As LGBTQ+ Pride Month is officially underway, discussions about queer rights and representation have loomed large in the American public discourse, leading to controversy and cultural embattlement.
Both Target and the Los Angeles Dodgers have recently come under fire for the religious overtones of their recognition of Pride this year, with some conservatives calling for a boycott of Target in response to their 2023 Pride Collection and denouncing the Dodgers’ decision to honor an LGBTQ+ activist group that dresses as nuns in drag.
Beyond arguments about the cultural influence of the LGBTQ+ community in America, a new anti-gay law in Uganda has provided an opportunity for some conservative and right-wing voices to offer their endorsement of a gay rights rollback, while others have joined a chorus of diverse voices condemning the legislation as inhumane.
Though homosexual acts were already illegal in Uganda, this new legislation, which was signed into law earlier this week, enacts stricter punishments. These sentences reportedly include life imprisonment for offenders and the death penalty for those convicted in “aggravated” cases. Aggravated cases include an offender having sex with someone who is a minor or in cases where someone is infected with a serious illness, such as HIV, whether accidentally or on purpose.
Parliamentary Speaker Anita Among said in a statement that the bill had “answered the cries of our people.” Roughly four-fifths of Ugandans identify as Christian.
The law has been decried by various governments around the world, as well as the United Nations, which characterized it as a “systematic violation of nearly all” human rights. Health experts are warning that the legislation may result in an increase in HIV cases, as those who are infected could be afraid of reprisals if they receive testing or treatment.
With news of the law quickly traveling the globe, a number of prominent evangelical leaders, as well as elected officials, have weighed in with their opinions.
U.S. Senator for Texas Ted Cruz decried the law on Monday (May 29), tweeting, “This Uganda law is horrific & wrong. Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is grotesque & an abomination.”
“ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse,” Cruz added.
While many voiced agreement with Cruz, with some noting that they were pleasantly surprised by the Republican senator’s stance, others were quick to voice their disagreement.
Jenna Ellis, former Trump lawyer and political commentator, said, “I stand with Uganda on this because the definition of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ (subject to the death penalty) is raping children.”
A day later, Florida pastor Tom Ascol told Cruz, “Tell it to God, Ted.”