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Rachel Maddow connects Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill to Arizona Christians

Rachel Maddow
Rachel Maddow Photo: Screenshot

The Uganda Parliament has passed its Kill the Gays bill a second time after President Yoweri Museveni sent it back for reconsideration, and in a segment on her show, out MSNBC host Rachel Maddow made clear the connection between U.S. anti-LGBTQ+ Christian activists and the Uganda law.

“It is good that you rejected the pressure from the imperials,” Museveni said in a statement as he sent the bill back to Parliament for “strengthening.” But it turns out that the bill has at least partly been influenced by U.S. activists and is a result of foreign pressure, not just a rebuke of it.

If signed into law, the Anti-Homosexuality Act would make “aggravated homosexuality” a capital crime and imposes a life sentence for “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities.” The proposed law is the first to make identifying as LGBTQ+ a crime.

The bill got overwhelming support in Parliament earlier this year, with one lawmaker even saying that it doesn’t go far enough and advocating for castration for queer men to prevent them from having sex in prison.

Maddow discussed the group Family Watch International on her show, an SPLC-designated hate group based in Arizona that pushed for extreme measures in that state, including a bill to ban discussions of LGBTQ+ people in schools.

Then she pointed out the close ties between Family Watch International and Uganda, like Family Watch International President Sharon Slater’s close relationship with Museveni’s wife Janet Museveni and Uganda MP Martin Ssempa, one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Kill the Gays bill.

“I recently had the honor of meeting with Ms. Sharon Slater, President of Family Watch International, & her team,” Janet Museveni tweeted last month. “They attended the first African Regional Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Uganda, focusing on global challenges that threaten African families & values.” 

She said that she and Slater discussed “concern about the imposition of harmful practices like homosexuality.”

“In March of this year, just weeks ago, this Arizona group was one of the key organizers of a conference in Uganda that hosted lawmakers, that hosted elected officials from more than a dozen countries in Africa,” Maddow said. “Lawmakers from more than a dozen countries gathered in Uganda and promised that in their home countries, they would push legislation against the ‘sin of homosexuality.'”

Maddow said that Parliament is going to reconsider the bill today; it did, and it passed the bill largely unchanged.

“Yes, the Biden administration has already spoken out about this bill, but if they are going to turn up the heat on this, if they are really going to try to use their influence to stop this, the time is now,” Maddow said last night. “The time is right now.”

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