David Bahati denied entrance to Washington DC conference

Doug Hadden, spokesman for the International Consortium of Governmental Financial Management, just informed me that David Bahati, author of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill attempted to enter the financial management conference this morning, saying:

He arrived mid morning and was informed of the decision. It turns out that we didn’t have his proper e-mail address for his phone. There was a frank but calm discussion and Mr. Bahati was not able to enter the building.

Mr. Hadden is referring to the decision to bar Bahati from the ICGFM conference going on now in Washington, DC.

Martin Ssempa resigns from the Oral Roberts University Board of Reference

Back in January, I noted that Martin Ssempa, at the time the most vocal pastoral supporter of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, was a member of the Board of Reference at Oral Roberts University. At the time, the school had no comment about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill or Rev. Ssempa’s controversial public pornography displays.

Recently, Change.org crafted a petition delivered to ORU asking them to denounce the anti-gay effort. This petition and another article were triggered by Ssempa’s involvement in campaigns of outing gays published in the Ugandan tabloids, Rolling Stone and the Campus Nail.

Earlier today, ORU Director of Public Relations Jeremy Burton sent an email with this simple message:

I wanted to let you know that Martin Ssempa has resigned from the ORU Board of Reference.

I followed up with questions about the timing and circumstances of the resignation but Mr. Burton has not replied as yet.

Kenyan Prime Minister calls for arrests of gays

According to this report, Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Sunday that homosexuals should be arrested.

Mr Odinga on Sunday said that police should arrest anyone found engaging in such behaviours and take appropriate legal action against them.

“We will not tolerate such behaviours in the country. The constitution is very clear on this issue and men or women found engaging in homosexuality will not be spared,” Mr Odinga said.

“Any man found engaging in sexual activities with another man should be arrested. Even women found engaging in sexual activities will be arrested,” the premier warned.

Speaking at a public rally at the Kamukunji grounds in his Nairobi’s Kibera constituency on Sunday afternoon, the Prime Minister cited the recent population census results which put the ratio of men to women equal and wondered why people should engage in homosexuality.

Odinga is no stranger to controversy. He and current President Kibaki agreed to a power sharing agreement after a disputed presidential election in 2007. Violence following the disputed results left thousands dead and many more displaced. He once claimed to be a cousin of President Obama but Odinga offered no evidence. Last year, Kenya launched a census of gays in order to aid HIV/AIDS treatment. At the time, gays were afraid to come forward. Now it is understandable why they would be.
….
According to this Unificationist church website, Odinga welcomed Moon’s church to Kenya for their Global Peace Festival.

The silence from Las Vegas continues…

No huge news here, just been thinking about why the Las Vegas press has not written one word about the connection of Canyon Ridge Christian Church to the international story of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Today, I was contacted by a Finnish writer and yesterday alerted that the BBC is investigating the matter yet again and may be in touch. Most American and many European news organizations have covered the story extensively. NPR and Salon have addressed the Canyon Ridge connection but only one story has emerged in Vegas from an alternative paper, and that one messed up the facts of the bill.

I am aware from those close to the situation that reporters from all the papers and the networks have been made aware of the situation. NPR-Nevada devoted a segment to the matter but I am pretty sure that is all. The church was dropped by the largest health and AIDS groups in town, the church supports a bill mentioned by the President and Secretary of State during the National Prayer Breakfast and the local press overlooks it.

And so the misrepresentation continues. CRCC leaders told their congregants that the bill has been misrepresented in the press and the Las Vegas press has not done anything to investigate that charge. Even one local GLB group has been silent. Yesterday, Michael Bussee asked the Human Rights Campaign – Las Vegas on their Facebook page why they have not spoken out. Good question. As yet, no reply has been offered.

In any event, the foreign press continue to be intrigued by the varying responses of Las Vegas evangelicals to the Ugandan bill, even if Las Vegas news organizations are not.

Martin Ssempa’s campus group dropped from AIDS grant in 2007

 Back in June, I posted several articles which described events in 2007 which were prologue to the introduction of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. One August, 2007 article described an anti-gay rally organized by Martin Ssempa and his views on gays and AIDS programs:

“Homosexuals should absolutely not be included in Uganda’s HIV/AIDS framework. It is a crime, and when you are trying to stamp out a crime you don’t include it in your programmes,” Ssempa said.

These events led to an article by Scott Long, Director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch detailing the threats to HIV treatment and human rights in Uganda. Ssempa then responded to the article in an editorial where he said:

First you [Scott Long] talked about our church, Makerere Community Church, as a recipient of PEPFAR HIV/AIDS funding. The fact is that Makerere Community Church has never received funding.

I found that to be a curious statement since his church is listed as a subpartner on the PEPFAR website for 2004 and then again in PEPFAR grant documents for 2006-2007. Based on these sources, I wrote the following in my June post:

Ssempa said in this editorial that he did not receive PEPFAR funding. However, according to this letter from USAID, his Campus Alliance to Wipe Out AIDS was a subpartner to the Uganda Youth Forum and was subsidized for abstinence based publications. World Magazine identifies a 2004 grant as being $40,000 which came as a subpartner to Population Services International, according to the PEPFAR website. Children’s AIDS Fund reveived 131,666 in Fiscal Year 2007 for work in Uganda. CAWA was one of the subpartners, receiving $50,000 to publish (pg 20) and distribute the newsletter, The Prime Timer. Altogether, groups controlled by Ssempa received at least $90,000 from PEPFAR, according to government records. It is baffling why Ssempa would say otherwise.

I learned last week that I need to make a correction in what I wrote above. Rev. Ssempa did indeed get PEPFAR money via CAWA but not at the level reported on PEPFAR program documents. I spoke last week with Anita Smith, Executive Director of the Children’s AIDS Fund. Since 2005, CAF has implemented the “Preserving African Families in the Face of HIV/AIDS Through Prevention” grant. The grant planned nearly 10 million dollars for abstinence and fidelity education (the AB components of Uganda’s ABC approach) to be spent over five years. One of the subpartners for this operation was Martin Ssempa’s Campus Alliance to Wipe Out AIDS (CAWA). CAWA was slated to get $50,000 as I pointed out in my June post. The funds were proposed for the monthly publication of a magazine directed at college students, called the Prime Timer, for the purpose of promoting abstinence.

However, the group did not get anything close to that, according to Ms. Smith. Why not? According to Smith, CAF ceased their relationship with CAWA due to “lack of performance.” Ms. Smith told me that Martin Ssempa signed the contract in July, 2006 and agreed to produce one magazine per month. However, Smith said she remembered “only one publication that was produced in January, 2007.” 

According to Smith, they were paid $3,950 for the expenses of that one magazine and then the contract was ended in January, 2007. Thus, if World Magazine’s report is accurate and Ssempa’s Global Alliance for Prevention (referred to on the PEPFAR website as Makerere Community Church) received $40,000, then the amount of PEPFAR funding would be $43,950. Here is what World’s Emily Belz said about the use of the funding:

As one result, PSI is no longer fronting abstinence programs in Kampala, and GAP within the last year secured $40,000 in U.S. abstinence-education money. That’s a small sum compared to the $12 million PSI received in the first round of funding, but it’s enough for Ssempa to publish a newspaper promoting abstinence. He distributes the paper on Kampala’s high-school and university campuses.

PSI is Population Services International which was Makerere Community Church’s partner in 2004 according to the PEPFAR website. In any event, it appears that at least some small amount of PEPFAR money was given groups headed by Ssempa.

Ssempa said to the BBC back in February that he receives no funding from the United States (at about 6:10 into the clip). We now know that is a misleading statement since his living expenses and staff salaries are funded by Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas. It seems unlikely that he could have devoted the time and resources to his campaign if he did not have the backing of the church. It is not clear to me why Rev. Ssempa would be sensitive about the funding issue. My guess is that it would undermine some of his appeal to African values which has been one core aspect of his campaign for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Protest at Canyon Ridge Christian Church

Sunday morning, a small group of teens stood outside Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas and protested that church’s support for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I reported about this event last night on Salon.com.

Chase Cates and Spencer Niemetz are listed as the organizers of the event on this Facebook event page. According to Chase, 17 students came out altogether with about 10 at any one time. The protesters ranged in age from 15-19 and represented a variety of views, backgrounds and orientations. The focus of their concern was that a local church was supporting one of the chief instigators of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. They wanted to raise awareness since there has been very notice of the situation around Las Vegas.

After the second service, some of the church leaders invited the teens in for a meeting. Some of them, including Cates, took them up on their offer. 

According to Cates, the leaders dodged some of their questions, including how much support the church sent to Martin Ssempa and what criteria would be used to determine support. Pastor Mitch Harrison confirmed to me that the meeting occured although he did not say whether or not he acknowledged that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill addressed adult consensual behavior. Cates seemed to think they understood, but Harrison did not confirm this. Here is an excerpt from the Salon piece on that point:

Cates said he wanted to raise awareness about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and said that “if this bill was passed and people were executed or criminalized in any way, Canyon Ridge Christian Church in turn would be held responsible for financing Ssempa who so overtly pushed the bill.”

Cates, a Las Vegas man who will enter college in the fall, said the reaction from the church members was mostly positive. “After the second service, CRCC invited us to join members of the church to have an open discussion of the issue. We took them up on their offer and ended up having a two-hour conversation with Pastor [Mitch] Harrison and others,” he said.

According to Harrison, “nine or so” protesters came into the church for the discussion. Harrison said the teens raised “concerns about the bill criminalizing homosexual behavior.” He added, “Our goal in meeting with them wasn’t so much to express our opinions but to listen to their concerns and gain understanding.” 

I hope understanding was gained because the recent response on the CRCC website demonstrates a lack of it when it comes to the AHB. Cates told me that he was not finished with the issue and there may be more awareness raising to come.

Southern Nevada Health District to evaluate partnership with Canyon Ridge Christian Church

Michael Bussee wrote to the Southern Nevada Health District to ask about planned to partnership with Canyon Ridge Christian Church to conduct HIV testing on the National HIV Testing Day. He received this reply from Stephanie Bethel of the SNHD.

“Dear Mr. Bussee:

Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of the Southern Nevada Health District. We were completely unaware of Canyon Ridge Christian Church’s partnership with Pastor Martin Ssempa or his stance on criminalizing homosexuality. The health district is absolutely opposed to the stated efforts of Pastor Ssempa and plans to evaluate and strongly consider any future partnership with Canyon Ridge based on this new information.

However, due to the timing of the testing event, and the outreach efforts that have already occurred related to this testing site, we do not feel we can cancel this venue for next week’s event. We do not condone the church’s continued partnership with Pastor Ssempa; however, we feel the immediate risk of canceling this venue just days before the scheduled event takes precedent at this time. If just one person shows up at a canceled event and decides to delay getting tested, that will be one person too many.

We share your concerns regarding this issue and remain committed to promoting testing in an environment that is comfortable for our clients. Thank you again for your input and for bringing this important issue to our attention.

Stephanie Bethel

Southern Nevada Health District

Yesterday, I spoke with Rick Reich, Director of the AIDS program at SNHD and he said the agency leans toward providing prevention, testing and counseling services in as many locations as possible. However, their message of reducing stigma and prevention is constant across locations.

Hon. Nsaba Buturo promotes Anti-Homosexual Bill at The Call Uganda – AUDIO

What follows is audio and a transcription of a speech given by Hon. Dr. Nsaba Buturo at The Call Uganda, May 2, 2010. He spoke just after Lou Engle spoke. The audio was provided by Michael Wilkerson. The first sentence of Hon. Buturo’s speech was not recorded. Hon. Buturo’s speech is interspersed with translation into what I assume is Lugandan. Words I am guessing at are underlined.

 

 

Text:

Because of the changing circumstance we have in our day, we now feel that the laws we have are not adequate to deal with this situation we face. I know Bahati’s heard the voice of God and is now spearheading that bill in Parliament. We want to pray for the Bahatis. It is your business that you pray for him. It is your business that you pray for members of Parliament. That on the day appointed for voting, that there will be no member of Parliament who will be absent, and after there will be no debate anyway, that the bill will be passed into law without any debate. This is an opportunity that Ugandans have now to tell the whole world that our business is to do what God wants us to do, not what somebody out there says we should do.  This is an opportunity for Ugandans to tell the whole world that our allegiance is not to man, whoever that man may be; our allegiance is not to nations, however powerful, our allegiance is to God. Uganda will not accept that nonsense that says that homosexuality is a human right. It is an abomination. We are not going to accept that. We are going to tell those who care to listen that this is not a matter we put before God’s word.  That our dignity is not for sale, that our love of God is first and foremost. My brethren, you have a duty to support Honorable Bahati, to support Parliament, to support those all those Ugandans who say that homosexuality never ever in our land. We don’t oppose or hate homosexuals; actually we love them. But they are lost. We have a duty to bring them back to God. Let me remind you brethren to let your government know and pray for them anyway that we have the golden opportunity to lead the world. We have the opportunity to show the rest of the world that Uganda is right because we are for God and those out there who are forcing us to do what is wrong are actually wrong. And Uganda will not accept any intimidation. We cannot accept any threats because if God is for us, who can be against us?

But why is your country where we are now? Why is the issue of homosexuality, when two, three years ago, it wasn’t? What has happened? Why is it that witchcraft, idolatry, human suffering, prostitution, pornography, all these suddenly are impacting on our faith today? Why is corruption the topical issue in every home? Something has gone wrong and it is the duty of believers to find out what it is that has gone wrong. Answer is that we have broken that covenant that we made with God. And so we see rebellion in the making; Ugandans choosing to distance themselves from God. And immorality is a consequence of that choice we are making. Yet God is giving us advice. He’s telling us that we are able to roll back these evils if we do one thing. 2 Chronicles, you heard it several times mentioned is the key to what we should do in order for God to heal us.

So let me take the opportunity to appeal to you to do what God is saying we should do. Do what God is saying we should do on behalf of Uganda. You and me who are called by His name. Let us humble ourselves. Let us pray. Let us turn from evil. Let us seek Him. And then He is going to make this land one of milk and honey as you have never seen before. You heard at the end the problem we are having in this nation. Those we have called to be our leaders are acting timidly. Both the church and believers who we are, are acting timidly. And so there is a crisis of confidence among those who are called by His name. The Church is on the defensive everywhere you go. In America, its about to lose the battle. In Uganda, the church is not handling this battle in the way it should. But these are dangerous times. But we need not lose this battle. So let me use this opportunity to implore you citizens. The government of this country is not the responsibility of his Excellency and the President alone. Through prayer and direct participation in politics, we can do a lot to change this nation. Let me also tell you, the government of President Museveni needs you so much. Government needs your hand. Unfortunately, you and I are not sufficiently playing our role.  It is essential that we stop complaining. It is appropriate that we take appropriate direct action as we have seen today. That is why I want to commend Rev. Dr. Mulinde and his team. I want to commend you for what you have done this afternoon. Let me remind you citizens that God will give us victory if we will go to the fight. The world cannot destruct us when Christ is able to attract us. Finally, I ask you to pray for Uganda. That Uganda will be able to stand up to any nation around the world. That Uganda will not be intimidated by any nation around the world. That Uganda will be able to use our enormous resources for the benefit of our people. Let us pray that Ugandans are set free. Let me ask you also to pray for his Excellency the President, the man God has put in that position for this time we are in. that he will remain fearless of anybody around the world, except God. God bless you, God bless Uganda.

Ugandan religious leaders speak out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

There are many problems still here but this statement represents some movement. The consensus for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as written appears to be waning.

Position of ICRCU

Tuesday, 9th March, 2010

IRCU is an initiative that brings together different religious institutions to address issues of common concern.

Its membership comprises of the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, the Church of Uganda, the Uganda Orthodox Church and the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Vision: A divinely Peaceful, prosperous and HIV/AIDS free Uganda

We the Council of Presidents of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) gathered this 10th day of February, 2010, at IRCU Secretariat;

Having read and considered carefully the provisions in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill yet to be debated by Parliament;

Aware of our mandate to nurture and protect the moral fibre of our society, guided by the Holy Scriptures of the religions we subscribe to;

Hereby state that:

1. The Bible, the Quran and other Holy Teachings treat homosexuality as a sin. Both the Bible and Qur’an are  categorical in their objection to same sex relationships (Lev. 18:22; Surah Ash’shura 26:165-166). Homosexual acts are contrary to the natural divine law, and under no circumstance can be approved.

2. The IRCU Council of Presidents, therefore, condemns homosexuality as an undesirable evil that should not be allowed in our society.

3. Our religious teachings promote respect, compassion and sensitivity. We, therefore, condemn the sin but welcome the sinners to confess, repent and seek a new beginning. This is based on the belief that all people are called by God to fulfill His will in their lives; IRCU, therefore, decries the proposed death penalty and life imprisonment in the proposed Bill as unwarranted. We believe homo-sexuals need conversion, repentance, support, and understanding and love in order to abandon their practices and return to God fully.

4. Since the proposed death penalty and life imprisonment do not provide the sinner an opportunity to repent, hence falling short of compassion to those who need conversion, repentance, support and hope, they are unnecessary.

5. Even the proposal to prosecute those who fail to disclose information regarding homosexual acts is inconsistent with the trust, confidentiality and professional ethics of persons such as parents, priests, counselors, teachers, doctors and leaders, to whom the sick, troubled and repentant sinners turn in search of support and advice for rehabilitation. The proposed law does not provide for the rehabilitation of repentant homosexuals. Yet as Religious Leaders, we are mandated to reach out to all people of God in a show of love and compassion (Mt. 9:10-13). The proposed Bill also has the potential to destroy the family as it is likely to undermine the important role of parents in providing guidance to their children.

6. Additionally, in our view the proposed Bill may not be called for considering that acts of sodomy are already condemned under section 145 of the Penal Code. However, we recognize the need to improve on the Penal Code as it has gaps which can be addressed by some provisions contained in the proposed Bill.

7. We the Council of Presidents of the Inter – Religious Council of Uganda, therefore, advise government, and all well-meaning groups and individuals to take remedial measures against this evil that has crept into our society by:

a. Exposing the people and organizations funding homosexuality in the country;

b. Providing enough information on recruitment and funding to the public in the interest of transparency and accountability;

c. Establishing facts on homosexuality and gay activities in Uganda and publishing a brochure which IRCU can distribute through its structures;

d. Emphasizing our core cultural and religious values and undertaking moral education in schools; and

e. Counteracting the distortion and misrepresentation of the debate on homosexuality by the media.

SIGNED:

His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga: Archbishop of the Uganda Orthodox Church; Chairperson, IRCU Council of Presidents

His Grace the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi: Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda/Member IRCU Council of Presidents

Pr. Dr. John Kakembo

President, Seventh-day Adventist Uganda; Union/ Member IRCU Council of Presidents

His Eminence Sheikh Shaban R. Mubaje: Mufti of Uganda/ Member IRCU Council of Presidents

His Grace Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga

Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese/

Member IRCU Council of Presidents

ABC News: Anti-Homosexuality Bill causes global uproar

Tonight, Nightline is covering Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The preview is an article on the ABC News website, extensively quoting Martin Ssempa and Scott Lively.

First a catchy way to begin a news story:

Standing onstage in black velvet robes, despite the stifling heat in the open-air church, Pastor Martin Ssempa’s face is a mask of disgust.

“Anal licking!,” he shouts, directing the crowd’s attention to the images of hardcore gay pornography that he’s projecting via his laptop. “That is what they are doing in the privacy of their bedrooms.”

“Everything having to do with eating of poop…heterosexuals do not eat poop,” Ssempa said. “And if they do, they are misguided, they are not real heterosexuals. We don’t practice, that’s an abomination. It’s like sex with a dog, sex with a cow; it’s evil.”

Wow, where do you go from there? The story then weaves material from Ssempa, Scott Lively and Val Kalende, a Uganda lesbian.

The bill was introduced several months after a visit by several American evangelicals, who spoke at a conference called the “Seminar on Exposing the Homosexual Agenda.”

One of them was Scott Lively, a pastor from Temecula, Calif., who believes that countries like Uganda can still protect themselves from what he sees as the scourge of the gay agenda.

“These are good Christians; better Christians than there are here in the states,” says Lively. “They care about each other. And I think the reason they’re pushing so hard on this law is that they don’t want to see what happened to our country happen over there.”

He told the conference’s audience, made up of teachers, social workers, and politicians that “even though the majority of homosexuals are not oriented towards young people, there’s a significant number who are. And when they see a child from a broken home, it’s like they have a flashing neon sign over their head.”

Lively, who is the president of Defend the Family, is also the author of a book called “The Pink Swastika”, which argues that the Nazi Party was a homosexual movement.

Then David Bahati tries the same line he has used before: the bill doesn’t say what it says.

The bill also calls for seven years in prison for “attempt to commit homosexuality,” five years for landlords who knowingly house gays, three years for anyone, including parents, who fail to hand gay children over to the police within 24 hours and the extradition of gay Ugandans living abroad.

The bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, now insists the death penalty only applies to homosexual pedophiles.

“The whole thing has been distorted, ” he said. “And we know that some copies of the bill have been circulated on the Internet, which are incorrect.”

Bahati defends the bill’s stringency. “Well it can sound tough to some people but it’s acceptable to our community here. Remember that here in Uganda, 95 percent of our population does not support homosexuality.”

If anyone from ABC News is reading, please put the Uganda Gazette copy of the bill on your website. Here it is. This is the official copy. I asked Parliamentary research service staffer Charles Tuhaise if I had the official copy and he confirmed that I do. Tuhaise also confirmed that the bill is about more than punishing pedophiles when he said to me:

…you have read the Bill and know that its object is to outlaw all same-sex sexual conduct. The question of “consenting adults” therefore does not arise. All same-sex sexual conduct is proscribed under the Bill.

Can’t get much clearer than that.

Where is the situation now? ABC News is reporting that the bill will be debated later this month.

But the outrage in the West may mean the bill gets watered down or even killed. The Ugandan parliament will hold hearings on it later this month.

As for Lively, he says if they drop the death penalty, he’ll actually endorse it. Whether the bill passes or not, the culture wars – both at home and abroad – promise to continue raging on.

According to a source in the Parliament, the bill has not been reviewed by committees and is not scheduled for any action at this point. That could change of course, but clearly the bill has been slowed down.