Greg Slater is co-founder with his wife Sharon of Family Watch International, a US group accused of financing propaganda about sexual and gender diversity
A group of human rights organisations in Africa renewed their calls this week for the American multinational Intel Corporation to dismiss a senior employee over his alleged involvement in fanning the growing anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in several countries, including Kenya and Uganda.
In a change.org petition, supported by more than a dozen organisations, the rights groups claim that Greg Slater, Intel’s vice-president of global regulatory affairs, has been “actively responsible for exporting, financing, and spreading hate, homophobia” on the continent for decades, through the American conservative organisation, Family Watch International.
The activists accuse Family Watch International, which is run by Slater’s wife, Sharon, of lobbying high-ranking African leaders and lawmakers to block LGBTQ rights – allegations that have dogged the Slaters for years. The organisation is described as a “hate group” by the US civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Family Watch International has sponsored trips for politicians and diplomats from Kenya, Uganda and other African countries to … train them on their extremist agenda against homosexuality, sexuality education and reproductive rights,” said Jedidah Maina of the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health, the Kenyan non-profit that filed the petition.
“Many of these politicians go on to sponsor or support legislation that seeks to persecute innocent Africans.”
The organisations supporting the petition claim that Family Watch International backed Uganda’s recent anti-gay laws, which were passed in May and decree the death penalty or life imprisonment for certain same-sex acts. They claim that the organisation has been active in other countries such as Ghana and Kenya, which have witnessed moves to introduce similar legislation over the past year – and that Slater’s alleged involvement in “anti LGBTQ+ advocacy” goes against Intel’s public support for LGBTQ+ rights.
Greg Slater and Family Watch International did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but on its website, the organisation categorically denies these claims saying: “Despite media reports to the contrary, Family Watch has never advocated for or lobbied in favour of Uganda’s anti-homosexual bill, nor were we ever involved in promoting Uganda’s previous anti-homosexual bill – in fact, we opposed them both. Family Watch has never supported any efforts in Africa to promote anti-homosexual bills.”
But rights groups insist that the opposite is true. “There is nothing organic about the wave of anti-homosexuality bills we are seeing,” said Muthoni Ngugi, the head of the East Africa Legal Service Network, one of the organisations supporting the petition.
After an inter-parliamentary conference on “family values and sovereignty”, hosted by Family Watch International in Uganda in April, and attended by leaders from 22 African countries – the Kenyan MP Peter Kaluma vowed to table an anti-gay bill in the country’s parliament. Although the bill is still in the “pre-publication scrutiny” phase and is yet to be brought before parliament for debate, it has prompted fears among rights groups.
The east African country witnessed a spike in anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment this year, after a decision by the country’s supreme court judges in February to uphold the right of association for LGBTQ+ organisations. Data shared with the Guardian by the Kenya National Human Rights Commission shows that at least 356 cases of physical, verbal, cyberbullying and death threats to members of the community have taken place in the months since the judgment, and nearly a dozen anti-LGBTQ+ rallies in major cities.
Ngugi said: “Our fear is that with or without a bill … we have seen the harm that [anti-LGBTQ+ narratives] can do, even without a policy, even without a law.”
An Intel spokesperson said: “Intel is deeply committed to diversity and inclusion. We also understand that our employees have diverse opinions and viewpoints. We respect the rights of our employees to disagree with Intel’s policies or undertake outside activities as long as they treat their fellow employees with respect and act in accordance with Intel’s code of conduct.”
Source: The Guardian