The proposed bill in the Ugandan Assembly prescribing the death penalty for homosexuality, which was broadly condemned in a Times editorial yesterday, has highlighted the link between American evangelical Christianity and anti-gay extremism in Africa.
Many Christian groups that oppose homosexuality have spoken against the bill (they say it goes too far) and have resisted being grouped with "extremists." But it's only a difference in degree. Anti-gay groups may not be calling for gays to be murdered, but Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren and members of groups like Exodus International (Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge, Don Schmiere) have been instrumental in bringing virulently anti-gay forms of Christianity to Africa, and have been loath to criticize the Ugandan "kill gays" bill.
The underlying assumption to their defense is that a difference exists between anti-gay bigotry and "principled opposition to homosexuality." But there is no such thing as principled opposition to homosexuality: It is always an axiomatic assumption, which is why it's so tough to argue with those with anti-gay attitudes.
Despite pseudo-scientific claims that homosexuality is medically and psychologically harmful, major medical and psychological organizations have all condemned these propositions. Homosexuality has never been shown to be a threat to society. Without any concrete evidence, anti-gay activists are left with only the veil of religion to cloak their prejudice.
It has always struck me that both anti-gay and anti-choice activism are premised on a contradiction. If abortion really is murder, why does the anti-abortion movement condemn the murder of Dr. George Tiller? In the same way, if homosexuality really is bad for society and those involved, and if it's deeply immoral like pedophilia (anti-gay activists love to make this comparison), why shouldn't it be criminalized? If it's a threat to society and children, why don't we imprison people who have gay sex? When most of society agreed with our "principled" opponents, we did.
But thankfully our understanding of the science and psychology of sexuality -- along with our social mores -- have evolved to the point where society won't brook anti-gay activists calling for homosexuality to be criminalized. So while they hold the same retrograde views as their Ugandan counterparts, they
are restrained from putting their prejudice into action.