John Oliver: “Calling Uganda’s laws ‘harsh’ doesn’t really do them justice.”

Alice Milliken June 30, 2014
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Television host John Oliver dedicated his show on Sunday to Uganda’s anti-gay law and spoke with a transgender Ugandan activist about the influence of the US and religion on these laws.

Pepe Julian Onziema, Program Director and Advocacy Officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a gay rights organization, was interviewed on British comedian John Oliver’s HBO show, ‘Last Week Tonight,’ yesterday about homophobia in Uganda.

Oliver and Onzima discussed the influence of religious evangelicals like Scott Lively.

“Scott Lively is clearly an idiot, and luckily, over here we just get to laugh at him,” said Oliver. In Uganda however, Lively has become the dominant authority on the ‘evils of homosexuality.’

In 2009, American evangelist Scott Lively met with Ugandan public figures to teach against what he described as ‘the gay agenda.’

While in the capital, Kampala, he wrote a report for a website linked to his ministry which stated: “The international ‘gay’ movement has devoted a lot of resources to transforming the moral culture from a marriage-based one to one that embraces sexual anarchy.”

Lively has attempted to link gay people with paedophiles, monsters and Nazis. Lively currently faces a law suit in the US for human rights violations.

Previous to this interview, Onziema went on Ugandan TV to talk about the ‘gay agenda’ and other misconceptions about homosexuals, where he went toe to toe with anti-gay Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa. Oliver commended Onzima for keeping his composure, and calling him “the Gandhi of Uganda.”

In a press release from 2013, Onziema spoke about the importance of LGBT visibility in Uganda: “As a transgender man, I am not safe. But as a Ugandan, I am here and I remain optimistic. Existing out in the open is ordinary for most people, but visibility is magical for those of us who once roamed the land like ghosts. “There are no homosexuals in Uganda,” our leaders said not too long ago. They cannot say that now. They say I am evil. They say my love is illegal. But in 2013, they can no longer say I am not here.”

In the start of interview with Onziema, Oliver asked: “Do you think this law would have happened were it not for US interference?” To which Onziema responded: “The answer is no.”

Related topics: Africa, anti-gay laws, John Oliver, Pepe Onziema, Religion, television interview, Uganda, Uganda, US

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