Religion and homosexuality criminalization in Uganda : the contribution of the American anti-homosexual evangelicals towards the 2014 anti-homosexuality law.
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Although it was annulled within months of its promulgation, the 2014 Anti- homosexuality law in Uganda continues to generate critical questions on various aspects surrounding its promulgation. In this context, the study explored the contribution of the American Anti-homosexual evangelicals (AAEs) towards the legislation of the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Law. The AAEs were a group of evangelical pastors from the United States who, having been invited to Uganda, campaigned against homosexuality in 2009. This was followed by enacting the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Law (2014 AHL). A dominant claim argued and suggested that the AAEs were the prime instigators of 2014 AHL, a position that either dismissed or rendered secondary any possible contribution from the local context. The study was non-empirical and followed a qualitative research design. It employed qualitative content analysis, supported by both critical and interpretive approaches within a postcolonial theoretical framework. The study found that the AAEs did not seem to have essentially preached, taught or instructed something new which had a direct power to alter local perceptions on homosexuality, so as to independently influence the legislation of 2014 AHL. However, the study found that through their art of persuasion, established relationship with local persons of influence, power of disposition and the methodological approach on the subject of homosexuality, the AAEs’ influence was exposed. Through these means, the AAEs succeeded in rejuvenating the already present and evolving anti-homosexuality sentiments within the Ugandan society. However, the study found the AAEs’ influence not isolated. On the contrary, the Ugandan context as well as the AAEs, were found to have been active agents that facilitated the legislation of the 2014 AHL at different levels. Thus the study found that the extent to which the AAEs contributed to the making of the 2014 AHL, was limited to a locally supportive structure animated by a ‘Surveillance System on Homosexuality’ (SSH). The findings of the study critique first, a position that views the 2014 legislation on homosexuality as an overly contribution of the AAEs, with less recognition of contextual factors; Secondly, the reverse position that emphasizes the role of the local context over that of the AAEs in a dismissive approach. Therefore the thesis argues that beyond the scholarly discourse that strongly and almost exclusively focus on the role of the American anti-homosexual evangelicals, it is important to shift the analysis with the help of postcolonial theoretical insights to understand the construction of an almost perfect match between the dominant discourse within the Ugandan local society concerning homosexuality and the teachings of the American Anti-homosexual Evangelicals and its influence on the 2014 Anti-homosexual law. Hence the study proposes critical and intersectional approaches when interrogating contemporary influences of foreign religious actors and their contribution to controversies over policy making on homosexuality in Africa.