As if that were not shocking enough, a U.S. author is claiming that a secretive group of American politicians appear to be a driving force in seeing the proposal become law.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, heavily supported by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, was first read in October, triggering a wave of condemnation. According to the gay blog Queerty, Joann Lockard, public affairs officer at the Kampala, Uganda embassy, said the law would “constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda.”
She added: “We urge states to take all necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests, or detention.”
While that condemnation by a U.S. official would seem reflexive, others in U.S. political circles are providing financial and political support for the bill’s sponsors, according to author Jeff Sharlet.
Sharlet’s book “The Family” is an investigative look at a secretive group of fundamentalist Christian lawmakers in Washington, D.C. In a recent interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, he broke the news that The Family’s influence in Uganda is rife.
“[The] legislator that introduced the bill, a guy named David Bahati, is a member of The Family,” he said. “He appears to be a core member of The Family. He works, he organizes their Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which The Family has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda.”
And how did Sharlet discover the connection? “You follow [the] money,” he said. You look at their archives. You do interviews where you can. It’s not so invisible anymore. So that’s how working with some research colleagues we discovered that David Bahati, the man behind this legislation, is really deeply, deeply involved in The Family’s work in Uganda, that the ethics minister of Uganda, Museveni’s kind of right-hand man, a guy named Nsaba Buturo, is also helping to organize The Family’s National Prayer Breakfast. And here’s a guy who has been the main force for this Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda’s executive office and has been very vocal about what he’s doing, in a rather extreme and hateful way. But these guys are not so much under the influence of The Family. They are, in Uganda, The Family.”
Under current Ugandan law, homosexuality is a crime punishable by life in prison. The proposed law would not just condemn HIV positive gay men and “repeat offenders” to death, it would also jail for three years anyone who knows a gay man but refuses to report them to authorities. Further, anyone who defends in public the rights of gays and lesbians would be subjected to a seven year prison term.
In his NPR interview, Sharlet said the bill would “very likely” pass and become Ugandan law. He added that the nation’s president, whom he called a “dictator,” has long been in The Family’s fold.
“The Family identified [Museveni] back in 1986 as a key man for Africa,” he said. “They wanted to steer him away from neutrality or leftist sympathies and bring him into conservative American alliances, and they were able to do so. They’ve since promoted Uganda as this bright spot – as I say, as this bright spot for African democracy, despite the fact that under their tutelage, Museveni has slowly shifted away from any even veneer of democracy: imprisoning journalists, tampering with elections, supporting – strongly supporting this Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009.”
“Addressing the Commonwealth People’s Forum, Stephen Lewis, the former UN envoy on Aids in Africa, said that the Bill made a mockery of Commonwealth principles,” the Times Online reported. “Nothing is as stark, punitive and redolent of hate as the Bill in Uganda,” Lewis said.
“We needn’t tell you: The implications are dire,” opined Queerty. “It’s not abnormal for foreign heads of state, like Museveni, to have ties to American politicos. But he’s deeply routed in a secretive organization that promotes hatred under the guise of loving Jesus. And the very people — America’s elected officials who believe in human rights — we would expect to pressure Uganda’s lawmakers not to make such a bill law are turning out to be its biggest supporters.”
Retired Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh dies at 46 after Connecticut house fire
Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of online shoe retailer Zappos, died from injuries sustained during a fire that ripped through a loved one’s home in Connecticut, the company confirmed.The iconic tech entrepreneur died Friday night. He was 46.“The world has lost a tremendous visionary and an incredible human being,” Zappos CEO Kedar Deshpande wrote on the company’s website. “We recognize that not only have we lost our inspiring former leader, but many of you have also lost a mentor and a friend.“Tony’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, as his mantra was of “Delivering... (more…)
Second person dies after Black Friday shooting at Sacramento mall
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A second person has died after being wounded in a shooting inside Arden Fair during the height of Black Friday shopping in what was described as a targeted and isolated attack.The victim, a 17-year-old male, was pronounced dead at a hospital several hours later, the Sacramento Police Department said Saturday morning. The other victim, identified by police as a 19-year-old male, was pronounced dead at the mall by Sacramento Fire Department personnel.On Friday night, shoppers and workers quickly evacuated the sprawling shopping hub following the shooting at 6:11 p.m., which ... (more…)
Western states call for massive rent relief — and political wins
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The best hope for swift pandemic aid to struggling California tenants and landlords might come from Georgia.State lawmakers from California and three other Western states this week are urging their congressional delegations to step up with $100 billion for rent relief — an achievable goal, they believe, if Democrats win two seats in U.S. Senate elections in Georgia, seize control of the upper chamber, and push a significant stimulus bill through Congress.Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, chair of the housing and community development committee, said the federal aid... (more…)