Ugandan President Signs Anti-Gay Bill That U.S. Evangelicals Helped Write Into Law

The President of Uganda has signed into law a bill that places severe criminal penalties on homosexuals:

LONDON — Brushing aside Western threats and outrage, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda significantly strengthened Africa’s antigay movement on Monday, signing into law a bill imposing harsh sentences for homosexual acts, including life imprisonment in some cases, according to government officials.

The move came weeks after Mr. Museveni’s Nigerian counterpart, Goodluck Jonathan, took similar steps in his own country, threatening offenders with 14-year prison terms. The Ugandan law seemed even tougher, threatening life terms on charges including “aggravated homosexuality,” meaning homosexual acts with a minor, a disabled person or someone infected wth HIV.

“We Africans never seek to impose our view on others. If only they could let us alone,” Mr. Museveni said, according to The Associated Press, alluding to Western pressure to reject the bill.


While Western gay-rights campaigners have accused American evangelical Christian groups of promoting antigay sentiment in Uganda, Mr. Museveni accused “arrogant and careless Western groups” of seeking to draw Ugandan children into homosexuality.

The Ugandan government spokesman, Ofwono Opondo, said Mr. Museveni wanted to sign the bill “with the full witness of the international media to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation.” Mr. Opondo announced on Twitter that Mr. Museveni had signed the bill, which drew condemnation from rights groups and Ugandan activists.

“It’s a gloomy day, not just for the gay community in Uganda but for all Ugandans who care about human rights, because this law will affect everybody,” Julian Peppe Onziema, an advocate for gay rights in Uganda, told Reuters.

The country’s Parliament approved the law in December, saying it was aimed “at strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family.”

Later that month, Mr. Museveni wrote a letter to Parliament saying that lawmakers had made procedural errors in passing the bill and that an in-depth study was needed before it could be taken up again. Mr. Museveni said at the time that he would seek further expert opinions.

But this month, Mr. Museveni shifted position and said he would sign the bill, apparently bowing to strong conservative opinion among Ugandans. Gay-rights activists in Uganda have vowed to oppose the legislation, which could jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in crucial Western development aid.

The Ugandan law follows in the footsteps of a similar punitive law that recently went into effect in Nigeria, the most populated nation in Africa, as well as others in effect throughout the continent, where virtually all nations have bans of some kind on same-sex relationships. The dirty little secret about the Ugandan bill, though, is that it comes from the same people opposing equality for gays and lesbians here in the United States:

U.S. evangelical Christian sects active in Uganda helped compose a draconian bill that punishes homosexual acts with life imprisonment and lengthy prison terms for those who associate with gays.


Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda under colonial-era laws against “crimes against nature.” But David Bahati, a devout Christian and the member of Uganda’s parliament responsible for the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill and its current incarnation, has argued that stricter anti-gay laws are needed to protect Uganda from the damaging influence of Western liberalism.

“This is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa,” Bahati said.
Bahati is a member of “The Family,” also known as “The Fellowship,” a secretive and powerful U.S.-based evangelical sect that has been sending money and missionaries to African nations, including Uganda, to promote anti-gay public sentiment and legislation. According to Ralph Stone of the San Francisco-based Fog City Journal, “the Family and other anti-gay groups have long viewed Uganda as a laboratory to experiment with Christian theocracy.”
“Protecting children” is a common theme used by anti-gay Ugandan political and Christian leaders to justify violence against gays, even though there is no evidence of gay criminals targeting children in the country at a higher rate than heterosexual child predators. Still, Bahati claims the new bill is necessary to “defend our culture and defend the future of our children.”

NPR reports the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was written with the help of U.S. evangelical Christians with “close ties” to the Ugandan lawmakers who are pushing for its passage. Chief among these Americans is Scott Lively, a Massachusetts-based evangelical facing a U.S. lawsuit filed by Ugandan gays under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreigners to sue in U.S. courts for human rights violations committed abroad.

“There are those factions of the evangelical community in the U.S. that believe they’ve more or less lost the fight against the homosexual agenda,” Malika Zouhali Worrall, co-director of a documentary film called “Call Me Kuchu” (queer), told NPR. “Therefore, they’re trying to pre-empt it in other countries.”.

Isn’t it enough for them to try to ruin the country they were born in, now they have to ruin foreign nati0ns?

FILED UNDER: Africa, Gender Issues, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    I appreciate the fact that Christianists have dropped the whole “Love the sinner” b.s.. This is hate legislation. Same as it is Arizona. Same as it would be across the country if the Tea Party wing triumphed. I’ve always said there was fascism at the heart of the American hard right. I can’t say it’s exactly gratifying to be proven right.

  2. ernieyeball says:

    Chief among these Americans is Scott Lively, a Massachusetts-based evangelical…

    Way to go Reverend Lively. Spread that Christian Love…

    “Dear President Putin, On behalf of millions of Americans and Canadians who are concerned about the seemingly unstoppable spread of homosexuality in our countries and internationally, I wish to respectfully express my heartfelt gratitude that your nation has take a firm and unequivocal stand against this scourge by banning homosexualist propaganda in Russia. You have set an example of moral leadership…”

    Crackpot pastor Scott Lively, in a letter accompanying a copy of his book, The Pink Swastika, which Lively says is being translated into Russian and will contain a dedication to the Russian government.

  3. anjin-san says:

    Hatin’ in Jesus name. Amen.

  4. rudderpedals says:

    Bahati is a member of “The Family,”

    There you go

  5. stonetools says:

    Isn’t it enough for them to try to ruin the country they were born in, now they have to ruin foreign nati0ns?

    They would of course say that they were “saving the country”, just as libertarians who vote for Republicans would argue that they were “saving” the USA from the horrible results of high taxes and overreaching Big Government by voting for Republicans.
    If you really do think that homosexuality is a choice and a mortal sin, that condemns you to eternity in hell, then advising the government of another country to pass draconian anti-homosexuality laws makes sense.
    The solution is all these cases is that governments need to pass laws based on reason and evidence, not on ideological beliefs, wherever derived.
    Frankly, I blame the governments much more than the evangelicals. It’s really up to the leaders of these governments to make the decisions to pass these laws. They decided to make their decisions based on the political calculation to gain favor by victimizing a miniority, rather than reason and evidence.
    What’s disheartening, too , is that Nigerian Prime Minister, Goodluck Jonathon, is himself a member of a small tribe, not one of the major national groups in Nigeria.

  6. Pinky says:

    I’m not denying that US evangelicals helped to write the law, but I’m not seeing the evidence for it in any of the links.

  7. JohnMcC says:

    The original Calvinist ‘Puritans’ and ‘Pilgrims’ of the 17th century believed that the role of the secular authority was to help us prepare for the afterlife and God’s judgement. An idea that has unfortunately not found a way to die.

  8. Pinky says:

    Goodluck Jonathan is such a great name!

  9. Gromitt Gunn says:
  10. ernieyeball says:

    @Pinky:..From the website of Scott Lively Ministries. Pastor Lively writes:

    I am pleased to note that I have been promoted to “’perhaps the most extreme’ of a network of U.S. evangelicals”

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    If God hates homosexuals so much, why does he keep making them?

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Of course the inference from my above statement is that God must love stupidity cause he keeps making Evangelicals. Seeing as I can find no evidence supporting either statement I am left with but one conclusion:

    God doesn’t give a rat’s a$$.

  13. ernieyeball says:

    The Sixth Day
    24 God said, “I command the earth to give life to all kinds of tame animals, wild animals, and reptiles.” And that’s what happened. 25 God made every one of them. Then he looked at what he had done, and it was good.
    Genesis 1 24 Contmporary English Version

    Wouldn’t this include the rats and their asses?

  14. Pinky says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: I read that article. It pointedly doesn’t say that American Evangelicals wrote the law.

    “In the midst of the controversy, some have gone so far as to say the American groups had a direct hand in drafting the Ugandan legislation and lent the anti-gay movement a mainstream appearance.” etc.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnMcC: George Lakoff wrote a whole book, Whose Freedom, to explain that “freedom” means something completely different to conservatives and liberals. To liberals it pretty much means what Webster thought it meant, “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint..”. To conservatives it means being constrained to do their duty as they see it. And a big part of their duty as they see it is to force you to do your duty – as they see it.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @ernieyeball: Yeah but that was at least 6000 years ago. He hasn’t given a rat’s a$$ ever since.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @ernieyeball: Of course, one has to remember that I am a long time member of the church of Dog the Almighty and the Utterly Indifferent. In our unholy tome, one will find in the book of EnglishSetters the following at 24:7:

    And on the 7th day, Dog said, “SQUIRREL!!!!!”

  18. Pinky says:

    It looks like Ugandan David Bahati wrote the law. I haven’t exactly scoured the internet, but I don’t see any indication that U.S. Evangelicals assisted him in it. I’m wondering if Doug’s headline is correct.

  19. michael reynolds says:


    Oh, please. You’re straining at a gnat. It is entirely clear that American Evangelicals went to Africa and spread a gospel of hatred which actively empowered the basest elements in Ugandan society. Did they sit down and type up the bill? Who knows. It’s irrelevant. I doubt Mao, Stalin or Hitler typed up their own extermination orders, either.

  20. ernieyeball says:

    I’ve always been partial to the Church of Logic, Sin and Love…

    This is real–this is now
    This is the freak show baby anyhow

  21. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds: I agree that it’s not very important, but then again, it shouldn’t be in the headline if it’s factually incorrect.

  22. Vast Variety says:

    @Pinky: It’s factually correct. Scott Lively helped write the bill. All you need to do to find the evidence is google “Lively Kill the Gays Uganda”

    “American evangelicals such as Scott Lively and California pastor Rick Warren have a history of involvement in Uganda where they focus their missionary work. As a result, Warren and others have become influential in the shaping of public policy in Uganda, Nigeria and, to a lesser extent, Kenya.[19] Stephen Langa, the March 2009 workshop organiser, specifically cited an unlicensed conversion therapist named Richard A. Cohen, who states in Coming out Straight, that was given to Langa and other prominent Ugandans,”

  23. Pinky says:

    @Vast Variety: I checked the first four links. The SPLC had this: “More recently, he got a new claim to fame when he presented his virulent views about homosexuality at a 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda that is widely believed to have played a role in the drafting of Uganda’s notorious “kill the gays” bill.” The footnote 19 that you highlighted links to an article on, with the following: “….If only Lively’s influence ended there. But a few days later, he met with Ugandan lawmakers and government officials, some of whom would draft parliament’s Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009 the next month.” I have yet to see anything about Lively or any other American writing the bill.

  24. al-Ameda says:

    American evangelicals and Yoweri Museveni – soul brothers.

    Seriously, you can’t make anything up any more.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    How long before Lively gets caught with a male prostitute? I mean, this is the usual path for the hysterical evangelical anti-gays…

  26. Tillman says:

    @MarkedMan: Hypocrisy is overrated as a vice. Can’t you dislike someone for their views instead of thinking they’d betray their own views?

  27. J-Dub says:


    If God hates homosexuals so much, why does he keep making them?

    Hopefully as a test of how we all treat each other.

  28. ernieyeball says:

    @J-Dub: So god makes the homophobic bigots too so they can persecute and murder homosexuals for god’s amusement?

  29. Rick Almeida says:

    If there is a silver lining in this cloud, it might be that the “battle lines” on the issue of gay rights are becoming abundantly clear.

    There are American “conservatives” of the type found in Kansas and Arizona, their allies in places like Russia and Uganda, along with some Muslim fundamentalists…allied against pretty much the entire civilized world.

  30. J-Dub says:

    @ernieyeball: Nature makes homosexuals, nurture (gone wrong) makes bigots.

    ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

    Bigotry is an affront to God and those that practice it will be judged accordingly. At least that is my understanding of their religion. I’m an Atheist myself and think they should be judged in the here and now.

  31. Tillman says:

    @J-Dub: As a Christian, I just stuck with Matthew 15:11 and always presumed it also applied to human crotches.

  32. john personna says:


    nurture (gone wrong) makes bigots.

    I just emailed the hosts this link:

    A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior

    I hope it becomes a top-level story. I took it last time, and I think it’s that good. And as a bonus, anyone who takes the course will discover how to get under my skin (catching me out where I mis-remember the science).

    That said, I’m afraid no, we are not so lucky that we are pure spirits in a state of nature, only to be corrupted by bad fortune. Human nature has foibles at the best of times. We think of rational and irrational as pure forms, but they are not, and our actions are not some clean toggle from one to the other.

  33. Maggie says:

    Protect the children from what?? Homosexual and Pedaphile are not the same thing!
    Real simple litmus test. to understand:
    Ask yourself this question : Do I enjoy or fantasize about having sex with male/female/same sex as myself/both sexes???
    Once you have answered that question, insert your answer in the blank of the next question:
    “Do I enjoy or fantasize about having sex with ______________ who are children under the age of consent?

    ONLY if you answer “yes” to the second question are you a Pedaphile. And yes, there are homosexuals who are pedophiles just the same as there are straight and bisexual people who are pedophiles.
    If you don’t get this, then your views on homosexual relationships are based on you personal opinion, not on fact.

  34. ernieyeball says:

    @john personna:..anyone who takes the course will discover how to get under my skin..

    I thought that was revealed in the NSA Documents released by Edward Snowden!

  35. Kay says:

    @Pinky: Such names are quite common in Africa. Comfort, Patience are common womens names. Goodluck apparently is a mans name.

  36. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    Most things are not pure nature or nurture. Genetics, epigenetics, in utero environment, then post utero environment all play a part in many characters. Bigotry against specific groups, as opposed to vague unease when confronted with the unknown, is almost exclusively a post utero environment phenomenon.