American Pundits Lambaste Uganda's 'Kill the Gays' Bill

A bill to imprison and possibly execute gay Ugandans is on its way to becoming law. Gay rights pundits propose ways to stop it.

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In Uganda, homosexuality may soon be punishable by death. Under proposed legislation, gay Ugandans would face life in prison, people who 'aid or abet' them could serve up to 7 years, and gay citizens convicted of same-sex rape or living with HIV/AIDS would be executed. From the text of Bill No. 18: "A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death." The story has stayed low on the agenda of American media more broadly, but those pundits who are following the bill are hell-bent on stopping it. How they propose to prevent the so-called "Kill the Gays Bill" from becoming law:

  • Deploy Christian Arguments Against the Bill  At The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan was grateful when Pastor Rick Warren publicly denounced the bill.
It is absolutely and unequivocally unchristian to demonize a whole group of people and to threaten them with execution simply because of their sexual orientation and their need for love and sex and intimacy and companionship like every other human being. And for Warren to deploy Christian arguments in defense of the dignity of homosexual persons is a big step forward in this debate. I am grateful to him for staying true to the Gospels.
  • Shame the Enablers  On her show, Rachel Maddow outed Richard Cohen, a self-described "conversion therapist" whose writings about how to cure homosexuality are cited as inspirational by Ugandan advocates of the bill (see below the text for the clip). "You're telling them exactly what they need to hear in order to justify the Kill the Gays bill," Maddow told Cohen.
  • Cut Aid to Uganda  Time Magazine's Zoe Alsop says Western donors have been silent on the issue of gay rights in Uganda.
Uganda's ostrich-like denials on homosexuality seem to be tolerated by international donors such as Washington and the U.N. Even in 2009 — a year when the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, gave $285 million for HIV and AIDS programs in Uganda — just one program targeting 'men who have sex with men' has been allowed to register with the government, a prerequisite for access to international funding.
  • Put Pressure on Politicians  Think Progress's Amanda Terkel is keeping track of world leaders who are speaking out against the bill. "Even world leaders like UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the bill. Sweden development assistance minister said that the country planned to cut aid to Uganda over the 'appalling' legislation."
  • The West Must Speak Out  Jason Kuznicki of the Positive Liberty blog says Americans have a responsibility to condemn the bill, since he argues it was inspired by neo-colonialism. He takes on the uncomfortable subject with a vengeance. "It’s about time for the oppressed to strike out on their own — and oppress someone else. That, after all, is what it takes to really grow up as a nation. Or so you’ve been told, Uganda."
I, however, am writing to you today because this very law looks neo-colonialist to me. It looks like a stale rehash of what we’ve argued about the United States for most of my life, albeit I see that you play for rather higher stakes over there. As Michelle Goldberg put it in The American — gasp — Prospect, 'The ludicrous idea that gays and lesbians are imposing their values on Uganda — or that gay adoption is even on the table in that country — demonstrates the way American rhetoric pervades that country’s anti-gay politics.' Sadly, you seem to get this stuff… from us.

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