Last month, journalist Rex Wockner profiles Scott Long, a long-time advocate for LGBT human rights who is now director of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT Rights Division.
If activists sometimes wonder why human-rights workers are slow to report about feared crises, Long explains why: Filtering facts from rumor is difficult, especially in parts of the world where official media are unreliable or untrustworthy and where at-risk populations must remain in hiding.
Of the current Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, Long says:
It … would effectively criminalize every aspect of human rights work and human rights and human life that’s connected with homosexuality, and I think there’s a very good chance that it will pass. …
The preamble to the bill was, I think, pretty clearly written by U.S. evangelicals or folks who are connected with U.S. evangelicals. We know that (U.S. evangelicals were) doing evangelical missions to Uganda earlier this year and raising the red flag about homosexuality. We know, moreover, that PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) under the Bush administration was not only funding evangelical, homophobic, Christian — and in some cases Muslim — movements in Uganda, but they were also funding U.S. evangelical churches to go over to Uganda to promote quote-unquote abstinence-only, which, mind you, is homophobic by definition because the idea of abstinence till marriage excludes people who can’t marry from any access to sex.
So the U.S. under the previous administration was implicated in this up to its elbows and U.S. right-wing churches are in this up to their elbows. And they’re targeting Africa, not just Uganda. … (I)n Zambia, in Namibia, in Kenya, in Nigeria, these folks are operating all over the map. And that’s one reason why the Uganda bill is so alarming. It’s not just what it represents for Uganda, where things are bad already, it’s that it represents a foothold by these forces inside Africa … in creating new legal prohibitions on sexual autonomy, on homosexuality, and using homosexuality as a wedge issue to establish their own power.
Even when pastors such as Rick Warren publicly wash their hands of certain extreme African colleagues, the flow of government aid to antigay evangelical programs continues, and the pastors’ mission — and direct or indirect government revenue — continue.