Finally this news breaks on SA media. Well it's about bloody time! And I do mean bloody. Another article also made it into the mainstream media, this time in the Citizen. I still have to gauge the SA public response to it, but I have an idea there will be quite a few comments in favor of the bill coming from the whack-jobs and wing-nuts.
It seems to me that current events in Uganda influenced by the US religious right are in fact no more than a virulent symptom of problems at home - that these things being said and used by proponents of this "Bill" and the genocide it would ignite, in fact have their origins in the backward deep south "bible belt" of the country most people naively think of as the most liberal and democratic place on Earth. Why would I say this? Let's take a look:
This "kill the gays" war cry seems to be a new turn in the US religious right war on human rights. How does it tie into Uganda? And then there was Jimmy Swaggert a few years back too, doing the same thing.
If you look at the things that are being said, and by whom, you will see. You need to ask whether this is the sort of thing a responsible leader would say? Aside from that, ask yourself whether this is the sort of thing a sane person, much less a Christian would say.
Consider these questions carefully and you will most likely reach the same conclusion as I have. A resounding "no!"
Some good work has been done by the US gay rights group "Soulforce", where they launched a campaign recently to facilitate “family visits" (GLBTI families) to some of the largest charismatic churches in the USA. This has been quite successful in trying get many anti-gay churches to see us as “people” and not just as nameless, faceless stereotypes painted as a "threat" to all they hold dear. There have been some interesting reactions, from many people who aside from the negative propaganda they have had access to, have had no personal contact with GLBTI people. Saddleback Church, Rick Warren’s church, was one of those that they visited.
Pastor Rick Warren recently made a press statement denouncing Martin Ssempe and the Ugandan Genocide Bill, and the political turmoil surrounding it - which many people feel he played a part in creating. It seems to me nothing more than an attempt to escape the responsibility for their influence and mentoring of genocidal maniacs like Martin Ssempe and other local Ugandan hate mongers. Like Warren, Exodus International also recently withdrew support for the Ugandan Genocide Bill, hastily backpedaling in case they got inextricably linked to a mass murder in the name of Christianity and their fine work in Africa. Too late I think, all that remains to happen now is the actual passing of the bill. Rick Warren who disavowed any connection to the activities of Martin Ssempe, one of the main architects of the Bill - and Exodus International are just passing the buck for when the blood starts to flow, nothing more.
Many "Christian" missionaries have started falling over each other to condemn the nature of the Bill which advocates death for gay people who test HIV positive, and jail terms for the rest, and which makes no discrimination between gay people and any other group in the GLBTIQ collective. Many others still have remained silent - and as we all know, silence gives consent.
I am amazed at the sudden "ex-gay" willingness to collaborate with out GLBT people on attacking this bill - but as I said earlier, I think it is to try and save their image. It seems that they have realized, too late, that the wording of the Bill for which they helped generate so much support, also includes "ex-gay" people such as themselves, along with those whom Ugandans would destroy. Oops.
They and other foreign "missionaries" have been supporting and even fanning the flames of the anti-gay crusade in Uganda - and the rest of Africa - for the past two decades. Much evil has been wrought in Uganda by people calling themselves Christians. I hope you will forgive me if I see no value or goodness in the works of such "Christians" who can defile other people with such hatefulness and praise God in one breath with the same heart.
It seems to me that the fight against this Bill in Uganda should have started by putting out these fires at home, don't you think?
Some notable "ex-gays" have come forward to take a stand against this ultimate expression of hatred and destruction, by campaigning, almost unthinkably, side-by-side with out and proud gay rights activists. While I laud their efforts, I have to wonder why they are doing so? I mean, didn't they know what they were doing when they were campaigning against the human rights of gay people in Uganda? Were they somehow detached from reality when they sat idly by, listening to Scott Lively reading from his hateful book "The Pink Swastika" and compared gay people to Nazi murderers? Did they really think inciting such hatred and throwing fuel onto the bonfire would be without any consequence?
One of them, on his own Facebook group designed to protest this Ugandan Bill, recently found himself confronted with accusations involving the "ex-gay" group Exodus International in Ugandan affairs leading up to the Bill. A rather angry gay rights activist (whom I tend to agree with, surprise, surprise) posted links to TWO and Box Turtle Bulletin articles detailing their involvement, and was quite angry at this. I must say he handled it remarkably well, so well in fact that I wonder if the side-step will become a new dance.
"I can appreciate that you are angry about the [Uganda] conference in the Spring. However, that was then and now Exodus has denounced the bill. There are many people in this group with many viewpoints who have come together to oppose the bill. This group cannot be a forum to bash other members of the group who want to see this bill withdrawn."
I agree with him on the latter, but not the former. "That was then and this is now" is not an excuse or a defense. It means that yes, Exodus was instrumental in setting the scene for the Bill to be formulated, and has now simply done no more than to flee the kitchen now that things are getting too hot for comfort. The "ex-gay" movement has helped the religious right to demonize gay people for decades now, lending them credibility and helping to reinforce every lie and propaganda ploy against the community - and to generate and incite hatred and intolerance in the process. It is simply unbelievable that they can turn around now and say something to the tune of "Yes, we said 'hate gay people', but we didn't mean actually kill them".
It must also be said that one cannot both oppose the Bill and simultaneously continue to support Exodus OR that for which it stands - as Exodus and the "ex-gay" lie are exactly what has fueled events in Uganda - and would do so anywhere else if given the chance.
Isn't it about time this changed? Surely such a change will prove that Exodus has been mistaken and is serious about its regret for its involvement in Uganda? It would be a start at least. "Exodus Web Site Says ‘Human Rights’ Don’t Apply to Gay People. A document on Exodus International’s web site has, since 1996, rejected the notion that the world’s homosexual or LGBT people are entitled to human rights."
"I think it is important to keep in mind that many factors -- cultural, political, historical, religious -- have led to this." These words from yet another Exodus International backer trying to divert attention from Exodus's complicity in Ugandan affairs despite clear evidence which implicates them directly in the formulation and generation of support for this Bill in Uganda.
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In most western countries today, there are enough GLBTI people in social and political and even religious positions to counter this propaganda and misinformation. These countries have a voice that can speak out against this sort of insanity. This is absent in Uganda and in many African countries, where homophobia - and rising homophobic propaganda is rife. This is precisely why I have been encouraging GLBTI people to be out and proud, to get off their apathetic asses and to get involved with politics and every aspect of society. No - I don't feel one iota of guilt or hesitation in condemning them and giving credit where it is due.
Being ordained as a minister may not be a "human right" - but not being persecuted and criminalized for who you are certainly is. This obviously includes unfair discrimination. The whole misconception and misrepresentation of human sexuality as a "lifestyle issue" is EXACTLY what has resulted in this Bill! In fact, the Ugandan government, religious leaders and society are echoing that very sentiment - that gay rights are a "lifestyle choice" and not human rights.
It facilitates oppression and persecution.
We need to remember that Exodus operates on a religious premise - NOT a scientific or medical one. In other words, the ONLY argument they have to back them up is a sectarian religious bias which is wholly open to misinterpretation and is not shared by many others.
Exodus may not be the only party to blame in the global degradation of gay people's human rights, but they certainly seem to hold the lions share in Uganda.
Exodus, and the "ex-gay" mindset based on the personal opinion, religious fundamentalist self-persecution and junk science that powers it, are at the root of this problem, and simply saying "whoa, we may think gay people need to be forced into "ex-gay therapy" and sent to jail - but we didn't mean gay people should be killed for being gay" simply will not be enough to undo the harm they have played a large part in doing.
The truth is, it is their work as so-called "ex-gays" which has played a very large part in lending some authority to those who seek our destruction by legitimizing their claim that being GLBT is "a lifestyle choice" and in encouraging the oppression of the pink community worldwide. The fact that this is occurring in Uganda, half the world away from its base, proves how far Exodus and its dogma have spread.In short, it is the "ex-gay" material, pseudo-science and propaganda, promoted by public speakers and their various allies - coupled with religious fundamentalism and internalized homophobia which is directly to blame for the escalation of homophobia in Uganda to this point.
A land mine can lie in wait for decades, waiting for some innocent to step on it. Like the land mine, Exodus and the "ex-gay" lie need to be defused - and they need to be big enough to step up to the podium, admit to their failings and their actions, and then do no more harm.
To sum up, they need to stop doing what they are doing, or more Ugandas will be the result. Simple logic.
All else is meaningless and otherwise an insincere attempt to simply save face and avoid the consequences and responsibility for their actions.
Some gay people, who call themselves "ex-gays", claim that Exodus "helped" them. Interesting. It makes me think of an unlikely scenario where a predator would actually help its prey. In Germany the Nazis rebuilt a war-ravaged nation, restored national pride, rebuilt the economy and military strength. Likewise, I was helped too by the Apartheid government, they ensured me a safe home, a good education and a protected existence throughout my childhood.
In both cases, this came at the expense of human rights, dignity, liberty, equality, democracy and freedom - and for every "advance" or "plus" it came at the cost of some minority. In the above examples, it was Jews and Black folks - and us. In this case, it is just us.
Despite the positive results of their efforts (for some), it sure didn't make them right or righteous or acceptable - or absolve them of their guilt or responsibility for the other things they did.
I trust you will see the similarities and forgive me for my failure to see any good at all in groups such as Exodus International or NARTH.
As you can see in this case (Uganda) a largely ignorant and religious fundamentalist society has been overrun with paranoia and anger and hatred which was encouraged by outside influence - Exodus (and "The Family") which spoke with "authority" out of "quasi-religion" and junk-science, giving them license and justification to hate and to persecute - and its approval.
I sincerely hope Exodus and its cohorts have learned a vital lesson from propagating religious personal opinion and blatant lies as fact - that it generates blind hatred and blood lust - especially among people who know nothing at all about sexuality, or even their own religion.
I have to say, alarming and frightening as the potential for tragedy in Uganda is today, we have been warning of this danger for at least a few years already. Even so, it is still a little satisfying to point fingers at people like Warren, Lively, Schmierer, Chambers and Exodus International and to say "I told you it would end up like this".
It is more than satisfying to know that they are still human enough to be as horrified as we are at their own handiwork, like a frightened child who has just lost his eyebrows in a failed science experiment. We bloody told you so.
Simply going back on its earlier self-congratulation and "moral" convictions now after all it has done to facilitate and encourage events leading up to this entirely predictable outcome - simply does not absolve Exodus of its sins. Just claiming innocence is not enough - they need to exonorate themselves by trying to undo the damage they have done - and this retraction is evidence of their desperation to do so. But is it enough? Would it ever be enough?
My personal preference in this matter? That Exodus and other groups like it, learn this lesson and shut themselves down and leave the anti-gay hatemongering to the straight heterosexist bigots instead of doing their bidding for them. But will they do it? Do they have the honor and respect for human life to do it? In all honesty, the "ex-gay" industry is just that - an industry - a multi-million dollar franchise that charges a fortune for "seminars", materials, "courses" and "refresher-courses", camps and other tools designed to do the impossible - to supposedly turn gay people straight.
For many of them it is more than just an emotional crutch - it is their livelihood.
In all honesty, I don't want to help save their butts. I want Exodus and every "ex-gay" factory to fail and implode out of shame and guilt for what they have been doing to innocent people around the world in the name of the internalized homophobia brought about by their own religious fundamentalist intolerance and the outside pressure on the pink community to conform.
In fact, I may be wrong about this, but I think if the Bill didn't negatively affect so-called "ex-gays" as much as it did those who are honest about their nature, Exodus would probably still be backing it.
Religious intolerance, hatred, oppression, inequality, genocide... It has to end somewhere, and HERE is as good a place as any. Let it end HERE.
Media pressure puts pressure on governments to act. The more people, the more pressure. The more pressure, the better.
Trouble is, they have made such a scene about "not giving in to the West just because of money" they are "honor" bound to go ahead with it anyway. If they back down, they will lose face. Ironically they seem more concerned about "losing face" for showing decency, rather than joining the likes of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and other historical genocidal megalomaniacs.
At the moment, Uganda is all wind and smoke - they are posturing themselves, wanting to pass the Bill and start implementing it - but the thought of losing all that funding, pride or not - probably makes them realize their economy will likely collapse. But will it? Or will the world hold off in return for whatever favor Uganda has to offer them?
It has been suggested that the need for oil recently discovered in Uganda will supercede the importance of human rights - least of all, GAY human rights, which have so often proved expendable in the past. "Anti-Gay Bill Likely To Pass As Oil Surpasses Donors For Influence In Uganda". As usual, it all comes down to money. Sad but true.
So what is really more important? Human rights? Or oil? Are human rights so conveniently disposable that they can be sidelined or discarded or betrayed because a country happens to be entering the oil industry and people are looking for a cheaper fix for their oil "habit"? So which way will it go? Will it pass as they seem to think or hope that it will? I hope not. I would rather go electric or ride a bicycle - or walk, than fill my tank on blood.