Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Classical WMUK 89.9-FM is operating at reduced power. Listeners in parts of the region may not be able to receive the signal. It can still be heard at 102.1-FM HD-2. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working to restore the signal to full power.

OutFront calls on Congressman Tim Walberg to clarify his stance on Uganda's antigay law

Representative Tim Walberg wears a black suit, faded blue undershirt and red tie with white spots as he gives a speech. He sits in a white chair, a few blurred out heads are in the foreground of the photo. A light brown wall with a sporadic brush pattern lays behind Walberg.
Joshua Bickel
Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., speaks during an event at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

In a speech recorded by UBC Television Uganda, Walberg made a joke about gender identity and urged Ugandans to support their president.

In May of last year, Uganda criminalized same-sex relationships, even prescribing the death penalty in some cases.

In October, 5th district representative Tim Walberg visited the country and gave a speech during a National Prayer Breakfast.

“President Museveni needs a nation that stands with him and says, 'though the rest of the world is pushing back on you. Though there are other major countries that are trying to get into you and ultimately change you. Stand firm,'” Walberg said.

He also suggested that Uganda was defending, quote, “the values that God created” and followed this with a joke about gender identity.

“If I could decide what I want to be, what gender whatever it is, I'd be a yellow Labrador Retriever,” Walberg said.

After news of the speech broke in the US last month, Walberg’s office said the congressman never endorsed Uganda’s antigay law.

Outfront Kalamazoo director Tracy Hall said Walberg owes it to the many LGBTQ+ community members he represents to directly condemn it.

“There is this concern of trying to have it both ways," Hall said. "That's why I think one of the best things that he can do, and it would be nice if all 535 members of Congress did this to come out and condemn these anti LGBTQ laws.”

In an email to WMUK, Walberg’s office said the representative opposes criminalizing homosexuality. It did not respond to multiple requests to clarify Walberg’s stance on Uganda’s law.

Michael Symonds reports for WMUK through the Report for America national service program.

Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.