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Sodom and Gomorrah: Exporting Homophobia to Africa

Uganda’s government came under the microscope in 2009 for introducing legislation dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill, but little attention has been paid to the North American evangelicals who are fanning the flames of anti-LGBT hatred in the country. redfish went on a journey to Uganda and neighbouring Kenya to look at the colonial origins of homophobic laws and sentiment, and to find out why white missionaries are seemingly obsessed with the issue, raising huge amounts abroad for their anti-gay agenda.

Purity, a transgender woman who had to flee from Uganda to Kenya for fear of her safety, recalls her experience of going to a Watoto Ministries church back home: “The first time I went there they were nice, they are dancing, they are young they are students from the university there was good music you are dancing.

The third time we were there, they had a document signing against homosexuality and they gave us, all of us, it was like a huge document: talks about how it is evil, how they should pray about it and that whole month was dedicated to the homosexuality act.” Watoto Ministries is a project of Gary and Marilyn Skinner, two U.S. evangelicals who moved to Uganda in 1980, and now have numerous churches across Uganda. Pastor Julius Rwotlonty, who preaches at one of the churches, said when asked about a trans woman who had been found murdered: “that story has made news, but how many people have been murdered in Uganda yesterday, how many people are dying in accidents, how many are being reported? It overshadows other massive social problems.”

But Watoto ministries has been key in spreading anti-homosexuality sentiments across the country and has also hosted key anti-homosexuality campaigner Scott Lively, twice. Kari Mugo, an activist based in Kenya, dispelled the myth that homophobia is indigenous to African societies: “So, the laws that we currently have then, are introduced in 1948 by the British, and they are a direct descendant of the first anti-buggery laws that were introduced in India, which was the first British colony, right? These British laws that were introduced as an experiment in colonialism and we’ve been trying to sort-of push these people to re-think about how they look at these laws and what they consider to be Western versus what’s not western. That really what is western is homophobia rather than acceptance and inclusion.”

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