East Texas pastor involved in Uganda homosexuality debate

TYLER (KYTX) - A controversial bill in Uganda, that would make homosexuality punishable by life in prison, now has a Tyler connection.

Uganda's anti-gay bill has stirred up controversy world-wide. Many western countries, including the United States, have threatened to withhold aid if such a bill were to pass.

While Pastor David Dykes with Green Acres Baptist Church was in Uganda last week on a mission trip, a local reporter asked him about the U.S. threat to pull aid.

He says he doesn't support the bill, but is angry the U.S. is getting involved.

His comments were included in a story that ran on NTV, Uganda's largest independent television station.

In the video, he criticizes the state department for trying to stop Uganda from passing a bill that in it's original draft, would punish homosexuals with death. The punishment has now been reduced to life in prison.

In the video the reporter says, "David Dykes, an American-based pastor who was speaking at a parental care ministries church said Uganda should not in any way embrace homosexuality.

Dykes then is shown saying, "I am upset that the United States is trying to put pressure on Uganda to recognize homosexual behavior, and I'm praying Uganda will say we don't want your money, America."

As Dykes sat down with a CBS 19 crew, he said he wasn't interviewed about the bill itself.

"I've never read the bill. I don't know what the bill says. My whole point was that I think it's not right for our government to put pressure on any government about their moral decisions," Dykes said.

Jolie Smith, the chair of Project TAG, or Tyler Area Gays, says by speaking about the issue, even just about U.S. involvement, makes it seem like Dykes supports the bill.

"It is sin money," Dykes says in the video.  "I hope you'll be able to stand strong on what the Bible defines as the definition of a real marriage."

"If he's upset with the U.S. for trying to stop this bill then that means he's in support of the bill, in at least some way," Smith says.

Dykes disagrees, "I'd certainly be opposed to any kind of death penalty for homosexual behavior. It was a random interview at a pastor's conference and I just said generally speaking, I don't think the U.S. should try to coerce nations about their legislation."

Smith says she's one of many who believe the U.S. should be condemning the bill in Uganda.

"There are many countries besides the United States that are in support of Uganda, and not this bill because it is against basic rights. Some would even say civil rights," she said.

Dykes says regardless of the bill's severity, the U.S. threats to withdraw aid are unacceptable.

According to a brief filed by the London-based Equal Rights Trust, Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill violates both the Ugandan constitution and the country's obligations under various international agreements.

Monday, the BBC reported that Uganda's president said publicly, homosexuals should not be persecuted, but homosexuality should not be promoted.

The bill now lies in the hands of members of parliament, one of whom originally introduced the anti-homosexuality bill.

The Ugandan parliament has adjourned until January without voting on the bill. If the members of parliament vote to pass the bill, it still has to be approved by the president.


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