U.S. and African Churches Unite Around Homosexuality

By Georgia Davis Conover

The Parliament in Uganda is considering a law imposing the death penalty or life in prison for some homosexual acts.  The law was proposed a few months after American evangelical and president of “Defend the Family International,” Scott Lively, spoke before the parliament calling homosexuality a threat to societies organized around the family, and recommending that gay people get therapy.  Lively says he did not suggest making homosexuality a crime punishable by death and he thinks the bill goes too far.  Some other notable American evangelicals have remained silent on the Uganda bill.  So far, the sponsor has not withdrawn the bill despite calls to do so by the President of Uganda who has expressed concern about international relations.

Some American evangelicals who have broken from US churches because of disagreements about homosexuality, have gravitated toward some countries in Africa where gay people are less tolerated.  This story is of interest to cultural geographers in many ways.  Evangelicals, concerned about the diminution of the patriarchal family structure in the United States, are taking their anti-gay message international, to more sympathetic locations.  Yet, how that message gets interpreted and played out is different in different places due to cultural differences.

According to the work of Andrew Tucker, it is also important to understand that the politicization of sexuality cannot be separated from other social processes, like Imperialism and racism.  Tucker’s work shows how racial difference is a vehicle for creating difference and exclusion even within homosexual communities in South Africa.

Read and listen to the NPR story.

Read Tucker, Andrew.  (2008). Framing Exclusion in Cape Town’s Gay Village: the Discursive and Material Perpetration of Inequitable Queer Subjects. Area 41(2) pps. 186-197.


  1. It’s interesting that although African blacks suffered terrible persecution for 1700 years because of an extreme unreasoned belief in a scripture in Leviticus (old testament)”make slaves from the surrounding countries for life to be passed on your children as inheritance”, they have now(led by their churches) chosen to embrace another scripture of that same book, with their own unreasoned extreme belief to persecute gays.

    It’s also interesting that the majority of black churches in this country support in varying degrees, this same position.

  2. I think it is further interesting that churches, which were instrumental in early colonization efforts are once again taking their agendas to formerly colonized places. This statement does not mean to disregard the agency of people in those places to react in varying degrees and in varying ways. Keeping this history in mind, however, tinges this emerging cultural war against gay practices with shades of a new Imperialism, that like the Imperialism of the past, is tied up with religious belief.

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