28 August 2012

The Consequences of the RNC's Disagreement with Obama's "Homosexual Agenda"

Updated to reflect that the RNC has in fact adopted the section.

The Republican National Committee published its party platform today. The foreign policy section is appropriately titled American Exceptionalism. The majority of the time is spent on the issue of national security. ThinkProgress points to a section in the document that criticizes the Obama administration's 'cultural agenda.'
The effectiveness of our foreign aid has been limited by the cultural agenda of the current Administration, attempting to impose on foreign countries, especially the peoples of Africa, legalized abortion and the homosexual rights agenda. At the same time, faith-based groups — the sector that has had the best track record in promoting lasting development — have been excluded from grants because they will not conform to the administration’s social agenda. We will reverse this tragic course, encourage more involvement by the most effective aid organizations, and trust developing peoples to build their future from the ground up. (emphasis added)
Ironically, there is a section that focuses on human rights but it appears that the platform considers only religious rights worth protecting given its stance on gay rights.

To those who stand in the darkness of tyranny, American has always been a beacon of hope, and so it must remain. That is why we strongly support the work of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, established by Congressional Republicans to advance the rights of persecuted peoples everywhere. It has been shunted aside by the current Administration at the time when its voice more than ever needs to be heard. Religious minorities across the Middle East are being driven from their ancient homelands, fanaticism leaves its bloody mark on both West and East Africa, and even Among America's Western friends and allies, pastor sand families are penalized for their religious convictions. A Republican Administration will return the advocacy of religious liberty to a central place in our diplomacy.
The read here is that religious rights for Christians and Jews should be protected from encroachments by other faiths and the 'homosexual rights agenda.' Putting aside some rights in favor of others is the approach that will give support to Uganda's 2009 anti-homosexuality bill that could lead to a death penalty sentence for those who are found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality." Others may get off lighter with a life sentence in prison.

International and domestic pressure has contributed to the bill languishing for the past three years. A shift in policy by the United States in regards to gay rights could very well alter the proceedings of the debate within Uganda.

For gays living in Uganda, it is a life a death issue. The law itself will give the courts the ability to punish homosexuality by death and continues to sideline an already stigmatized group. The most powerful example of the consequences of permitting this to proceed is the brutal murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato in January 2011.

Jeffrey Gettleman reported on the story at the time of Kato's death by illustrating the building sentiment against homosexuality in Uganda.
Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, who describes himself as a devout Christian, has said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”
One section of Gettleman's report is how American evangelicals have had an influence on the way that homosexuals are treated in Uganda.
“David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009,” Val Kalende, the chairwoman of one of Uganda’s gay rights groups, said in a statement. “The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood.” 
Ms. Kalende was referring to visits in March 2009 by a group of American evangelicals, who held rallies and workshops in Uganda discussing how to turn gay people straight, how gay men sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” intended to “defeat the marriage-based society.” 
The Americans involved said they had no intention of stoking a violent reaction. But the antigay bill was drafted shortly thereafter. Some of the Ugandan politicians and preachers who wrote it had attended those sessions and said that they had discussed the legislation with the Americans.
International pressure on countries that have anti-homosexuality laws in the form of withheld aid money has worked in places like Uganda. The decision to withhold money from Malawi from major donors like the UK caused late President Bingu wa Mutharika to review the nation's anti-gay law. When Joyce Banda assumed the Presidency of Malawi earlier this year, one of her first agenda items was to overturn the ban as a part of a comprehensive move to repair connections with the West that were damaged during the Mutharika administration.

Other countries like Liberia are considering laws that crack down on homosexuality. Given that the US is the largest donor, a major change in policy provide enough room for countries to proceed with the restriction of gay rights.

HT to Brett Keller for pointing out the TP article