Ugandan anti-homosexual ruling will have disastrous effects, warns FFRF

Flag of Uganda - six stripes alternating between black, yellow, and red, with a white circle in the middle with a bird in it.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is once again sounding the alarm on Uganda’s horrific Anti-Homosexuality Act after a recent ruling by the Ugandan Constitutional Court.

In defiance of international law and pressure from the international human rights community, the court upheld many of the discriminatory provisions of the homosexuality ban passed in 2023. These provisions criminalize homosexuality with a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and create the charge of “aggravated homosexuality,” which imposes the death penalty for anyone who engages in repeated same-sex relations with someone under the age of 18, over the age of 75 or who is disabled, even if that same relationship would be legal for a heterosexual couple. Though the court did strike down some aspects of the law, such as the requirement to report homosexual activity to authorities, the criminalization of renting to LGBTQIA-plus individuals and the limiting of access to health care, its overall ruling still has disastrous consequences for LGBTQIA-plus Ugandans.

More than 30 countries throughout Africa ban same-sex relationships, but Uganda is the first on the continent to ban homosexuality entirely, according to Human Rights Watch.

“These terrible laws are the direct result of centuries of Christian missionary work,” notes FFRF’s Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow Kat Grant.

Attitudes across precolonial African societies were much more open and accepting of homosexuality and gender fluidity, and many historians consider homophobia and transphobia to be cultural imports brought by European colonizers. The new Ugandan law is not simply the lasting echo of a bygone colonial era, however.

American evangelicals have taken up the torch of global white Christian supremacy since the past some decades, establishing a stronghold of influence in Uganda and other African nations. More than 20 Christian groups from the United States, including the Fellowship Foundation, Bethany Christian Services and Focus on the Family, have funneled more than $50 million into opposing sexual and reproductive rights across Africa since 2007. The Fellowship Foundation (the recently ousted sponsor of the National Prayer Breakfast) alone has poured over $20 million into Uganda and was heavily involved in the writing of the infamous “Kill the Gays” bill, which was not passed but built the foundation for this latest bigoted iteration.

“The consequences of this law are horrifying and worthy of condemnation on their own, but we should also keep in mind that these white evangelical groups are using African nations like Uganda as a proving ground for laws that they want to bring to the United States,” adds Grant.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor agrees.

“Religion — and its ceaseless demand to dictate laws — is the problem in Uganda, as it is today in the United States, where we’re facing a full-frontal assault on LGBTQ rights,” she says. “It’s unconscionable that U.S. ministries are pouring their tax-exempt millions into Uganda and other African nations in order to spread hate, division and violence.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members across the country. FFRF protects the constitutional separation between state and church and educates about nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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