Uganda, Chick-fil-a, and an anti-LGBTQ+ controversy

Recently, Chick-fil-A has once again found themselves the center of attention in the most recent of a long line of controversies regarding its support of Anti-LGBTQ+ groups and projects. The controversy began on Oct. 12, when a viral tweet from the Twitter user @sloppyposts claimed that a recent proposal from Uganda to “legalize murdering gay people” was the result of indirect funding from Chick-fil-A via the NCF. @sloppyposts then goes on to say, “If you eat at Chick-fil-A, this is what your money goes to,” in an attempt to discourage the consumption of Chick-fil-A products. To fully understand the situation, let’s look at some context and background.

                On Oct. 10, the Ugandan Minister of State for Ethics & Integrity, Simon Lokodo, announced his intention revive a bill from 2014 known at the time as the “Kill the Gays” bill. The bill in question laid out several punishments, including life imprisonment for gay sex, death for “serial offenders,” seven years for “promotion,” and three years for failing to turn in a known homosexual. According to Lokodo, the bill will be reintroduced in upcoming weeks, and voted on by the end the year. However, two days later, on Oct. 12, the Ugandan press office contradicted him, stating “[The] Government hereby clarifies that it does not intend to introduce any new law with regards to the regulation of #LGBTQ activities in Uganda because the current provisions in the #PenalCode are sufficient.” With this in mind, it’s hard to know exactly what the current intentions of the Ugandan government are.

                The “Kill the Gays” bill was originally introduced in 2009 and was heavily advocated for in the following years by David Behati, a key member of the conservative American Christian movement known as the “Fellowship.” Behati freely admits that the Fellowship is largely, if not entirely, responsible for the bill. This is where we introduce the National Christian Foundation or NCF. The NCF has a history of funding anti-LGBTQ+ organizations and, with regards to the Fellowship, they have funded two groups with close ties: The International Foundation and The Fellowship Foundation. However, we unfortunately do not know how involved specific members of the NCF are with the legislation.

The link between NCF and Chick-fil-A is a funding stream between 2008 and 2011 via Chick-fil-A’s charitable organization, the WinShape Foundation. The WinShape Foundation was founded by Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy. While it’s important to note they are separate entities, as of 2017 the CEO of the WinShape Foundation was Don Cathy, who is also the senior vice president of Chick-fil-A, and its vice president was Dan Cathy who is the CEO of Chick-fil-A. So, it’s safe to say the two entities are closely related. However, recent tax forms indicate the WinShape foundation has not continued to fund the NCF in recent years. Thus, while connections between the WinShape organization and the original Anti-Homosexual bill do exist, nothing seems to indicate that Chick-fil-A had a connection with the most recent push to ratify it.

In conclusion, a minister from Uganda signaled the government’s intent to reintroduce a piece of Anti-Gay legislation, while also being contradicted on the matter by other members of government. Currently, it is unclear what the specific intentions of the Ugandan government are regarding the bill. The NCF has and continues to fund groups that are involved with and support the introduction of anti-gay legislation in Uganda. And finally, Chick-fil-A, via the WinShape Foundation, in part funded the NCF between 2008 and 2011, the period in which the “Kill the Gays” bill was introduced and promoted. Therefore, a substantive connection between Chick-fil-A and the original Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation does exist. Currently there is no evidence to indicate a connection between Chick-fil-A and the most recent push for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.