Ted Cruz Shows Compassion over Uganda's 'Kill the Gays' Law and Trolls Attack
Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.
Uganda's new anti-LGBTQ+ law – which punishes some same-sex activity with death – is so repugnant even Ted Cruz came out against it. But some on the right attacked Cruz for his display of compassion, Newsweek reported.
Calling the new law "horrific & wrong," a May 29 tweet posted on Cruz's Twitter account declared, "Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for 'aggravated homosexuality' is grotesque & an abomination."
The tweet went on to say, "ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse."
As previously reported, Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, signed the law, versions of which had been proposed numerous times since 2014. The law introduces the notion of "aggravated homosexuality," which includes sexual relations that involve HIV-positive people, and which is punishable by death. Another novel concept, "attempted aggravated homosexuality," carries a penalty of 14 years' imprisonment.
But Cruz's display of concern for human rights and expression of horror at the cruelty of the legislation sparked pushback from some on the right who shifted the messaging from concern about human suffering and civil rights to presumed sexual activity.
"Ted Cruz's Memorial Day message," one commentator posted, before adding, in a bewildering non sequitur, "consider the extreme importance of global anal sex so that next time we ask you to die for its continued proliferation you are ready."
The sexualization of the topic included the repetition, from some, of familiar anti-gay lies and accusations.
"They are protecting their youth," onetime TruNews personality Lauren Witzke, a Q Anon supporter and failed GOP Senate candidate from Delaware, posted. "Unlike the lawmakers in Texas, the Uganda government recognizes that if you give an inch, the LGBTQ Mafia will take a mile."
Witzke's tweet added: "While you guys struggle to stop drag queens from twerking on the laps of toddlers, they stop it before it starts."
Still others argued that the internal affairs of a foreign country are their own business, and suggested that the U.S. should stay out of it.
But those isolationist arguments overlooked the fact that the brutal anti-gay law had roots in American evangelicals exporting their anti-LGBTQ+ politics to Uganda.
"Leading up to the first Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2014, we knew that radical Pentecostal communities from the US were sponsoring the introduction of anti-LGBTIQ laws throughout Africa," recalled Ugandan lawmaker Fox Odoi-Oywelowo in an interview with Open Democracy.
Odoi-Oywelowo was one of only two Ugnadan MPs who voted against the extreme legislation. The lawmaker recalled that the American extremists' "initial point of entry was the [Ugandan] National Prayer Breakfast, a collection of religious and radical people here who introduced that ideology of hate."
Odoi-Oywelowo went on to add: "That was the cycle we had from 2011 to around 2016. They were successful in introducing the anti-homosexuality law to Parliament and having it passed; we were successful in having it struck down."
Though Cruz was a rare outlier among Republicans when it came to critiquing the law, the bill's signing triggered an international outcry. Critics described the law as cruel and unnecessary, and predicted that the "aggravated homosexuality" provision would only increase the prevalence of AIDS in Uganda.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.