By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com March 25 2014 2:38 PM ET
Last night’s episode of TakePart Live devoted a segment to the U.S. response to Uganda’s “jail the gays” law.
Advocate.com news director Sunnivie Brydum appeared as part of a panel discussion on the Pivot channel’s live news program to discuss the recent decision of the Obama administration to cut and redirect millions in aid from the nation’s government. The move was in response to last month’s passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, a draconian measure that imposes lifetime prison terms on those convicted of "aggravated homosexuality" as well as harsh punishments for those who support LGBT individuals and groups.
Brydum weighed in on the effectiveness of the cuts, which totaled “just under $10 million of our estimated $640 million that we send in U.S. aid to Uganda," toward enacting positive change for LGBT Ugandans. "So it’s a pretty small portion.”
“It’s a start,” she said. “I think the most important thing is these cuts … were redirected away from the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda to pro-LGBT and pro-human rights organizations [and] are following the suggestions of the LGBT activists on the ground in Uganda.”
Brydum went on to point to the recommendations of these activists, which encourage public figures — particularly religious leaders — to speak out in support of LGBT people. Much of the antigay sentiment in Uganda was stoked by American evangelical Christians, she notes.
She also remarked that the Obama administration is “talking out of both sides of its mouth” in its response to Uganda, cutting funding to demonstrate disapproval of the antigay law, while simultaneously sending military support to the nation and its president Yoweri Museveni, who signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law February 24.
“Museveni is one of our important allies in the region, and his troops protect American interests abroad," she said. "And I think that’s always going to trump the rights of LGBT people, unfortunately."
In response to Brydum's commentary, the panel debated the extent to which the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of religious groups to promulgate anti-LGBT views abroad. Watch the full conversation on the website of TakePart Live, which airs weeknights at midnight Eastern time on Pivot.