Monday, December 13, 2010

Rachel Maddow interviews Ugandan MP David Bahati

On the December 8th edition of The Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow interviewed David Bahati, the Ugandan MP who authored a proposed anti-gay bill. As progressive bloggers have documented, American fundamentalist leaders such as Lou Engle and Scott Lively have promoted anti-gay attitudes in Uganda, so the controversy surrounding the Ugandan bill also encompasses these figures.

In the full interview, Maddow confronted Bahati about a political group called "the Family", possible consequences of the bill, anti-gay rhetoric, and Ugandan newspapers that have outed gays. In my opinion, Maddow asked the hard questions, but Bahati came across as evasive. At many times in the interview, Bahati insisted that his proposed legislation is meant to protect children, and that he is not a hateful man. To watch the full 32 minute video, click here.

To give you a taste of the interview, below is a quote from the 2:40 mark of the interview. Bahati does not distinguish between homosexuality and child abuse, an assumption that undergirds his bill.
MADDOW: In the cause that you described as defending the children and the family in Uganda, it's your anti-homosexuality bill, and the provisions of that bill would establish life in prison for any homosexual act, as well as execution for what the bill calls "aggravated homosexuality." How is that defending the children and the families of Uganda?

BAHATI: You know, Rachel, we have a huge problem in our country. The problem of people who are coming from abroad, investing in money to corrupt children into a behavior that we believe is a learned behavior and that can be unlearned. We know that homosexuality is a human right here in Uganda, but also we need to appreciate it is not a human right across the world, and certainly in Uganda, we don't take it as a human right. And as we debate this issue, it is important that we do tolerate one another, listen to one another, understand the background of one another, and respect one anoyther. And the background that I come from is that 95% of population does not support homosexuality. We believe that man was created to marry a woman, and that's the purpose for which God created us, the purpose of procreation, and that's the higher purpose that we believe in. We believe that our children should not be recruited in something they don't believe in.
At the 5:16 mark, Bahati makes a statement that will sound familiar to American LGBT people.
BAHATI: I want to make the record straight. I am not in a hate campaign. I do not hate gays. I love them, but at the same time I must protect our children who are being recruited into this practice.
At the 21:52 mark, Maddow asks Bahati about religion as it relates to the Ugandan bill.
MADDOW: What is God's law about homosexuality?

BAHATI: God's law is that homosexuality is sin.

MADDOW: Punishable by?

BAHATI: God's law is that homosexuality is sin, and God's law says that all authority comes from him, and we should also consider what belongs to Caesar. We also know that it is also consistent--this bill is consistent with the preachings of the son of a Jewish carpenter.

[ . . . ]

MADDOW: In your view, God's law is that homosexuality is a sin. In your view, does God's law prescribe an appropriate penalty for that sin?

BAHATI: God's law is always clear that the wages of sin is death, whether than is implemented through legislation like mine or by a mechanism of a human being, whatever happens is the end result is that we need to turn to God if we have sinned.
Watch the full interview. Maddow's final comments to Bahati are very hard-hitting.

For commentary on The Rachel Maddow Show interview of David Bahati, visit the following links.

The Advocate: Maddow Takes on Uganda Hater

Daily Kos: Rachel Maddow Interviews a Bigot, and Doesn't Back Down

Lez Get Real: Letter to American Hosts of Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill MP -- David Bahati

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