Uganda: What a difference a year makes

A year ago in early March, we were talking about Uganda. We are still talking about Uganda.

On March 2, I posted this:

I decided to post about this after reading an article about an upcoming (this weekend) conference in Uganda on homosexuality. The article begins:

Parents to train on how to handle homosexuality issues

Family Life Network and other stakeholders in Uganda have organized a three-day seminar to provide what they termed as reliable and up to date information so that people can know how to protect themselves, their children, families from homosexuality.

A year and many posts later, the effects of that conference reverberate.  The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is waiting committee action and has not had a second reading. To become law in Uganda, a bill must be read three times and be signed by the President. He could refuse to sign it and then it would go back to the Parliament who could pass it over his refusal.

The bill might languish in committee and not come out for months or years. However, in the mean time, vocal Ugandan clergy such as Martin Ssempa are out in support of the bill with regular rallies. I may be posting about Uganda a year from now.

Read all posts on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill here.

Uganda pastors task force video response to Rick Warren

In case the letter did not get across the message, here is the video from the Uganda National Pastors Task Force Against Homosexuality. According to Pastor Ssempa, Rick Warren’s encyclical is having some effect there, prompting this response.

First, the brief introduction and then I will embed the videos.

UGANDA NATIONAL PASTORS TASK FORCE AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY

Task-force Chair: Martin Ssempa PhD

familypolicycenter@gmail.com

The Islamiic Office of Social Welfare in Uganda
The Roman Catholic Church in Uganda
Dear Pr. Rick,
Warm New Years Greetings. Further to our letter, kindly find the link to the video version of  our response to your letter.
Uganda Pastors’ response Letter to Rick Warren 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YqEw6rq-V8)
Uganda Pastors’ response Letter to Rick Warren 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRNyZsYI17Q)
We await your response at your earliest.
Martin Ssempa, PhD
 
The taskforce represents
The National Fellowship of Born again Churches
The Seventh Adventists Church
The Uganda Joint Christian Council which also represents:
The Orthodox Church in Uganda.
Part One

Part two

NARTH: Forced therapy unethical and ineffective

In the recent letter from the Ugandan National Pastors Task Force Against Homosexuality to Rick Warren, the Task Force disclosed that the Uganda Joint Christian Council agreed to support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill with the following amendments:

a. We suggested reduction of the sentence to 20 years instead of the death penalty for the offense of aggravated homosexuality.

b. We suggested the inclusion of regulations in the law to govern provision of counseling and rehabilitation to persons experiencing homosexual temptations. The churches are willing to provide the necessary help for those seeking counseling and rehabilitation.

c. Even with the provision for counseling and rehabilitation in the law, homosexuality should remain a punishable offense to control its spread.

These amendments sound very much like the suggestions of Scott Lively who spoke to the Ugandan Parliament in March of this year. According to a post on his website, Lively suggested these points at that time.

My trip was quite successful, encompassing multiple seminars, sermons, media appearances and private meetings with key leaders, all packed into a single week. My hosts were very pleased. But the high point of the week was my address to members of the Ugandan Parliament in their National Assembly Hall. In it I urged the government to shift the emphasis of its criminal law against homosexuality from punishment to rehabilitation by providing the option of therapy, similar to the option I once chose after being arrested for drunken driving many years ago (in my wild pre-Christian days). Such a change would represent a considerable liberalization of its policies (currently a holdover from Colonial British common law, similar to US policy until the 1950s), while preserving sufficient legal deterrent to prevent the international “gay” juggernaut from homosexualizing the society as it has done in Europe and other countries. I thought it was an inspired compromise.

Lively’s “inspired compromise” seems to have inspired the Ugandan pastors’ coalition. Lively elaborated a bit in a recent posting:

In my view, homosexuality (indeed all sex outside of marriage) should be actively discouraged by society — but only as aggressively as necessary to prevent the mainstreaming of alternative sexual lifestyles, and with concern for the preservation of the liberties of those who desire to keep their personal lifestyles private.

The suggested changes in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill could follow Lively’s suggestions although it is not clear how the regulations would be written. Would counseling be available for those who present themselves as having temptation as framed by the pastors’ coalition or would counseling be available to those who offend the law in some way as an option to jail? Or will Bahati re-write the bill to include both options?

Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo may have signaled the direction he favors with recent comments to Ugandan television, saying:  

“…we are saying, that look… instead of killing somebody, provide mechanisms for counseling, and other supports, so that the person may actually be rehabilitated. And I see logic in that one, because already we have some former homosexuals who are being rehabilitated.”

Given how closely the pastors and the legislators seem to be there, the changes may appear in the second draft of the bill. The “kill the gays” bill may turn into the “cure the gays” bill by February, 2010.

Because the changes may appear soon, I want to engage the discussion on the topic of reorientation therapy in an environment where the other option is jail or worse. Almost immediately after there were rumblings of the bill being changed to included coerced therapy, Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International came out in opposition to the proposal. On the Facebook group dedicated to opposing the bill, Chambers said:

I am NOT for forced therapy for gay and lesbian people. While no one chooses their attractions I do believe that it is everyone’s God given right to choose what you do with those attractions (consenting adults). I believe that those who are conflicted by their faith and feelings have the right to choose therapy and those who aren’t conflicted shouldn’t be forced into anything.

I also asked the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality to give their opinion of the proposed therapy option. Past-president A. Dean Byrd responded in an email:

Dear Dr. Throckmorton, 

As you are aware, NARTH’s Governing Board has accepted the Leona Tyler Principle which states that NARTH, as a scientific organization, takes no position on any scientific issue without the requisite science or professional experience.  NARTH members, as individuals, are free to speak on any issue.

NARTH values the inherent worth of all individuals and respects individual right of autonomy and self determination.

NARTH’s position on homosexuality was clearly articulated by Dr. Julie Harren Hamiliton in a recent edition of the APA Monitor: homosexuality is not invariably fixed in all people – some people can and do change.  And psychological care should be available to those who seek such care.

NARTH encourages its members to abide the Code of Ethics of their respective organizations and such codes proscribe the coercive efforts. It goes without saying that NARTH would support the humane treatment of ALL individuals.

We are aware of the situation in Uganda but thank you for bringing this to our attention. I am sure that you are aware that as a scientific organization, NARTH does not take political positions; however, we are happy to provide a summary of what science can and cannot say about homosexuality for those who do.

Dr. Throckmorton, if history is a good indicator, you will likely not be happy with this response. However, I hope such responses will help you understand NARTH’s mission as a scientific organization. 

With warm regards,

A. Dean Byrd, PhD, MBA, MPH

Leaving aside the comments about NARTH not taking political positions, I want to point out the money quote:

NARTH encourages its members to abide the Code of Ethics of their respective organizations and such codes proscribe the coercive efforts.

Byrd’s answer did oppose coercion (although undefined), but did not comment on the efficacy of such measures. Given that Byrd’s answer was not clear, I wrote back to ask for clarification. David Pruden, NARTH administrative director answered saying:

Research tells us that forced therapy is almost always a failure. It is unethical and unworkable.

Normally, I do not look to Exodus or NARTH for research state-of-the-art on sexual orientation, but there are two important reasons to ask their position on this question. One, since the proposal may call for some kind of treatment or ministry, it seems reasonable to poll the views of the two most prominent groups who currently provide those efforts. The second reason is because the guy who recommended the option in the first place, Scott Lively, highly recommends Exodus and NARTH.

Here is a 2007 video of Scott Lively in Latvia recommending Exodus and NARTH. Note how crucial it is to Lively to convince the nation of a gay cure.

And then in Uganda, he continued his praise of NARTH by saying their website was an important source of information, second only to his.

Here is what Scott Lively could not have told his Ugandan audience but can now be told. One, both Exodus and NARTH have removed any reference to Scott Lively’s work from their websites (click the links to read about these actions). Two, NARTH and Exodus (at least informally through Alan Chambers) consider coercive therapy to be unethical and ineffective.

Let me speak directly to the Ugandan supporters of the bill. The man, Scott Lively, you brought to speak in Parliament to recommend a rehabilitation option has been removed from the websites of the organizations he recommended to you. Furthermore, the organizations which Scott Lively encouraged you to trust says coercive therapy is not ethical or effective. I know he has said that such measures were once used effectively but this is not the case.

I need to add that I do not agree with NARTH about very much and certainly think that they are wrong in the way they discuss sexual orientation as a fluid trait. However, even this group, who exists to promote the idea that some people can change, rejects the idea that a coercive environment is appropriate. While they dramatically underestimate the role of social stigma as an aspect of why people seek their services here in the US, at least they see clearly that forced therapy of the kind contemplated by Lively and UJCC are in David Pruden’s words, “unethical and unworkable.”

Uganda National Pastors Task Force Against Homosexuality demand apology from Rick Warren

Just now, Martin Ssempa sent an email to me and several others including Rick Warren and Christianity Today with this statement. It is similar but not identical to the letter Christianity Today published on Thursday, the 17th. In this letter, the coalition discloses that 20 ministers met and read Rick Warren’s encyclical. It appears they did not consider Warren’s theological points but rather responded with a defense of the bill as written.

UGANDA NATIONAL PASTORS TASK FORCE AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY

Task-force Chair: Martin Ssempa PhD

The taskforce represents

The National Fellowship of Born again Churches

The Seventh Adventists Church

The Uganda Joint Christian Council which also represents:

The Orthodox Church in Uganda.

The Roman Catholic Church in Uganda

The Islamiic Office of Social Welfare in Uganda

Born Again Faith Federation 

familypolicycenter@gmail.com 

Dear Rick Warren, 

Christmas greetings from the Pro Faith, Family, and Human Rights Leaders here in Uganda. We acknowledge receipt of a letter from you in which you called on us (Ugandan Pastors) to “speak out” against the proposed “Anti-homosexuality Bill 2009” which is currently before our parliament. This bill has been greatly misrepresented by some homosexual activists causing hysteria and we take this opportunity to give you the background, facts and response to the concerns you raised. A special meeting of 20 denominational heads met on Thursday 17th Dec in the offices of the minister of Ethics and Integrity, examined your letter and formed a joint task force to respond to you as well as help support the parliament in the passage of this bill.  We are further distressed by your unwarranted abuse of our duly elected officials who are in the process of making laws in the fulfillment of their mission and make demand that you biblically issue an apology for having wronged us as demonstrated by the facts of this letter. 

Developments underlying the Bill

Several developments in Uganda and around the world constitute the compelling circumstances that have necessitated the Anti-homosexuality Bill. These include:

a) increasing incidents of homosexual abuse of children and youth by people exercising power and influence over them like teachers, pastors, parents etc. A recent report shows this. Uganda: Child Abuse rampant.;

b) recruitment of youth into homosexual practice with inducements including money. (Homosexual admits recruiting students).  While we have a law that currently prohibits “acts against the order of nature”, this law is not comprehensive enough to cover the promoters of these acts.  The draft law seeks to stop promotion and further recruitment of unsuspecting children and youth into homosexuality.

c) promotion of homosexuality by some organizations, including a pro-gay book by UNICEF circulated in schools without seeking permission of the Ministry of Education; (UNICEF Book supports teen homosexuality)

d) creation of organizations whose sole purpose is to promote homosexuality in Uganda; (e.g. (Sexual Minorities Uganda); (Gay Uganda); (Integrity Uganda)

e) government-led campaigns at the UN led by some countries like France and Brazil to secure a UN General Assembly resolution imposing homosexuality as an internationally protected human right. For example, on November 18th 2008, France and Netherlands initiated a law which seeks to use the UN to push homosexuality on other nations of the world. This explains provisions in the Bill preventing ratification of treaties and conventions affirming homosexuality and related practices.

f) un-believable growth in the power of the homosexual lobby in western countries, clearly seen since this Bill was proposed in Uganda – entire governments in Europe and America have used their diplomatic offices on an issue that should be freely debated and dealt with by their citizens at civil society level.

g) the mistake in western society, where the issue of homosexuality was treated with kid-gloves as a minor, private issue, but these societies are waking up too late on realizing that the matter affects how their entire society is ran, what children are taught at school and literally what everybody “must believe and practice”. This waking-up is for example seen in anti-gay-marriage campaigns in United States, where US citizens are fighting to retain family values against stiff competition from gay-activists in 31 states where the matter has come up for a referendum vote, winning such battles by the skin of their teeth. These countries are stuck with a huge population of their citizens that has been recruited into homosexual practice over decades of lax attitude that has seen the rise of powerful, well-funded organizations that misinform children and youth about homosexuality and daily recruit them into their ranks. This discontented population is angry, a threat to public order and is demanding equality for self-evident disordered and harmful behavior. This represents a mismanagement of human behavior by public institutions, because legal safeguards were not put in place in time to prevent the spread of homosexuality and related practices.

h) The take-over by homosexuals of western institutions that should have remained as defenders and protectors of moral integrity in society, particularly the church, to the extent that even evangelical church leaders in America no longer protest when a practicing homosexual is appointed into pastoral leadership in the church (e.g. the election to the office of Bishop of  Mary Glasspool in your state of California last week and Gene Robinson in New Hampshire before her). This institutional takeover by homosexuals has been systematic and planned, to the extent that other bodies like the UN, national governments, financial institutions, private companies, NGOs, etc. have become spokespersons of the gay movement and daily use official resources to promote the gay agenda and to arm-twist anyone who opposes this agenda. In a globalized world, this western takeover of institutions by homosexuals has turned into international promotion of homosexuality and of other vices like abortion and pornography in other countries.

Some members of Parliament in Uganda have looked at all these developments as a threat to strongly held family values in Uganda and everywhere and have sought to use their mandate as people’s representatives to seek remedies before it is too late. The Anti-homosexuality Bill, 2009, therefore, while acknowledging that homosexuality is not an innate condition, states as its object: “to establish a comprehensive consolidated legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting (1) any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; and (2) the promotion or recognition of such sexual relations in public institutions and other places through or with the support of any Government entity in Uganda or any non-governmental organization inside or outside the country”.

What’s the death penalty all about?

Some people have asked about the rationale of a death penalty mentioned in the Bill. There has been a lot of misinformation about this matter with headlines such as: “Gays face death penalty in Uganda”. These headlines are deliberately misleading. This penalty applies only in special cases termed “aggravated homosexuality”, which include, those convicted of unlawful homosexual rape of a child or handicapped invalid; This is a conviction of paedophilles! As highlighted in the problem of “virgin rape cures HIV/AIDS”  the offender can be a person living with HIV; a parent or guardian of the victim where there is abuse of authority! Finally is the use of drugs to stupefy the child so that they can rape them!. Clearly, the intent of this penalty is to protect weaker members of society from being victimized. Please note that for over 15 years Uganda has had the same penalty for persons who have carnal knowledge of minors heterosexually, mainly to protect against sexual abuse of girls by men. This time, this provision intends to provide equal protection of boys, among others.

In the early 1990s, at the height of the HIV Crisis, Uganda sought to protect children, principally girls, from sexual abuse by adults and infection with HIV. There was troubling concern over some people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA) who raped and infect girls with HIV/AIDS in a grotesque belief of a “virgin sex cure” prescribed by some witchdoctors. Since 1997, Section 123 of the Penal Code only provided protection against defilement (sexual abuse) of girls under 18 years of age. Section 123(1) states that: – “Any person who unlawfully has sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of eighteen years is guilty of an offense and is liable to suffer death.” Sub-section 2 of Section 123 of the Penal Code provides for attempts to defile a girl under the age of eighteen years. It states that: “Any person who attempts to have unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of eighteen years is guilty of an offense and is liable to imprisonment for eighteen years with or without corporal punishment”. This has and continues to be the law which no one has complained that it is unchristian or a human right violation. Many boys have been violated without legal protection leaving their evil oppressors to get away with no law enforcement protection. The current draft law, simply aims at providing equal protection of the boy child and other vulnerable persons, as currently exists for the girl child. The question for you is this; does the sexual abuse of a boy constitute a lesser crime than the rape of a girl?

The question of human rights and privacy:

Some people have asked whether this law raises questions of human rights infringement. Some have asked whether it infringes the right to privacy, for example, asking what legitimate interest the state has in what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms? But not all things done in private are free of negative consequences on the public. Most harmful behavior occurs in private: corruption, bribery, abortion, murder, rape, etc. Many laws prohibit these private practices. Practices like homosexuality and bisexuality are associated with serious, yet preventable public-health risks. The risk of HIV transmission in male homosexuality is for example about 10 times that of heterosexual sex, simply due to use of parts of the body for inappropriate functions. Other diseases and medical complications are also associated with these practices. Secondly, by its nature, behavior spreads in the population through experimentation, modeling and social affirmation. Increase in homosexual and bisexual practice could thus rapidly reverse Uganda’s success against HIV/AIDS. The state’s interest in public health requires that it takes action on these preventable health risks, not only through education, but also legal deterrents for those who misinform and mislead the public.

An organization recruiting and encouraging people to continue in homosexual practice lacks justification but one dealing in counseling and helping people with behavior management is justified. The clause requiring mandatory reporting of known offenses may therefore need an amendment to exempt disclosure made in counseling situations.

Our Historical Struggle:

When you-(Rick Warren) came to Uganda on Thursday, 27 March 2008, and expressed support to the Church of Uganda’s boycott of the pro-homosexual Church of England, you stated; “The Church of England is wrong, and I support the Church of Uganda”. You are further remembered to say, “homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus (its) not a human right. We shall not tolerate this aspect at all”. (Gay Row-US Pastor supports country on boycott) He was indeed affirming Uganda’s long historical struggle against institutionalized homosexuality. This recent boycott was not the beginning of the struggle. In fact on June 3rd 1886, 26 Ugandan Christian converts to were martyred for their stand against a deviant king who had taken to the practice of sodomy. Their faith in Christ emboldened them to stand against homosexuality, resisting even up to death. Today we honor them, and June 3rd is a national holiday where millions of Ugandan believers converge to remember and renew their strength.(When faith, state and state inspired homosexuality clash).  As you yourself have said, “..the Bible says evil has to be opposed. Evil has to be stopped. The Bible does not say negotiate with evil. It says stop it. Stop evil”. (12/2007)  Since homosexuality is evil, you cannot possibly be against a law that seeks to stop it unless you have misunderstood it. 

Clarification on the spirit of the Mandatory reporting clause 14:

Finally, sexual abuse of children takes place in institutions such as boarding schools, churches etc. Research by ACFODE, “The situational review of rape, sexual harassment and defilement 2005” in three districts found unusually high levels of coercive heterosexual/homosexual rape and harassment especially in single-sex schools.  Unfortunately the school officials and some police officers, maintain a conspiracy of silence, ignoring the pleas of the children and victims who report these crimes. They value the reputation of the school or other institution above the welfare of the children and adults in their custody. This is the reason for section 14, of mandatory reporting of the offenses within 24 hours. 

This reporting is similar to the mandatory reporting of all “unlawful sexual intercourse” in the state of California in Penal Code 11165 which includes, – rape (261), incest (285), sodomy (286), child molestation (647.6), and statutory rape (261.5). California Penal Code 11166; 11165.7 requires that Teachers, Social workers, District attorneys, Doctors, Psychologists, marriage and family counselors, clergy members and state or county public health employees are required by law to report “unlawful sexual intercourse” as defined by the state of California. If mandatory reporting has been deemed necessary in other in America on sexual offenses, Uganda could use the same measure in specified situations.

What has been our recommendation on the law?

At a special sitting of the Uganda Joint Christian Council a taskforce sat and reviewed the bill to make comments. We resolved to support the bill with some amendments which included the following: 

a. We suggested reduction of the sentence to 20 years instead of the death penalty for the offense of aggravated homosexuality.

b. We suggested the inclusion of regulations in the law to govern provision of counseling and rehabilitation to persons experiencing homosexual temptations. The churches are willing to provide the necessary help for those seeking counseling and rehabilitation.

c. Even with the provision for counseling and rehabilitation in the law, homosexuality should remain a punishable offense to control its spread.

Warning of a widening shift.

We note with sadness the increasing levells of accepting of the evil of homosexuality. The ordination of Mary Glasspool a Lesbian as a bishop in Los Angeles without any condemnation from you, has increased the widening gap between the global south church in Africa and the global north church in Europe and America. In these increasingly dark days, we encourage you not to give into the temptation to water down what the bible says so as not to offend people.  Jesus’s gospel is a stumbling block, and a rock of offense.  Rick you are our friend, we have bought many of your books and have been blessed by them. Do not let the pressure of bloggers and popular media intimidate you into becoming a negotiator for homosexual paedophillia rights in Africa. As you yourself say about evil, – “the Bible says evil has to be opposed. Evil has to be stopped. The Bible does not say negotiate with evil. It says stop it. Stop evil.”(RW-12/2007) Since the bible says that the giant of  homosexuality is an “abomination” or a great evil, you cannot achieve the peace plan without  a purpose driven confrontation with evil.  

Ugandan Clergy Demand for your apology within:

Please note that on Friday 11th December, more than 200 of Uganda’s top religious leaders met and supported the legislators in strengthening the law against homosexuality.  (Church leaders back anti-gay bill.) The issue is, we all want the law on homosexuality, the only debate is on what penalties are appropriate.

Your letter has caused great distress and the pastors are demanding that you issue a formal apology for insulting the people of Africa by your very inapropriate bully use of your church and purpose driven pulpits to coerse us into the “evil” of Sodomy and Gaymorrah. This is expected within seven days from this date.

Sincerely Yours, 

Martin Ssempa, Phd

Bishop David Kiganda

Pastor Ssozi Peter

Prof. Peter Claver Matovu

Seventh Day Church Representative.

familypolicycenter@gmail.com

PS: A video Youtube response will be sent as possible.

The taskforce represents

The National Fellowship of Born again Churches

The Seventh Adventists Church

The Uganda Joint Christian Council which also represents:

The Orthodox Church in Uganda.

The Roman Catholic Church in Uganda

The Islamiic Office of Social Welfare in Uganda

Note that the coalition met on the 17th in the office of the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Nsaba Buturo. One has to assume that the recommendations for altering the bill will get a pretty solid hearing.

Regarding the defense of the bill, I addressed some of these claims yesterday. This letter addresses the actual bill a bit more directly than the Christianity Today version. Here, the Ugandan Task Force acknowledges that they are addressing private conduct of adults and not just child abuse. However, when they suggest restrictions on homosexuality will somehow address the HIV problem, they ignore the fact HIV in Uganda is primarily a heterosexual problem. In essence they ignore the religious arguments against the bill and attempt to make a weak public health argument. 

Clearly, some alterations in the bill are forthcoming and these will be debated in 2010.

UPDATE: Martin Ssempa has reactivated his website and has the statement posted there as well

Homosexuality: we can still avoid foreign bad press – removed from Ugandan website

UPDATE: The link was changed and the article is still available on the Uganda Media Centre.

The following article was posted briefly on the official Uganda Media Centre and then removed late the same day. Here the cache version which won’t last long. I have a saved version as well. It seems quite possible that there are competing views within the leadership of Uganda about the best way to resolve the Anti-Homosexuality Bill problem.  I post it since it has been removed but yet may reflect one side of the conflict internally.

Homosexuality: we can still avoid foreign bad press

By Obed K Katureebe

The Anti-Homosexual Bill 2009, yet to be tabled on the floor of parliament, has attracted unnecessary hullabaloo. Some western countries, with their characteristic condescending attitude, are already threatening to cut aid if that bill is passed into law.

The bill is sponsored by Hon. David Bahati, the Ndorwa West County MP, as a private member’s bill. If passed into law, it will be able to establish a comprehensive consolidated legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex.

The bill also aims at strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family.

According to Hon. Bahati, there is need to protect the children and youth of Uganda who are made vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technologies, parentless child developmental settings and increasing attempts by homosexual to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption, foster care or otherwise.

Apparently, according to Bahati, the proposed legislation is designed to fill the gaps in the provisions of other laws in Uganda like the Penal Code Act.

Hon. Bahati has a strong point. However, I personally think that there is no need to have a fresh legislation on such unnatural offences. What Hon. Bahati should have emphasized is to improve the penal code just to widen the definition already existing.

According to the Penal Code Act (cap 120), any person who permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, commits an offense and is liable to imprisonment for life. There is no question about that homosexuality, long regarded as taboo (culturally and socially) in the highly-religious society of Uganda, has of recent been raising its head and profile in the field of public debate.

No longer content to remain in the closet, proponents of homosexuality and lesbianism are actively seeking to be heard. They are up against an uphill task as they are pitched not only against culture and religion but against public perception of morality.

What is required at this moment is to let all Ugandans be rational and put their views across before parliament moves to debate the contents of the bill. Calls by rights organisations that Uganda’s obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights would be undermined are uncalled for.

The siege the country seems to be facing from these rights groups is misplaced. The absurdity of it all is even to go to the extent of branding ‘the regime in Kampala’ as a fascist establishment. Africans have an aggregated value system and retain a right to say ‘no’ to a movement whose ultimate outcome will be the destruction of the family; the basic social cultural unit.

The promoters of homosexuality, who happens to have vast resources at their disposal and a global reach, have confused human rights groups to portray homosexuality as a human rights issue. But rights must be based on values.

However, the country should recognise the impressionable body politic and civil society groups in developed economies of the west. With their clever portrayal of the fight against homosexuality as a human rights abuse, the attachment of the adjectives like fascist to regime may lead to policy reviews.

Which is why I call on the government to avoid the bad press. Since homosexuality is already criminalised in Uganda, one wonder whether parliament is utilising its time optimally by focusing on homosexuality when the majority of our people are suffering from hunger, lack of access to water and disease and collapsing infrastructure.

Moreover, as pointed out by the gay lobbyists, same sex marriage is not a common social practice in Uganda therefore legislating against it is redundant and is likely to attack more attention to them. Perhaps parliament should be spending its time on real issues that impact on the lives of long-suffering Ugandans.

As a country, let us also engage other remedial institutions to try and counter this vice that is slowly but steadily coming into our lives. We ought to know that homosexuality community across the world is now 10% of the world population. Since we are part of the global community how feasible would it be to kill off 10% of the population.

As research has shown homosexuality is not a mental illness symptomatic of arrested development or that gays desires are genetic or hormonal in origin and that there is no choice involved. Homosexual behavior is learned. According to research by Dr. Cameron, no scientific research has found provable biological or genetic differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals that were not caused by their behavior. Dr. Cameron is the chairman Family Research Institute in Colorado Springs, USA.

ENDS

One wonders if Paul Cameron has inserted himself into the fray via this writer. Perhaps the writer was aware of Cameron and quoted his views.

More detail on the Fellowship Foundation relationship to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jeff Sharlet on Rachel Maddow: The Family and the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

On December 1, I addressed the issue of the Family’s influence on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. At that time, I reported the following information:

To explore these issues, I spoke via email with the Director of Cornerstone Development, Tim Kreutter.  Mr. Kreutter has lived in Africa most of his life and oversees a staff of about 150 people.

When asked about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009, he told me that Cornerstone “had zero input on that bill.” Furthermore, Mr. Kreutter pointed out that Cornerstone has intervened in death penalty situations, saying: 

“In particular, we are opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and have played a part in working to stay all executions here for the last 10 years or so.”

Kreutter also explained that the sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, David Bahati and the outspoken government minister who supports it, Nsaba Buturo, currently have no involvement in Cornerstone programs. As noted, a review of their website confirms this statement.

Regarding Bahati’s involvement in the Africa Youth Leadership Forum, Mr. Kreutter pointed out that the forum that day included three Ugandan politicians: Cecilia Ogwal, Mugisha Muntu and David Bahati. Ogwal is involved in the Uganda People’s Congress Party of former Pres. Milton Obote, Muntu is a major opposition leader of the Forum for Democratic Change Party and a likely Presidential candidate in the next elections and then Bahati is a loyal ruling party member. I should also point out that the Deputy Secretary for International and Regional Affairs of the Forum for Democratic Change, Anne Mugisha (no relation to Muntu), opposes the bill.

As noted, I was correct that at least some of the Family opposes the bill. More specifically, Jeff Sharlet reports below that there is potential for the Ugandan lawmakers to be disinvited to the American prayer breakfast in February if they do not take positive steps regarding the bill. As best as I can tell, David Bahati, Nsaba Buturo and Julius Oyet are slated to in the US during the week of Feb, 2-6. I suspect their visit will be an eventful one in any case, but especially if the “Kill the gays bill” is not itself dead.

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Rachel Maddow examines Richard Cohen’s connection to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill; Cohen to appear on Maddow tonight

Well isn’t this special.

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Ah yes, the 2006 CNN episode. That was good enough for weeks worth of material on here. I still show the clips to my classes for a, um, discussion starter. In the clip above, Stephen Langa is the speaker who is quoting Richard Cohen as if he were an expert. The segment where Langa is speaking took place a week after the March ex-gay conference where Scott Lively, Caleb Brundidge and Don Schmierer were recruited to whip up public support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

It wasn’t long after the CNN segment that an international group of astronomers announced that Pluto was no longer a planet, becoming the first ex-planet.  We had the exclusive insight into how it was done. 

 

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The CNN debacle was the first of several disasters on national television. He later regretted his performances, saying so here. He should regret that he allowed Caleb Brundidge to go to Uganda on his behalf and that he has not spoken about this issue until Rachel Maddow asked about his views of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

He is slated to go on her show tonight. Grab a tennis racquet, a pillow and a significant other to cuddle; this is must see TV.

Ugandan university hosts dialogue; Exodus letter plays a role

On November 18, 2009, the Human Rights and Peace Center at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda hosted a public dialogue on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The blogger, GayUganda, has an extensive report here and I want to also call your attention to the remarks of Sylvia Tamale, law professor at Makerere University. Her paper presents a compelling case for the setting aside of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. From GayUganda, we also learn that the Exodus letter to President Museveni was a significant issue in the dialogue.

Dr. Tamale begins by discussing history of family in Africa. The she notes other issues which are more important to the family than homosexuality.

Thus, while I agree with you Hon. Bahati that we must seek ways of dealing with issues that threaten our families, I do not agree that homosexuality is one of those issues. Mr. Chairperson, Ladies and gentlemen, what issues currently threaten our families here in Uganda? I will name a few:

a) Blood thirsty Ugandans and traditional healers that believe that their good fortune will multiply through rituals of child sacrifice.

b) Rapists and child molesters who pounce on unsuspecting family members. Research undertaken by the NGO, Hope after Rape (HAR) shows that over 50% of child sexual abuse reports involve children below 10 years of age, and the perpetrators are heterosexual men who are known to the victims.[1]

c) Sexual predators that breach the trust placed in them as fathers, teachers, religious leaders, doctors, uncles and sexually exploit young girls and boys. A 2005 report by Raising Voices and Save the Children revealed that 90% of

Ugandan children experienced domestic violence and defilement.[2]

d) Abusive partners who engage in domestic violence whether physical, sexual or emotional. The 2006 national study on Domestic Violence by the Law Reform Commission confirmed the DV was pervasive in our communities. 66% of people in all regions of Uganda reported that DV occurred in their homes and the majority of the perpetrators were “male heads of households.”[3] The Uganda Demographic Health Survey of 2006 put the figure slightly higher at 68%.[4]

e) Parents who force their 14-year old daughters to get married in exchange for bride price and marriage gifts.

f) A whole generation of children who were either born and bred in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps or abducted by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in the northern sub-region of Kitgum, Gulu and Pader districts.

g) The millions of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The Uganda Aids Commission puts the cumulative number of orphans due to AIDS at 2 million.[5]

h) The all powerful patriarchs that demand total submission and rule their households with an iron hand.

i) Rising poverty levels and growing food insecurity which lead to hunger, disease, suffering and undignified living. Figures from the latest report from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics show that over 60% of Ugandans living in rural areas live below the poverty line.[6]

Professor Tamale makes a clear case that all Ugandans are at risk if this bill passes.

III. The Social Implications of the Bill to the Average Ugandan

You may think that this bill targets only homosexual individuals. However, homosexuality is defined in such a broad fashion as to include “touching another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” This is a provision highly prone to abuse and puts all citizens (both hetero and homosexuals) at great risk. Such a provision would make it very easy for a person to witch-hunt or bring false accusations against their enemies simply to “destroy” their reputations and cause scandal. We all have not forgotten what happened to Pastor Kayanja and other men of God in the recent past.

Moreover, the bill imposes a stiff fine and term of imprisonment for up to three years for any person in authority over a homosexual who fails to report the offender within 24 hours of acquiring such knowledge. Hence the bill requires family members to “spy” on one another. This provision obviously does not strengthen the family unit in the manner that Hon. Bahati claims his bill wants to do, but rather promotes the breaking up of the family. This provision further threatens relationships beyond family members. What do I mean? If a gay person talks to his priest or his doctor in confidence, seeking advice, the bill requires that such person breaches their trust and confidentiality with the gay individual and immediately hands them over to the police within 24 hours. Failure to do so draws the risk of arrest to themselves.

Or a mother who is trying to come to terms with her child’s sexual orientation may be dragged to police cells for not turning in her child to the authorities. The same fate would befall teachers, priests, local councilors, counselors, doctors, landlords, elders, employers, MPs, lawyers, etc.

Furthermore, if your job is in any way related to human rights activism, advocacy, education and training, research, capacity building, and related issues this bill should be a cause for serious alarm. In a very undemocratic and unconstitutional fashion, the bill seeks to silence human rights activists, academics, students, donors and non-governmental organizations. If passed into law it will stifle the space of civil society. The bill also undermines the pivotal role of the media to report freely on any issue. The point I am trying to make is that we are all potential victims of this draconian bill.

Tamale then provides a legal analysis of the bill which finds much of it unconstitutional and confusing. She concludes by saying

Mr. Chairperson, distinguished participants, I wish to end by appealing to members of parliament and all Ugandans that believe in human rights and the dignity of all human beings to reject the Anti-homosexuality bill. I am imploring Hon. Bahati to withdraw his private members bill. Do we really in our hearts of hearts want our country to be the first on the continent to demand that mothers spy on their children, that teachers refuse to talk about what is, after all, “out there” and that our gay and lesbian citizens are systematically and legally terrorized into suicide? Ladies and gentlemen, you may strongly disagree with the phenomenon of same-sex erotics; you may be repulsed by what you imagine homosexuals do behind their bedroom doors; you may think that all homosexuals deserve to burn in hell. However, it is quite clear that this Bill will cause more problems around the issue of homosexuality than it will solve. I suggest that Hon. Bahati’s bill be quietly forgotten. It is no more or less than an embarrassment to our intelligence, our sense of justice and our hearts.

The remarks are amended to include some thoughts on the question and answer period. To get a more complete sense of this meeting, you should also consult GayUganda’s eyewitness description. There he describes talks by David Bahati and Stephen Langa. Langa in particular was described as referring to the Pink Swastika by Scott Lively and materials from Exodus International.

However, according to GayUganda, during the question and answer session, a questioner asked Stephen Langa why he referred to Exodus International material in his defense of the bill when Exodus had recently denounced the bill. I’ll let Gug describe it:

The Exodus letter is a particular foil. Why, even Exodus does not support the Bill! That is a shock, to Steven Langa. An unpleasant one. Because he is using information published by some of the signatories of this letter. He quotes them. And, very embarassing that they don’t support his bill! Even his allies see that his action is un-Christian. He also quotes Lively, extensively. Yes, he does. This Lively. To Langa, the true intellectual mind behind the Bahati Bill, Lively is THE prophet of his crusade. And he promotes his books. Repeateldy. Even yesterday. (It was the Pink Swastika)

I will always remember Langa’s face when he was challenged that Exodus was not supporting the bill. That they were not supporting him, though he was quoting them. And, it was a fellow pastor, I believe, who challenged him. Could he answer? Ha!

Americans with a connection to Ugandans who support or promote the bill have a special responsibility to come along side their Ugandan brothers and ask them to put down their stones.