published at DefendTheFamily.com, Lively simultaneously
commends “the courage of the Uganda people” to resist “the
enormous power and relentless pressure of the international 'gay'
lobby” and calls the proposed law “a serious overcorrection.”
In the end, however, he endorses the bill, if the death provisions
“Let me be absolutely clear. I do
not support the proposed anti-homosexuality law as written,” Lively
says. “It does not emphasize rehabilitation over punishment and
the punishment that it calls for is unacceptably harsh. However, if
the offending sections were sufficiently modified, the proposed law
would represent an encouraging step in the right direction.”
Lively, then, supports other
controversial measures found in the bill, including criminalizing the
“promotion of homosexuality,” which would effectively ban
political organizations, broadcasters and publishers that advocate on
behalf of gay rights, and turning friends and family members of gay
men and lesbians into criminals if they failed to report a violation.
Wayne Besen, executive director of
Truth Wins Out, a group that fights the “ex-gay” movement,
recognized Bahati's characterization of being gay as a “learned
behavior [that] can be unlearned” as a quote from Richard Cohen's
“ex-gay” book Coming Out Straight.
“It is amazing that the lives of GLBT
Ugandans hang in the balance because of an idiotic book printed by an
obvious madman like Cohen,” Besen
“Is heterosexuality really that weak
in Uganda?” he asked. “It sure seems like it based on the
hysteria and pandemonium surrounding gay people. Particularly Mr.
Bahati, who seems, based on his rhetoric, like he might mount a man
any second if his clownish bill isn't ramrodded through the