US CHRISTIAN RIGHT STILL ‘COLONISING’ AFRICAN VALUES

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MP David Bahati: author of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

A new report claims that American Christian leaders continue to influence and promote homophobic politics in the constitutions and laws of African countries.

In 2009, international pressure forced a number of US Christian leaders to retract their support for Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill, despite reports that they had been players in conceiving the legislation.

Their most recent efforts in promoting an anti-gay agenda on the continent are now documented in Colonizing African Values: How the US Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa, released by Boston think-tank, Political Research Associates (PRA).

The report authored by Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest originally from Zambia, investigates the Pat Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the Mormon-led Family Watch International, and the Roman Catholic Human Life International, as well as a network of Christian dominionists known as the Transformation Movement or New Apostolic Reformation.

“With a Christianity saturated with demons and the prosperity gospel (which claims that simple faith in Jesus Christ will bring wealth and well-being), Africa provides a receptive home for Christian Right movements that may be more marginal or a minority in the United States,” says the report.

It claims that the ACLJ has attempted to influence the constitution-writing process in Zimbabwe and Kenya, and details the anti-LGBT activities of the other groups in countries such as Uganda, Malawi and Zambia.

“Hiding behind African staff, these groups have established local offices and befriended key African political and religious leaders,” says PRA on its website. “The charismatic beliefs shared by many African Christians and American religious conservatives has also created an opening for the US right-wing to exploit.”

The report adds: “On the parliamentary front, the groups aim to bring about a new legal infrastructure in Africa that enshrines their Christian Right worldview.”

It says that one of the key reasons these groups are successful in Africa is because they “are successful in painting African campaigners for LGBT rights as dupes of neocolonial forces trying to impose an alien philosophy on the continent”.

Ironically, while many African leaders believe that homosexuality is not natural to Africa, they fail to acknowledge that most anti-gay legislation in Africa today was actually created by British colonial governments.

The report notes that the “US Christian Right influence adds a distinctly homophobic spin to an African cultural tradition open to viewing same-sex orientation as a sign of a respected ancestral spirit rather than a demon possession”.

The report recommends a number of strategies to support LGBT people in sub-Saharan Africa, including:

• Confront the myth that human rights advocacy is Western neocolonialism;

• Respect and follow the leadership of African human rights promoters;

• Tell Africans what the U.S. Christian Right really stands for;

• Support the visibility of LGBT Africans as a means of curbing homophobia;

• Support African leaders who courageously stand for human rights;

• Put meaningful pressure on African political leadership to respect human rights.

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