Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – Full text with commentary

In October, 2009, David Bahati and Benson Obua introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the Ugandan Parliament. Supporters of the bill have claimed publicly that the bill is designed to provide consequences for molestation of boys in the same way Ugandan law does for offenses against girls. Yesterday, Martin Ssempa said to the Christianity Today that the bill should be described as follows:

Uganda law proposes capital sentence for Men with HIV who rape boys and infect them with HIV/AIDS just as it is for heterosexuals who rape girls.

He claims that the bill has been distorted by “homosexualists.” To allow readers to evaluate those claims, the full text of the bill is here. Also available is the scanned version from the Uganda Gazette which is the official version currently under debate. I add comments about the effect of the bill and where appropriate discuss Martin Ssempa’s claims made to Christianity Today.

THE ANTI HOMOSEXUALITY BILL, 2009.

MEMORADUM

1.1. The principle

The object of this Bill is to establish a comprehensive consolidated legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting (i) any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; and (ii) 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.

This Bill aims at strengthening the nation’s capacity lo deal with emerging internal and external threats threats to the traditional heterosexual family.

This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic.

The Bill further aims at providing a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda.

There is also need to protect the children and youths 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 homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption, foster care, or otherwise.

When the supporters of the bill declare that the purpose of the bill is to protect “the boy child” in the same that the law protects “the girl child,” they overlook the opening section which states the purpose. The law intends to eliminate homosexuality from Uganda via practice or speech intended to support homosexuals.

2.1. Defects in existing law.

This proposed legislation is designed to fill the gaps in the provisions of other laws in Uganda e.g. the Penal Code Act Cap. 120. The Penal Code Act (Cap 120) has no comprehensive provision catering for anti homosexuality. It focuses on unnatural offences under section 145 and lacks provisions for penalizing the procurement, promoting, disseminating literature and other pantographic materials concerning the offences of homosexuality hence the need for legislation to provide for charging, investigating, prosecuting, convicting and sentencing of offenders.

This legislation comes to complement and supplement the provisions of the Constitution of Uganda and the Penal Code Act Cap 120 by not only criminalizing same sex marriages but also same-sex sexual acts and other related acts.

3.0. The objectives of the Bill

The objectives of the Bill are to: Continue reading “Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – Full text with commentary”

College of Prayer, the Ugandan Parliament and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Many observers have speculated about U.S. influence in Uganda, particularly relating to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009. The obvious trigger for legislation this year was the ex-gay conference held in Kampala in March. Organized by Ugandan Stephen Langa, the conference featured presentations by Scott Lively, Caleb Brundidge and Don Schmierer. Lively and Brundidge addressed some members of the Ugandan parliament in a breakfast meeting on March 5. From minutes of the Ugandan Parliament:

THE SPEAKER: Thank you very much, hon. Minister. Hon. Members, this brings us to the end of today’s business.

Before we go, I have this communication to make. All Members are invited to an executive breakfast meeting seminar on the dangers of homosexuality. The theme is, “Exposing the truth about homosexuality and the homosexual agenda”. The meeting will take place in the Parliament Conference Hall tomorrow Thursday, 5th March starting at 7.30 a.m. to 9.00 a.m.

Guest speakers include Dr Scot Libley [sic – Scott Lively] of the United States, Caleb Lee [Brundidge] of the United States and Mr Stephen Langa of the Family Life Network. All Members are invited to attend and breakfast will be served. The House is adjourned until tomorrow at 2.30 p.m.

Lively’s collaboration with Stephen Langa goes back at least to 2002 when Lively traveled to Uganda twice. At the time, Lively sought to work with Campus Crusade for Christ but these plans fell through. He then turned to Stephen Langa who helped set up his trip.

I then called Stephen Langa, head of the Family Life Network and organizer of the highly successful conference against pornography and obscenity, at which I had spoken in March. He was enthusiastic, and offered to set up speaking events and media appearances on the anti-porn topic.

Lively also collaborated with Rev. Martin Ssempa during this visit.

Speaking of Ssempa, Rick Warren and Saddleback church have been raised as possible influences on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill due to a past connection with Ssempa; the Ugandan pastor collaborated with Saddleback until 2007. However, Rev. Warren recently made known his break with Ssempa via a statement to me on  October 31. Ssempa recently commented on this break in an AFP news report.

Ssempa told AFP he was disappointed by a recent statement by American mega-Pastor Rick Warren, who delivered the convocation at US president Barack Obama’s Inauguration.

Warren did not mention the Anti-Homosexuality Bill specifically, but said he and his wife ended their relationship with Ssempa, “when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own”.

Other American churches support Martin Ssempa (see here and here), but there is a more direct connection to the Ugandan Parliament. As noted in a New Vision report, an American organization called the College of Prayer was recently in Uganda to host prayer meetings and leadership training.  

MEMBERS of Parliament have been warned against witchcraft and corrupt tendencies.

“You should not consult witchdoctors for success but instead seek help from God,” Dr. Fred Hartley, the president of the College of Prayer International, said.

“I know witchcraft is a big problem in Uganda but as MPs, you should be exemplary,” he said.

Hartley was speaking during a prayer meeting for parliamentarians at Fairway Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday….

After the prayer meeting, eight MPs were selected to be in the servant leadership team for Parliament for three years.

They included Ruth Tuma, Alice Alaso, Beatrice Lagada, Moses Ntahobari, Capt. Grace Kyomugisha, Benson Obua, David Bahati and the East African legislative assembly MP, Maj. Gen Mugisha Muntu.

On the website of the College of Prayer, one learns that this meeting was a part of a longer term relationship (this link does not work now, here is a screen capture of it.

The College of Prayer will have it’s first module in the Parliament of Uganda from October 31-November 1. Two members of Parliament were able to attend the African Summit this summer and will be encouraging their fellow members to attend. Fred Hartley and Mike and Lisa Plunket will be facilitating this module on “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.”

Following this COP there will be COP’s in the cities of Kampala and Gulu taking place November 2-4. Fred will be leading the one in Kampala for leading Pastors and Mike Plunket will be leading the one in Gulu. Mike will be graduating 1000 students who have completed three years of COP training. Continue to pray for God’s protection over the members of Parliament and their families, particularly for Honorable Bensen, Honorable David and Honorable Buturo. Pray as well for all the pastors and Christian leaders who will be attending each of these modules. Pray for the manifest presence of Christ to be in the midst of these meetings and for the Holy Spirit to guide each of their sessions.

The two named sponsors of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 in the Parliament are David Bahati and Benson Obua-Ogwal. In the executive branch, the prime voice has been Nsaba Butoro. Note that the College of Prayer specifically mentions these men for recognition. This recent Ugandan visit followed a meeting in April which was described on the College of Prayer website:

buturocop

Note that the College of Prayer has entered into a three year agreement to “facilitate the College of Prayer” for Parliament. In February, 2010, another bill supporter, Apostle Julius Oyet will speak at a Leadership Training meeting in Atlanta at the Lilburn Alliance Church, a church affiliated with the Christian & Missionary Alliance and pastored by Fred Hartley, the president of the College of Prayer. MP Benson Obua  is one of those featured on the page who recommend the event.

Rev. Oyet was present with Rev. Ssempa and Rev. Langa when the first motion was made to allow introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill back in April.

Let us hear from hon. Bahati. In connection with the motion he is moving, we have in the gallery Apostle Julius Peter Oyet, Vice-President of the Born Again Federation; Pastor Dr Martin Sempa of the Family Policy Centre; Stephen Langa, Family Life Network; hon. Godfrey Nyakaana; the Mayor of Kampala City Council.

This American organization has the closest contact with those responsible for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of any I have been able to discover. Over the past several days, I have talked a couple of times to College of Prayer president Fred Hartley to inquire about the relationship between his organization and the Ugandan legislators.

Rev. Hartley wanted to make it clear that he and the College of Prayer are not politically motivated. Hartley told me that they are in Uganda to lead the Parliament and other leaders in “Christian discipleship.” Because of that focus, Hartley told me that he “can’t take responsibility for their decisions.”

Regarding the co-sponsors of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, David Bahati and Benson Obua and the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Nsaba Buturo, Rev. Hartley had only good to say. He told me that they are “men of integrity” who “want to do what is right.”

Regarding the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Rev. Hartley told me that he has a hard copy of the bill he received in July from David Bahati. He declined to send me a copy because he said that Bahati told him that such copies were unauthorized. Rev. Hartley acknowledged that the copy he has seen is different than the copy of the bill I sent to him (I sent a copy I was given by Martin Ssempa). Rev. Hartley believes that I may be laboring under a false idea of what the bill actually says. Hartley told me that David Bahati told him last week that many accounts of what is actually in the bill are “grossly distorted.”

While Rev. Hartley believes that the copy of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill I have is incorrect, I must differ. Here is a copy that was published by the Uganda Gazette.

ugandagazetteAHB

I was sent a copy by Martin Ssempa that was compiled just before it went to the Uganda Gazette. They are the essentially the same which was confirmed to me by an individual in Uganda who would be in a position to know. Once a bill is published in the Uganda Gazette (the official publication for all legislation), it is available for public discussion and review.

At present, it seems that Rev. Hartley believes that the bill is not as bad as critics say it is. He is working with the impression that the current bill is not an accurate version and believes his friends Bahati, Buturo and Obua. I am unable to reconcile these conflicting claims. Clearly, I have evidence that the bill I have seen as confirmed is accurate and has been published by the Uganda Gazette .

It remains to be seen what Rev. Hartley and the College of Prayer will do when they discover that the bill in Parliament is what critics say it is. My hope is that they will use their influence for good. Time is of the essence. According to Rev. Hartley, Bahati and company want the bill voted on by the end of 2009.

For a bill to become law in Uganda, it must be read in the Parliament three times before a vote. The tabling of a bill must be approved first by Parliament before it is published and read. This happened on April 29, 2009. The bill was printed in the Uganda Gazette on September 25, and was first read on October 14. It was then referred to committee and will soon have a second reading. At least 14 days must pass until the third reading a vote.

See this link for the Parliamentary discussion of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when the “Motion for a Resolution of Parliament to present a Private Members Bill” was made. At that time, David Bahati won the opportunity from Parliament to introduce the bill.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill discussed on Premier Christian Radio

Yesterday morning my time, I was on the Premier Christian Radio Network (UK) to discuss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently being considered in Uganda. Also on the show was prime supporter in Uganda, Martin Ssempa.

You can listen here (If audio is down, try this…).

Some Christian leaders in the UK are speaking out about a proposed law in Uganda which would introduce the death penalty for gay people.

The British government’s already announced it’s unease at the idea.

It’s already illegal to be homosexual in the African state, but the new bill would introduce more strict punishments.

Pastor Martin Ssempa is a Ugandan who supports the new law.

Dr Warren Throckmorton is associate professor of Psychology and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy at Grove City Christian College in Pennsylvania. He’s campaigning against it.

I felt the interview went well and brought out the relevant concerns about the bill.

Harvard’s AIDS expert Edward Green condemns Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

The Christian Post published my op-ed this morning regarding the deleterious effects of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill on AIDS work. I was able to interview Edward Green, who is the Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard University. Green is widely known respected among AIDS researchers and prevention specialists for his work in primary prevention. As noted in the op-ed, Dr. Green worked with Martin Ssempa to craft policy which emphasize abstinence and fidelity. I didn’t add in the op-ed that Stephen Langa was also a co-author.

About the bill, Dr. Green told me:

The bill sounds dangerous and completely inhumane. As a practical matter, such a bill is unenforceable and would only drive homosexuality underground, terrorize gay men and women and their loved ones, and justify witch hunts.

I also was able to interview Karen Moul of the Catholic Relief Services. CRS has received millions to prevent and treat AIDS around the world. She noted that their efforts are hampered by stigma now; this bill will make the situation worse.

Also, go on over to Christian Post and read this article…

Adding D to ABC: How a Proposed Ban on Homosexuality in Uganda Will Undo AIDS Progress

Relevant to AIDS relief work, there is no exemption in the bill for professionals.

Tue, Nov. 03, 2009 Posted: 07:23 PM EDT Continue reading “Harvard’s AIDS expert Edward Green condemns Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009”

Rick and Kay Warren issue statement regarding Martin Ssempa’s activities in Uganda

Shortly after the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in Uganda, I requested information and a statement from Pastor Rick and his wife Kay Warren about the bill. Rick Warren’s work in Uganda is significant as is noted here and here. I also asked their views regarding the advocacy for the bill by Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa.

 Regarding the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Ssempa recently told me

I am in total support of the bill and would be most grateful if it did pass.

This statement below clearly explains that the Warrens cut ties with Ssempa in 2007. Ssempa’s advocacy of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is the culmination of increasingly aggressive measures antagonistic to homosexuality. In addition to the bill’s assault on human dignity via the death penalty and prison terms, the bill’ reporting requirements would make the work of any missionary, pastoral counselor, physician, or health care provider working with sexuality incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

Here is their statement:

STATEMENT FROM PASTOR RICK & KAY WARREN REGARDING ACTIVITIES OF MARTIN SSEMPA IN UGANDA 

Martin Ssempa does not represent me, my wife Kay, Saddleback Church, nor the Global PEACE Plan strategy. In 2007, we completely severed contact with Mr. Ssempa  when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own. Our role, and the role of the PEACE Plan, whether in Uganda or any other country, is always pastoral and never political. We vigorously oppose anything that hinders the goals of the PEACE Plan: Promoting reconciliation, Equipping ethical leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation.

I applaud Rick and Kay Warren for making this clear statement and hope that Ugandan Christians will consider the wisdom in it. I urge other Christian groups and leaders around the world to follow suit.

Join the Facebook group, Speak Out Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 for more information.

The future is now: Ugandan pastors investigated over homosexuality accusations

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

Here is the relevant section of the bill:

14. Failure to disclose the offence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uganda: Police Quiz Pastors Kyaze and Kayira

Steven Candia, 26 October 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GU noted:

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

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

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

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

    For more information, join this Facebook group.

    Pentecostal Christians join Muslims against gays

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

    Muslims Join Pastors in Gay Fight

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

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

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

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

    Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda.

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