The same day that the Gay Pride Parade marched down the west side of Manhattan, celebrating the culture and burgeoning equality of America’s LGBT community, John Oliver sat in his midtown studio and reminded his “Last Week Tonight” audience that there is still much work to be done — and that even as bigotry begins receding in the United States, its long legacy of anti-gay activism has had a major ripple effect across the world.
Oliver dedicated over half his show to the issue, running through the oppressive laws in Uganda — it is illegal to even be gay in that country, and there has been a vicious crackdown in recent years — and tracing those laws back to both the United Kingdom’s colonial era, and more recently, the strident activism of far right Evangelical Christians from the United States.
They really are the gift that keeps on giving.
As Oliver noted, we now laugh at many of their Bible-skewing warnings of damnation, but the words of anti-gay activists like Scott Lively really took root in foreign countries; Lively, a Massachusetts author who wrote a somewhat hyperbolic book called “The Pink Swastika,” addressed the Ugandan parliament and spoke on television shortly before new anti-gay laws were passed.
Also targeted was the American government itself, which has given funded to anti-gay activists and churches in Uganda (a rare misstep in foreign seed money). Later, Oliver conducted a long interview with Ugandan gay rights activist Pepe Julian Onziema, who spoke about the brutality against LGBT people in his country (whose perpetrators, weirdly, used the rainbow as a rallying point).