Remember the U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, the three-day meeting led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “to combat religious persecution and discrimination”? (The one that’s helping to find funding for anti-LGBTQ hate groups.) Well, at the Ministerial, Mick Mulvaney (pictured above), Director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that America will no longer pressure African nations to repeal their anti-LGBTQ laws. This is a win for anti-LGBTQ evangelical missionaries in Africa and will worsen national security.
In his speech, Mulvaney said, “Our U.S. taxpayer dollars [were] used to discourage Christian values in other democratic countries. It was stunning to me that my government under the previous administration would go to folks in sub-Saharan Africa and say … ‘We know you have a law against gay marriage, but if you enforce that law, we’re not going to give you any money.’”
He continued, “That’s a different type of religious persecution that I never expected to see. I never expected to see that as an American Christian, that we would be doing that to other folks.”
Mulvaney is deliberately misrepresenting the issue. Only one country in Africa has legalized same-sex marriage (South Africa), and the U.S. government has never demanded that other African countries legalize same-sex marriage as a precondition for receiving aid.
The truth is that the Obama Administration only ever withheld foreign aid to African countries in response to those countries passing laws punishing sexual activity between consenting LGBTQ adults. These are the “religious freedoms” that Mick Mulvaney wants to reward with U.S. funding.
To date, 37 countries in Africa have criminalized male same-sex sexual activity (largely thanks to British colonialism). While these laws reportedly aren’t enforced in four African countries, in 33 others, the penalties against homosexuality range from fines and public whippings to imprisonment and even death by stoning.
These laws are crafted in part by American evangelicals. The fact that the Trump administration has said that denying services to LGBTQ people is an expression of “religious freedom,” Mulvaney’s comment provides insight into just how much anti-LGBTQ violence America will permit in the name of it.
Hell, Tony Perkins — president of the Family Research Council, one hate group attending the Ministerial, who himself was also recently appointed to a U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom — recently said that he’d like America to return to a time when same-sex sexual relationships in America were illegal.
So while one can debate whether Obama’s denial of aid helped improve life for LGBTQ Africans, criminalizing LGBTQ identity worsens the continent’s HIV epidemic and destabilizes African countries, making them ripe for violence, terrorism and war.