BY Jeff Sharlet
August 23 2010 4:00 AM ET
But Bahati’s bill isn’t what Kreutter had in mind. He’s a mild-mannered man with an Obama sticker on the back of his SUV. He admits to some uncertainty on how to respond to homosexuality, and shared with me a blue binder of research he’d prepared for curious students in his academy. The first document is titled “How Might Homosexuality Develop?” excerpted from a seemingly scientific work, “The Complex Interaction of Genes and Environment: A Model for Homosexuality,” by Jeffrey Satinover. There may be a genetic predisposition, Satinover writes, evidenced in traits in boys such as “a ‘sensitive’ disposition” and “a keen aesthetic sense” — an argument every bit as scientifically sound as the one asserting that Jews are genetically predisposed to be wealthy. An interview with another “scientist,” one “Dr. Fitzgibbons,” reveals that a lack of hand-eye coordination among boys and subsequent poor performance in sports can lead to unnatural desires. To be fair, the binder also includes a short op-ed by evangelical scholar Warren Throckmorton, who argues against the bill. (Throckmorton, a former leader in the “cure the gays” movement, has fought the bill harder and more effectively than any other American.) But that’s still an awfully narrow spectrum, from homosexuality as sin that should not be legally punished to homosexuality as disease that should be eradicated. Just to the right of Kreutter’s research, meanwhile, is the murder in the heart of men such as Bahati.
This hatred may be best expressed in another blue binder, given to me by one of the original leaders of the Ugandan antigay movement, Moses Solomon Male. Unlike Bahati and most of the other prominent men in the crusade, Male has never been to America; he hasn’t been granted a visa. So an American Bible college gave him a scholarship to one of its campuses in Singapore. He’d already settled on fighting homosexuality as his life’s work, but it was that education that gave him the intellectual tools with which to pursue the goal, a story he documents in his memoir, Devil in the Pulpit, for which he is seeking an American publisher. But the blue binder is the truer portrait of Male and his obsession. Titled “A Report and Petition on Homosexuality in Uganda,” it’s the Mein Kampf of the Ugandan antigay crusade. What it lacks in narrative force it makes up for with a seemingly objective parade of police reports and hospital records, accounts of what Male contends is an epidemic of homosexual rape aided by witchcraft. Taken at face value, it’s a horrifying chronicle of crimes demanding swift and severe response. But ask even a few questions, and the story unravels.
Male was determined to have me speak with victims of the rape epidemic. He asked me for $100 a head to arrange interviews. When I said no, he cut his rate to zero. I still tried to dodge him, but he began calling me at 6 a.m. until I agreed to meet his “victims.” I’d already heard recordings of Male’s associates, made by a Ugandan investigative reporter, discussing fabricated accusations of rape targeted at Uganda’s most popular preacher, Robert Kayanja. He wasn’t targeted because he’s gay-friendly but because Male and his allies covet Kayanja’s connections: Kayanja’s church is an important site of pilgrimage for American televangelists eager to show their flocks that they care about the African poor. Their concern has made Kayanja one of the richest men in the country.
But if he’s guilty of selling snake-oil spirituality, Kayanja is innocent of the charges leveled against him by Male, unless he’s managed to fake his passport, British airline tickets, and American hotel receipts that all say he was in the United States at the time of the alleged crimes. And the rest of Male’s accusations fall apart even more easily. An alleged rape victim of one of Kayanja’s associate pastors told me that beneath his suit the handsome preacher had breasts as “big as Dolly Parton’s” — a claim only slightly more plausible than that of another antigay preacher who told me in great detail about the vast, underwater city of homosexual witches beneath the surface of Lake Victoria.