Ugandan news source reports on Anti-Homosexuality Bill opposition

The UG Pulse reported this morning on the Facebook group “Speak Out Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.”

Uganda Health News: Activists use facebook to fight Uganda Homosexual bill

Ultimate Media

As the debate over the proposed Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 gains momentum, activists against the bill have launched a facebook group to decampaign the proposed legislation.

The facebook group which was formed by Dr. Warren Throckmorton, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Grove City College had by Saturday Morning reached a membership of 1,130.

Throckmorton says multi-faith, multi-national group of people include mainly evangelical Christians around the world.

Dr. Throckmorton says although many members of the group do not approve of homosexuality, they believe Christianity teaches freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.

Throckmorton says they believe obedience to the gospel which pleases Christ comes from free choice and not from coercion of the state through laws such as the one proposed against homosexuality.

But the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo insists that the government has a duty to introduce and enforce laws against acts of homosexuality or same sex relationships which he says are immoral and against the order of nature.

Click through here to join the group.

Ugandan government vows to fight homosexuality

UPDATE: US Embassy weighs in…

Defiant amidst controversy, Ethics and Integrity Minister Buturo spoke out about issues facing the Ugandan government and referenced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009. 

Government vows to fight homosexuality

By Carolyne Muyama

The Government of Uganda has warned sections of the media engaged in promoting immorality to stop or face penalty. The Bukedde Newspaper one of the local dailies has been singled out for its persistent promotion of pornographic material.

Addressing the press this morning the minister for Ethics and Integrity Hon. Nsaba Buturo said, “Bukedde is a persistent promoter of these vices and if they don’t change the editor will get arrested. As for the radio stations promoting witchcraft we are giving them last warning, we shall close.” Uganda is facing a new trend of crimes like human sacrifice, defilement, pornography and homosexuality.

However, government has sworn to fight these crimes that are mainly attributed to forces of globalization. “Some Ugandans are selfish and they can do anything to get money so they are simply driven by the urge to make money. On certain issues we are not going to sell our souls.

The issue of homosexuality, let them forget,” said Nsaba Buturo. A new law to comprehensively address pornography which is responsible for some of the immorality in the country is before cabinet and very soon it will be put before parliament for debate.

Meanwhile the government has appealed to the media, entertainment industry and the general public to guard against promoting immorality

Ugandan Parliament begins public debate on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

According to this report, religious leaders in Uganda want the death penalty removed from the Anti-Homosexuality Bill but life in prison is still ok with them.

Homosexuals should not be killed but instead imprisoned for life, religious leaders have suggested.

Making their input in the Anti-homosexuality Bill 2009 yesterday, the clergy said the clause on death as a penalty for homosexuality be scrapped.

“If you kill the people, to whom will the message go? We need to have imprisonment for life if the person is still alive,” said Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda.

The group, which also comprised Dr Joseph Kakembo of the Seventh Day Adventist church, Dr Joseph Sserwadda, the head of Pentecostal churches, Prof. Peter Matovu, the Orthodox vicar general of the Orthodox and Sheikh Ali Mohammed, representing the mufti, however, made it clear that they support the Bill, because “homosexuality is an evil and is anti-godly”.

The Bill tabled before Parliament on October 15, by Mr David Bahati [Ndorwa East], and Mr Obua Benson [Moroto], seeks to prohibit any form of sexual relations between same sex people.

Parliament yesterday begun public debates on the Bill, conducted by the committee on presidential affairs.

While it may not alter the outcome, I hope leaders in these religious groups from around the world will weigh in on the situation.

Other religious leaders in Uganda have also spoken against the death penalty. However, jail time is still ok with them as well.

A proposed law that seeks to penalize homosexuality activities in Uganda may have to go back to the drawing board following rejections of some of its sections by religious leaders, especially Catholics, protestants and born again Christians.

The leaders, who met MPs on the Presidential Affairs committee today morning in Kampala notes that some of the clauses in the bill that call for the death penalty are unfair and against the laws of Christianity.

According to the bill, anyone found guilty of aggravated homosexuality against a person below 18 years or infecting them with HIV/AIDS faces death as a penalty.

The Provincial Secretary in the Church of Uganda, Rev. Aaron Mwesigye says that much as homosexuality is an inhumane act against people, Parliament has to follow the natural law of justice.

Rev. Mwesigye says President Museveni’s refusal to assent to the death sentence for prisoners is proof that the penalty is not needed in Uganda.

Join this Facebook group to speak out in opposition to this bill.

The future is now: Ugandan pastors investigated over homosexuality accusations

Under the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009, it would be a crime to know about a homosexual and not report it to authorities.

Here is the relevant section of the bill:

14. Failure to disclose the offence.

A person in authority, who being aware of the commission of any offence under this Act, omits to report the offence to the relevant authorities within twenty-four hours of having first had that knowledge, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years.

A person in authority is defined very broadly in the bill:

“authority” means having power and control over other people because of your knowledge and official position; and shall include a person who exercises religious. political, economic or social authority;

It most certainly would include a pastor, missionary, teacher, a parent or even a friend, if the friend was in a position of authority. This sounds like the definition of a mandated reporter of child abuse in the US.

One can imagine the witch hunts that would occur under this bill. Family members would be under pressure to report their loved ones. Missionaries would face expulsion from the country. AIDS workers would be in conflict between ethics and the law. The work of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) would be significantly hindered by this requirement.

One such scenario is being played out in Uganda now. Bringing irony to the situation is the involvement of Martin Ssempa, a major supporter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009. AllAfrica reports:

Uganda: Police Quiz Pastors Kyaze and Kayira

Steven Candia, 26 October 2009

Kampala — Two pastors at the centre of homosexual allegations against their colleague, Robert Kayira, were yesterday interrogated by the Police on charges of criminal trespass.

Pastor Michael Kyazze and his assistant Robert Kayira of Omega Healing Centre were interrogated at the Kampala Central Police Station.

They were, however, released on Police bond at about 3:00pm and asked to report back today at 11:00am.

Whereas both of them were charged with conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, Kayira was also charged with criminal trespass.

Deputy Kampala Police spokesperson Henry Kalulu was reluctant to talk about the matter.

“What I know is that interrogations are going on,” he said at the weekly press briefing.

The pastors said the sudden turn of events was a travesty of justice.

Kyaze laughed off the charge of criminal trespass, saying it could not stand in relation to a church, which is a public place.

“A church is open to all at all times. I find it funny that someone can be charged with that offence,” Kyazze said.

The pastors were accompanied by Pastor Martin Ssempa of Makerere Community Church and Solomon Male of Arise for Christ.

“I am wondering which is the greater offence, is it the allegation of homosexuality or criminal trespass. What became of the allegations of homosexuality against Kayanja?” Kyazze wondered.

Police sources said Kayira was arrested in April at Kayanja’s Rubaga Cathedral with a laptop, allegedly on a mission to pick incriminating evidence that would pin pastor Kayanja on the homosexual allegations.

Kyazze rubbished the allegations, saying his assistant was not found on the premises of the cathedral.

Ssempa wondered what more proof the Police wanted on the homosexual allegations before they act.

“Did they want the boys the pastor is alleged to have sodomised to first get pregnant before they can believe?” he wondered.

He called for an independent inquiry by Parliament, saying the Police lacked the impartiality to investigate the matter.

Kayira and Kyazze have been at the forefront of the homosexual allegations against Kayanja.

Recently, the Director of Public Prosecution dismissed the allegations against Kayanja and instead directed the Police to investigate the pastors.

It appears that these pastors believe Rev. Kayanja is in need of some jail time. Now clearly if Kayanja has abused children, then he should be brought to justice. However, the young man who initially alleged the abuse has now recanted. And yet, the pastors, Ssempa included, press ahead with the allegations. It is easy to see how “persons in authority” could manufacture charges regarding enemies. In the case above, Ssempa and company are doubting the ability of the police to investigate these cases. What will change if this bill passes?

In this current case, the shoe is on the other foot. I wonder how it fits.

More on the situation is here (the accuser arrested) and here (an interview with Ssempa).

Ugandan coalition speaks out against Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

This morning (afternoon there) a coalition of organizations in Uganda released this statement of opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.

Anti-Homosexuality or Anti-Human Rights Bill?

Statement from the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law

Hon. Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill which was tabled in Parliament on October 14, 2009, and is currently before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament covers much more than the title alone proclaims. A much better title for this bill would have been the ‘Anti Civil Society Bill, the ‘Anti Public Health Bill,’ or the ‘Anti-Constitution Bill.’ Perhaps more simply it should be called the Anti Human Rights Bill. As a matter of fact, this bill represents one of the most serious attacks to date on the 1995 Constitution and on the key human rights protections enshrined in the Constitution including:

• Article 20: Fundamental rights and freedoms are inherent and not granted by the State

• Article 21: Right to Equality and Freedom from discrimination

• Article 22: The Right to Life (the death penalty provisions)

• Article 27: The Right to Privacy

• Article 29: Right to freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association (this includes freedom of speech, Academic freedom and media freedom)

• Article 30: Right to Education

• Article 32: Affirmative Action in favour of marginalised groups and

• Article 36 on the Rights of Minorities

Let us think for a moment of who—quite apart from the homosexuals it claims as its target—this bill puts at risk:

– any parent who does not denounce their lesbian daughter or gay son to the authorities: Failure to do so s/he will be fined Ush 5,000,000/= or put away for three years;

– any teacher who does not report a lesbian or gay pupil to the authorities within 24 hours: Failure to do so s/he will be fined Ush 5,000,000/= or put away for three years in prison;

– any landlord or landlady who happens to give housing to a suspected homosexual risks seven years of imprisonment;

– any Local Council I – V Chairperson or Executive member who does not denounce somebody accused of same-sex attraction or activity risks imprisonment or a heavy fine;

– any medical doctor who seeks to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS through working with what are known as most at risk populations, risks her or his career;

– all civil society leaders, whether in a Community Based Organisation, NGO, or academic institution; if their organisations seek to have a comprehensive position on sexual and reproductive health, they risk seeing their organisations closed down;

– any human rights activist who seeks to promote an understanding of the indivisibility and inalienability of human rights would be judged to be promoting homosexuals and homosexuality, and be punished accordingly;

– any religious leader who seeks to provide guidance and counselling to people who are unsure of their sexuality, would be regarded as promoting homosexuality and punished accordingly;

– any Member of Parliament or other public figure who is sent a pornographic article, picture or video will become vulnerable to blackmail and witch-hunts;

– any media house that publishes ‘pornographic’ materials risks losing its certificate of registration and the editor will be liable to seven years in jail;

– any internet café operator who fails to prevent a customer from accessing a pornographic website, or a dating site, could be accused of ‘participating in the production, procuring, marketing, broadcasting, disseminating and publishing of pornographic materials for purposes of promoting homosexuality’; their business licence could be revoked and they themselves could land in prison.

– any Person alleged to be a homosexual is at risk of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and, in some circumstances, the DEATH PENALTY.

In short, this bill targets everybody, and involves everybody: it cannot be implemented without making every citizen spy on his or her neighbours. The last time this was done was in the Amin era, where everyone very quickly became an ‘enemy of the state’. It amounts to a direct invasion of our homes, and will promote blackmail, false accusations and outright intimidation of certain members of the population. Do Ugandans really want to mimic the practices of the Khartoum regime? Have we already forgotten the sex police of Apartheid South Africa, who smashed their way into people’s bedrooms in an attempt to prevent inter-racial sex?

As Civil Society organisations we condemn all predatory sexual acts (hetero or homosexual) that violate the rights of vulnerable sections of our society such as minors and people with disabilities. However, the Bill lumps “aggravated homosexuality” together with sexual acts between consenting adults in order to whip up sentiments of fear and hatred aimed at isolating sexual minorities. By so doing, the state fails in its duty to protect all its citizens without discrimination.

The bill also asserts Extra Territorial jurisdiction. In other words, all of the offences covered by the bill can be applied to a Ugandan citizen or permanent resident who allegedly commits them outside the country. Thus homosexuality and/or its ‘promotion’ are added to the very short list of offences which fall in the ‘political offences’ category. It joins treason, misprision of treason, and terrorism as offences subject to extra-territorial jurisdiction. Clearly, this is out of all proportion in relation to the gravity of the act.

On top of these day-to-day considerations about everybody’s safety and security, let us consider what this bill will do for civil society organisations in Uganda which seek to have a critical voice and to engage in issues of global concern. One of the objectives of the bill is to prohibit the licensing of organizations which allegedly ‘promote homosexuality.’ Thus, for example, any organisation which talked about anal sex as part of a campaign of HIV prevention can be affected. Had this bill been in place earlier this year, no Ugandan could have participated in the World AIDS meeting held in Mexico to discuss HIV prevention.

And what about our standing in the eyes of the world? The Bill calls for Uganda to nullify any international treaties, protocols, declarations and conventions which are believed to be ‘contradictory to the spirit and provisions’ of the bill. In reality, this would involve Uganda withdrawing from:

• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

• The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its protocols;

• The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;

• The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women;

• The Convention on the Rights of the Child, and

• The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

We note that Uganda is current Chair of the UN Security Council which operates with the UN Charter and UDHR as guiding principles. It is also current Chair of the Commonwealth and a signatory to the African Union’s Constitutive Act which has as its premise the promotion and respect of human rights. In 2009 and 2010 it is hosting AU Summits. What will happen to Uganda’s hard-won role on the global stage if it nullifies its international and regional humanrights commitments? Uganda cannot wish away core human rights principles of dignity, equality and non-discrimination, and all Ugandans will pay a heavy price if this bill is enacted.

We will have bargained away our hard-earned rights and freedoms as well as our right to challenge the State and hold it accountable for the protection of these rights. In sum, the Bahati Bill is profoundly unconstitutional. It is a major stumbling block to the development of a vibrant human rights movement in Uganda, and a serious threat to Uganda’s developing democratic status. If passed, this law would not only prove difficult to implement, it would also consume resources and attention which would be better directed at more pressing issues of human rights abuse, corruption, electoral reform, domestic relations and freedom of the press.

Regardless of our personal moral beliefs and values, we the undersigned organisations are standing up in defence of Democracy, our Constitution and its enshrined principles of human dignity, equality, freedom and justice for all.

Kampala, 23 October 2009

• African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF)

• Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

• Advocates for Public International Law in Uganda (APILU)

• Center for Land Economy and Rights of Women (CLEAR-Uganda)

• Centre for Women in Governance (CEWIGO)

• Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA)

• East & Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

• Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-U)

• Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE)

• Human Rights Awareness & Promotion Forum

• Human Rights & Peace Centre (HURIPEC), Faculty of Law, Makerere University

• Integrity Uganda

• International Refugee Rights Initiative

• Mentoring and Empowerment Programme for Young Women (MEMPROW)

• MIFUMI Project

• National Association of Women’s Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU)

• National Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (NACWOLA)

• Refugee Law Project (RLP), Faculty of Law, Makerere University

• National Guidance & Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NGEN+)

• Spectrum Uganda

• Uganda Feminist Forum

• Women’s Organisation & Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA)

For further information please contact the coalition at kalendenator@gmail.com

Ugandan blogger: Anti-homosexuality bill tabled until January, 2010

Blogger Gay Uganda reports on a public television talk show in Uganda featuring the member of parliament who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 (David Bahati) and Pastor Martin Ssempa.

GU noted:

Oh, and I gathered from MP Bahati that the bill has been scheduled to be brought back in Jan 2010. Parliament was too busy, just now, to handle the important matter of the Anti- Homosexuality bill. Apparently it is very, very far ahead in the future, but that gives you time to check in with your MP and tell them how much you support the Bahati Bill.

Gay Uganda also described in detail the appearance of Martin Ssempa. The blogger said that Ssempa is squarely behind the bill and believes any legislator who votes against it is pro-gay. According the GU, Ssempa issued warnings:

  • Warning all Ugandan politicians. this is the time to get off the fence about homosexuality. You are either pro or anti-homosexual. No middle ground.
  • If you dont support the bill, political suicide. Because Ugandans support the bill.
  • Ssempa appears to be taking the lead on the support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

  • He has formed a new organisation (must have a conglomerate by now) called the Family Policy Centre.
  • He gave the phone number, and his email address ssempam@gmail.com for anyone with questions.
  • And, he told people to send him money.
  • American Christians have some culpability for this situation by going to Uganda and failing to speak against this error. American Christians need to step up and speak now. I call upon those supporting Ugandan Christian groups to work with their Ugandan brethren to withdraw this bill.

    For more information, join this Facebook group.

    Pentecostal Christians join Muslims against gays

    I missed this when it first was announced in July, 2009:

    Muslims Join Pastors in Gay Fight

    Kampala — Muslims have teamed up with their counterparts from the Pentecostal churches to fight homosexuality. The leader of the Muslim Tabliqs, Sheikh Sulaiman Kakeeto, said the issue of homosexuality affects all people regardless of their religious affiliations.

    “We have decided to make a bond with our fellow religious leaders to fight homosexuality,” Sheikh Kakeeto said at the launch of a campaign dubbed ‘The National Coalition against Homosexuality and Sexual Abuses in Uganda’ in Kampala on Wednesday. “We want to work together and eliminate sodomy and other forms of sexual abuses in our society.”

    The two groups signed an agreement to guide their operations. Sheikh Kakeeto and Sheikh Muhammad Badru, the chairman the National Da’awa Association, signed on behalf of Muslims while pastors Michael Kyazze (Omega Healing Centre), Martin Ssempa (Makerere Community Church) and Solomon Male (Arising for Christ) signed on behalf of born again Christians. Sheikh Kakeeto called on the government to strengthen the law on homosexuality and incarcerate those caught in the act.

    Pastor Ssempa said the coalition intends to embark on a campaign to sensitise communities about “the dangers of homosexuality.” “We shall offer counselling, legal and material support to the affected people,” he said.

    Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda.

    What is wrong with this picture? Apparently, more than the Family Life Network is involved. Ssempa was the spokesperson for another group called the Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality which rallied against gays in 2007. Ssempa has been repeatedly connected to Rick Warren’s Saddleback church and is a campaigner for abstinence programming. I have contacted both Saddleback and Pastor Ssempa to find out their view of the new bill. I did hear from their representatives last night that a statement may be coming soon.

    Ugandan travelogue from Caleb Brundidge and the International Healing Foundation

    Back in the Spring, I reported on an ex-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda and hosted by Family Life Network (see links at the end of this post). Three Americans spoke by invitation of the FLN – Don Schmierer, Caleb Brundidge and Scott Lively.

    ugandabrundidge

    (L to R, unknown woman, Scott Lively, Caleb Brundidge, Don Schmierer, Stephen Langa).

    At the time, Schmierer and Lively received much critical attention for their presentations but the role of the International Healing Foundation and Caleb Brundidge went largely under the radar. No one from IHF, including Brundidge commented on the Ugandan trip at the time. However, Brundidge has broken his silence in the most recent IHF newsletter available on Richard Cohen’s website. Given the recent introduction of a bill in Uganda which would impose the death penalty on some offenses involving homosexuality and dramatically suppress free speech and assembly, it is appropriate to examine how IHF portrayed the conference and effects to the organization’s constituents.

    brundidge

    Note that Cohen bills the trip to Uganda as a mission trip and seems proud of being represented there by Brundidge. As noted here and in footage provided by ExGayWatch, Cohen’s materials have been used by the group which convened after the ex-gay conference. 

    According to a report from an unidentified person in the ex-gay conference, Brundidge supported the continued criminalization of homosexuality.When he was asked by someone in the crowd: “Do you feel it is okay to decriminalise homosexuality?” he did not speak against it, instead indicating

    That for the law to be effective, one must be caught in the Act. Laws should be done through a value of standards from which legislators draw a given law.

    I am not sure what the last sentence means. While this may not be what Brundidge said, he has not replied to requests to describe what he said in Uganda.

    However, in the IHF newsletter, he referred to the repressive situation in Uganda.

    My trip was extremely busy and event filled. Here is a brief synopsis of what took place: My first engagement was to give a brief two to five minute testimony to the Ugandan Parliament.

    Believe it or not, in present-day Uganda, homosexual behavior is either punishable by life in prison or death! Also pornography is illegal. The members of parliament are being pressured by Western and European sources to make pornography and homosexuality legal. Yes, homosexual behavior is incompatible with God’s Word, however, we tried to make them understand that there are definite causes for someone’s same-sex attraction (SSA), and therefore, change and transformation are possible. Our efforts were to help them understand a more compassionate response to anyone who experiences SSA.

    While he says now that he advocated for compassion, I cannot find a clear statement that he opposed criminalization. Elsewhere in the article, Brundidge said:

    One thing that God showed me while there is that many people are suffering in silence because of their SSA. As I mentioned, homosexual behavior is illegal and punishable by life in prison or even death. They have fear to go. On the other hand, the word is out on the street to the young people: If you want to make good money, pretend to be “gay.”

    Reading the entire account, I don’t get the impression that Brundidge or Cohen would support death for homosexuals. However, there is little indication that they comprehend the dire situation there. Brundidge ends his account with a surreal appeal for more money.

    I would like to thank those who supported my mission to Uganda. Please know that the work of IHF is being carried into all corners of the world. We so appreciate your contributions to keep hope alive!

    On the contrary, the situation now is more dangerous and less conducive to hope than when Brundidge went to Uganda. Instead of appeals for money, I hope that IHF will issue an appeal to their Ugandan hosts to defeat the proposed bill.

    Additional links:

    Uganda’s strange ex-gay conference

    More on the Ugandan ex-gay conference

    Ugandan ex-gay conference goes political: Presenter suggests law to force gays into therapy

    Reparative therapy takes center stage at Ugandan homosexuality conference

    Gay Ugandan man seeks asylum in UK: EU group condemns Ugandan ex-gay conference

    Open forum: Report from the Ugandan conference on homosexuality

    Christian Post article on the Ugandan ex-gay conference

    Scott Lively on criminalization and forced therapy of homosexuality

    Christianity, homosexuality and the law

    Uganda anti-gay group holds first meeting

    Follow the money: Pro-family Charitable Trust

    NARTH removes references to Scott Lively from their website

    Aftermath of the Ugandan conference on homosexuality

    Uganda: The other shoe drops