By Hugo Salinas
An article recently posted on the website of LGBT media watchdog Equality Matters reveals the ties between Sharon Slater and Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” pastor Martin Ssempa. Slater, a Mormon, is the president of Family Watch International. Under the seemingly benign slogan, “Promoting Family Based Solutions to World Problems,” the organization fights marriage equality worldwide, advocates “curing” homosexuals of their “disease,” and opposes the use of condoms in Africa, which in 2007 was home to more 88% of people living with HIV and the site of 92% of all AIDS deaths.
Family Watch International lists Martin Ssempa as their African coordinator, describing him as an “internationally renowned family activist.” That evidently is code for the fact Ssempa, an evangelical minster, is a vocal supporter of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill, which makes homosexual activity punishable by life in prison and, in some cases, death.
The bill has been criticized by religious and human rights organizations, which have called ignorant and barbaric. President Barack Obama has called the bill “odious.” An editorial in the New York Times stated that “the United States and others need to make clear to the Ugandan government that such barbarism is intolerable and will make it an international pariah.”
Last January Slater’s FWI co-sponsored the Global Family Policy Forum in Phoenix, Arizona, for UN diplomats who negotiate social and family issues at the UN. Slater reports that the forum presented “scientific evidence” that “in many cases, individuals who experience same-sex attraction can be helped by therapy.”
“This knowledge alone will pay huge dividends as UN delegates confront the anti-family, homosexual activists who are in the forefront of the international ‘sexual rights’ campaign that is one of the biggest threats to the institution of the family worldwide,” Salter wrote on her website. “This forum was a critical first step in our plan to go on the offense on family issues at the UN because as military strategists know ‘the best defense is a good offense.’”
Family Watch International is one example of the many ways in which the LDS Church and individual Mormons have in recent decades created international alliances with other religious groups to lobby against women’s rights and LGBT equality. Other organizations through which Mormons fight or have fought equality in the international scale include the World Congress of Families (founded by American evangelicals, but active also in Europe and Africa), the World Family Policy Center at BYU (since disbanded), and the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development, a collaboration between Muslims and BYU law professor Richard Wilkins.