There have been reports of some American evangelical organizations and individuals working in Africa to spread their anti-LGBTQ and moral agenda. Some of these groups have been accused of funding and supporting campaigns that promote discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and advocating for laws that criminalize homosexuality.
These efforts have often been criticized by human rights organizations and LGBTQ advocates, who argue that they are harmful to the rights and well-being of LGBTQ individuals in Africa. Some African countries have also faced backlash for adopting anti-LGBTQ laws or policies that are believed to have been influenced by these evangelical groups.
In 1977, the Dade County Commission passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, private education, labor unions, and housing. Within six months the ordinance was repealed and an anti-LGBTQ rights movement was born. The evangelical singer Anita Bryant served as the figurehead of this opposition and helped to shape the rhetoric of this new movement for decades.
Through a commitment to ensuring sexual minorities are excluded from civil rights protections, white evangelicals have contributed to a cultural and legal landscape conducive to anti-LGBTQ structural violence. This opposition is most often understood as rooted in love, and not in bias or hate, as demonstrated during long-term ethnographic research among white evangelical churches in Colorado Springs.
Recent reports have seen the influence of these evangelicals in propagating for draconian anti-gay laws on the continent. In Uganda, there had been a growing list of instances of mass media being weaponized to propagate the “ex-gay” narrative, in which a person claims to have been “lured” and “recruited” into homosexuality. This was organized by the Family Life Network’s Stephen Langa, who in March 2009 put together a seminar called “Exposing the Homosexuals’ Agenda.” However, the language and presentation of luring and recruitment (as though it were a job listing) were not novel to the African news media.
It has deep links to white evangelical Christianity and is an export of a made-in-the-USA movement and ideology that is polarizing African countries and harming and endangering LGBTQ+ people. While it looked innovative, it was not the first time such a press conference was creatively planned to spark panic and parade out a person claiming to be ex-gay. It was also not peculiar to Uganda; it is a method that was and continues to be used in both puritanical and evangelical Christianity in countries from Ghana to Kenya and Nigeria.