By James Finn | NEW YORK – Shortly after Ugandan lawmakers passed a “life in prison” law for homosexuality, and as they debated reinstating the death penalty, a Bronx Democrat politician and Christian pastor named Fernando Cabrera visited and praised them for their fight against homosexuality, saying that all government officials must first be servants of the Christian God.
- Cabrera has made it clear that he supports tough criminal penalties for gay people.
- Cabrera has made it clear that he opposes the separation of church and state.
- Cabrera has made it clear that religious diversity is not what his God wants.
- Cabrera endorsed dangerously ignorant claims about HIV, directly opposite to reality, say public health experts, which help encourage the spread of HIV. (For more on Cabrera’s dangerous HIV claims, see the additional content at the bottom of this article.)
Will Cabrera bring his dangerous views to the New York government? It sounds absurd, but the answer seems to be yes.
New York Mayor Eric Adams insists on giving Cabrera a job in his administration
Not long ago, the newly elected Democratic mayor offered to appoint Cabrera, a fellow Democrat and former Bronx councilman, to head the mayor’s office of community mental health.
LGBTQ activists have cried bloody murder.
Cabrera publicly promotes the misconception that homosexuality is a mental illness. How could he possibly serve as a leader for NYC’s mental health communities?
What was the mayor thinking?
After several days of harsh criticism, Adams withdrew his proposal. But he hadn’t finished. He called on Cabrera to join a new Office of Faith and Community Partnership as “an intermediary between the city government, the New York City faith community, and the nonprofit organization[s].”
LGBTQ Activists, Politicians and Christian Leaders Cry Bloody Murder Again
Allen Roskoff, a longtime gay rights activist and Democratic Party organizer, joined a wide range of Democrats, including many religious leaders, in expressing his shock, saying Cabrera serving in faith-based government office is “just as unacceptable as him as head of the Mental Health Bureau.”
“How will he treat LGBTQ people of faith? How will he manage a homosexual synagogue? How will he deal with Catholic homosexuals? What is this mayor thinking? Does he have no consideration for us? It’s a big FU for the LGBTQ community.“
Equality New York asked members “to let Mayor Adams know that we will not accept any anti-LGBTQI people anywhere in government here in New York.”
Brooklyn council member Chi Ossé, a member of the LGBT caucus, said gay city news he strongly opposes any faith-based role for Cabrera: “The Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships offers a powerful opportunity to build bridges between communities and strengthen the bonds of our proudly diverse city. Mr. Cabrera’s story unfortunately demonstrates that he is unfit for this role.
Adams is not backing down. The implications are frightening.
A source told the Daily News he was in the room when gay senator Brad Hoylman angrily confronted Adams about Cabrera. The source says the mayor has vowed not to change his mind, saying, “It’s his administration and he can do whatever he wants.”
Is this Democratic Party move the LGBTQ people’s worst nightmare coming true?
We are used to opposition to equality from the Republican Party, especially now that Trumpism dominates and queer people are centered in a political target. We know a backlash is occurring among conservatives trying to roll back progress, especially at the state and local levels.
We know that parents demand books about us and that we are removed from school curricula and libraries, often under the slightest of pretexts of “sexual content”.
We know that queer life in red states is getting harder, especially for transgender people. We know young gay men of all colors of the rainbow are suffering from increasing rates of bullying and are calling mental health crisis lines like Project Trevor in unprecedented numbers.
The only thing we thought we could count on was the support of the Democratic Party
I don’t claim the sky is falling. New York politics is a bit strange. A Democratic mayor is not necessarily a traditional Democrat. Adams’ support for Cabrera could be a unique and bizarre effect of city politics. Or not.
Adams is a savvy politician.
If he thinks he can push through Cabrera’s nomination despite organized Democratic opposition — and it looks like he will — then he must believe Democratic voters will end up supporting him.
It’s the nightmare.
If Adams is right, he may have just normalized homophobia within the Democratic Party.
Cabrera’s stances reveal that he is profoundly ignorant when it comes to HIV politics, dangerously anti-American in his rejection of the ideals of secular government, anti-Christian in his embrace of harsh punishment for gay people, and utterly inappropriate. to be a leader of the Democratic Party. .
Cabrera’s views align point by point with those of Trump’s radical Republicans.
I don’t know much about Mayor Adams except that many New York Democrats are suspicious of his conservative policies, but if he insists on appointing a reactionary anti-LGBTQ religious fanatic to his administration, then gay people’s worst nightmares have begun to come true. .
Will American politics continue to reflect a backlash against acceptance and equality? Will the Democratic Party no longer be welcoming or safe for LGBTQ people?
The jury is out. Stay tuned.
Additional content: Details on Cabrera’s misrepresentations about HIV in Uganda —
Fernando Cabrera is completely wrong that Uganda’s “Christian” government has reduced HIV infection rates, which remain among the highest in Africa. In the video where Cabrera praised Uganda’s harsh anti-homosexuality laws, he claimed Ugandan Christian leadership was responsible for a dramatic reduction in HIV cases, saying the reduction happened, “because the righteous are in power”.
His assertion is dangerously counterfactual.
People in Uganda have suffered from HIV/AIDS at higher rates than people in any other African country except South Africa. During the period that Cabrera talked about in his speech, HIV infection rates were increasing, not decreasing as he claimed.
Public health authorities like the NCBI and WHO cite Ugandan government policies stigmatizing sex work and criminalizing homosexuality as main driving factors. The whole picture is complex, but pan-African health authorities say that to date the Ugandan government is not effectively managing the HIV crisis. Infection rates are not falling like in most other African countries – like in South Africa where they are now dropping dramatically.
Cabrera’s claims in his speech echo claims Ugandan leaders were making then and continue to make, frustrating international and pan-African efforts to contain HIV on the continent.
For more details, click on this link.
James Finn is a former Air Force intelligence analyst, longtime LGBTQ activist, alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, frequent columnist for LA Blade, contributor to other LGBTQ media and an “agent” but unpublished novelist. . Send questions, comments and story ideas to [email protected]
The previous article was previously published by Prism & Pen – Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished with permission.