Even as human rights activists across the globe urge a reconsideration of aid to Uganda following the introduction of the malevolent “Anti-Homosexuality Bill”, the United States of America is delivering key support to the current homophobic regime of Yoweri Museveni.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that the U.S. “is providing the Ugandan Army with millions of dollars worth of aid — including fuel, trucks, satellite phones, night vision goggles and contracted air support”, to hunt down fighters of a rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The Times describes the effort as “one of the signature programs of Africom, the new American military command for Africa, which is working with the State Department…”
The LRA is an evil cult led by Joseph Kony (pictured) who believes that he can channel a spirit that can change stones into hand-grenades. For more than two decades, the LRA has waged guerilla warfare from jungle hideouts and plans to overthrow Museveni and replace him with a government based on the 10 Commandments. The LRA has abducted tens of thousands of children and forced them to serve as soldiers, porters and sex slaves.
Most recently, the New York Times reports that the LRA has slaughtered “hundreds of villagers in a remote corner of Congo and kidnapped many more, marching them off in a long human chain.”
It is fair to say that civilized people everywhere would like to see the LRA destroyed. There is no place on earth for such butchers to roam free and ruthlessly slaughter innocent people.
However, it is difficult to see a profound difference between the LRA and the Ugandan clique the U.S. is funding. It seems that religious fundamentalist autocrats who want to impose their violent sectarian views run both sides.
In the case of the LRA, the victims are villagers in Northern Uganda who are part of the death cult’ terror campaign to consolidate power. What Museveni’ government is attempting to do is only different by degree and choice of victims. Members of his party are singling out LGBT people to scapegoat, imprison, emigrate and even murder.
Musevini, as far as we know, is not as sadistic or insane as Kony — a madman with a Messiah complex. Still, it is fair to question what strategic interest is served by undermining one religious fanatic whose violence is widespread, to bolster the power of another religious extremist whose victims are more targeted and less popular.
I’m not convinced that propping up Musevini is the best use of United States tax dollars in a time of recession. What guarantees are there, that once his opposition is vanquished, he won’t use his unchecked power to round up and punish LGBT people? What will stop his undemocratic regime from using U.S. issued night vision goggles to hunt down gay people? What assurances are in place to prohibit his henchmen from using our satellite phones to coordinate their anti-gay campaigns?
Also, it is important to note the extreme hypocrisy of Uganda’ government and its theocratic allies in the United States. When groups like mine, Truth Wins Out, condemn the “kill the gays” bill, we are accused of imposing Western values. A perfect example is Mission America’ Linda Harvey who gave an anti-gay speech in Michigan last week and said:
“The fact they [Uganda] are re-criminalizing homosexuality is (a) their business, (b) it is patronizing for white Westerners to be telling these folks…Western homosexuals coming in and trying to get involved in Uganda.”
Of course, Harvey conveniently ignores her claim that she had worked on the Anti-Homosexuality bill in Uganda. Um, Linda, how it is not Christian colonialism and classic interference for an Ohioan to be writing homophobic legislation in Kampala?
For his part, Musevini complained that Western governments were placing too much pressure on his administration: “When I was at the Commonwealth meeting, the Prime Minister of Canada came to see me about gays. [British] Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to see me about gays, Carson [U.S. Assistant Secretary of State] rang me about Somalia and gays and Mrs. Clinton rang to talk to me about gays.”
The Obama administration should make it clear that for Uganda to procure U.S. guns it must protect gays from tyranny. If the current Ugandan regime and their American right wing apologists insist on persecuting LGBT people in the name of the Lord, than perhaps we should let Musevini fight the Lord’ Resistance Army on his own. US taxpayers should not be supporting theocracy or subsidizing the subjugation of minorities in Uganda.