On Oct. 4, Brian Wasswa was brutally murdered in his home, the Human Rights Watch reported. The 28-year-old Ugandan was an LGBTQ rights activist.
Wasswa is the fourth LGBTQ person murdered in Uganda in recent months.
On Oct. 10, members of the Ugandan Parliament stated the intent to reintroduce a bill that would punish homosexuality, which is already criminalized in Uganda, with the death penalty, Reuters reported. This bill has been colloquially referred to as the “Kill the Gays” bill.
I was terrified to see the indirect role Chick-fil-A, one of the most popular restaurants on campus, plays in propagating this bill.
In 2017, Chick-fil-A donated more than $21 million to the WinShape Foundation, a non-profit organization backing anti-LGBTQ activism globally, Business Insider reported.
WinShape works closely with the National Christian Foundation, an organization that’s donated to anti-LGBTQ causes in Uganda, according to Politifact, a fact-checking resource.
It’s unclear whether Chick-fil-A still donates to these organizations, but the company hasn’t publicly recognized their indirect role in a push for state-sanctioned murder in Uganda, Out Magazine, an LGBTQ magazine, reported.
People tend to separate our spending habits from where our money ends up, but students should use this as an opportunity to rethink their habits.
“I don’t want to be able to say that I give my money to an organization that hates me,” said Leah Bates, a junior biology major and social media coordinator for Temple’s Queer People of Color.
This Ugandan law isn’t new. In 2014, the death penalty bill was presented and declared unconstitutional in Uganda’s Constitutional Court due to a procedural technicality, the New York Times reported.
The bill hadn’t resurfaced until recent calls to action by Ugandan Parliament members, the Guardian reported.
Ugandan Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo told Reuters in October that “homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans.”
Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy espoused similar homophobic comments, too. In 2012, Cathy affirmed that the restaurant chain was “very much supportive of the family, the biblical definition of the family unit,” the Washington Post reported.
It’s upsetting to see the connections of a prominent food establishment on Main Campus to a cause that endorses such damaging values.
“I do feel discouraged by it,” said Solomon Stewart, a sophomore architecture major and events coordinator for QPOC. “We are at a university that roots so much for acceptance and visibility on campus, it’s upsetting knowing that Temple supports a place that’s giving money to a country that’s killing people.”
Chick-fil-A’s homophobia isn’t new either. In 2010, the restaurant chain donated nearly $2 million to anti-LGBTQ groups, including a $1,000 donation to Exodus International, a group advocating for conversion therapy, Vox reported in March.
“People may be aware that Chick-fil-A doesn’t support gay people but I don’t think they’re fully aware of the extent of what Chick-fil-A is doing. They may think Chick-fil-A just doesn’t agree but it goes beyond that,” Stewart added.
Noah Dunsinger, a freshman computer science major, was shocked when he heard about Chick-fil-A’s indirect role in the bill, and goes to the restaurant less as a result.
“At first, I thought it was pretty alarming,” Dunsinger said. “I mean it’s 2019 and we’re doing this still? It kinda speaks to how we choose to spend our money, and it sucks that a company would explicitly go against that [the LGBTQ community], but we have to think more about where our money isgoing.”
When a company has supported practices against our values and encourages violence toward LGBTQ people, we need to be aware of the consequences.
“I try to make it my goal to educate and make [students who eat at Chick-fil-A] aware of what they’re doing so that way they can make decisions for themselves,” Stewart added.
By being aware of what we contribute to, we can make sure our support is going to the places that support us.
“Be intentional with everything you do,” Bates added. “That includes us supporting the businesses that cater to how we are, how we feel, what we look like. Cater to businesses that support you.”