Thursday, June 3, 2010

A New Low

When a Ugandan legislator introduced a bill last year in that nation's parliament that would punish homosexuality with lengthy prison terms and, in some cases, the death penalty, some American religious conservatives and right wingers condemned the bill, admittedly with some prodding, as harsh and punitive. Not the Family Research Council, apparently.

According to a lobbying disclosure form that was filed with the Secretary of the Senate on April 12 of this year, the council lobbied on House Resolution 1064 in the first quarter of 2010.

The resolution, which was introduced in February by Howard Berman, a Democrat who represents San Fernando and surrounding areas, expresses the “sense of the House of Representatives that the ‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009’ under consideration by the Parliament of Uganda...threatens the protection of fundamental human rights.”

It has 62 cosponsors and was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where it languishes. The council had an opinion on the resolution and it appears that the right wing group opposed it. In its lobbying disclosure, the council described the resolution as “Ugandan Resolution Pro-homosexual promotion”

Paul J. Tripodi, the council’s vice president of administration, did not respond to an email seeking an explanation, but following the February 4 National Prayer Breakfast where President Barack Obama said the Ugandan legislation was among “odious laws that are being proposed,” Tony Perkins, the council’s president, published a podcast on the council’s web site,, saying “The press has widely mischaracterized the law which calls for the death penalty, not for homosexual behavior which is already a crime, but for acts such as intentionally spreading HIV/AIDS, or preying upon vulnerable individuals such as children, which has been a problem in Uganda for years because the large number of orphans.”

In fact, the Uganda bill, which has not yet received a vote in that country’s parliament, punishes homosexuality with a life sentence and a “serial offender” faces the death penalty.

A number of American religious conservatives who associated with the Ugandan government, including three proponents of purported cures for homosexuality who peddled their propaganda in Uganda in 2009, were essentially shamed into distancing themselves from the bill when it was reported in this country. It seems the staff at the Family Research Council do not feel shame.

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