When I was a child learning about the Holocaust for the first time, I recall thinking “How could this happen? How could the world stand by and let a group of people be targeted by evil?” I was reminded of these questions while watching the new Current TV documentary Missionaries of Hate.
The film, which premieres tonight, heroically dives into the story surrounding Uganda’s so-called “kill the gays” bill. In allowing Ugandan leaders and citizens to articulate in their own words why they feel it is important to imprison and in some cases kill gay and lesbian people, the film crystallizes how truly dangerous and terrifying this situation is.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 has received a fair amount of American media coverage and it has warranted condemnation from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as President Barack Obama, but for the most part it has fallen off of radar screen for many Americans. This documentary will hopefully serve as catalyst for initiating a significantly larger global fight against this despicable legislation.
Missionaries of Hate introduces audiences to three brave openly gay Ugandans and as they tell their stories, one cannot help but feel a kinship with them. We are connected by a common same-sex attraction though we remain separated by differing levels of safety because of said attraction. The more you get to know the LGBT subjects in the film, the more enraging it becomes to know that if this bill passes, they will instantly be dragged off to prison simply for being gay.
The film makes it much easier to understand why the general Ugandan public is so eager to send their peers to jail. If the most prominent spiritual leader in your community made it his life purpose to convince you that there were people coming to eat your poop and recruit your children, you would be against them too. They are only hearing one side of the story and it is the origin of their information that is truly infuriating.
Although Ugandan leaders are deeply offended by the notion, the facts definitively show that American evangelists have played a central role in defining the nation’s hard line against sexual minorities. The documentary focuses on American evangelist Dr. Scott Lively, who is widely credited with installing the dominant notion that homosexuals are after your children. When asked if he condemns the legislation, Lively says that he condemns the death penalty aspects of the bill, but that overall the bill is a “lesser of two evils” compared to the prospect of having American gay activists do to Uganda what they have done to America.
It is always fascinating to see where people draw the line. Lively is against killing someone because they are gay, but he is perfectly fine with sending a gay person to jail for the rest of their life? That makes as much sense as someone who is OK with a gay person doing their hair or making them laugh on TV, but doesn’t think they should be able to marry the person they love.
Missionaries of Hate is the documentary we have been needing and craving. It illustrates what we are up against in Uganda and it shows that the need for outrage and action is immediate. It premieres tonight on Current TV or you can watch it on Hulu right now.
Photo credit: Russell Higgs