Post submited by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is planning to sign an archaic anti-gay bill into law, according to a government spokesperson. The bill, which once even included the death penalty, calls for gay Ugandans or anyone “promoting” homosexuality to be jailed – potentially for life. Museveni made the decision to sign the bill after consulting with a panel of “medical experts.” The co-chair of that panel has publicly claimed that being gay “is just deviant behavior. It can be learned, and it can be unlearned.”
“Unless this bill is stopped from becoming law, lives will be destroyed, and countless people will be punished for an immutable characteristic,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “Anti-LGBT Americans advocated for laws further criminalizing LGBT people in Uganda, and it looks like they are now getting their wish. Whether it’s Brian Brown advocating for anti-LGBT laws in Russia or Scott Lively calling for the further criminalization of LGBT people in Uganda, anti-LGBT Americans must stop exporting their hate abroad.”
Chief among the American extremists whipping up the hatred fueling this legislation are Scott Lively and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. Two months ago, Fischer tweeted in support of the Ugandan bill and called for making “homosexuality contrary to public policy. It can be done.” Fischer has even defended Scott Lively’s direct involvement in Uganda, insisting he was simply standing up for “natural marriage.”
Scott Lively’s 2009 visit to Uganda is currently the subject of a lawsuit in Massachusetts in which he stands accused of committing crimes against humanity for inspiring hatred and violence towards gay people. In addition to his efforts in Uganda, Lively also claims to be one of the masterminds behind Russia’s brutal crackdowns on the civil rights of LGBT people. Lively’s fringe views, which include blaming the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide on gay people, are rejected by reasonably thinking Americans.
The idea that being gay is “deviant” and something which can be “unlearned” is not only harmful, but scientifically inaccurate. While many extremist organizations continue to promote the idea that someone can change their sexual orientation, the nation’s leading medical organizations have spoken out against such practices precisely because of their inherent harm. Those organizations include the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.