(NEW YORK) – Truth Wins Out (TWO) is urging world leaders and members of Congress to skip the National Prayer Breakfast, February 4th, in protest of ‘The Family’s (aka The Fellowship) direct role in promoting a bill that would lead to severe human rights abuses against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda.
“The National Prayer Breakfast is giving legitimacy to those who promote barbarism in the name of the Bible,” said TWO’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “We hope that world leaders who care about human rights will reconsider attending this year’s breakfast. To say grace with the people pushing this hateful and dehumanizing bill in Uganda would be disgraceful.”
On National Public Radio’s Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed author Jeff Sharlet, whose book, “The Family”, is a groundbreaking expose on the clandestine group in charge of the National Prayer Breakfast. On the program, Sharlet revealed a “smoking gun”, tying The Family directly to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, which threatens liberty and life for all GLBT people living in Uganda. Here is the key part of the transcript:
GROSS: So you’re reporting the story for the first time today, and you found this story – this direct connection between The Family and the proposed [Uganda anti-gay hate] legislation by following the money?
SHARLET: Yes, it’s – I always say that the family is secretive, but not secret. You can go and look at 990s, tax forms and follow the money through these organizations that The Family describe as invisible. But you go and you look. You follow that money. You look at their archives. You do interviews where you can. It’s not so invisible anymore. So that’s how working with some research colleagues we discovered that David Bahati, the man behind this legislation, is really deeply, deeply involved in The Family’s work in Uganda, that the ethics minister of Uganda, Museveni’s kind of right hand man, a guy named Nsaba Buturo, is also helping to organize The Family’s National Prayer Breakfast. And here’s a guy who has been the main force for this Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda’s executive office and has been very vocal about what he’s doing, and in a rather extreme and hateful way. But these guys are not so much under the influence of The Family. They are, in Uganda, The Family.
GROSS: So how did you find out that Bahati is directly connected to The Family? You’ve described him as a core member of The Family. And this is the person who introduced the anti-gay legislation in Uganda that calls for the death penalty for some gay people.
SHARLET: Looking at the, The Family’s 990s, where they’re moving their money to – into this African leadership academy called Cornerstone, which runs two programs: Youth Corps, which has described its in the past as an international quote, “invisible family binding together world leaders,” and also, an alumni organization designed to place Cornerstone grads – graduates of this sort of very elite educational program and politics and NGO’s through something called the African Youth Leadership Forum, which is run by -according to Ugandan media – David Bahati, this same legislator who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
“It is unconscionable to pray with a group that is actively preying on innocent people in Uganda, just because of their sexual orientation,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “We call on all world leaders who care about human rights to opt out of this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. No one should break bread with a group that is breaking the bones and spirits of gay and lesbian people.”
Earlier this month, four members of Congress wrote a powerful letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to express alarm over the proposed law in Uganda.
“This egregious bill represents one of the most extreme anti-equality measures ever proposed in any country and would create a legal pretext for depriving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans of their liberty, and even their lives,” said the bipartisan letter, signed by Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). “Particularly given the United States’ substantial contribution to Uganda through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we believe swift action is necessary to ensure Ugandan leaders understand this bill is wholly unacceptable and antithetical to democratic values.”
The United States embassy in Uganda also spoke out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, calling it a major setback in the promotion of human rights.
“If adopted, a bill further criminalizing homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda,” the embassy’s public affairs officer Joann Lockard said in an email. “We urge states to take all necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests, or detention.”