Thank you to Rick Warren…who has, after weeks of silence, finally publicly denounced Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009–that if passed, would have HIV positive homosexuals put to death for having sex, and severely punish any homosexual with up to life imprisonment. As well, any Ugandan, gay or straight, who knows a homosexual and fails to report him or her to the authorities could face up to seven years in prison.
Rick Warren had supported Uganda’s decidedly anti-gay persuasion. He had called Uganda a Purpose Driven Nation, after his own Purpose Driven Life campaign. He had also supported Martin Ssempa, one of the key supporters of the bill, hosting him during visits to the United States at his Saddleback church. And before the pressure to make a statement became too much, he had said it wasn’t his practice to interfere with international government policies. Nevertheless, his denouncement of the bill is better late than never.
It’s easy enough of course to point out Warren’s (and others like Scott Lively) at least, partial role in origin of the bill. But ultimately you really have to go beyond this and recognize the virulent anti-homosexual persuasion right across Africa. Nigeria, Burundi, Rwanda, and even Kenya, which is a fairly liberal African country, all have anti-homosexual laws that range from the death penalty to imprisonment. Only South Africa recognizes gay and lesbian human rights.
Perhaps, and this may be wildly optimistic, there may be some educative openings that come out of all of this. Hopefully–again with the wild optimism–all the influential fundamentalist Christian leaders (evangelical and Catholic et al), who care about Africa, will pause before fanning the flame of selective moral judgment, and instead call the pastors of Africa to compassion and mercy, and the acceptance of basic human rights.