U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, is demanding to know if the right-wing group known as the Fellowship Foundation, a.k.a. the Family, is supporting Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.
The act, passed last year, provides for a sentence of life in prison for consensual same-sex relations and the death penalty in certain circumstances. It also requires that citizens report anyone they suspect has violated the law. It replaces a similar law that was passed a decade ago, although without the death penalty provision, and was struck down by Uganda’s highest court, not because of its content but because of the manner in which it was adopted. The new law is being challenged in court as well.
The Fellowship Foundation, while based in the U.S., has been cozy with anti-LGBTQ+ African leaders for years, but there is particular concern about its work in Uganda. “Since the passage of [Uganda’s] first Anti-Homosexuality Act a decade ago, there have been numerous reports linking both bills, their authors, and the larger movement to further criminalize LGBTQI+ people in Uganda to the Fellowship Foundation/the Family, and its associates,” Pocan wrote in his letter, released Tuesday and addressed to the foundation’s president, Katherine Crane.
“At Uganda’s National Prayer Breakfast in 2023, which the Fellowship Foundation helped support — including by flying in Rep. Tim Walberg to speak — speakers called LGBTQI+ advocates ‘a force from the bottom of Hell,’ said they would ‘destroy’ ‘the forces of LGBTQ,’and spoke in support of the Anti-Homosexuality Act,” Pocan continued. “In addition, Rep. Walberg told the participants to ‘stand firm’ in response to international pressure against Uganda, though he later said his statement was not in support of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, as imposing the death penalty against LGBTQI+ people is antithetical to Christian values. President Museveni later said at the breakfast that there are Americans who ‘think like us,’ illustrating how proponents of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda point to certain Americans’ statements to justify their own support for this draconian law.”
Walberg is a Republican member of the U.S. House from Michigan. Pocan, a gay man, is a Democratic member from Wisconsin.
Pocan noted that there have also been concerns about the foundation’s U.S. National Prayer Breakfast, which has caused that to split into two events.
Pocan asked Crane to provide information on the foundation’s communications with Ugandan officials regarding the Anti-Homosexuality Act; whether the foundation supports or opposes the law and, if it opposes the measure, if it will publicly announce its opposition to it and other bills that criminalize LGBTQ+ people, especially those that impose the death penalty; the foundation’s financial support for advocacy activities in Uganda and what other countries the foundation provides similar support in; and if members of the new National Prayer Breakfast board are affiliated with the foundation.
He asked for replies no later than February 28.
Another U.S.-based nonprofit, Family Watch International, has been accused of ties to the Ugandan law and other aanti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Africa as well.