Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Observer Blames Americans For New Era Of African Anti-Gay Hate

Great Britain's The Observer took aim at right-wingers in America, blaming them for helping to make much of Africa virulently homophobic.

Simply check out the headline and sub-heading for the story:
Anti-gay bigots plunge Africa into new era of hate crimes

Uganda is likely to pass a law within months that will make homosexuality a capital offence, joining 37 other countries in the continent where American evangelical Christian groups are increasingly spreading bigotry

That is one powerful statement.

The reference to hate crimes made me think they were referring to anti-gay violence, but it seems that is the term they are using for the state-sanctioned, criminalization of homosexuality. That is a fairly heavy-duty comment.

Regarding the proposed anti-gay Ugandan bill, The Observer states:
...many suspect that it was outsiders who inspired this bill in the first place. In March, Bahati met several prominent anti-gay US Christian activists who attended a conference in Uganda where they pledged to "wipe out" homosexuality. The conference featured Scott Lively, (pictured above), president of California's anti-gay Abiding Truth Ministries and co-author of The Pink Swastika, a book claiming that leading Nazis were gay. Also there was Don Schmierer, on the board of Exodus International, which promotes the "ex-gay" movement, believing people can change their sexuality and be redeemed. The third extremist evangelical to attend was Caleb Lee Brundidge, who is linked to Richard Cohen who believes that psychotherapy can "cure" homosexuality.

Bahati's bill was drawn up within weeks of the conference, but it has only just begun to cause waves within America's powerful evangelical community. Legalising killing gay people has triggered a bad press for the bill.

That part of the story has been getting covered, but the piece then examines the judicially-codified homophobia that is spreading across the continent. Notice this harsh assessment from British glbt activist, Peter Tatchell,
"The right-wing are losing the battle in the US, so they are exploiting the poverty-stricken developing world. The response of the Commonwealth is pathetic. Of the 80 countries who criminalise same sex-relationships around the world, over 40 of them are in the Commonwealth – where is the concern for human rights?"

America may be homophobic, but...

There is a factual error in the story. In the initial edition, they write:
It is not just Africa where homophobia is rife – Iran and Jamaica have seen homosexuals imprisoned and attacked and many American states have laws against sodomy.

I contacted the paper to let them know that, while we may have homophobes in America, individual state laws against sodomy were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003. I would be surprised if I was the only one to write them, and I assume they will revise that paragraph.

Otherwise, it is a story well worth your time.

It can be found here.

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