Every once in a while, the right in the U.S. can’t help but look longingly at countries where repression of LGBTQ is a matter of law. But Rep. Tim Walberg, a Michigan Republican, went one step further. He actually took a trip to Uganda to meet with leaders there and urge them to “stand firm” in support of their draconian anti-LGBTQ law, which includes the death penalty for gay people.
The law is so horrific that even Sen. Ted Cruz has condemned it.
Walberg took the trip last October, but it escaped notice until Salon revealed it this week. Walberg was the keynote speaker at the Uganda’s National Prayer Breakfast. Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, who signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law in May, was among those present for Walberg’s speech. Museveni said that Walberg’s presence proved that there were Museveni later said that Walberg’s speech showed that some Americans “think like us.”
In the speech, Walberg called upon Ugandan leaders to defy efforts to force the African nation to roll back the vicious law, which makes “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by the death penalty.” The U.S. has dropped Uganda from a trade pact and issued visa sanctions against some Ugandan officials. The World Bank has halted all loans to Uganda in response to the measure.
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“Though the rest of the world is pushing back on you, though there are other major countries that are trying to get into you and ultimately change you, stand firm. Stand firm,” Walberg counseled the attendees.
Walberg cited the Bible as justification for a law to kill people. “Worthless is the thought of the world,” Walberg said. “[W]orthless, for instance, is the thought of the World Bank, or the World Health Organization, or the United Nations, or, sadly, some in our administration in America who say, ‘You are wrong for standing for values that God created,’ for saying there are male and female and God created them.’”
“Whose side do we want to be on?” Walberg continued. “God’s side. Not the World Bank, not the United States of America, necessarily, not the U.N. God’s side.”
Walberg explicitly aligned himself with Museveni and the Ugandan legislators who overwhelmingly passed the “Kill the Gays” bill. Referring to the Ugandan president, Walberg said, “He knows that he has a Parliament, and … even congressmen like me who will say, ‘We stand with you.’”
A former Bible salesman, Walberg has always been a standard issue religious conservative in Congress. HRC designated him a member of its Hall of Shame in 2014. This year he was the author of a provision he called the Parental Rights Over the Education and Care of Their (PROTECT) Kids Act, part of a larger GOP bill that went nowhere. Under Walberg’s provision, schools would be required to get parental consent before changing a student’s pronouns or preferred names.
His trip to Uganda was sponsored by the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast, a formerly bipartisan group that has recently taken a hard-right turn. The new head of the group is Caroline Aderholt, a former leader Concerned Women of America, a long-time anti-LGBTQ group. Aderholt’s husband is Rep. Robert Aderholt, a Republican from Alabama who once tried to stop adoption agencies from allowing gay people to adopt.
While Walberg has gotten blowback for his comments, don’t expect his fellow Republicans to condemn him. If anything, Walberg is saying what at least a few other Christian nationalist types in the ranks are thinking as well. He’s just another reminder that when it comes to today’s Republican party, nothing is considered entirely beyond the pale, even killing LGBTQ people.