Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kristin Rawls on American Religious Right and Africa's Anti-Gay Bills

As Kristin Rawls notes at Alternet today, the same folks working overtime now to reignite the culture wars in the U.S. in the 2012 election cycle are also working in other places in the world to export American culture wars.  Uganda's "kill the gays bill" has been placed back on the table for a vote.  As Rawls says, the behind-the-scenes activism of the American religious right in promoting anti-gay sentiment in Africa is well-known, but not always easy to trace, because of the wide latitude granted to religious groups in the U.S. to engage in political activities without reporting what they're doing.  Or the money they're spending.

And movements to target gay people in Africa using the Ugandan "kill the gays" bill as a template are proliferating.  Rawls cites the work of Warren Throckmorton, who formerly defended "ex-gay" movements, but who has gradually become concerned about the damage that homophobic understandings of Christian faith do not only to those who are gay and their loved ones, but to the churches that promote homophobic teachings.

Rawls writes, 

As people in the US focus on the upcoming Republican primaries, Warren Throckmorton tells me, there is a veritable explosion of anti-gay organizing throughout sub-Saharan Africa. And very few journalists are talking about it. Throckmorton, a professor of psychology at Grove City College, is an evangelical Christian and former “ex-gay” advocate who now tracks anti-gay groups in the US that push for punitive anti-gay legislation throughout the world. He tells me that the bill has been influential well outside of Uganda’s borders. Nigeria’s Senate passed very restrictive anti-gay legislation in November, and similar anti-gay campaigns are being introduced in Zambia, Malawi, Cameroon and elsewhere.

And this is one of the reasons, of course, that I keep noting on this blog the importance of thinking about the 2012 U.S. elections in global terms.  The choices that the American people make in these elections will have serious consequences not only for American citizens.  They'll affect people throughout the world.

And some of those people live in places in which their very lives are at stake.

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