Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Canada’s largest transnational far-right media outlet has spent months reporting on Uganda’s genocidal anti-homosexuality legislation, which includes the possibility of the death penalty. Several of these stories are in the “Good News” section of its website.
LifeSiteNews (LSN) co-founder and president Steve Jalsevac describes their reporting as an “act of charity and genuine concern” to warn people about engaging in homosexual “behaviours and related lifestyles … that they will one day deeply regret.”
LifeSiteNews has described Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act as “resisting woke ideology.”
The Anti-Homosexuality Act prescribes life imprisonment for the act of homosexuality— “the performance of a sexual act by a person on another person of the same sex”—and the death penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality.”
The Act also criminalizes helping LGBTQ+ people: knowingly allowing homosexuality to occur on one’s property is punishable by up to seven years imprisonment; witnessing, attending, presiding over, or participating in a wedding between two people of the same sex is punishable by up to ten years imprisonment; and promoting homosexuality is punishable by up to twenty years imprisonment.
Launched in 1997 by the Canadian anti-abortion lobbying group Campaign Life Coalition, LifeSiteNews is now a transnational far-right media outlet, claiming to publish 4,000 articles a year to an audience of over three million monthly readers worldwide. An advanced Google search produces over 93,000 pages for the website.
The organization’s most recent IRS filings for its tax-exempt American branch indicate that they brought in $5.43 million in revenue in 2021 (the latest year for which records are available). The Canadian branch’s financial statement for 2021 shows a total revenue of $946,551. Since 2014, the Canadian branch has received $890,048 from its American counterpart.
One article categorized under “Good News” included an exterminationist quote from Uganda’s cabinet minister Musa Ecweru, “When [the Act] passes, we are going to reinforce the law enforcement officers to make sure that homosexuals have no space in Uganda.”
LSN’s enthusiasm for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has gone beyond labelling it “Good News.”
At the end of May, LSN journalist Louis Knuffke took issue with Texas senator Ted Cruz’s tweet condemning the newly passed law—in which Cruz called it “horrific,” “grotesque,” and “an abomination.” Knuffke described this as “denounc(ing) Uganda’s protection of marriage and the vulnerable from sexual predators who are seeking to normalize LGBT lifestyles and ideology in the strongly Christian African country.”
In the comments section, LSN president Jalsevac described Cruz’s tweet as “sensational.”
When asked for comment by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, he did not explain what specifically he found “sensational” about Cruz‘s statements.
Elsewhere in the comments section on the same article, Jalsevac wrote they do not support the death penalty, but added “We do support the right of nations to make their own laws, defend their culture and oppose attempts by any nation to impose their own sexually immoral culture on other nations” as he says the US is “increasingly” doing.
“You are imposing your cultural view on another nation,” he said in another comment on the same article. “That is called cultural imperialism. We have no right to do that.”
Jalsevac reiterated this position to CAHN, stating LSN does not, and “never have supported” the death penalty or life imprisonment for homosexuality, adding they do “support strong criminal penalties for homosexual rape and unwelcome seduction, especially of children and youth.”
While the Act’s “Aggravated Homosexuality” provision includes crimes like rape and the sexual assault of children, repeat offences of consensual “homosexuality” are also considered aggravated and punishable by death.
Jalsevac recently tweeted that homosexuality is a “perversion that has led to the abuse of large numbers of children” and that “LGBT has been destroying children.”
Knuffke wrote another article decrying Russell Moore (former head of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention) for condemning the bill as “un-Christian,” accusing him of “seeming to minimize the gravity of such acts as homosexual child rape or homosexual rape of the mentally ill or the elderly.”
He concluded his article on Moore by declaring, “The outrage against Uganda’s newest law even from so-called conservative voices in the West would seem to indicate an acceptance of homosexuality within Western society that cannot allow its punishment in any way, even when homosexual acts are forced upon innocent children and the vulnerable in acts of rape that previous generations of Americans deemed self-evidently criminal.”
Knuffke’s depiction of the Anti-Homosexuality Act as punishing “homosexual acts forced upon children and the vulnerable in acts of rape” refers to two of the ten circumstances that the Act classifies as “aggravated homosexuality.”
The Act also considers “aggravated homosexuality” to include “homosexual” sex between consenting adults when “the person against whom the offence is committed” is disabled, mentally ill, or over the age of 75: “The consent of a person to commit a sexual act shall not constitute a defence to a charge under this Act.”
The Roots of the Anti-Homosexuality Act
Throughout its coverage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, LifeSiteNews repeatedly links the legislation to Ugandan citizens and lawmakers being aware of “the first Christian martyrs of their country,” who were “killed in horrific ways” for refusing to comply with the sexual demands of the king.
This is a reference to when at least 30 Christian men and boys were executed in Uganda in 1886.
As Jalsevac told CAHN, “There is a clear history in Uganda of murder and torture against Ugandans who refused to violate their consciences by doing what they considered to be immoral actions forced upon them by a past king. They have their cultural and religious reasons for their recent legislative proposals.”
A much more recent background for the Anti-Homosexuality Act lies with the work of Scott Lively and other anti-LGBTQ+ evangelicals. Lively frames “homosexuality as a Western import” brought to “spread ‘the disease’ to children.”
Lively, who is classified as an anti-LGBTQ+ extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, “presented his virulent views about homosexuality at a 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda that is widely believed to have played a role in the drafting of Uganda's notorious ‘kill the gays’ bill.”
Lively has claimed that “Adolf Hitler's inner circle were mostly homosexual; and that nearly all of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history were homosexual” and that “Homosexuality is thus biologically (and to varying degrees morally) equivalent to pedophilia, sado-masochism, bestiality and many other forms of deviant behaviour.”
Sexual Minorities Uganda took Lively to court on crimes against humanity for his work contributing to the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act—a predecessor to the 2023 version which did not include the death penalty. While the judge dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds, he held that “Lively’s actions violated international law.”
Meanwhile, western activists and organizations like LSN, and Ugandan anti-queer activists and legislators, label measures like the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Act as resisting “ideological colonialism” and rejecting “pressure from the imperialists.”
“Our main concern regarding Uganda is that Canada has no right to interfere in the culture of another sovereign nation by attempting to impose its own morally corrupt cultural norms onto another nation,” Jalsevac told CAHN.
“Africa is learning to stand up against the colonial dictates of white nations. We should not presume to tell them what to do and think about certain issues. We are not their masters, and they are not our slaves.
“Your many questions reflect the same bullying, intolerant, arrogant superiority attitude of white North American liberals as are your attitudes to the Ugandans, although we would not propose or support the same legislation for North America.”
Jalsevac’s comments are reflected in the observations of Nigerian journalist Caleb Okereke, who writes, “Anti-gay sentiment had previously existed on the [African] continent, but white American religious groups have given it a boost.”
In Okereke’s words, “It gives them a premise for absolution — an anticolonial veneer that allows them to say, ‘This was brought here from abroad, and we need to eradicate it.’”