Eliminating homosexuality: Nazi Germany and Modern Uganda
Self-styled pro-family advocate, Scott Lively, has made a career of drawing parallels from Nazi Germany to modern homosexuality. Director of Abiding Truth Ministries, Lively has gone around the world with the message that homosexuals were responsible for Nazi totalitarianism. On the contrary, my research leads me to believe the more common view that homosexuals were indeed victims of Nazi oppression.
In this post, I point out that anti-gay groups in places like Uganda (encouraged by an American led conference in March, 2009 where Lively was one of the speakers) use rhetoric that is disturbingly akin to rhetoric used by Nazis regarding homosexuality. First, examine these developments in Uganda. From an Ugandan news report Sunday:
Sunday, 31st May, 2009 KAMPALA - The Peoples Development Party (PDP) wants the Government to establish an independent commission of inquiry on homosexual activities to eliminate the practice. Addressing journalists on Thursday, party president Abed Bwanika said the evil is spreading to every section of the public and that the Government needed to make critical intervention.
He called upon church leaders to guide the country on the matter and said some NGOs were supporting people involved in the act.
This call for an “independent commission” is similar to the kinds of recommendations made back in March by a group led by Stephen Langa, director of the Christian pro-family group, Family Life Network. At a meeting following up an ex-gay conference in Uganda, sponsored by Langa’s group, with presentations by Scott Lively, Exodus International board member, Don Schmierer and Caleb Brundidge staffer with both International Healing Foundation and Patricia King's ministry, Xtreme Prophetic, the following ideas were considered:
- The laws on homosexuality are weak, hence the need to strengthen these laws.
- Parents were encouraged to participant in law making decisions in Uganda so that to strengthen the laws on homosexuality.
- To establish a unit at Police to deal with homosexuality.
- Homosexuality is an abomination; it is evil and should be dealt with strongly.
- During the reactions a prominent pastor also said that they have been talking with an ex-gay activist who has given them a five year plan for dealing with the gay agenda in Uganda. And they have submitted this plan to the ministry concerned, that they await reactions.
- Another participant told the audience that parliament is drafting a new law that will be tough on homosexuals.
The message is clear from these "Christian" anti-gay groups: laws should be passed “that will be tough on homosexuals.” Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda; these people want to make it even more difficult.
At any rate, there is a disturbing parallel with the Nazis, but it is not with the homosexuals. Rather, it is more apparent with the manner in which the Ugandan government with assistance from Christian ministries is responding to homosexuality. Note the rhetoric, I have cited above, by Ugandan groups to describe the crack down on open homosexuality. Then read this report from The US Holocaust Memorial Museum which describes the Nazi approach to homosexuality.
On June 28, 1935, the Ministry of Justice revised Paragraph 175. The revisions provided a legal basis for extending Nazi persecution of homosexuals. Ministry officials expanded the category of “criminally indecent activities between men” to include any act that could be construed as homosexual. The courts later decided that even intent or thought sufficed.
On October 26, 1936, Himmler formed within the Security Police the Reich Central Office for Combating Abortion and Homosexuality. Josef Meisinger, executed in 1947 for his brutality in occupied Poland, led the new office. The police had powers to hold in protective custody or preventive arrest those deemed dangerous to Germany’s moral fiber, jailing indefinitely–without trial–anyone they chose. In addition, homosexual prisoners just released from jail were immediately re-arrested and sent to concentration camps if the police thought it likely that they would continue to engage in homosexual acts.
From 1937 to 1939, the peak years of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, the police increasingly raided homosexual meeting places, seized address books, and created networks of informers and undercover agents to identify and arrest suspected homosexuals. On April 4, 1938, the Gestapo issued a directive indicating that men convicted of homosexuality could be incarcerated in concentration camps.
In Uganda, lists of people suspected to be gay have been included in tabloids, various ministers have accused other ministers of being homosexual, and Christian groups are calling for the government to create a commission to eliminate homosexuality - all supported by American Christian ministries. In Nazi Germany, the commission was called “the Reich Central Office for Combating Abortion and Homosexuality.” What will it be called in Uganda?
The head of the Reich office charged with eliminating homosexuality was war criminal Josef Meisinger. In a speech in 1937, he had this to say about the political reasons to combat homosexuality.
If one is really to appreciate the hidden danger of homosexuality, it is no longer enough to consider it as before from a narrowly criminal viewpoint. Because it is now so enormously widespread, it has actually developed into a phenomenon of the most far-reaching consequence for the survival of the nation and state. For this reason, however, homosexuality can no longer be regarded simply from the viewpoint of criminal investigation; it has become a problem with political importance. This being so, it cannot be the task of the police to investigate homosexuality scientifically. At the most it can take account of scientific conclusions in its work. Their task is to ascertain homosexual trends and their damaging effects, so as to avert the danger that this phenomenon represents for nation and state. No one says to the police: you shouldn’t arrest this thief because he might have acquired kleptomania. Similarly, once we have recognized that a homosexual is an enemy of the state, we shan’t ask the police—and much less the Political Police—whether he has acquired his vice or whether he was born with it. I should mention here that experience has shown beyond doubt that only a vanishingly small number of homosexuals have a truly homosexual inclination, that most of them by far have been quite normally active at one time or another and then turned to this area simply because they were sated with life’s pleasures or for various other reasons such as fear of venereal diseases. I should also say that, with firm education and order, and regulated labor, a great number of homosexuals who have come to the attention of the authorities have been taught to become useful members of the national community.
In Uganda among Christian groups and government leaders, and encouraged by Mr. Lively, homosexuality is considered the root of society’s evils. Two of the American “experts,” Lively and Brundidge supported the notion of toughening laws against homosexuality with compulsory “treatment” considered an option. Treatment protocols are being readied now.
Scott Lively encouraged the Uganda church leaders to view the tiny gay movement in Uganda as related in some way to the same movement that propelled the Nazis to power in Germany. However, if one looks for similarities in rhetoric and policy positions, one can more readily find them by noting how the government in power then in Germany and now in Uganda regarded homosexuality. In The Pink Swastika, Lively discounts the Nazis’ public rhetoric and policies as a means of distracting attention to the homosexuality in the ranks of Nazi leaders. What might the same rhetoric and public policy objectives mean in Uganda?
I think any parallels between Nazi Germany then and homosexuality now will lead to mostly inaccurate conclusions, including the similarities in rhetoric I point out here. Many groups, including gay and Christian activists, have used Holocaust metaphors to frame rhetoric in a way that will sway public sentiment. In truth, gays were not victimized to the same degree that the Jews were, but they were victimized. Christian advocates such as Mr. Lively, who want to make sinister linkages between Nazi Germany and gay people must be prepared to explain why more obvious rhetorical and policy similarities, such as noted above, are not indicative of equally nefarious intents.
This rhetorical sword cuts two directions and without any benefit to the Gospel. These analogies are not only factually challenged but have the woeful effect of hindering the Gospel. When Christians make spurious comparisons to the Nazis, they should not be surprised when the targets of those comparisons lash back and consider them hateful. There should be little wonder why they don't feel the Love.