In the past week the Family Research Council has been busy praising Uganda’s commitment to Christian faith and “national repentance” — even as the Ugandan Parliament once again takes up a bill that would legally mandate the persecution of LGBT people. The bill appears to be part and parcel of dictator Yoweri Museveni’s “repentance” program, and its reappearance before the legislature has drawn no criticism from FRC or the other Christian right groups allied with the dictator. If anything, it seems to be drawing tacit, artfully-phrased praise.
Many who have followed the human rights crisis for LGBT people in Uganda know that, in 2009, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced into the Ugandan Parliament to supplement laws that already banned homosexuality. The bill, quickly dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill because of its provision of a death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” also includes severe penalties for other actions and non-actions, including the “failure to disclose the offense” by anyone who might be aware of another person’s same-sex sexuality. Although the bill has not been yet passed, it has attracted harsh international condemnation, and many attacks on LGBT people and activists have been attributed to the public debates surrounding it.
It is in this context that last month Uganda’s pious President Museveni delivered a speech in which he dedicated his country to God and renounced “the Satanic influence” of “the last 50 years of [its] history.” (It is not clear whether Museveni considers it inconvenient that he has governed Uganda for over half of the country’s 50 years of said sinfulness.) While he did not mention homosexuality specifically in the long list of sins for which Museveni called upon the deity to forgive the nation, he did name “sexual immorality.” In any case, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has taken up the challenge of national repentance by promising passage of the “Kill the Gays” legislation as a “Christmas gift” to the people of Uganda.
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