Michigan Republican supports death penalty for gay people

US Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Michigan) listens during a a House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)

By Kyle Kaminski

January 2, 2024

Congressman Tim Walberg (R-Michigan) voiced support for the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda, which criminalizes LGBTQ relationships with life sentences and death penalties.

MICHIGAN—A Republican congressman from Michigan is facing widespread criticism following a recent speech in Uganda in which he voiced support for a new law that created harsh criminal penalties—including a possible death sentence—for people involved in LGBTQ relationships.

US Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Michigan) traveled to Uganda in October to give the keynote address at a National Prayer Breakfast event, according to reports from Salon. During his speech, Walberg reportedly praised the country’s new anti-LGBTQ law and encouraged its leaders to “stand firm” in support of the continued criminalization of same-sex relationships in Uganda.

“Though the rest of the world is pushing back on you…though there are other major countries that are trying to get into you and ultimately change you, stand firm,” Walberg said.

Last year, the Ugandan Parliament ramped up its anti-homosexuality laws to impose life sentences on consensual same-sex conduct among adults. The controversial legislation—known as the “Kill the Gays” law—also added the death penalty for so-called “aggravated homosexuality” where same-sex acts involve drugs or alcohol that may impair judgment. The bill also explicitly aims to “protect the traditional family” and broadly criminalizes any and all activities deemed to “promote” LGBTQ relationships with up to 20 years in prison.

Walberg was reportedly seen on video listening to, endorsing, and associating himself with the remarks of other speakers at the prayer breakfast who called LGBTQ advocates “a force from the bottom of hell” and urged Ugandan leaders to adopt a “Christocracy” over a democracy.

“Worthless is the thought of the world,” Walberg said. “Worthless, for instance, is the thought of the World Bank, or the World Health Organization, or the United Nations, or, sadly, some in our administration in America who say, ‘You are wrong for standing for values that God created.’”

After the new laws took effect in Uganda last year, President Joe Biden labeled them a “tragic violation of universal human rights.” His administration has since responded with a series of travel restrictions for Ugandan leaders and other sanctions until the laws are fully repealed.

Walberg, however, explicitly encouraged Uganda’s leaders to resist opposition to the anti-LGBTQ law from the US, the United Nations, and other global institutions, Salon reports. After the speech, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni said that Walberg’s presence at the event in October had shown the people of Uganda there were Americans who “think like us.”

The breakfast in Uganda was put on by the Fellowship Foundation, known popularly as The Family, which reportedly paid for Walberg’s trip. According to Salon, Walberg’s trip marked the first time that an American lawmaker has publicly embraced Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ laws.

During the speech, Walberg also said that he expected to face criticism for his bigoted beliefs.

“But I’m not gonna give in to them,” he said.

Walberg represents Michigan’s 5th Congressional district and is running for reelection this year. The state’s Republican primary election is set for Aug. 6, 2024. The general election is Nov. 5.

READ MORE: Five Michigan Republicans voted against marriage equality. It still passed.

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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