American Anti-gay Campaign in Africa: Family Watch International

Late yesterday, Religion Dispatches posted my lengthy report on the anti-gay work of Family Watch International and the World Congress of Families.

I became curious about FWI when I saw that they had distanced their organization from Martin Ssempa. I reported way back in January 2010 that Ssempa was associated with the group. However, efforts then to get FWI to respond to the issue were ignored.  Recently, however, FWI made a change which according to Slater was a reflection of their belief that gays not be killed or beaten for being gay. She told me in the interview that FWI did not support violence, but take no position on other penalties.

The question that came to my mind was – “Isn’t removal of freedom and being cast in jail violence?”

Apparently, not violent enough.

I hope you will go read the report at RD.

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  • Richard Willmer

    I saw the RD article last night. A very good piece.

    Thanks, Warren.

  • Maazi NCO

    To be fair, both pro-gay and anti-gay american organizations do their thing in Africa. I wish all of them can go home and leave us alone. We don’t need foreigners to tell us that gayism is dangerous.

  • Maazi NCO

    With the linking of Western-style ex-gay therapy with government policy toward gays, it appears that the delegates are being armed with information to offset calls to decriminalize homosexuality…… For instance, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill author, David Bahati, says homosexuality is learned and can be unlearned. In Ghana, clerics have been warring against the view that homosexuality is a human right armed with information casting homosexuality as a moral weakness without biological components..

    Statements like these are one of several reasons why you libetarian gentlemen will never succeed in your mission in Africa. You lot are downright patronizing and do not care about it !!. You make it seem that we have no opinion on anything and were either waiting to be instructed by Westerners who hate gayism or instructed by a rival gang of westerners who love gayism.

    According to your narrative, Ghanaians had no view on gayism prior to these American evangelicals coming along. Ugandans had no views as well before the evangelicals arrived as well. Nigerians had no opinions whatsoever before this Sharon Slater character came to their country. It is the fault of rightwing Americans that these set of ignorant Black Africans have the views they know have about gayism. Oh hell, I was coached by Scott Lively to dislike gayism and my ancestors were all gay-loving before some white missionaries arrived and ordered them to dislike gayism

    If it makes you chaps happy continue the propaganda meanwhile, we have got things to do here…

  • Richard Willmer

    ‘Maazi NCO’

    I think Warren was merely saying in the portion you quoted that Westerners were providing a particular set of arguments against the decriminalization of consensual sex, not that there never used to be homophobia in Africa. Of course, anti-Buganda propaganda (the Mwanga II tale) churned out by the Church may have helped to stoke homophobia in UG (but there must have been some homophobia there before, or the propaganda would not have been so effective).

  • Frank


    If Africans like you get your way and you kill all the gays you can find, you’ll have wasted your time blaming others for your failure to take care of your own society’s needs. You’ll blame everything on colonialism and fight a few dozen more wars. You’ll drive the AIDS epidemic underground where it can do the most harm. One hundred years from now the society you helped create will still be sitting in its own shit.

  • Richard Willmer

    I should just say that I’m all in favour of honouring martyrs, including Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, but some of the ‘lurid embellishments’ on the King Mwanga II (who was probably about 17 years old when the killing of those Christians took place, and who went on to have many wives, and more than a few children) story don’t really stand up to scrutiny. Mwanga gave the British a good thrashing too, although the old ‘divide-and-rule’ tactics ultimately secured his ouster. He may well have had an eye for some his pages (who were probably no younger than he was, and maybe older), but those whom he killed were murdered because they refused to renounce Christianity, which he (Mwanga) saw as a threat to his kingdom. If he did try to rape any of his pages, it was probably a ‘power thing’ (it is, I believe, not uncommon for rapists to rape people of both sexes, while engaging in consensual relationships with only women – i.e. rape usually has nothing to do with ‘being gay’). He eventually himself converted to Christianity in around 1900 while in exile in the Seychelles.

    One might be forgiven for suspecting that the Church might just have exploited the story a little to tell their new adherents just how naughty it was to be gay!

    Of course, we all know about what happened in the Siwa Oasis. In the 1930s and 1940s, the British found ‘gay marriage’ to be really quite common, especially among those guarding the perimeter of the Oasis against incursions. Having revived themselves with smelling-salts and a litre of gin each, the British would scurry off to Cairo to tell their shocking tales. ‘Gay marriage’ was outlawed in Siwa just after the Second World War, and around ten years before the British introduced the precursor to the current ‘anti-sodomy’ laws in Uganda.

  • And in Zmbabwe

    You’ll blame everything on colonialism and fight a few dozen more wars. You’ll drive the AIDS epidemic underground where it can do the most harm. One hundred years from now the society you helped create will still be sitting in its own shit.

    Pretty much as Europeans did in the Dark Ages. They didn’t have a Bad Example to learn from though.

  • Richard Willmer

    Well, it is true that colonialism has played a part in this whole mess.

    If things do get worse in places like Uganda, and the Bahati Bill does pass, the key question is perhaps this: will the western ‘anti-gay mob’ stump up the necessary hard cash to provide meaningful help to ordinary Ugandans affected by the deteriorating situation? I think I know what the answer to that question might be! They might send pennies (along with the platitudes), but they will still want their gas-guzzling SUVs, their posh houses and a good return on their shares. They are, after all, ‘white supremacists’ at heart, and the true heirs of former colonizers.

  • Lynn David

    From the RD article…. Slater explained that sexuality is referenced under the topic of “morality, public order, and the general welfare in a democratic society.” She said that nations have the right to regulate sexuality for those purposes.

    The World Congress of Families has a new declaration out; they seem to love putting out ‘declarations’ or ‘manifesto’ from various cities. The new one is a Declaration from the Moscow Demographic Summit. It states in part:

    We are alarmed by the fact that the family institution is in a state of grave social crisis which consists in the destruction of universal family, conjugal and parental roles based on traditional family values; in the disruption of the reproductive function of the family; in an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, caused by the imposition of contraceptive thinking (in terms of safe sex) and destructive premarital and extramarital sex patterns; in widespread divorce; in the spreading of cohabitation without marriage; in increasing numbers of single?parent families; a wave of social deviations (abortions, homosexuality, paedophilia, drug addiction, refusal of marriage and childbearing (the child?free phenomenon), prostitution, pornography, etc.); disruption of the process of socialization of young generations; cutting of ties among relatives and alienation of different generations within one family, etc.

    We call on the governments of all nations and on international institutions to develop immediately a pro?family demographic policy and to adopt a special international pro?family strategy and action plan aimed at consolidating family and marriage, protecting human life from conception to natural death, increasing birth rate, and averting the menace of depopulation. Nowadays, in most countries of the world, against the backdrop of devaluation of family values, the rights of the family are prejudiced in the information space, in the legal and socioeconomic spheres.

    It makes one wonder if all the CWF supposed ‘social deviations’ should in some way be legislated against then will FWI and the WCF be proposing that the refusal of marriage and childbearing (the child?free phenomenon) should in some way be legislated against, or made unbearable by governments? I might wonder if making women who are single over the age of 21 (or married yet not pregnant) illegal may not be on their agenda, then perhaps exhorbitant taxation on the single person may be.

    They do go on to state:

    We also insist on putting an end to interference with private life of the family under the pretexts of so?called “family planning”; “protection of the rights of the child”, and “gender equality”. We consider it inadmissible to continue the policy of birth control, regarding this policy as one of the greatest threats to the survival of humankind and as a means of incursive discrimination against the family. Every family has the right of reproductive choice, inviolability of family life and bringing up their children in harmony with the culture and traditions of a specific country. Parents have absolute primary and priority right to support, bring up and educate their children.

    We call on public associations, religious communities, entrepreneurs, media workers, and all people of good will to get involved in combating the above?mentioned threats that destroy family and marriage.

    And they support the definition of the family codified in the final document of the Dialogue of Civilizations World Public Forum that took place on 7–11 October 2010 on the Greek island of Rhodes (see the same WCF link). But in that document a family only occurs if the man and woman are willing (and presumably able?) “to give birth to, socialize, and bring up children.” And so they speak of some choices families make as social deviations.

    Somewhere along the line I think they have gone overboard not only against rights for gay peoples but also towards a loss of personal liberty for women especially, but all in general if marriage and childbearing is to somehow be mandated in their perfect world.

  • Richard Willmer

    Hmmm. In Uganda (which is very much in our thoughts at the moment, of course) some economists and planners and worried about what they fear might be unsustainable population growth.

    It is typical that in their list of ‘social deviations’, FWI lumps together a whole bunch of essentially unrelated phenomena. After all, what has abortion got to do with same-sex partnerships? And what does paedophilia have to do with responsible family planning? It’s that ‘moral laziness’ that says “we don’t agree with all these things, so they are all bad.”