In 2014 Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed an Anti-Homosexuality bill which criminalized homosexuality and any person who keeps a place of any kind for purposes of homosexuality, as well as allowing sentences of life in prison for certain sexual acts. The passage of this bill increased hostility towards and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in Uganda. However, many Ugandan lawmakers as well as the state minister for ethics and integrity believed that simply criminalizing same-sex sex acts was not good enough.
In November 2019, the Ugandan lawmakers re-introduced a bill that will criminalize the “promotion and recruitment” of homosexuality and impose the death penalty for gay sex acts.
There is no current indication that Chick-fil-A is connected to the current anti-homosexuality efforts in Uganda, but the company has had a role in the past. As Matt Baume explained in a 2019 article in Out magazine, in 2017, Chick-fil-A gave the WinShape Foundation $21.3 million; WinShape then distributed that funding to various anti-LGBTQ+ groups around the globe. In 2009, when Uganda was debating its first Anti-Homosexuality bill, WinShape gave money to the National Christian Foundation which, in turn, helped fund rightwing American preacher Lou Engle who visited Uganda to express support for the legislation. At the time, Engle called Uganda “ground zero of the great war with homosexuality.”
Records indicate that Chick-fil-A continued to fund WinShape even after the onerous new “Kill the Gays” bill was proposed in Uganda. It is clear that Chick-fil-A has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ+ causes in the United States and to individuals promoting Uganda’s anti-homosexuality laws in the past, but whether they are currently contributing to Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” activism is still uncertain.
As CNN reported on November 18, 2019, Chick-fil-A has publicly announced that it is withdrawing funding for two religious charities widely criticized as anti-LGBTQ+, the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and says it intends to focus its charitable giving instead on education, homelessness and hunger.
While there was some corporate news coverage of Chick-fil-A’s connection to Uganda’s 2014 Anti-Homosexuality legislation, the possibility that Chick-fil-A, though the WinShape Foundation, is supporting that country’s even more controversial 2019 “Kill the Gays” bill has not been covered by the corporate press.
“Uganda introduces ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill,” Deutsche Welle News, November 10, 2019, https://p.dw.com/p/3R8ka.
Matt Baume, “Has Chick-fil-A Money Fueled Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ Laws?” Out, October 16, 2019, https://www.out.com/news/2019/10/16/has-chick-fil-money-fueled-ugandas-kill-gays-laws.
Student Researcher: Abigail Durant (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)