Ugandan gay groups issue statement opposing sexual abuse and exploitation of minors

The supporters of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 often say that restrictions are needed on homosexuality because gays seek to recruit children into sex. I asked Val Kalende for a comment on these allegations and she sent this statement in the form of an official policy statement.

Note that this statement makes clear that the homosexual community as represented by this statement oppose coercion and recruitment of children into sexual activities. Also note that existing law punishes those who engage in sexual activities with minors, whether the offense is against a girl or a boy. These persons agree with the need to impose penalties on sexual abuse and exploitation of minors.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FREEDOM AND ROAM UGANDA STATEMENT ON SEXUAL ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION OF MINORS.

Our movement recognizes violence, harassment and sexual abuse of minors as violation of human rights.  As a  movement of people who stand for social justice, we express profound dismay at any form of sexual abuse whether hetero or homosexual.

We share Hon. David Bahati’s desires as expressed in the preamble of Bill 18:

  1. To strengthen the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the family unit.  It is nevertheless important to point out that most of these can hardly be realized through the regulatory mechanism of the law.
  2. To protect the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, particularly the positive aspects of it.
  3. To protect Ugandan children and youth who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation—whether hetero or homosexual.

However, while we agree that we must seek ways of dealing with issues that threaten our families, we do not agree that consensual adult homosexual relationships is one of those issues.  It is therefore our humble opinion that the Bill be unpacked and scrutinized so as to avoid a law that will be used to discriminate people who are not harming anyone. There is need to separate the concept of consensual sex and non-consensual sex. In other words, we implore Hon. Bahati to withdraw his private members Bill in its entirety. As Professor Ogenga Latigo, the Leader of the Opposition said of this ´kill-the-gays´ Bill, “we cannot plunge into a legislative process before looking at what is happening, the facts and what the trends are”. 

Homosexuals form a small group of people who, when people feel vulnerable, are blamed for all society’s problems. Gays have been blamed for the spread of HIV, including certain government officials saying ´Gays are not Government? priority in the fight against HIV & AIDS.´ Let it be understood: it’s not homosexuality that spreads AIDS; it is the culture that brutalizes gay men and forces them underground that spreads AIDS. To blame the spread of HIV on a minority group of people is burying our heads in the sand and failing to deal with the real problem facing our country.

Homosexuals are not the rapists and child molesters who pounce on unsuspecting family members. Research shows that over 50% of child sexual abuse reports involve children below the age of 10, and the perpetrators are heterosexual men. (Study cited in Uganda Youth Development Link, Report on Sectoral Study on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Uganda, Commissioned by the International Labour Organisation and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development- January 2004)

The 2006 national study on Domestic Violence by Law Reform Commission confirmed that 66% domestic violence (2006 national study on Domestic Violence of people in all regions of Uganda reported that Domestic Violence occured in their homes and the majority of the perpertratpors were ´male heads of household´. ( See Law Reform Commission, A Study Report on Domestic Violence, April 2006 at p.112)

The millions of Ugandan children orphaned by HIV & AIDS.  The Uganda Aids Commission puts the cumulative number of orphans due to AIDS at 2 million. Homosexuals are not largely responsible for these figures since they are not considered as people who procreate. 

In addressing what Pastor Martin Ssempa and his group are peddling as ´Public Outcry´, first and foremost it is not true that the Penal Code provision on ´Aggravated Defilement´ does not cover abused boys. Section 129 (3)  clearly  says: ´Any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen years commit a felony called aggravated defilement´. It does not limit the legal protection to girls.

As a movement, we respect and value the rights of all human beings regardless of who they are, who they have sex with and how they have sex. We SHALL be behind any efforts seeking to curb sexual abuse against minors just as we are committed to supporting any efforts seeking to curtail sexual abuse against curative rape against lesbians, and the unrealistic religious fundamentalist agenda that seeks to demonize homosexual abuses over heterosexual abuses.

As Freedom and Roam Uganda we: 

  1. Totally oppose the Bill as a whole and therefore calls for its complete withdrawal.
  2. Do not support amendment of the Bill.
  3. Support criminalization of non-consensual sex, for example, rape and paedophilia, whether homosexual or heterosexual.
  4. Oppose the criminalisation of consensual sex between adults of sound mind.
  5. The Penal code should be amended to draw an effective distinction between consensual sex and non-consensual sex.

ISSUED BY:

Freedom and Roam Uganda- FARUG

Freedom and Roam Uganda is a member organisation of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’s organisations based in Uganda.

For further details, contact:

Val Kalende

Freedom and Roam Uganda

Email: kalendenator@gmail .com

Frank Mugisha

Sexual Minorities Uganda

Email: fmugisha@sexualminoritiesuganda.org

It is wrong to conflate private adult homosexual conduct and sexual coercion or recruitment of minors. This statement is very clear that these groups oppose recruitment and oppose anyone of any sexual orientation who targets boys or girls.

The New York Times finally gets around to covering the Ugandan ex-gay conference

The rest of the world has been talking about it for months. Finally, the New York Times decides to report.

Lots of old ground was covered but there is a some new quotes from Exodus board member, Don Schmierer.

“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.

“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

The first clue should have been involvement with International Healing Foundation and Scott Lively but that is water long under the bridge.  The other two Americans are cited but with no new interviews.

One activist puts into words what many of us warned about in March.

“What these people have done is set the fire they can’t quench,” said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.

Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans “underestimated the homophobia in Uganda” and “what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families.”

“When you speak like that,” he said, “Africans will fight to the death.”

Scott Lively’s protests that he had nothing to do with the harshness of the bill must be evaluated in light of Kaoma’s observations. When you tell an audience that gays caused World War II and assorted other atrocities (e.g., Columbine, Rwanda, etc.), you should not be surprised when the audience becomes hostile. It is like yelling fire in a theatre and wondering why people get trampled in the rush. It is called “inciting a riot.” 

When it comes to homosexuality, Uganda already has several riot inciters so the role of the Americans was to add a perception of credibility and urgency. What would really be helpful is for the three to say directly to the Ugandan people: we were wrong in what we told you. Gays didn’t cause the holocaust, they aren’t ill people who will respond to a forced cure and they aren’t the cause of all your problems. Disagree on the moral questions if that is your conviction but for the sake of Christ, do it agreeably.

NOTE: The NYT published a companion article titled “Gay in Uganda and Feeling Hunted.”

Anti-gay sentiments are one thing, and hardly unique to Uganda. But what seems different here is the level of official, government-sponsored anti-gay hate speech.

“I detest gays in my heart,” said Kassiano E. Wadri, a member of Parliament and the chief whip of the opposition. “When I see a gay, I think that person needs psychotherapy. You need to break him.”

It’s no surprise, then, that many homosexual people here insisted on being interviewed anonymously, including one car salesman who goes by Bob. He lost his job working in a hotel a few years ago after the Red Pepper, a Ugandan tabloid, published a list of names of homosexuals, including his.

2009: Top ten stories

In the past, I have done a lengthly review. No time for that this year, so here goes…

1. Uganda‘s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – What else? Click the link to read all of the posts on the top two stories, including several exclusive stories and interviews. This guest post by author Jeff Sharlet is one of the most visited posts ever. This story may be the #1 story in 2010 as well. Check out the Facebook group, now with nearly 14,000 members.

2. Uganda’s ex-gay conference – The March conference did not create the Anti-homosexuality Bill but it seems to have been a strategic move by organizers to create  a perception that the bill was needed.

3. APA Task Force report – The American Psychological Association released the long awaited report on therapeutic responses involving sexual orientation. The report recognized the difference between sexual orientation and sexual orientation identity, noted the importance of religious congruence in therapy and cited the sexual identity therapy framework favorably. A nice Wall Street Journal article featuring my work on sexual identity therapy was one result.

4. Kevin Jennings controversy – What goes around comes around. At least in the case of my reporting on Obama’s Department of Education appointee, Kevin Jennings, the old saying seems true. An audio mp3 of Mr. Jennings in 2000 disclosing a meeting with who he said at the time was a 15 year old student was on my website long before he was appointed to the administration.  The matter became a major political story which continues to the present and led to a statement from Mr. Jennings that he should have handled the situation with Brewster/Robertson (his student) differently.

5. Golden Rule Pledge – Another issue, another Facebook group. The annual Day of Silence brought another call from far right social conservative groups to boycott schools. Some evangelical students chose to participate in the Golden Rule Pledge or join with same-sex attracted students in pledging a safe school.

6. The Pink Swastika – An offshoot of reporting on the Uganda ex-gay conference was an exploration of the claims of Scott Lively that homosexuality animated the German Nazi party during WWII. Aided by Grove City College historian, J.D. Wynekin, I did multiple posts exposing the factual errors and misleading aspects of the book, The Pink Swastika. In the process, NARTH, Exodus, and Campus Crusade for Christ pulled web references to The Pink Swastika and Mr. Lively’s theories.

7. Change versus congruence – A repeated discussion on the blog relates to useful paradigm’s in sexual identity ministry. Should change of orientation be the focus of a Christian approach or should congruence of behavior with chosen beliefs be the focus? A popular post which triggered much conversation was a reflection on the APA sexual orientation report, “Thoughts on the status of the Reorientation Wars.”

8. The brief love affair of the Christian right with Carrie Prejean – I had a hard time understanding it and said so.

9. Mankind Project goes transparent – As the result of reporting by the Houston Press and here and elsewhere, the Mankind Project decided to reveal more of what takes place during the New Warriors Training Adventure. The info is still buried deeply on their website but there has been some movement toward letting people know what they are getting into before they attend.

10. Research reports- This is a category which acknowledges that when research comes along, I try to get a closer look with occasional interviews which feature prominent researchers (e.g., J. Michael Bailey). Also, important to me is an ongoing focus on reparative drive theory and the problems with it.

There were other popular posts including David Blakeslee’s “What Happened Yesterday” (about the Fort Hood shootings) that don’t rise to the level of these stories for this blog either because I didn’t cover it or because it was an isolated post. I considered the Ohio voter fraud story for the top ten since I broke a lot of that material in 2008 but there was little interest in it when the convictions came down.

So what did I miss? Happy 2010!