While researching last week, my organization, Truth Wins Out, stumbled upon an interesting find. The “ex-gay” group Homosexuals Anonymous Fellowship Services (HAFS) had sent their director, Doug McIntyre, on a trip to Kenya to impart his views on how gay people could be converted to heterosexuality using a 14-step group therapy program.
According to the organization’s October 2009 newsletter:
On November 3, 2009 the Director of HAFS will begin a visit to the beautiful country of Kenya. We have been invited to begin a new work for the HA program and educate the members of a two thousand member church so that they can begin to reclaim the lost youth of the area. An invitation has been extended to teach in 15 local schools and participate in a leadership training program for nearly 200 pastors and church leaders.
Not surprisingly, there had recently been an outbreak of intolerance and intimidation against Kenya’s LGBT citizens. The BBC reported that Kenyan police released five people arrested for planning a “gay wedding” north of Mombasa, saying there was no evidence to prosecute them. Police spokesman Martha Mutegi told the BBC the men had been told to leave the region for their own safety and to avoid angering the local community.
It is important to note that some LGBT advocates dispute the BBC report, claiming that a same-sex wedding never actually took place and that the event was a fabrication in order for anti-gay forces to incite mob violence. In any case, neither scenario is comforting and highlights the escalating danger faced by gay and lesbian Kenyans.
Isn’t it amazing that wherever American anti-gay and ex-gay activists go in Africa, hate campaigns are not too far behind?
First, we had Uganda, where parliament is currently debating a “kill the gays” bill. The witch-hunt against sexual minorities began soon after a Spring 2009 conference in Kampala featuring American “ex-gay” activists from Exodus International and The International Healing Foundation.
Now, we have growing anti-gay sentiment in Kenya following a visit by HAFS’s Doug McIntyre. Although HAFS is not directly responsible for the violence, they are certainly contributing to a hostile climate by preaching a message that one can be cured from their homosexuality through a combination of prayer and therapy.
In a phone call I had with HAFS’s McIntyre, he claims that he spoke to nearly 10,000 students and educators in Kenya on his November trip to Kenya and plans to return this week to indoctrinate thousands more. When confronted with the possibility that his message might contribute to an antagonistic environment for LGBT Kenyans, McIntyre brushed off the suggestion and became angry. He later wrote in the comments section on Truth Wins Out’s blog:
“As for connecting the HA program with violence…I did hear about the violence that happened with the ‘marriage’ on the plane on the way over to Kenya so it could not have been connected to anything I was doing there.”
This statement was clearly not true, because McIntyre’s trip was in November 2009, while the alleged wedding occurred on February 12, 2010. So, there is no way he could have “heard” about this episode unless his plane was packed with passengers headed to a Nairobi psychic’s convention.
McIntyre’s ultimate response to my catching him in a fib was to start a rumor on my website about my HIV status. According to a McIntyre post (comment 41) on Truth Wins Out’s blog
“I suggestyed [sic] that in the interest of truth [sic] You and I might investigate the truth to a very harmful rumor about the founder of this blogg [sic] being HIV positive and request him to provide results to dispell [sic] that rumor.”
First, I want to make it clear that I believe there is no shame in being HIV-positive. It is a virus and if I were infected I would have no issue disclosing my status. However, I happen to be HIV-negative.
It is appalling that McIntyre would start a rumor and pretend that he is broaching the topic to “dispel” the very misinformation he had deliberately put in the public realm. It speaks to a lack of integrity and a breathtaking amorality from a man who claims to be a minister.
However, his display of dishonesty with me is only relevant because is it is indicative of the behavior displayed by unscrupulous American religious fanatics that are fanning out across the planet to spread disinformation about LGBT people. And unlike me, the victims of these anti-gay lies are not able to respond for fear of reprisals.
As technology shrinks the world, we will be affected more each year by globetrotting anti-gay characters with character issues. It is important that we realize that our foes have few scruples and will travel to the ends of the earth to peddle End Times theology. They are no longer waiting for the rapture, but trying to capture and corrupt the minds good people across the globe.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”