I generally try to devote this space to reporting on ways to combat outrages being perpetuated in the US and/or by the US overseas. As an American, I feel a personal responsibility to oppose the misdeeds of my own country first and foremost. There’s also enough going on in my own backyard, and with my own tax dollars, that I typically have sufficient material without calling out foreign despots.
However, what’s going down in Uganda currently compells me to comment. Uganda is a country where homosexuality is already illegal, where violent attacks are common and where rape is used to ‘cure’ people of their sexual orientation. Now, a shocking new law has been proposed that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment or even death.
As my colleague Richard Kim reported last December, "’The "Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ was introduced by Ugandan legislator David Bahati, a member of The Family, the fundamentalist Christian group whose devotees include Congressmen Bart Stupak and Joe Pitts, Senator John Ensign and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. According to an NPR interview with Jeff Sharlet, whose 2008 book documents The Family’s influence in US politics, Bahati organizes Uganda’s National Prayer Breakfast and runs something called the African Youth Leadership Forum, an alumni group associated with Youth Corps, part of The Family’s Cornerstone leadership academy."
Among American journalists, Rachel Maddow has been alone in regularly reporting on Uganda’s anti-gay legislation. Here, she discuses the back-story with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
President Obama has already denounced the law in a written statement. But given the incredible danger that LGBT Ugandans are facing, it’s important to urge him to do more and make clear to Uganda’s President that if this bill becomes law, it will have a chilling effect on the relationship between the two countries.
An urgent campaign from Human Rights Campaign is helping citizens write their elected reps to demand that America leads a strong and immediate international response to stop this law. Join me in adding your name today.
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