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Thursday 2 May 2013

The American Wahhabists

The horrific image above, which I make no apologies for posting, comes from the Ugandan Parliament.

The Ugandan lesbian activist Kasha Jacqueline posted it on Twitter. It is an example of the sort of disgusting anti-gay crap being distributed to Ugandan Members of Parliament. Kasha said it left her "sobbing" and pleading for advice on what to do about it.
Kasha also just tweeted the cover of a Ugandan tabloid headlined 'Broke MP Sodomised For ShS900m' (about £200,000 / US$345,000). Her comment on that headline was that it was "dense". Unfortunately many Ugandans would believe it.

The idea that gay sex results in people requiring surgery and that gays recruit and target boys did not descend (from heaven) on Uganda, it comes from American dominionist (theocratic) Christian activists. Groups like Right Wing Watch and Truth Wins Out have long documented the sort of vile propoganda, which extends to deranged claims like that gays ran the Nazi party, circulating amongst anti-gay activists.

Back a couple of years and the activities of these people and their links to Uganda were all over US media. Coverage topped by that of MSNBC primetime host Rachel Maddow, who spoke many times with author Jeff Sharlet. His work has exposed the secretive American groups whose aims are internationalist, to spread their theocratic vision worldwide. Other writers like Chip Berlet, writing here for Alternet, have examined just how deeply such militants have infiltrated US conservative politics.

The media focus was on the infamous 'Kill the gays' bill, proposed in Uganda and whose contents are directly linked to US influence. One US Christian activist in particular, Scott Lively, is actually being sued in a US court in a groundbreaking case for inciting persecution. Last month the group sueing Lively, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), exposed links between the people behind the shocking literature distributed to Ugandan MPs and US group LibertyCouncil.

Writes Dan Littauer in GSN:
[The 'Kill the gays' bill] language echoes the false and hateful allegation by Lively and Liberty Counsel that a ‘sodomy’ and ‘homosexualists’ groups from the West ‘promote’ ‘perversion’ in Uganda, naming LGBT activists as ‘militant homofascisits’.
An ironic persistent whine from anti-gay Ugandans is that they oppose homosexuality because it comes from 'foreign influence'. Uganda had no gay people before the whites arrived, they claim. Anyone reporting the ties of anti-gay activists to US funding is rigorously attacked despite a wealth of evidence showing the timeline between American missionaries arriving and anti-gay political action following.

That proposed law, which retains the death penalty (despite heavy spin claiming otherwise, a lie unfortunately bought into by much international mainstream media) is not dead, despite some non-Ugandan activists claiming 'victory!' over it. It still sits on the order paper of the Ugandan parliament, waiting for a vote.

Maddow hasn't covered Uganda for a couple of years now but neither have most others. Jim Burroway at the Box Turtle Bulletin, who do similar work to Right Wing Watch and Truth Wins Out, has been covering developments since Lively first appeared in Uganda. He thinks the bill could be revived for political reasons in Uganda and keeps a watchful eye.

The shocking tweets from Kasha show that anti-gay forces in Uganda haven't let up and, as Burroway has also warned, won't give up until their 'Kill gays' bill becomes law.

Wealthy, anti-gay, international fanatics

The activities of rich American religious fanatics are directly comparable to those of the rich Saudi Wahhabists, who also have their own 'by-the-book' proselytising brand of an Abramaic religion.

The new documentary 'God Loves Uganda' filmed US dominionist evangelical Lou Engel calling Uganda "ground zero" for American efforts.

Writes Peter Montgomery for Religion Dispatches:
It’s clear that much of the power American culture warriors have in Uganda comes from the money their ministries pour into the country along with their missionaries. At the massive Miracle Center Cathedral, the biggest megachurch in Uganda, the high-living pastor is quite frank that “American money helped us build this church,” adding, “whatever you see here is the fruit of American labor.” In another clip, a pastor marvels that aid from U.S. evangelicals increased threefold when they started attacking homosexuality.
Churches’ financial success brings added clout to anti-gay pastors like Martin Ssempa—who drives his congregation into a frenzy by showing explicit and extreme gay pornography—and the politicians allied with them, like David Bahati, the sponsor of the kill-the-gays bill.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is a multi-million dollar organisation, founded by US televangelist Pat Robertson (pictured on the cover of Time magazine). It is actively funding and organising anti-LGBT efforts in Zimbabwe, Kenya and elsewhere in Africa and in Brazil.

Mirroring Uganda, reports Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian priest, and Jandira Queiroz, a Brazilian activist, in the Huffington Post, in Brazil:
The ACLJ typically hires local staff for its international offices to mask the U.S. origins of their assault on LGBTQ and reproductive rights, while hypocritically using that façade to attack human rights advocacy as a neocolonial enterprise imposed on the country in question.
In international bodies like the UN another wealthy US group, Family Watch International (FWI), works with the Vatican and Islamic countries against gay interests. It actively recruits and indoctrinates diplomats in the sort of propaganda Kasha found in Ugandan MPs pigeonholes. FWI President Sharon Slater has said that:
Iran is one of the strongest nations in standing up for family values at the UN.
In Zambia, writes Chivuli Ukwimi:
There has been an increase in the number of visits to Zambia by notable American evangelical leaders calling upon Zambian leaders to reject ‘anti-biblical’ practices like homosexuality and abortion and uphold and retain the status of Zambia as a ‘Christian nation’. Of course, many of them have come with sizeable cheques to ‘support’ various churches and religious institutions. And opportunist religious leaders – like Bishop Edward Chomba, who was actually ex-communicated by the International Communion of the Holy Christian Orthodox Church in the US in 2007 – are happily jumping at the chance to make friends with their wealthy peers from across the sea by trying to out-do each other’s anti-gay rhetoric.

If you think you have heard this process before, it is because you have – in Uganda. And we know where that ended up – in legislation calling for the death penalty for homosexual acts, vile and vitriolic press ‘coverage’, and the murder of an LGBTI activist.
The West turns a blind eye

In Ethiopia a building anti-gay campaign is being fueled by US funded religious groups. It is reaching the point of proposing laws -- death sentences -- similar to those proposed in Uganda.

According to Ethiopian activists, the developing wave of persecution is being ignored by the US State Department and the British Foreign Office.

"The U.S. and other countries don’t do enough to push for an end to such violations," writes Rainbow Ethiopia. "It’s not because the foreign governments don’t know what’s going on."

This is not the first time that those countries have been accused of ignoring serious human rights abuses in Ethiopia -- for geo-political reasons -- and the charge undermines the pro-LGBT shift in foreign affairs claimed by both the UK and the US.

Although some may see any actions taken by Western governments opposing persecution of LGBT as 'colonialist' -- and anti-gay forces would loudly agree with that claim -- Ugandan activists have cited international pressure as the reason why the 'Kills gays' bill is not now law. Activists in Malawi, Russia and elsewhere have also supported international pressure.

Richard Lusimbo from SMUG told Littauer:
We need to hold accountable those in the west who support and praise for the persecution of the LGBTI people in Uganda and other parts of the world. Their work imposes a denial of rights and a life of hardship and suffering for gay people in Uganda and elsewhere.
English: Guy Sebastian and African children. S...
America's shadow foreign policy

According to activist the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, American tax dollars are supporting many of those active in pushing for LGBT persecution internationally.

Ogle cites the invisibility of LGBT related services from the aid budgets of USAID, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) as well as in funds going to the United Nations Global Fund.

Organisations like the televangelist Billy Graham's family charity Samaritan’s Purse get millions for unscientific 'abstinence only' HIV/Aids programmes which exclude LGBT. And, Ogle notes, Andy Kopsa’s research shows that Samaritan’s Purse:
Brags about converting Muslims to Christianity through the distribution of "hygiene kits" and clean water projects in Niger. They have been found to be evangelising Haitians as part of their relief efforts.
But despite being censured previously for proselytizing with federal money, Graham's group still gets millions.
Another group, World Vision, massively funded by US taxpayers, won't employ gay people and have been involved in the anti-gay activity in Ethiopia.

Says Ogle:
[My Ethiopian friend] was arrested and tortured as a direct result of this kind of shadow foreign policy by American-based evangelical organizations that receive multimillion-dollar contracts from the American government. They hide behind good works to orphans and widows while ignoring the devastation they cause for the LGBT poor of the developing world. As more and more light is shed on a very hidden part of American-funded evangelism in the global south, the American tax payer deserves more accountability as to where their gifts are going and what they are actually used to fund.
Who's fighting American Wahhabists?

The pro-gay foreign policy announced with fanfare by Hillary Clinton in December 2011 is already showing some fruit. One little noticed example is the American government's support for LGBT organisation in Mongolia, where that country's parliament just discussed the issues for the first time and where a first ever Pride march is planned.

There are people working hard to end US support for anti-gay forces and, Ogle reports, that on April 8:
USAIDlaunched a new initiative with the Astraea Foundation, The Victory Institute and the Williams Institute to create a $12 million superfund to help struggling LGBT organizations in the Global South to try to reverse the impact of this kind of discrimination and invisibility.
"It is a beginning," says Ogle. But "so much more is needed to repair years of discrimination and neglect and to stop funding faith based programs that are on the front lines of LGBT oppression in many countries."

Evangelicals like Warren Throckmorton, who has done hard reporting on developments in Uganda and has been cited by Maddow, are working within religious circles to expose the international theocrats. The producers of 'God Loves Uganda' are using their documentary to try to get American evangelicals to "consider the impact of their words and deeds", writes Montgomery. He says that the film's producers have had hundreds of inquiries from churches for screenings.

Polls show that there has been a huge, positive swing in the attitude of American 'born again' Christians towards LGBT over the past quarter-century. Perhaps within another generation the American Wahhabists attempt to impose 'biblical law' outside America will have simply died at its source?
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