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NOM, FRC oppose Obama’s international efforts on equality issues

A handful of religious right groups are criticizing the Obama administration’s role in urging countries doing business with the United States to ease up on their laws criminalizing gays and lesbians. The National Organization for Marriage took issue with a LGBT rights meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, and the Family Research Council is urging its members to pray that the Obama administration stops its pressure on the southeast African nation of Malawi to liberalize its policies against gays and lesbians.

FRC blamed gays for the spread of HIV in Malawi, despite evidence to the contrary.

“African nations are warring to contain homosexuality’s spread because it is morally taboo, and has had a devastating impact upon Africans,” FRC said in its prayer alert on Monday. “Two thirds of all reported AIDS cases world-wide (24 of 36 million) have been in Sub-Saharan Africa. Amid this, the Obama administration is pushing homosexuality, using taxpayer dollars.”

But, according to USAID, the vast majority of HIV infections can be traced to heterosexual activity.

“The primary mode of HIV transmission in Malawi is heterosexual contact. Information about the proportion of infections among men having sex with men (MSM) is limited, as homosexual contact is illegal in the country,” USAID wrote in a recent report on HIV in Malawi. The report went on to say that heterosexual practices involving young women are driving that nation’s epidemic.

“HIV prevalence among young women (15 to 24 years old) in Malawi is 9 percent, more than four times the prevalence among men of a similar age (2 percent). The United Nations Development Assistance Framework reports that the continuing rise in HIV infection rates among young people, particularly girls, is due to several psychosocial and economic factors, including cultural/sexual initiation practices that often expose young girls to HIV.”

FRC is upset that the Obama administration threatened to withhold $350 million in foreign aid if the country did not change its laws that imprison gays and lesbians.

“The U.S. government has become the chief player in efforts to promote homosexuality and homosexual rights overseas,” FRC wrote and then offered this prayer to its followers. “May God restrain the Obama administration from promoting the LGBT agenda at home and abroad. May He give targeted nations courage to withstand U.S. coercion! Forgive us for this evil (Ps 94:16; Is 3:9-15; Jer 7:3-11; Lk 17:2; Rom 1:32; Jas 3:13-18; Jude 7).”

Malawi, like the FRC, is mainly conservative Christian in nature.

Also on Monday, NOM posted a message on its blog critical of the U.S. State Department for hosting a LGBT rights meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.

NOM asked, “Will Hillary’s Pakistani Gay Rights Meeting Sponsor More Terrorism?

“Pakistan is not happy about a U.S. embassy-sponsored gay rights meeting, calling it second only to a military drone strike as an attack on Pakistan,” NOM wrote. “We do not concur, but we worry about our embassy’s priorities. Is this worth breaking an alliance or spurring more terrorism? Is Pakistan our business on this issue? America less than 20 years ago decriminalized homosexuality. Can we not allow cultures to evolve?”

The efforts by the Obama administration, in particular Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to encourage nations doing business with the United States to drop laws that imprison or execute gays and lesbians has drawn fire from the religious right in the past.

The conservative Christian-based Institute on Religion and Democracy derided Clinton in January saying that decriminalizing homosexuality is a violation of “religious freedom.”

That’s a charge that’s also being lodged by Catholic groups who worry that decriminalization and acceptance of gays and lesbians abroad could lead to gay marriage and gay adoption.

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