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U.S. Preacher to Headline Anti-Gay Rally at Uganda Sports Stadium

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Apr 23, 2010

The introduction of Uganda's anti-gay bill, which prescribes death for gay men who have repeated sexual encounters with other men--or HIV+ gays who have even one same-sex encounter--was preceded by a visit by three U.S. anti-gay evangelicals to the African nation. Now, another anti-gay American preacher is set to lead a day-long rally in Uganda, blaming gays for natural disasters and promoting violence against them.

Uganda's anti-gay bill was sponsored by David Bahati, a little-known politician who became famous overnight for authoring the legislation, which has sparked international protests. steepens penalties against gays and provides stiff punishments against those who decline to report gays to the police.

There is some evidence that the bill was prompted in part by claims made by American anti-gay evangelicals who visited Uganda March of 2009, and presented what they called the "Seminar on Exposing the Homosexuals' Agenda." Their talks contained assorted claims about gays and the "dangers" that gays pose to society, reported the New York Times in a Jan. 3 article.

The conference was put together by the Ugandan group the Family Life Network, which purports to uphold "traditional family values." The speakers included anti-gay writer and missionary Scott Lively--author of a book that purports to tell parents how to "gay-proof" their offspring--and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus international, an organization dedicated to the idea that gays can be "cured" through prayer and counseling.

A third speaker was also in attendance: Caleb Lee Brundidge, who claims once to have been gay, but now to be heterosexual. Mr. Brundage heads seminars focused on "healing" gays (that is, attempting to turn them straight).

The views set out by the Americans ranged from highly dubious claims that gays can be "converted" to heterosexuality to wild, undefined assertions that a "gay agenda" was at work "to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity," as well as stereotype-based pronouncements that gay men prey on teenaged boys. Some worry that the presence of anti-gay "missionaries" in Uganda is evidence that Africans are in danger of becoming "collateral damage" in the struggle by U.S. religious conservatives to deny gay individuals and families equal legal recognition and protections at home, with those denials based on the claim that homosexuality is a "choice."

The American evangelicals gave their addresses in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, over a three-day period. Bahati has said that he counts as friends American evangelicals in U.S. government positions; an EDGE article from Feb. 2 noted that Bahati has ties to organizers of the so-called "Prayer Breakfast," an annual event designed to gather and influence U.S. policymakers. In the wake of the three evangelicals' visit last year, a Ugandan minister stated plainly that, "Homosexuals can forget about human rights."

Pundits expect that the upcoming visit by anti-gay evangelical Lou Engle will only worsen the crisis in Uganda, which is only one of several African nations where anti-gay sentiment has spiked in recent months. The event Engle will headline is known as The Call, a five-hour rally preceded by three weeks of fasting that "is intended to awaken and revive the young and the old, men and women, church and family, government and the public and to fight vices eating away at our society." Declares text at the site, "Prayer, fasting and repentance changes nations!"

Pam's House Blend noted that Engle led a similar 12-hour rally in San Diego in the days leading up to the vote on Proposition 8, the amendment to the California constitution that stripped existing marriage rights from gay and lesbian families in that state.

An April 22 article at Pam's House Blend quotes an article by Patricia Nell Warren, who wrote about Engle's involvement in the push to deprive gay and lesbian families of their rights. Warren described Engle as "A major figure in the New Apostolic Reformation" who "has close ties with the violent anti-abortion movement called The Army of God, who stirred up such a frenzied atmosphere of attacks on abortion clinics that they finally incited someone to assassinate the well-known doctor George Tiller."

Continued Warren, "His own movement also calls for acts of 'martyrdom'--meaning followers who are willing to commit violent acts, including murder, who will willingly go to prison or be shot down by police, so they can rid the world of the movement's 'enemies,' namely prominent abortionists and LGBT leaders and the like."

Notes Pam's House Blend, "Now Engle is taking that dangerous message and rhetoric to Uganda, already a powder keg of hate and violence against LGBT people." The event's website says that the event is meant to bring people together to pray against "witchcraft," as well as "homosexuality and increased immorality" and natural disasters, which, the site says, anti-gay Ugandan preachers claim are the result of gays. The situation in Uganda is so threatening for gays that some openly gay Ugandans have been forced to move from place to place, text quoted at the site says.

The Call is scheduled to take place May 2.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


Comments

  • , 2010-04-23 23:31:56

    This is the most insane stupid idiotic thing I have ever heard thisnis 2010 not 1900 all people have there rights who are the narrow minded people to say gays don’t have rights u cannot gay proof a kid because this isn’t a choice and if my choice was to die or be straight I would choose death being gay isn’t a choice and people who believe that are very ignorant I can’t believe how closed minded some people still are


  • , 2010-04-24 13:47:31

    This is exactly how the first holocaust started, people justifying killing gays. Is the world going to sit back again and watch it fall into another shroud of darkness?! How long will it take this time to figure out that genocide is a bad thing? Or does the world want to beat around the bush again?


  • miss majesty, 2010-04-26 22:29:40

    Hmmm another bigot posing as a Christian. Since he can’t get an spew his hate here he has gone to a place where he can!


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