In an interview on NPR yesterday, author and journalist Jeff Sharlet recounts to Terry Gross his meetings with the architect of Uganda’s virulently anti-gay bill – parliamentarian David Bahati. Though the bill is in somewhat of a “holding pattern,” notes Sharlet, the impact of its introduction and widespread popular report in Uganda, continues.
In October of 2009, Bahati introduced a bill that would penalize homosexual sex in the country, beyond what is already the case, by imposing life imprisonment or, in some cases, the death penalty. The bill, says Sharlet, incited an angry international response despite its widespread popular support within the country. Sharlet has been among the journalists who ultimately uncovered deep-rooted connections between Bahati and the U.S. Christian right, exposing relationships between Uganda’s leadership and the clandestine group known as “The Fellowship”, which includes Christian politicians, religious and corporate leaders and others who are aligned with their fundamentalist movement.
Sharlet met with Bahati numerous times and told Gross of one meeting, in particular, which shook him:
Sharlet accompanied Bahati to a restaurant and later to his home, where Bahati told Sharlet that he wanted “to kill every last gay person.”
“It was a very chilling moment, because I’m sitting there with this man who’s talking about his plans for genocide, and has demonstrated over the period of my relationship with him that he’s not some back bender — he’s a real rising star in the movement,” Sharlet says. “This was something that I hadn’t understood before I went to Uganda, that this was a guy with real potential and real sway and increasingly a following in Uganda.”
In the interview, Jeff Sharlet delves more deeply into the bill, why David Bahati’s relationship to the American anti-gay movement is so important, and why losing ground in this country has pushed evangelicals to move across the water to push their agenda.