John Oliver Breaks Down the U.S. Influence on Uganda's Anti-Gay Laws

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John Oliver spent part of last night's episode of Last Week Tonight celebrating recent progress in the United States for marriage equality, until he realized our track record abroad is less encouraging. 

"It was the gay pride parade here in New York, which capped a great month of significant advances for marriage equality in America," Oliver said. "That's right: we are nearly half way to full nationwide marriage equality, which means it's about to become a question of which state is going to be last. Who could it possibly be, Mississippi?"

Indeed, Oliver said, "I do think this might be one of those moments when we're allowed to feel great about this country ... America did it! Strike up the band! Bring out the rock and roll George Washington! ... I see no reason why this feeling is ever going to end."

Well, as Oliver pointed out, the appointment of Sam Kutesa, Uganda's Minister of Foreign Affairs, to head of the United Nations General Assembly might be one particular reason. Because, if you recall, earlier this year Uganda enacted severe anti-gay legislation. "Calling Uganda's laws 'harsh' doesn't really do them justice," Oliver quipped. "That's like calling Stalin 'a bit of a grump.'"

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And according to Oliver, the U.S. has more to do with Uganda's laws than we might like – or some in the U.S., at least. "It turns out American anti-gay activists were in Uganda in the run-up to the passage of the law," Oliver explained. Including Scott Lively, who, among other things, is trying to take back the symbol of the rainbow, and addressed the Ugandan parliament for five hours. 

"If your hard-on for homophobia lasts five hours, you need to seek medical attention," Oliver said. "So clearly U.S. groups recognized the market for homophobia stateside was dwindling and so tried to sell it somewhere else, meaning that Africa isn't just where we send our losing team's Super Bowl shirts, it's also where we now send our losing political philosophies."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.