Wednesday, November 18, 2009

U.S. Religious Leaders Paving the way to Homophobia in Africa

There's an article on RH Reality Check today that really caught my attention. "Globalizing the Culture Wars" by Amie Newman summarizes the Political Research Associates report by the same name, that investigates the ties between American conservative religious leaders, U.S. funding and a recent upsurge in homophobic attitudes, violence and legislation in Africa.

You may have heard about the draconian anti-LGBT legislation introduced in Uganda, that would make same sex relations of any sort punishable by life in prison and would also threaten those guilty of "promoting homosexuality" with imprisonment. Not only is this a huge violation of human rights but it would also severely damage HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and other LGBTQ support services. The Ugandan bill isn't the only one of its kind recently and an increase in hateful legislation only leads to increased intolerance, discrimination and violence.

Well, it turns out ultra-conservative American religious leaders like Rick Warren and organizations like the Institute for Religion and Democracy, and others, may be to blame for these upsurges. The PRA Report finds that anti-gay U.S. religious institutions and leaders have developed close relationships with African clergy members and religious leaders and have provided huge financial incentives in exchange for anti-gay stances and support of local anti-gay legislation.

Hmm...why does this sound familiar? Oh yes - I recall that just last week the Archdiocese of Washington and Catholic Charities threatened to pull their funding from homeless services in DC unless the DC council changed its stance on same-sex marriage.

So perhaps we shouldn't be all too surprised. But we should be outraged. Not only are U.S. religious figures paving the way to homophobia in Africa, but the U.S. government distributes PEPFAR monies to many of the anti-LGBTQ African religious leaders. That's your tax dollars. And, needless to say, tax dollars that should be spent reducing the occurrence of HIV/AIDS through scientifically-proven practices, NOT anti-homosexuality agendas.

So what can you do? The report details a list of ideas, some of which include putting pressure on American religious leaders, putting pressure on the U.S. government, and raising support for LGBTQ and equal rights activists in Africa - because they need it!

No comments: