Councilman Fernando Cabrera was recently in the African country on a humanitarian mission, and he taped himself praising the government there for adhering to Christian principles. Uganda has come under fire recently for passing strict anti-homosexuality laws.
Engaging in homosexual acts is punishable by life in prison. The original proposal in Uganda called for the death penalty, but it was scaled back.
“Godly people are in government," Cabrera says in the video. "Gay marriage is not accepted in this country.”
Cabrera, who is a pastor, also commended the government for adhering to its stance on the issue even when faced with the threat of having its U.S. aid pulled. He says the country's economy is booming because the “righteous are ruling.”
Of course, these comments didn't sit too well with many of Cabrera's colleagues in the City Council, especially those that are, in fact, gay.
“If we lived in the Uganda that Mr. Cabrera praises in this video, all six of us would be in jail serving lifetime prison sentences purely on account of our sexuality,” six gay council members wrote in a statement. “There’s nothing moral or Christian about that; it’s hateful, discriminatory, and just plain wrong.”
The council members were Jimmy Van Bramer and Daniel Dromm from Queens, Brooklyn's Carlos Menchaca, Corey Johnson and Rosie Mendez of Manhattan, and Ritchie Torres from the Bronx.
Cabrera's comments, which were first reported in Crain's, come at a particularly awkward time as he is not only a sitting City Council member, but he is also challenging Gustavo Rodriguez for a State Senate seat in the Bronx.
Cabrera defended himself, stating that he never explicitly supported the Ugandan government's policy toward homosexuality, but merely praises the country's leaders for adhering to Christian values.
“I do not support the persecution of gays and lesbians anywhere, whether it's in Uganda or right here in New York State,” he said in a statement.
Speaking of Cabrera's run for the State Senate, on Tuesday he showed up at his local polling place - presumably to vote for himself unless he had a change of heart and was as disgusted by his comments as his fellow elected officials and advocacy groups and instead planned to vote for his opponent - but there was one little snag.
Cabrera's name may have been on the ballot, but his name wasn't in the poll book – two pages were missing. Cabrera could have voted by affidavit, but instead opted to wait for a new poll book to be delivered, which it was shortly after the problem was reported. But Cabrera said the mix-up raises serious red flags about the process, and called for an immediate investigation.
"The right to vote has been achieved at a great price,” he wrote to the city Board of Elections. “It is to be safeguarded for all of our citizens, irrespective of their race or ethnicity."
Notice that he left out “sexuality.”