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New links show how US Christian right exports gay hate to Uganda

New links show how US Christian right exports gay hate to Uganda

The extent to which US evangelical Christians are helping push the ‘Kill The Gays Bill’ in Uganda has been revealed in a series of tweets between them and anti-gay activists in the African country.

Matt Barber, attorney for Liberty Counsel, a US right wing Christian law firm, listed as an anti-gay group, has been praising anti-gay Ugandan evangelical pastor, Martin Ssempa on Twitter.

Ssempa tweeted earlier this week: ‘Homos are paid to spread the vice by hiding it under human rights gibberish! They are $$ by rich European sodomy groups!’

Barber retweeted Ssempa’s anti-gay slur and praised him in a follow-up tweet, saying: ‘Here’s a man not afraid of the international homofascist juggernaut.’

The two continued to promote each other’s anti-gay tweets throughout the week.

Liberty Counsel consistently spreads anti gay hate throughout the US, but their rhetoric (talking about a international ‘homosexual’ lobby investing money in recruiting ‘members’, calling it fascist, and so on) and methodology (pamphlets, speeches, use of social media) is now being used in Uganda.

But the link between Ssempa and the US evangelical anti-gay movement goes far deeper, say members of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) rights, it amount to exporting anti-gay hate campaigns and adapting them in the African country.

Ssempa and the US evangelical pastor Scott Lively have also been implicated in working closely together with Ugandan Member of Parliament (MP) David Bahati in drafting and pushing Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill (AHB) currently under consideration by Uganda’s parliament.

The bill has called for gays, under certain conditions, to face the death penalty.

AHB’s language echoes the false and hateful allegation by Lively and Liberty Counsel that a ‘sodomy’ and ‘homosexualists’ groups from the West ‘promote’ ‘perversion’ in Uganda, naming LGBT activists as ‘militant homofascisits’.

Lively has gone even further to suggest that gays are to be blamed for the holocaust and compared LGBT rights advocates to the Nazis, and fascists.

There are strong links between Lively and other US pastors, such as Rick Warren, who have a close relationship with the First Lady and member of Parliament, Janet Kataha Museveni, as well as the President himself, that have made similar allegations.

The idea that homosexuality is ‘imposed’ on Uganda by the West is increasingly echoed in speeches by some of Uganda’s leaders.

Just this week president Museveni made a speech in Ethiopia saying: ‘Some members of the international community are speaking about promoting homosexuality instead of addressing serious issues. Don’t homosexuals need electricity?’

SMUG suggests that extreme US Christian groups promote and export their anti-gay hate campaigns most notably through the work of Ssempa and several of his colleagues.

The groups have been noted on a number of occasions to have worked closely with these anti-gay Ugandan campaigners, who consistently allege ‘sodomy’ is being ‘exported’ into Africa.

They have spread false rumors and helped Ugandan tabloids to ‘name and shame’ gay people, exposing them to danger, and create an anti-gay moral panic throughout the country.

Lively, along with Ssempa, two other ministers and Bahati, are facing US federal lawsuit filed by the SMUG last year, which accuses the groups of working together to incite hate, persecution and violence against LGBT people in Uganda.

Barber and Liberty Counsel’s founder and chair, Matt Staver are not only the defense lawyers of the group against SMUG’s lawsuit but have been trying to spread misinformation about the case in the US media.

Staver and Barber have repeatedly alleged SMUG’s lawsuit is a conspiracy by a ‘dominant’ ‘homosexual’ ‘movement’ who want to ‘intimidate’ and ‘silence’ Christians.

Such groups are not only linked in terms of the content of their messages, such as the consistent allegations that ‘homosexuals’ are recruiting ‘members’ in Uganda, some of them children, onto their ranks by ‘payments’, but by methodology.

Staver, Barber, Lively and other leading evangelical anti-gay campaigners were exposed last year as being part of a secret anti-gay Facebook group aimed at sharing, promoting and disseminating homophobic information through the social media.

The group also included African anti-gay campaigners like Ssempe in Uganda.

SMUG wants international human rights organizations and the US government to investigate links between these US evangelical groups and anti-gay campaigns in Uganda.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Richard Lusimbo, SMUG’s research manager
argued the groups work closely to export their anti-gay cultural wars into Uganda and around the world.

Lusimbo said: ‘Matt Barber, Liberty Counsel Attorney and Liberty University Law School Associate Dean support for Ssempe clearly is yet more evidence how some American evangelical groups encourage and link to homophobia in Uganda.

‘Liberty Counsel is closely linked to anti-gay Pastor Scott Lively who not only helped in the drafting the AHB but has continued to speak for its passing into law in Uganda and continually incites anti-gay hate.

‘Matt Barber and Matt Staver are currently acting as Scott Lively’s legal defense team who SMUG sued for his direct involvement in AHB and anti-gay hate incitement.

‘We therefore call upon our international partners to rally behind SMUG to denounce persons or individuals who promote homophobia, like Matt Barber and Scott Lively.

‘Homophobia has never been part of African heritage and has only been relatively recently exported and promoted, particularly, by religious leaders that are backed by groups such as Liberty Counsel.

‘We recommend an investigation be carried out into the links groups like Liberty Counsel have with anti-gay figures in Uganda and their extent – from financial to material.

‘We need to hold accountable those in the west who support and praise for the persecution of the LGBTI people in Uganda and other parts of the world. Their work imposes a denial of rights and a life of hardship and suffering for gay people in Uganda and elsewhere.’