Anti-gay reaction to David Kato’s death

Various actors in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill saga have made statements and provided their own spin on the death of David Kato.

In this BBC segment, Martin Ssempa provides comment. Ssempa says the reason for Kato’s death is “gay on gay bashing.” Given his brush with the legal system, perhaps Ssempa has taken up investigating crime and has it all figured out. Otherwise, the BBC segment is worth viewing in that it again demonstrates the difficult situation for Ugandan GLBT people.

David Bahati uses Kato’s death to continue to bash gays and essentially says Kato brought his death on himself. UG Pulse says Bahati “mourns” Kato. Not.

He [Bahati] says though his death may have had nothing to do with his acts, it has everything to do with the financial resources set to these individuals by donors, which could have attracted the attention of the assailants.

The MP says the Police should not only investigate Kato’s death, but also dismantle the illegal networks, particularly financial, which are being used to facilitate gay activities in Uganda, especially in schools.In Uganda most people feel like vomiting when they come across gay practitioners or activists.

The tabloid, The Red Pepper, appears to be singing off the same sheet of music as Ssempa.

And then this piece in the Uganda Record asserts that Kato supported Museveni’s opposition, implying perhaps that Kato’s murder related to political reasons.

And then there is this doozy from Scott Lively who often leaves me temporarily speechless.

Two pastors partially cleared in Uganda pastor wars, no word about Ssempa

Conspiracy charges were dropped yesterday against two of the pastors accused of working together to attack Ugandan pastor Robert Kayanja.

A city magistrates court yesterday dismissed charges of conspiracy against two pastors who were accused of tarnishing the image of Pastor Robert Kayanja.

Pastors Kayiira and Kyazze were charged with alleged criminal trespass and conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour, a charge they deny.

Ms Nakadama, however, ordered Pastor Kayiira to defend himself against the charge of criminal trespass.

She set February 8 for the hearing of the case against Pastor Kayiira.

Criminal trespass

“Not a single witness and not even investigating officer Ms Grace Akullo was able to prove and provide court with evidence that the two pastors agreed to tarnish the name of Pastor Kanyaja,” she said.

Mwanga II Grade One magistrate Esther Nakadama said the State failed to present witnesses to testify against pastors Robert Kayiira and Michael Kyazze of Omega Healing Ministries.

Martin Ssempa is mentioned as one of the three pastors but he is still in the hot seat apparently.

More on the story here…

Martin Ssempa scolds Besigye on gays

The campaign in Uganda is heating up and Martin Ssempa is calling on all candidates to bash gays in advance of the elections on February 18. Watch Ssempa’s call for opposition candidate Dr. Kiiza Besigye to re-con-si-der his view that prosecuting homosexuals is a waste of state resources.

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.

Kampala court told gays have gone into hiding; will rule in 2 weeks

The first report from Kampala on the Rolling Stone trial comes from the Deutsche Presse Agentur via Monsters and Critics:

Kampala – Uganda’s gay community has gone into hiding after a local tabloid published 100 of their names and pictures, their lawyer told a High Court judge Friday.

Kampala-based weekly Rolling Stone in October published the names and images of people they said were homosexuals, accompanied by the headline: ‘Hang Them, they are after our kids: Pictures of top 100 Homos.’

Gay activists filed a petition in court to restrain the tabloid from further publication of pictures and anti-gay stories, and sought damages and costs incurred following the publication of the article.

‘By publishing the identities of these people and places they were frequenting for dinner, and their residences, it was tantamount to a violation of their rights,’ lawyer Henry Onaria told the Kampala court.

‘Homosexuals have always been harassed but this time they have been put in danger, they cannot move freely and they are in total hiding after this publication,’ he added.

Justice Kibuka Musoke, hearing the petition, said he would rule on the case in two weeks.

There is a small but growing community of gays and lesbians in the East African country, but its members have frequently complained of harassment by both the government and sections of the public.

Last year, a lawmaker presented a bill in parliament spelling out tough penalties for homosexuality, ranging from a few years in jail, to life imprisonment and hanging.

The move prompted a furious reaction from human rights bodies and Uganda’s western donors. The bill was subsequently put on ice.

One would think that a press organization would read other reports or actually cite sources, but not here. What does “put on ice” mean? The Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been stuck in committee, but as readers of CNN, Box Turtle Bulletin or this blog know, those supporting it are claiming that it will move during this session of Parliament.

Uganda Observer reports on Rolling Stone, Martin Ssempa; confirms attack

The Uganda Observer has an article this morning reporting on the ongoing controversy over the Uganda Rolling Stone tabloid. Also, for the first time, a Uganda paper reports on the Canyon Ridge Christian Church story:

Ssempa loses funding

Meanwhile, the Canyon Ridge Christian Church (CRCC), which has been supporting Pastor Martin Ssempa’s work on HIV/AIDS in Uganda, has announced it is “looking to re-direct” its resources to other people. They cite Sempa’s support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

When contacted, Ssempa declined to confirm whether he had been notified of the decision. The statement, however, can be found on the CRCC’s website.

Indeed, the statement is on their website, with a link on the frontpage. How odd…Rev. Ssempa is not shy to talk to the Rolling Stone but he declined to comment to The Observer.

As noted here, Oral Roberts University continues to list Ssempa on their Board of Reference.

The Observer leads with the Rolling Stone story:

A Ugandan story about homosexuality that went largely unnoticed at home is hitting headlines in the foreign media, with CNN and BBC among those raising its profile.

Julian Pepe Onziema, the Programmes Coordinator of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an NGO that lobbies for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBTS), has had interviews with these media houses, and others like the SABC of South Africa and Aljazeera, over persecution of this group in Uganda.

She is currently in Gambia to discuss the rights of homosexuals before the African Commission and her days continue to be filled with a lot of advocacy work following the reports.

On October 2, a newspaper, Rolling Stone, which entered the Ugandan market only in August this year, carried pictures of people it claimed were homosexuals under the headline, ‘Kampala’s top homosexuals’.

The newspaper was quick to realize that the story was good for publicity abroad, so there was a follow-up in its latest November edition.

It ran graphic photos of people said to be gay, their names and addresses. In one of the photos, a woman said to be a lesbian is lying seductively on a bed wearing a figure-hugging dress with a caption saying, “She claims to be hot but is only interested in relationships with women. She seduces women.”

Next to hers are other pictures of male genitalia inflicted with lymphogranulama, a disease the newspaper alleged is eating up the homosexual community. Strewn around are pictures of other individuals said to be homosexuals, as well as activists and sympathizers.

The Observer has established that one of the people listed as a lesbian was attacked by her neighbours with stones and had to be rescued by friends who sneaked her out of the house. Other attacks have been reported but couldn’t be confirmed.

Rolling Stone’s Facebook page removed; Martin Ssempa returns?

This from editor Giles Muhame’s Facebook page:

“The Rolling Stone newspaper’s facebook page has been scrapped by the social networking website management in US for spreading a hate camapign against homosexuals in Uganda,” according to Cliff Abeneitwe, the newspaper’s marketing manager. We will miss you guys….

For his part, Abenaitwe promises more “men of shame” in next week’s issue of the Rolling Stone, perhaps defying a Ugandan judge who ordered a cessation of the outings.

Meanwhile, the pastor of the Rolling Stone editors, Martin Ssempa, may be back on Facebook. Earlier Martin Ssempa’s Facebook page was removed but he – or at least someone posing as him – appears to be posing under the name Onelovepastor Uganda.

Change.org petitions Oral Roberts University to end silence on Ugandan anti-gay bill

Progressive website Change.org has created a petition targeting Oral Roberts University due to the presence of Martin Ssempa on the ORU Board of Reference. In a January post, I noted that Ssempa was on this advisory board and ask ORU for comment. Here is what I wrote then:

Oral Roberts University – Martin Ssempa is on the Board of Reference for ORU. Public Relations Director, Jeremy Burton explained the Board of Reference duties:

  • This Board of Reference is to provide for effective communication an informative exchange and service among the public, ORU’s stakeholders, and the University.
  • A board of reference is for the purpose of credibility, for reputation, and for influence.
  • As a member of the Board of Reference, your name and your circle of influence lends reputation to the credibility of Oral Roberts University.
  • A board of reference has no voting privileges and does not have any regularly scheduled meetings.

Mr. Burton declined to issue any other statement regarding the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The background article supporting the petition asks: Does Oral Roberts University Support Killing Gays in Uganda? I honestly doubt that those running the school do support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. However, given the role of a person on the Board of Reference, I think the concern of Change.org is warranted. Martin Ssempa is not simply expressing doctrinal differences or taking a different point of view on a controversial issue. For quite some time, he has actively promoted a harsh governmental response to living bearers of the image of God. Most recently, he gave an interview and published an article in the shocking “hang the gays” tabloid, knowing full well what the paper is trying to accomplish.

Statement from Ugandan LGBT coalition; Judge rules against Rolling Stone

It was an eventful day in Uganda. The Rolling Stone distributed part 2 of their “hang the gays” tabloid, and a Ugandan judge ordered the tabloid to cease outing gays. Just a bit ago, Sexual Minorities Uganda made the following comments and press release.

Kampala.  2.11.2010

Uganda: Court issues an interim order restraining the “ROLLING STONE”

In two of its publication issue No 5 and Issue no 6. The Rolling Stone a Ugandan weekly Tabloid., “outed” Uganda  LGBTI People. These outings increased hostility and harassment for LGBTI Ugandans.

In response Sexual Minorities Uganda – SMUG, the Ugandan LGBTI community and the civil society coalition on human rights and constitutional law sued the Rolling Stone.

Before His Lordship Justice V.F  Musoke Kibuka in the presence of  Ms. Sengendo Rose Counsel for the applicant at the high court of Uganda.

The Court issued an interim order restraining the respondents, their servants and agents, from any further publication in the publication called ROLLING STONE or any  other publications  by the respondents , their agents or servants, the identities by name or pictures or any relevant implication of the person or person perceived by the respondents to be gay, lesbian or homosexual in general.

The Interim Order is to remain in place till the hearing and disposal of Misc Cause No. 163 of 2010

Costs on the cause.

The Rolling Stone editorial team was not in court; hearing for the case has been scheduled for 23rd .11 . 2010.

And then the press release…

PRESS RELEASE

KAMPALA – November 01, 2010

GAY ACTIVISTS SUE THE ROLLONG STONE TABLOID

The Ugandan Rolling Stone tabloid published an article entitled “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak” calling for “the hanging of homos” in Uganda in its issue of Vol.1, No. 5, 2 – 9 October, 2010. This article shows pictures of some of the 100 alleged homosexuals and other Human Rights Activists, alongside their names and a description of their professional jobs and private life, including where they live or work.

The publication has affected the day to day lives of the individuals mentioned and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender [LGBTI] community as a whole. Therefore Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender human rights activists have taken the tabloid to the High court.

Through this litigation the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community is seeking to bring to an end the violations. They will also educate and raise awareness that everyone in this society deserves and should be protected by the government and the law irrespective of race, age, color, tribe, creed, sexual orientation and gender identity.

We call on;

1. The MEDIA to immediately desist from using press freedom to incite violence against any person.

2. The Government of Uganda to intervene immediately and take all appropriate measures to put an end to this blatant incitement to public violence against a particular group of citizens.

3. The Government of Uganda should recognize and seize the opportunity to ensure the protection of human rights, which is entrusted to its authority, and uphold the Ugandan Constitution as well as the international and regional Human Rights Instruments to which Uganda is a signatory.

For further information please contact:

Frank Mugisha –

fmugisha@sexualminoritiesuganda.org

Statement: Canyon Ridge Christian Church does not support efforts to pass Anti-Homosexuality Bill

This afternoon, Mitch Harrison at Canyon Ridge Christian Church sent me a statement about church support for Martin Ssempa. The statement, in full, reads:

Canyon Ridge Christian Church began work in Uganda with the intent of helping address the HIV/AIDS pandemic that was wiping out generations of people in that country and other parts of Africa. Our partnership with Pastor Martin Ssempa began in response to this intent.

 

Because of the current controversy in Uganda over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and because of Pastor Ssempa’s involvement in the support of the bill, we have been in regular communication with him to clarify his positions and opinions. While we have come to understand that Pastor Ssempa advocates for an amended version of the Anti-Homosexuality bill that removes the death penalty and reduces other severe penalties, he is still supports passage of this bill.

 

We, however, do not support him in this effort.

 

We are in the process of determining how we can redirect our support in Uganda to activities specifically related to addressing HIV/AIDS issues.

 

Further, we condemn acts of violence against any person regardless of sexual orientation.

 

Our desire is to see God’s purposes lived out in Uganda, and for the redemption and abundant life he gives to be experienced by everyone.

While CRCC is not directly acknowledging the errors in their earlier statement (still up but probably not for long), they do so implicitly by condemning acts of violence which the AHB would lead to and which has been recently incited by Uganda’s Rolling Stone.

Background for this story is here, here, here, here, and here (all of my articles at Salon.com)

UPDATE: CRCC has replaced their former statement with the one above on their website. The Ssempas are no longer referenced as mission partners but rather a link to this statement has replaced their page. The former page is archived here (page 1, page 2, page 3).