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Conflict continues over homosexuality in Uganda
March 2, 2010 11:20 PM   Subscribe

Petition against Anti-Gay Bill Delivered to Ugandan Parliament. Fierce debate continues in Uganda over the Bahati Bill, a controversial anti-homosexual law currently under consideration by the Ugandan government (prev).

While the BBC reports on the delicate balance between urban and rural media coverage of the debate, one Ugandan pastor is airing gay pornography to his church members in an attempt to garner support for the bill. While the pastor has links to Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, even Warren himself has now spoken out against the bill. NY Times' Nicholas Kristoff makes an interesting argument on how secular liberals and conservative evangelicals can both be "Learning from the sin of Sodom."
posted by allkindsoftime (32 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yipes.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, a crime punishable by as long as 14 years in prison. But Uganda's parliamentary committee is now reviewing a bill that contains provisions for the death penalty for some homosexual acts, fines and jail terms for some citizens who do not report homosexual activity, and 7-year prison terms for anyone who aids or abets homosexual activities, including HIV/AIDS service workers.
posted by pracowity at 11:27 PM on March 2, 2010


While the pastor has links to Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, even Warren himself has now spoken out against the bill.

Can't unring that bell, Rick.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:27 PM on March 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is terrible. Wondering if gay Ugandans can seek asylum... wonder how that would help, in practice.
posted by polymodus at 12:09 AM on March 3, 2010


This is also a great "Wedge" issue for them. They're using the same "beat the liberals" playbook they do in the U.S. They can make "good liberals" disgusted with these places and vise versa and then they'll have Africa to themselves for their proselytizing version of aide.
posted by delmoi at 1:53 AM on March 3, 2010


From the Daily Dish Porn In Chruch. The vile Martin Ssempa is now blogging.
Throckmorten seems all over this.
posted by adamvasco at 2:19 AM on March 3, 2010


I'm really curious about what kind of pornography the pastor was showing in his church. Something tells me its not Damon and Hunter: Doing it Together.
posted by episteborg at 2:35 AM on March 3, 2010


Oh, thanks adamvasco.
posted by episteborg at 2:37 AM on March 3, 2010


I heard a radio interview with a Ugandan lesbian who was now living in fear. Her landlord knows she's gay. Her landlord is cool with that, but now faces prosecution for knowing she's gay. She's more worried about her landlord than she is about herself.

These sorts of laws must surely be short lived. Nothing like this has existed before in history, right?
posted by Jimbob at 2:58 AM on March 3, 2010


These sorts of laws must surely be short lived.
My old editor is now working in Kampala and wrote about this bill a few months ago. His view is that the bill, which at first"looked like a populist manoeuvre to divert attention from the clash between central government and the kingdom of Buganda" but
The ruling party seems seriously to have underestimated the international furore the Bill would provoke, with everyone from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Hillary Clinton and Rick Warren lining up to condemn it. What, to repeat, at first looked like a diversionary tactic has turned into a global PR disaster that reflects badly on the government of Uganda’s political judgment...
...The likeliest outcome, at this writing [mid-December last year], is that the ruling party will now distance itself from Bahati (as his Christian associates in the United States have already done.) Bahati’s political career is probably over, poor chap. The Bill will probably get lost in parliamentary procedures, without the government losing face (at home, anyway) by bowing too openly to ‘neo-colonial’ pressure...
That prediction about the government distancing itself from the bill seems to have come true, so I hop that it does indeed go on to die in committee.
posted by Abiezer at 4:12 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


From Abiezer's last link:
But in his first public comments on the issue, Mr Museveni told a meeting of ruling party members their handling of the bill "must take into account our foreign policy interests".

"The prime minister of Canada came to see me and what was he talking about? Gays," he said.

"[UK] Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to see me and what was he talking about? Gays.

"Mrs Clinton [the US secretary of state] rang me. What was she talking about? Gays."

He said the cabinet would be talking to David Bahati about his bill and would thrash out the government's position on it.
So it's pretty clear that international pressure does work. The guy pretty much admits that Uganda has to cave in to foreign pressure if it wants to keep getting foreign money. I wonder if sufficient foreign pressure could get Uganda to decriminalize homosexuality entirely?
posted by pracowity at 4:41 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wondering if gay Ugandans can seek asylum... wonder how that would help, in practice.

Possibly they could, but one of the provisions of the bill (thank you for informing me, Rachel Maddow!) is that the 'crime' of being gay like this would be extraditable.
posted by mephron at 5:47 AM on March 3, 2010


it's only a matter of time before Martin Ssempa is sentenced to death based on the duration of time he spent looking at meatspin.
posted by Hammond Rye at 6:19 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


On Morning Edition they played a short clip of the sound of shovels wielded by Ugandan soldiers looking for survivors of the mudslide.

I thought, "Maybe they'll find a survivor. Then find out that he's gay and execute him."
posted by Joe Beese at 6:24 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


They can make "good liberals" disgusted with these places and vise versa and then they'll have Africa to themselves for their proselytizing version of aide.

Read the last link, delmoi. Here, let me help you:

Some conservative Christians reinforced the worst view of themselves by inspiring Ugandan homophobes who backed a bill that would punish gays with life imprisonment or execution. Ditto for the Vatican, whose hostility to condoms contributes to the AIDS epidemic. But there’s more to the picture: I’ve also seen many Catholic nuns and priests heroically caring for AIDS patients — even quietly handing out condoms.

One of the most inspiring figures I’ve met while covering Congo’s brutal civil war is a determined Polish nun in the terrifying hinterland, feeding orphans, standing up to drunken soldiers and comforting survivors — all in a war zone. I came back and decided: I want to grow up and become a Polish nun.

Some Americans assume that religious groups offer aid to entice converts. That’s incorrect. Today, groups like World Vision ban the use of aid to lure anyone into a religious conversation.

Some liberals are pushing to end the longtime practice (it’s a myth that this started with President George W. Bush) of channeling American aid through faith-based organizations. That change would be a catastrophe. In Haiti, more than half of food distributions go through religious groups like World Vision that have indispensable networks on the ground. We mustn’t make Haitians the casualties in our cultural wars.

A root problem is a liberal snobbishness toward faith-based organizations. Those doing the sneering typically give away far less money than evangelicals. They’re also less likely to spend vacations volunteering at, say, a school or a clinic in Rwanda.

If secular liberals can give up some of their snootiness, and if evangelicals can retire some of their sanctimony, then we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity, like illiteracy, human trafficking and maternal mortality.

posted by allkindsoftime at 6:33 AM on March 3, 2010


In other news, and I don't get to say this often, DC is awesome.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:15 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


As for Rick "kill the gays" Warren, it's largely his fault that this bill exists in the first place, and he only reluctantly recanted his support for the bigots in Uganda after being confronted on the issue multiple times in public. If he'd been able to he'd have continued supporting the Ugandan bigots. Right now I'm hoping that I outlive the evil scumbag just so I can piss on his grave.

allkindsoftime Re: "faith based" groups: I don't trust them, and I doubt that World Vision's rules are enforced in the slightest. We saw the results of "faith based" aid in Haiti when newly converted Christians physically assaulted a Voodoo gathering. All credible evidence indicates that many faith based groups in Haiti made aid contingent on conversion.

I'm sure that there are many very good and dedicated religious people out there like the apocryphal Polish Nun. But to claim that it is simply impossible to construct non-religious aid disbursement groups to take my tax dollars is preposterous in the extreme.

But I'm also sure that there's plenty like Mother Theresa who regard the exercise as a way to spread misery and send "aid" money back to their religion for non-aid work.

Funneling tax funded aid through religious groups is not something I can ever support. Government and religion are supposed to be separate.
posted by sotonohito at 7:19 AM on March 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Should have added: I'm also pretty skeptical about any article that describes liberals as "snooty". As if we were the ones declaring that >50% of America wasn't "real America", as if we were the ones declaring that our particular religion was true and everything else was demon worship, as if we were the ones marching around with "Speak English" signs. Palin and her ilk look damn snooty to me.
posted by sotonohito at 8:11 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


In light of the recent MeTa thread, I'd like to know how we're to discuss this issue. If I say "This is exactly what the evil evangel churches wish for America," is that okay? Or is that mean and unfair and verboten?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:14 AM on March 3, 2010


Or is that mean and unfair and verboten?

Ask yourself, does your statement paint a large group with the brush of a few examples? Does the universal statement actually apply universally?

You could change it up to say, "this is similar to what several Evangelical groups propose for America." That statement would be true and not unfair.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:22 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like Kristof, but the article linked in the post is pretty weaksauce. He dismisses the "offer aid to entice converts" fears by saying "Well, that simply doesn't happen! It's against policy!" And he addresses the Uganda situation in a single sentence.

I know that faith-based groups do a ton of very, very valuable work. But I also know that Rick Warren and his three little pigs are the reason this bill is on the table in the first place.

While it might seem unfair to judge an entire religious culture based on the actions of a few, it's not really just a few, is it? If it were just Pat Robertson that held Pat Robertson's criminally insane beliefs, for example, that shitfuck wouldn't be richer than God and wouldn't have crowds of millions that listen to his sermons.

So tell me, Kristof: how am I supposed to reign in my "liberal snobbishness" at faith-based charities when it was three faith-based workers that created this law and pushed it to the brink of passage?

It's a fucking terrible issue, and there's only one way to deal with it, as far as I can tell: promise to withdraw all aid money & enforce stonewall embargoes if this monstrous Gay Holocaust bill passes, and get our allies to do the same. As cynical as it is, that way if the law passes, it won't just be a tragedy for gays, it'll be a tragedy for the whole country, and the blood will be on their hands.
posted by Damn That Television at 8:29 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does the universal statement actually apply universally?

Is "evil evangel churches" a universal statement, or a statement about evangel churches that are evil? I say it's the latter, but I suspect a number of evangels will feel that I'm calling them, personally, evil, even though they aren't the sort to hate gays. If that's possible.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:42 AM on March 3, 2010


sotonohito: Re: "faith based" groups: I don't trust them, and I doubt that World Vision's rules are enforced in the slightest. We saw the results of "faith based" aid in Haiti when newly converted Christians physically assaulted a Voodoo gathering. All credible evidence indicates that many faith based groups in Haiti made aid contingent on conversion.

By way of full disclosure: I work for World Vision. I've worked in roughly 15 countries in Africa over the last 3 years, and also in Haiti. I've been deeply involved in our field ops in Haiti, mainly in La Gonnave and Plateau Central. I've done the same in our field ops all across Africa. I can confirm - at least for WV, the biggest org, that it is a global policy implemented and understood down to the lowest levels of field implementation that our work, our funds, our programs, everything we do is in no way to be tied to any kind of religious requirement or regulation.

So, I'd be really keen to see "all credible evidence" that indicates anything else, because I haven't seen it yet, for WV, CRS, or any of the other major faith-based orgs I've worked along side of.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:24 AM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Evil" is a subjective term and leaves it open to the reader to decide who fits in the category if not specified by the author. Additionally, most people, I feel, will read your sentence to say that you regard evengel churches (not a term I was previously familliar with and I can only assume you mean big-e Evangelical and not Evangel Churches) as universally evil as opposed to refering to a sub-set of the group that are evil.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:26 AM on March 3, 2010


After years of soul-searching, I've arrived at the attitude that religion is neutral platform for delivering ideas, organizing groups of people, and creating action. On that basis, I think it is fair to say that religion is neither a force of good nor a force of evil. It is morally ambiguous, yet throughout history, there have been countless folk, some well-meaning and some not, who have used religion to push through their own agenda. If that agenda is helping to reduce suffering in others, I think that is the most enlightened way.

As an atheist and perhaps secular humanist, I think the work that FBOs do is definitely commendable. I would like for all FBOs to be completely inclusive, such as Tsu Chi, Siva and others. With regards to those that that attach strings to their aid work, I don't agree with it, but it is there choice, just like it's my choice to contribute money to a particular charity, irregardless of the fact that it deprives someone elsewhere.

With regard to the Uganda bill, it is a horror show. I feel for the individuals that are suffering, and I'm angry with the American influencers. But I'm mostly saddened by the fact that from what I've read, popular sentiment in Uganda is largely homophobic.
posted by sswiller at 10:31 AM on March 3, 2010


> is that okay? Or is that mean and unfair and verboten?

fff, you seem to be asking for community license to be a jerk. Why now? You've never needed a license before.
posted by languagehat at 10:45 AM on March 3, 2010


According to World Vision USA's website, "World Vision U.S. hires only those who agree and accept to its Statement of Faith and/or the Apostles' Creed." Is that a common policy among faith-based organizations? It seems at least distasteful, considering they get some funding from the US government.
posted by lullaby at 11:00 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


According to World Vision USA's website, "World Vision U.S. hires only those who agree and accept to its Statement of Faith and/or the Apostles' Creed." Is that a common policy among faith-based organizations? It seems at least distasteful, considering they get some funding from the US government.

I can understand an organization wanting members that reflect its values. That's like saying, "The US Military hires only those who agree in swear an oath to the Constitution." That doesn't say on where they get money from or who they're giving aid to.

Of course, World Vision might be a terrible charity, but I can't base it on that statement right here at all.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:03 PM on March 3, 2010


That wasn't intended to be a judgment of World Vision's work... I really have no idea if it's a good charity in practice. (And if allkindsoftime says it's their policy not to give aid attached to the Bible then I can accept his word on that.) I guess I am speaking more about discomfort with public money going to an organization that discriminates based on religion in their hiring. If religion is irrelevant to the work they're doing, then why does it matter what religion their employees ascribe to?

I don't think the military analogy really holds up. Requiring that you swear an oath to enlist/commission doesn't exclude anybody, whereas requiring that you sign WV's Statement of Faith excludes anyone who is not a Christian.
posted by lullaby at 8:36 PM on March 3, 2010


I don't think the military analogy really holds up. Requiring that you swear an oath to enlist/commission doesn't exclude anybody, whereas requiring that you sign WV's Statement of Faith excludes anyone who is not a Christian.

Of course it does. You would have to at least partially believe in the democratic republic to sign up. Fascists couldn't honestly swear, nor could anyone with a political ideology that strongly contrasts with the mission statement (Constitution) of the United States. I mean, anyone who believes in that could sign up, but that's just like saying anyone can be a Christian.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:19 PM on March 3, 2010




Too soon, man. Way too soon. That fucker may yet get his wish to kill homosexuals.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:42 PM on March 3, 2010


Yeah, who the hell got that guy a MacBook Pro? Fucker should be forced to use a bad Compaq clone from 1999 running Windows ME on a 28.8 modem connection. Blech.
posted by koeselitz at 9:49 PM on March 3, 2010


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