This week I planned to write about Washington DC’s decision to recognise out-of-state gay marriages and Vermont becoming the fourth US state to legalise same-sex marriage -” and the first to do so by a state legislature vote.
But for every part of the world where gay equality is galloping forward it seems somewhere else it’s galloping back -” too often funded by the same forces of fundamentalism who’ve lost the battle here.
A case in point is Uganda, where US-funded fundamentalist churches and ex-gay groups have found fruitful soil in a country where 33 percent of people cannot read and fewer than 30 percent of voters have finished primary school.
Earlier this year Scott Lively (author of The Pink Swastika that claims gay men ran the Nazi Party and caused the Holocaust), Don Schmierer (a board member of Exodus International), and another US ex-gay promoter held a conference in Kampala where it was claimed there was an international conspiracy to turn Africans gay -” the only solution being the mass arrest of Ugandan homosexuals and their subjugation through ex-gay therapies.
Then last month, the group that ran the conference held a press conference where they paraded a cured former gay activist with longstanding money troubles. He claimed that over $1000 a day was being spent on a campaign to impose homosexuality on Ugandans and that he’d been trained and paid to recruit schoolchildren into being gay.
Despite a veneer of democracy, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has been in power 23 years, and with corruption and crime rife in the country, the government has found homophobia to be an increasingly powerful tool of distraction. Leaping on these allegations, government ministers are now claiming the United Nations is behind the spread of homosexuality in the country.
Planned legislation will strengthen Ugandan sodomy laws, which have been difficult to enforce despite a penalty of life imprisonment, by making simply being a GLBT person a crime. With this the government will criminalise every gay rights group in the country and any gay person who dares to speak against the lies peddled in the country’s news media.
It’s hard to know how to respond when any foreign help is dismissed as conspiracy.
But in this time of crisis, when governments are looking to save money, could there be a better way than suspending aid to Museveni’s regime?

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