Founded in 2002, Family Life Network Uganda claims to work for the “restoration of family values and morals of the Ugandan society.” Stephen Langa, the organization’s founder and executive director, is a fierce opponent of reproductive justice and one of Uganda’s most influential purveyors of homophobia. Much of his work has involved close collaborations with U.S. conservatives and Christian Right leaders.
Earlier in his career, Langa’s efforts to promote faith-based anti-HIV/AIDS campaigns helped reverse Uganda’s success in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Between 1991 and 2001, Uganda saw a substantial decline in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, due in large part to widespread embrace of the “ABC” strategy (abstinence, be faithful, condoms). But in the wake of George W. Bush’s 2000 election victory, and the subsequent launch of the U.S. President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2004, the emphasis shifted toward abstinence-only programs.
PEPFAR gave more than $1 billion to HIV/AIDS programs in Uganda between 2004 and 2011. As a Western-backed pastor, Langa fully embraced his role as a conservative moralist. He also gained significant influence in the flow of HIV/AIDS funding, despite his visits to single-sex schools to “fight” against homosexuals and his role in spreading rumors that condoms could block sperm, syphilis, and gonorrhea yet still transmit HIV/AIDS.
In March 2009, Langa’s anti-LGBTI activism reached a new level when Family Life Network Uganda hosted the infamous “Seminar on Exposing the Homosexuals’Agenda,” which featured several U.S.-based, Christian Right speakers.[iv] When a draft of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill initially came before Parliament in April 2009, Langa was among a handful of religious leaders who Deputy Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga singled out for helping advance the legislation. (Kadaga is now Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament.) Langa is an elder and member of Gary Skinner’s Kampala-based Watoto Church, which hosted several planning meetings in the run-up to the writing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. (See Gary Skinner profile.)
In March 2012, the New York Times reported that Langa had been indicted as one of four Ugandan co-conspirators in a U.S. federal lawsuit brought by Sexual Minorities Uganda, a human-rights advocacy group, against Massachusetts-based pastor Scott Lively.
Following passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2013, Langa released a letter announcing a service to “celebrate the passing of the AHB into law and for preserving the sovereignty of our Nation.” The crusade against LGBTI people continues to be, for Langa, “a conflict between the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God.”
For more details, see American Culture Warriors in Africa: A Guide to the Exporters of Homophobia and Sexism.