Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A letter to Rebecca Kadaga – from a supportive gay Ugandan

By Richard Sebagala Madam Speaker, the right Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, Member of Parliament (MP) for the Kamuli District Women’s Constituency since 1989. You are on a roll! Over the last three weeks you have managed to hog the media spotlight almost exclusively, relegating Uganda’s president to a parenthesis. That makes you something of a wonder woman. It takes chutzpah to push Uganda’s president to the inside pages and you must be congratulated for stepping up in such a bold way. First of all, Madam Speaker, welcome back from Canada. You were absolutely right to stand up to John Baird when he upbraided you in public about the murder of David Kato. That case had nothing to do with you and you were never part of the court case that eventually convicted Kato’s lover for that heinous crime. So, you did what you had to do for yourself and, indeed, for Uganda’s pride. John Baird would never speak to the Saudis or Kuwaitis in that manner – yet those countries have far more glaring gay and women’s rights abuses than Uganda. But as with everything, Madam Speaker, please remember that hubris is a terrible vice in politics. By hubris, I mean an excess of pride, ambition or self-confidence. More often than not, it leads politicians to overreach. Take your current involvement with failed politicians like James Nsaba-Buturo and convicted felons like Martin Ssempa and Michael Kyazze. While you have every right to listen to whoever wishes you to lend them an audience, as the Speaker of the House you represent the entire Parliament as well as the country. You thus cannot be seen to be siding with any one constituency even when their cause might further your own political ambitions. Speakers of the House have to be seen to be non-partisan, non-aligned, neutral. But of course you know this already. Madam Speaker, this gay man wants you to encourage Uganda’s Parliament to debate and pass the bill. My reasons for this are detailed here. In short, this bill has hung over our heads like a cloud for three years now and it is time to resolve the issues surrounding it once and for all. If you support the bill because you feel it is against our culture, so be it. But the facts don’t bear you out. You are too smart not to be aware that Buganda’s Kabaka Mwanga was homosexual without any urging from colonialists. Uganda’s own president, the leader of your National Resistance Movement party agrees, and has admitted it publicly, that homosexuality has always been part of the African and Ugandan fabric. In fact, if you re-read your anthropology, you will find that homosexuality was tolerated before the white man came to Africa with his Bible – that foremost foreign import that our detractors love to subjectively, but liberally, quote from. I gather that you have no children of your own but it can’t be lost on you that all gay men and women in Uganda (500,000 and counting according to unofficial estimates) must have been begotten through heterosexual unions. I thus disagree with your interpretation of the historical facts but feel that the bill should nonetheless go ahead since Uganda has a parliamentary system of making laws and the Bahati [Nazi] Bill which seeks to turn mothers, doctors, counselors into informers has already been tabled before the House. Madam Speaker, allow me to take you back to Shakespeare and caution you against “vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself, and falls on the other side.” Given what you must surely know befell Macbeth and his over-ambitious wife, a little more circumspection, forethought, moderation before you speak might not come amiss. Remember, too, the fable of Icarus who flew too close to the sun. Or that of Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse and his courtier named Damocles. You might be on a roll now, but there are all sorts of threats behind the glory you are seeking. A week is a very long time in politics but there are three more years to go to Uganda’s next presidential election – literally a lifetime. Madam Speaker: Hang on to your political ambitions. I would, however, presume to remind you that, as Speaker, you represent the entire country, including minorities – not just disgraced politicians, bigoted Parliamentarians or convicted religious prelates. Madam Speaker: Whether this bill is passed or not, you still have my support in your obvious quest to become the next president of Uganda – that is if I am not jailed and/or killed before 2016 by the legislation that you are so busy tying your colors to in which case my support will be moot. From a gay Ugandan, living in Uganda, that you seek to criminalize purely on account of who he is, but who nonetheless supports your presidential ambitions because he is totally fed up to the back teeth with this uncaring, bungling, corruption-ridden, thieving, tired, rusted, putrid dish of a government.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

MPs applaud Kadaga’s stance on gays, want Bill debated in House

By MERCY NALUGO MPs across the political divide in a plenary session chaired by Ms Kadaga denounce homosexuality and say the country’s moral values are threatened by cultural inventions from the western world. Parliament yesterday passed a resolution in recognition of Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s stand on homosexuality. The House also urged the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee to immediately table its report on the Bill for general debate. The committee’s chairperson Steven Tashobya yesterday said their report is almost done and will be brought to Parliament before it breaks off for Christmas recess. MPs across the political divide in a plenary session chaired by Ms Kadaga denounced homosexuality and said the country’s moral values are threatened by cultural inventions from the western world. Member after member hailed Ms Kadaga for her bold stand when she challenged the Canadian Foreign Affairs minister, John Baird, at a recent summit. The MP for Kinkiizi West, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, moved the motion that was overwhelmingly supported by legislators who committed themselves to passing the anti-homosexuality Bill. “I rise to add my voice to state clearly that you represented Uganda effectively in Canada. You represented our right to do what we want to do as a country. We have made a point very clearly that we abide by the country’s Constitution which guarantees the right of members and back benchers to move private members Bills and MP Bahati exercised that right,” said Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. While attending the 127th Inter-Parliamentary Union in Quebec, Canada, Ms Kadaga defended the country’s stance on homosexuality. Ms Kadaga reminded Mr Baird that Uganda was neither a colony nor a protectorate of Canada and as such her sovereignty, societal and cultural norms were to be respected. Rujumbura MP Jim Muhwezi hailed Ms Kadaga saying: “ Unless we are independent politically, we shall be a mat to be trampled upon. If it’s democracy let us practice it on principle.” Ndorwa West MP David Bahati three years ago moved a private members’ anti-homosexuality Bill. His Bill has received support from religious groups but has been condemned by gay rights activists. MPs Reagan Okumu, Latiff Ssebaggala, Jack Sabiiti, Joova Kamateeka, Kasirivu Atwoki all praised Ms Kadaga. mnalugo@ug.nationmedia.com

Speaker Kadaga promises to revive shelved gay Bill

By Isaac Imaka IN SUMMARY The Speaker’s promise follows her experience in Canada, where foreign officials asked her to block the bill. Entebbe Days after her defence against a Canadian minister’s attacks on Uganda over homosexuality, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has promised to expedite the debate on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Ms Kadaga made the assurance while addressing religious leaders and journalists at Entebbe International Airport on Monday. “They said I should stop the debate on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill but I assured them there is no way I can block a private members Bill,” she said. At the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Quebec, Canada, Ms Kadaga was involved in an altercation with that country’s Foreign Affairs minister, Mr John Baird, after the latter accused Uganda of trampling on human rights. The accusation saw Ms Kadaga tell the minister to stick to the day’s theme and respect Uganda’s sovereignty. “I will not accept to be intimidated or directed by any government in the world on matters of homosexuality,” she said, adding that she was not aware she was speaking for many people in the world, some of whom were in the conference. “I was surprised when colleagues came and thanked me saying that’s what they have always wanted to say but they had never gotten the courage to. That when it came to me that I had spoken for the whole of Africa, for the Arab world and Asians,” she said. The welcome ceremony and press briefing was organised by religious leaders, former Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo and the mover of the Bill, Mr David Bahati, all of whom are pushing for the enactment of the anti-homosexuality Bill. A large procession comprising members of different Pentecostal churches, Makerere University students and boda boda cyclists camped at the airport from 10am to after midnight when Ms Kadaga emerged to greet them as they ululated and waved placards appreciating her boldness in Canada. “You are our saviour, we want the bill now,” one of the placards read. Pastor Michael Were, who spoke on behalf of the religious leaders, called on other national leaders to follow Ms Kadaga’s footsteps for the sake of the country’s culture and traditions. Asked whether she was not mindful of Uganda being denied aid and her being denied entry visas to pro-gay countries, Ms Kadaga said such countries were welcome to keep their aid and visas. iimaka@ug.nationmedia.com

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Despite the first public retraction by Giles Muhame of his hang the gays campaign: “Had the Vice-Chancellor’s office known about this invitation and the background of the individual the invitation would have been withdrawn.” By Private Courts, San Francisco- October 20, 2012-Deputy Vice-chancellor Dr. David Young, of the University of Victoria, Kampala, Uganda, issued an apology this week, indicating the University’s regret at hosting Giles Muhame, the managing editor of the “Hang-the Gays” Tabloid, Rolling Stone. Muhame delivered a speech earlier this month to students at the University’s new Department of Journalism, after receiving an invitation by journalism Professor Alan Geere. Muhame contacted Melanie Nathan and provided her with a transcript while boasting about his speech at the University earlier this month. Nathan, an advocate for LGBTI human rights, who has written extensively about Uganda’s LGBTI community’s struggle, immediately issued a complaint about the invitation to the University, through the advocacy firm Private Courts, Inc. Muhame commenced his speech to the students with his first ever public expression of regret since Rolling Stone’s notorious article in 2010,“ 100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak” with a picture of a noose and the further caption – “HANG THEM!.” The Article used pictures including a hangman’s noose to out gays and lesbians in Uganda, causing untold harm resulting in the ostracizing, beatings and arrests of some Ugandans, while others fled the country. In his speech Muhame makes a first ever admission that he waged a campaign to hang the gays and that he had caused harm: “The Rolling Stone made mistakes, which I regret and think, should have been avoided. It was the youthful adrenaline that overrode our reason. It was not necessary to wage a campaign for the hanging of gays. I think we could have prepared a better story without jeopardizing the safety of a minority group. The story under the headline “Hang Them” cost the newspaper its future. It’s not a good thing to be known for doing the wrong thing. (Applause).” “Even though he has made this admission, it was inadequate and self serving,” noted Nathan. “Under the circumstances this invitation was highly offensive to all journalists and also the LGBT communities around the world. The Ugandan leaks went viral and Muhame’s actions were deadly,” said Nathan. Furthermore, “Giles Muhame has yet to apologize or make amends to the LGBTI community and the specific people he harmed.” Muhame lost a lawsuit brought against him and the tabloid by Ugandan gay activists including since murdered David Kato. Muhame was ordered to retract the publication and pay shs 4.5million to the gay activists who sued him. However he vowed to ignore the judgment through a Press Release referring to his victims as “shamed homos” and stated further:- “We would have paid them but doing so is as good as paying a tribute to those who promote sexual identity confusion and related madness. We remain strong and indeed in times of war, losses are expected.” Melanie Nathan noted in her letter to the Vice-Chancellor’s office:- “Your Journalism Department at Victoria University invited one of the world’s most unethical and disrespected ‘journalists’ to speak to its students.” Nathan went on to note: “What the world thinks of Muhame is summed up by U.S. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, in her letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton asking for the denial of a U.S. Visa to Muhame, as follows: “Under Mr. Muhame’s editorship, Rolling Stone incited violence and murder against non-heterosexuals…. This hate filled man has fanned the flames with violence and intolerance, and is both a danger and a disgrace.” (See the letter: http://oblogdeeoblogda.me/2012/07/11/congresswoman-requests-secretary-clinton-to-deny-us-entry-to-giles-muhame/ ) The Private Court’s complaint expressed: “Nothing Muhame says or does can restore him to journalistic integrity until such time as he apologizes publicly to the 100 gays he outed, the entire community and makes some form of reparation to David Kato’s mother and Ugandans who had to flee Uganda as a result of the publication.” Nathan says that the Acting Vice-Chancellor Young was very responsive to the complaint. She was very pleased with the University’s response, which is published here in the following statement in its entirety: “STATEMENT ISSUED IN RESPONSE TO COMPLAINT FROM MELANIE NATHAN, PRIVATE COURTS. INC: Universities should strive to achieve a balance between protecting and promoting free speech and critical thinking on the one hand and, on the other, preventing the use of their facilities as platforms for those who are intent upon inciting hatred of groups or individuals or of inciting violence or disruption. In the case of the presenter you are complaining about some the views he promoted previously in his journal Rolling Stone fell in the category of inciting hatred of groups and/or individuals and would, in many countries, have incurred the wrath of the criminal law. He has since expressed a degree of regret for the expression of these views – as indeed he did during his talk at Victoria University. Furthermore, he made no attempt during his visit to promote the unacceptable views previously published. The visit was part of a series of presentations from representatives of both the mainstream and alternative media to our students on the Media, Communication and Journalism course in order to expose them to different models of journalism and how these publications are formulated in terms of editorial stance and business model. However, expressions of regret for having caused extreme harm are only convincing if complete and unreserved. Unreserved and unqualified regret and apology should certainly be a minimum condition for re-acceptance in the worldwide academic community. Had the Vice-Chancellor’s office known about this invitation and the background of the individual the invitation would have been withdrawn. Victoria University abhors and condemns unequivocally the statements made in Rolling Stone and elsewhere which incited hatred of, or violence against, individuals or groups of people. We apologize for having provided a platform which was likely to cause offense to those people affected by these unacceptable statements. This case has acted as a prompt for us to formulate our policy on guest speakers and our new policy document will be presented to the next meeting of our Senate. We will also be requiring with immediate effect that all proposals for guest speakers must be subject to the approval of the Vice-Chancellor’s office. These measures are designed to ensure compliance from now on with the principles expressed in paragraph one of this statement. Dr David Young Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Acting Vice-Chancellor Victoria University 17 October 2012” O-BLOG-DEE-O-BLOG-DA – Private Courts, Inc. © 2012, All rights Reserved. Permission to Republish Statement with article only and as long as it is published without any edit and in full or link to this page as source. ————————————————————————————————————- Melanie Nathan, Executive Director, Private Courts Inc. MELANIE NATHAN is the founding director of Private Courts Inc. an international and U.S. mediation, equality and human rights advocacy firm based in Marin County, California. Nathan’s CV can be found at www.visualcv.com/melnathanShe can be contacted at nathan@privatecourts.com

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Uganda National Anthem

1. Oh Uganda! may God uphold thee, We lay our future in thy hand. United, free, For liberty Together we'll always stand. 2. Oh Uganda! the land of freedom. Our love and labour we give, And with neighbours all At our country's call In peace and friendship we'll live. 3. Oh Uganda! the land that feeds us By sun and fertile soil grown. For our own dear land, We'll always stand: The Pearl of Africa's Crown.

Statement by Gen. Tinyefunza

Fellow Ugandans The country is witnessing a lot of violence, disruption of social life and general apprehension of the people of Uganda. The population is beginning to feel unsure about the future and generally insecure. This is a complete reversal of the feeling and belief which our people had when they defeated dictatorship. Therefore, this is a call to all those involved in the management of public affairs to reflect and pull back a little to make sure they fully understand where the country is going, current forces at play and the challenges that face us. Let us not destroy all that has been achieved over years. This is therefore, a statement against the creeping lawlessness, impunity, primitive arrogance and insensitive behaviour, which are increasingly being exhibited by some actors who manage the affairs of the state. The violence against the population by those permitted by the law to protect the people must stop. Politicians using the coercive organs of the state to enrich themselves must stop. Those unguided and also misguided actions are resulting in so much anarchy and indiscipline in the country, murders, mob justice, land grabbing by the rich, sickening robberies of government money and assets sugar-coated as “corruption” and other social ills. Politicians can fight their political wars but should leave the people of Uganda in peace. The poor people who are being beaten and flogged, women undressed in front of their children and cameras, are the ones whose poor parents fought the war of liberation. They are the people who housed us, gave us food, provided us with intelligence and offered their all to create a better future. Nobody has a right to abuse them. Our women must not be stripped and beaten and whoever does it will become the new enemy. The poor people of Uganda should be treated humanely and should not be flogged on the streets. While the rich are cleaning streets so that their big cars don’t step on the rubbish, our poor masses are sleeping on empty stomachs, sleeping in open spaces without houses, sleeping in and actually eating the rubbish being swept off the streets. Yes, development is good but development must be planned, it must not be anti-people and fascist methods must never be used against our people and in any case, that situation is not sustainable and it never has been. These actions can lead to very serious insecurity and destabilization of the whole country. Therefore, those involved should watch out. They must remember that Uganda has passed through a lot, achieved a lot and can still take care of its own should need arise. Let us all work together to reverse this trend. Uganda belongs to all of us and let us own it and be happy in it. Restraint please. Gen. David Sejusa (aka Tinyefuza) MP, Coordinator Security Services.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Minister Lokodo appears in court for closing gay meeting

By Anthony Wesaka Ethics Minister Fr Simon Lokodo on Monday appeared before the High Court in Kampala over the closure of a gay meeting in Entebbe, but was not cross examined as earlier expected. This followed an agreement by lawyers of the two camps who said court, presided over by Justice Eldad Mwangushya, should rely on sworn affidavits made by witnesses to resolve the matter. Fr Lokodo, along with the Attorney General, is being sued by four gay activists – Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera, Julian Pepe Onziema, Frank Mugisha and Geoffrey Ogwaro – who accuse him of infringing on their rights when he closed their ongoing two –week meeting in February. The workshop in question was secretly organized by Freedom and Roam Uganda, an association that lobbies for the recognition of same sex relationships in Uganda, at Imperial Resort Beach Entebbe in February. “ The matter was coming up for cross examination today but after perusal of the proceedings, counsel for both sides agreed that there is no need for cross examination as they will rely on filed affidavits before the court,” Francis Onyango, a lawyer for the gay activists, told court. Senior Principal State Attorney Patricia Muteesi, who is representing minister Lokodo and the Attorney General, was in agreement with the suggestion. Justice Mwangushya welcomed the move saying it is “the best option.” The two camps agreed to file written submissions to assist court resolve the issues. The court gave the gay activists up to September 26 to file in their submissions, while Fr Lokodo and the Attorney General have up to October 19. The two sides will return to court on November 5 to highlight on the written submissions before a judgment date can be set. Fr Lokodo told this newspaper after the trial that he maintains his stand of closing any gay meeting, saying the practice is unnatural. “I still commit myself of dispersing any gathering organised by the gays. Homosexuality is unnatural: the Constitution and the Penal Code spell that out clearly.” Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, punishable under section 145 of the Penal Code Act as a crime against morality. awesaka@ug.nationmedia.com 24 comments delimoo • 20 hours ago the gay activists are trying to publicise themselves so that the u.s embassy can give them visas to go to america for kyeyo, it is not that they believe in this abominable and obnoxious gayism 7 3 •Reply•Share › Frankie Gold • 16 hours ago • parent Its not about Kyeyo, its about freedom. 2 1 •Reply•Share › Aisha • 18 hours ago • parent True Delimo! Believe me if these gays in uganda think these western countries love them..let them gather themselves and go to American, British and Germany embassies and apply for visas to the mentioned countires.. and see if they will be granted visas. These idiots have no inkling that western countries love us when we are in our countries..not when we are in their countires. 0 •Reply•Share › Onaba A • 20 hours ago Fr Lokodo, Continue the fight' we are behind you. The children of the Serpent are out again like it was in the days of Noah. Their wicked ancestor Cain who himself was an express image of Satan.. left untold appearance that up-to this date dents human genuine character as aught to be by Gods creation standard... (They are an icon of disgrace to life) they are worthy of hell, where they come from... 6 2 •Reply•Share › delimo • 20 hours ago i left a message and it was rejected. i was saying the so called gay are tricksters trying to publicise themselves so that the american embassy can give them visas to go yto america and do kyeyo, they are not really gays 4 2 •Reply•Share › tumweboneire Jackson • 20 hours ago Let the gays come to cross examine the minister, be arrested and charged for the offences they think are allowed in our society!!! 2 •Reply•Share › RUWENZORI • 18 hours ago • parent Economic opportunist calling themselves gay rights, some of them are just surviving on those games to get rich we know so well. Fr. Lokodo go go go disperse more meetings and workshops. 0 •Reply•Share › Concerned • 19 hours ago Fr Lokodo, Continue the fight' we are behind you.Yes, homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, punishable under section 145 of the Penal Code Act as a crime against morality. 2 1 •Reply•Share › Steve • 3 hours ago Why are the gays even allowed to take a minister to court? This is not right. These gays should not be allowed to hold any meetings again. Let them go out but here, wano ewaffe nedda. Tetujja kukiliza. 0 •Reply•Share › SmoothTouch • 3 hours ago To preserve morality of our society, continue the fight Fr. 0 •Reply•Share › Boston USA • 4 hours ago Those who think there's kyeyo in America are westing their time. Let them come and see how they will be frustrated and especially being G makes it more hard than expected. 0 •Reply•Share › sammy g • 4 hours ago lousy ugandans...no wonder the govt continues to trample on your rights....even the NRM sees opposition as unnatural so with the same argument it can continue to trample on their rights....Nobody forces anyone to like gays...if that meeting was never stopped most of us would never have heard of it but when we get zealots like lokodo and backed by many intolerant ugandans then it gets all the publicity 0 •Reply•Share › Ben • 5 hours ago Those gays are sick. Even mad men never accepst they are mad. The way forward is to find medical remedies instead of wasting useful time discussing this hell-bound vice. 0 •Reply•Share › ugandalife • 14 hours ago I feel like I'm in a time warp, transported back to the 1950's. The comments posted remind me of my youth when we went around gay-bashing in North America. It took time for people to realize that being gay was not a choice but truly medical. As sport celebrities came out of the closet, more people began to understand that their sports heroes were just human beings. They were not evil or sick, just people who were attracted to same sex partners. Eventually, Ugandans will evolve from their narrow-mindedness and learn to accept people for who they are and not what they are. No, I'm not gay but I've been fortunate enough to meet people who are. They come in various professions and chances are, you have probably met and talked to one (or more) and never knew it. 0 •Reply•Share › Moses Okello • 14 hours ago Bravo Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera, Julian Pepe Onziema, Frank Mugisha and Geoffrey Ogwaro. Why a country that claims to be governed on the foundation of the Rule Of Law like Uganda continues to embrace a culture of intolerance? It’s good that Ms Nabagesera, Onziema, Mugisha and Ogwaro, you have boldly come out to show that guy and the Government of Uganda, does not and cannot work in isolation. Since Uganda is a signatory to International Conventions against discrimination, they should comply to those International Standards. First of all they violate the Human Rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Uganda. Considering the fact that Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees Equality and discourage discrimination of individuals because of their Sexual Orientation, you find that, the government is destined to pay heavy fines in compensations to a few individuals. Because of the ignorance of some individuals in government, he didn’t know that he was touching untouchable area. Even when he knew that; Article 21 [Equality and Freedom from Discrimination] of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda state: “ (1) All persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political; economic, social and cultural life and in every other respect and shall enjoy equal protection of the Law.” He did not care before taking such stupid action. LGBTs, have never been a problem to Uganda, we have more pressing problem such as: Bad Governance; Massive Corruption and High Mortality Rate, and Ignorance at the forefront. Possibly, this Minister, Fr. Simon Lokodo, didn’t know that, he was infringing Commonwealth Values. He [as Minister] should have been in the know that, Uganda is a member of Commonwealth, and the values of that CLUB to which Uganda is a signatory. The State is bound to be defeated because rights values, which were endorsed by the Commonwealth in its 1979 Lusaka Declaration. The 1991 Harare Declaration and the Port of Spain Affirmative of Commonwealth Value Article 5 of this affirmation commits a member country to protect and promote of quality and human rights without discrimination on any ground, including: sexual orientation and gender identity. The Minister also violated the African Charter, because it is presumed that, he knew that, he was working or doing all he did well knowing that, the Anti-Homosexuality [David Bahati’s unguided Bill], violates the equality and anti-discrimination provisions of the African Charter on Human Rights and People’s Rights, to which Uganda is a signatory and pledge to uphold. Ms Nabagesera, Onziema, Mugisha and Ogwaro, please, don't untie the noose. Keep on, others like Pastor Martin Sempa and company will learn a bitter lesson from this landmark suit. 0 •Reply•Share › klugasc • 15 hours ago This Lokodo guy is clearly an ignorant homophobe. God created gays that way, the same way he created blacks, whites. There's nothing wrong with being gay. He needs to stop the harrassment of gays because every Ugandan has equal freedom of speech under the constitution. 0 •Reply•Share › Jimmy • 16 hours ago enough of this ... some sanity. i doubt that there are gay Ugandans. 0 •Reply•Share › Gerald Kamya Kimpi Kiwuka • 17 hours ago This is fire that started burning internally long ago and it might have also been quietly even within some churches which do not allow their priests to make marriages. It may be difficult to stop such acts which people engage in indirectly within their rooms. 0 •Reply•Share › PStwagira • 17 hours ago Fr. Lokodo told this newspaper after the trial that he maintains his stand of closing any gay meeting, saying the practice is unnatural. The man of God please keep your opinion to yourself that it is not natural, what will happen if you are proved otherwise This priest turned politician seems to be living in a closed box Your opinion shouldn't be asserted on other people's freedom the guys who were interrupted by your ignorance have the right to enjoy the natural free oxygen which was taken away by honourable minister taking law in his hands being a judge and jury MAN SHALL NEVER PASS JUDGEMENT ON FELLOW MAN 0 •Reply•Share › Jibril Nturi • 18 hours ago These cats and dogs who are being sponsored by some thugs in Westren Europe to promote homosexuality in Uganda must be fought from all angles.The dangers of the vice in a country like Uganda are very clear and pose a serious threat to our society,especially the urban careless youth and the rural ignorant poor.Already the country is struggling to put the HIV threat at bay;and the mad people are seeking to open up a new battle front.Even the intergrity of the lawyers employed to defend these thugs must be questioned. 0 •Reply•Share › Fz Wagaba • 18 hours ago Live and Let Live!!! 0 •Reply•Share › nkoye • 18 hours ago my comments never come through. 0 •Reply•Share › mesemese • 18 hours ago You mean people are ignorant enough to do this for a visa. Then when they get to "the promised land" what next? 0 •Reply•Share › kibanzanga43 • 16 hours ago Do not even waste your precious time Fr. Mokodo, cut things short; have that thing called jacqueline or whatever the hell itself, get it linched and that will the end of the case.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Some unsolicited advice to Hon. Oromait, our youngest-ever MP

By Daniel K. Kalinaki Dear Proscovia Alengot Oromait, congratulations on your election as Member of Parliament for Usuk County. Many people have taken issue with the small matter of your age. They say that at 19 you are barely out of your nappies and are therefore untested in the important issues of national politics. They wonder how you will be able to make informed contributions during debate on the national budget when you can’t score a credit in economics to save your life. They wonder how you will go from skipping a rope with your friends to skipping committee meetings in a space of two months. I say ignore the lot of them! The people of Usuk must know something the rest of us don’t know. In electing you they have not only helped reduce the average age of the Parliament; they might have recognised that these days one needs neither experience nor brains to become an MP. In fact, as you will soon notice from your other honourable colleagues, you do not even really have to attend parliamentary sessions if they clash with your classes, should you find a university willing to take your grades (many will be willing to take your money, thank-you-very-much). All you have to do is turn up in the morning, sign in, and then saunter off to the hair saloon or to the lecture room. In the afternoon, there is something called a plenary where MPs assemble in the parliamentary chamber to take a collective nap. Every so often, one or two take to the microphones and go on about this and that. If the topic they choose to speak about is controversial, there might be many more who want to weigh in (which means to join in, not jump onto a weighing scale). This might cause some noise in the chamber and disrupt your nap. Don’t worry about Hon. Henry Kajura – NOTHING can disrupt his nap! The plenary session is recorded and broadcast live on TV. It is a good opportunity to show all those ‘haters’ that you can also debate and speak English. Seize the opportunity and show them that you are not “a joking subject”. Resist the temptation to send greetings to your family members though! Every so often, a matter comes up in the plenary on which you are required to vote. This is the only time you really need to be in Parliament and awake at the same time, according to your party chairman. And if you intend to catch a nap, do remind someone to wake you up to vote. You should be able to find a fellow MP who is awake to do this for you, unless you are appointed minister and have to sit on the front bench; in which case you will need to set an alarm for yourself and the rest of the bench. You will all need it. Once in a while, you will need to make a contribution to the debate. The matter under discussion might be beyond your comprehension or you might have nothing useful to say or add. That is fine; that puts you in the majority in the House. Remain calm and stand tall. Remember all those debates you had in primary school on ‘Mother is better than Father’; ‘Fire is better than Water’, etc? The debate here is whether the NRM is better than the Opposition. That’s what it’s mostly about. The rest is detail. When you speak, use phrases like “the people of Usuk” or “ordinary Ugandans”. If that doesn’t help, play the age card; point out that there are more 19-year-olds than 39- and 49-year-olds and that the youth of this country deserve to be heard. This will probably get you the attention you want, so you had better have something smart to say when the room falls quiet. Avoid putting yourself in this situation, unless you revised the night before and wrote down your main points. Do not let your age intimidate you; you might be the youngest in the House but you are not the only MP with the mental age of a 19-year-old. And always remember; your election shows either your party is now radical enough to bring youthful change through the ranks, or has lost its anchor and is now drifting out to sea, a rudderless vessel chockfull with buccaneering ‘patriots’. You do not have to be 19 to answer that question. dkalinaki@ug.nationmedia.com

Thursday, September 20, 2012

‘British artiste promoting homosexuality in Uganda’

The homosexual community in Uganda is crying foul over David Cecil’s arrest, saying it is part of the government’s blatant violation of the rights of homosexuals in Uganda. But members of the public The Observer sampled say the British producer and proprietor of Tilapia Cultural Centre is one of the many foreigners bent on promoting homosexuality in Uganda. “He deserves whatever punishment he gets,” said one man after hearing the David Cecil story. Cecil was released on bail on Monday. Last week, police arrested and charged him with disobeying lawful orders after he staged his play, The River and the Mountain in theatres in Kampala without clearance from the Media Council. The play is critical of the Uganda government and how it has handled homosexuality. Its main character is a young Ugandan businessman who loses his friends and is eventually murdered after revealing he is gay. According to information website Wikipedia, the dramatic comedy was to be staged at the National Theatre but had to relocate after the Media Council, on August 16, provisorily banned its performance in public. Officials accuse Cecil of disobeying the Media Council’s orders by staging performances in Kampala theatres last month. The chief magistrate’s court in Makindye granted him a cash bail of Shs 500,000 and Shs 1m non-cash for each of his three sureties. Cecil will appear again in court on October 8. Giles Muhame, former editor and founder of the defunct Rolling Stone newspaper, which, in 2010, lost a court battle to gay rights activists, said: “The law should take its course. Uganda has its own laws, which must be adhered to. Cecil is not above the law.” With the anti-homosexuality bill tabled by Ndora West MP, David Bahati, in 2009, Uganda has roundly been declared by the international community as homophobic — a label that has not prevented security agencies from barring gatherings of members of the homosexual community, or religious and political leaders from criticising the ‘homosexual agenda’ and its alleged promoters (the West and some NGOs). But critics of the bill say the charges against Cecil are a repression of freedom of expression reminiscent of the colonial era. “This is just a continuation of the intimidation that the government is determined to place on our work . . . It does not matter whether it is in the NGO world or the liberal arts,” said Clare Byarugaba, coordinator of the Uganda Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, an organisation whose members were threatened with a ban for promoting gay rights. While the Media Council insists that the play was obnoxious and painted Ugandan people as violent, Byarugaba says they are optimistic that Cecil will not be found guilty and will not have to face the two-year imprisonment that awaits him if court decides otherwise. “Before he staged the play, we (the coalition) advised him to get lawyers, because we knew the government’s reaction on anything to do with homosexuality,” Byarugaba said. “He sent the script to the Media Council and there was nothing in it to stop it from running. It was not pornographic or anything.” Wikipedia quotes the minister of Ethics, Rev Simon Lokodo, as saying the play “justified the promotion of homosexuality in Uganda.” He added: “We will put pressure on anyone who says this abomination is acceptable.” According to Wikipedia, Cecil is a Ugandan-British theatre producer and the controversial play was written by Beau Hopkins, a British writer in Kampala, directed by Angela Emurwon, and the cast is all-Ugandan. pakumu@observer.ug

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Uganda making life tough for NGOs, LGBT rights

By Maria Burnett, Special to CNN Editor’s note: Maria Burnett is a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. The views expressed are her own. I’ve interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses of human rights abuses in Uganda, but I was genuinely surprised at the fear I heard recently when I met with activists in the country. “If you preach human rights, you are anti-development, an economic saboteur,” a colleague told me. “You aren’t going to talk about land, oil, and good governance. This is just the beginning, but the tensions have been accumulating.” Uganda has made the news in recent months over issues like the Ebola virus, Joseph Kony, and the notorious anti-homosexuality law known as the “kill the gays bill.” Less-well-known has been its longstanding patterns of torture and mistreatment of detainees by security forces. President Yoweri Museveni and the ruling National Resistance Movement have been in power for more than 25 years, with a 2005 constitutional amendment lifting presidential term limits and permitting him to run and win in 2006, and then again, heavily assisted by off-budget spending from state coffers, in 2011. Since 2011, Museveni has faced increasing criticism for economic woes, corruption, unemployment, rising HIV rates and deteriorating health and education services. In April 2011, demonstrators “walked to work” to protest raising food and fuel prices. The military and police took to the streets, using live ammunition and killing at least nine bystanders and beating journalistsdocumenting the events. The government has routinely blocked demonstrations in the last few years, contending that they threaten public safety. The president appears to be preparing to run again in 2016 – which would be his 30th year in office – and it seems no coincidence that in the wake of growing public grievances, the ruling party’s officials are scrutinizing nongovernmental organizations and the impact they have on public perceptions of governance and management of public funds. Organizations working on human rights, land acquisitions, oil revenue transparency, and other sensitive issues are the main targets, and apparently viewed as a threat to the administration’s interests. Uganda’s laws reflect this analysis. The intelligence agencies are legally mandated to monitor civil society, and the president’s office has a role in reviewing requests to do research, via the Uganda Council on Science and Technology. Over the last two years, Ugandan officials have reportedly closed civil society meetings and workshops, reprimanded organizations for their research, demanded retractions or apologies, and confiscated t-shirts, calendars and training materials with messaging about political change and “people’s power.” The government board mandated to regulate civil society recently recommended dissolving one group unless it apologized for bringing “the person of the president into disrepute” and has stated that working in coalitions is unlawful. At the same time the government’s hostility to, and harassment of, Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community continues unabated. Government officials demonize homosexuality, deliberately misinform the public, and stir hatred. One minister uses “the promotion of homosexuality” – a spurious claim – as justification for his campaign against any group seeking to protect the rights of LGBT people. He told me that the pursuit of LGBT rights is a Western conspiracy aimed at destroying Uganda. While homosexual sex is illegal in Uganda, it is not illegal to discuss LGBT issues, despite the deeply misguided anti-gay bill still pending before parliament. Groups focused on fighting for the rights of LGBT people therefore have every legal right to register and operate. But in practice, that remains far from possible. While many interpret the government’s increasing focus on homosexuality as a populist strategy to gain support, it is still profoundly dangerous for a community that is vulnerable to harassment and violence. Donors need to ask tough questions about where Uganda is heading, given the deteriorating situation for civil society. Furthermore, in today’s Uganda, government institutions have little independence to perform their constitutionally mandated jobs, corruption is rife, and protecting the ruling party and the president from criticism has become more important than citizens’ right to information. Fundamental democratic guarantees such as freedom of expression and association should not take a back seat to security interests. Ultimately, this is the lesson of the Arab spring. Until Ugandan civil society is free to research, publish, speak out, debate and advocate for change without fear, durable security will remain out of reach.

Play about homosexuality cancelled in Uganda after regulators step in

National Theatre of Uganda refuses to stage The River and the Mountain, which tells the story of a young gay businessman David Kato, a Ugandan gay rights activist who was murdered last year. The country has a reputation as a deeply homophobic society. Photograph: Stringer/AP A play that highlights the difficulties of being gay in Uganda has been forced to abandon its run in the capital, Kampala. The River and the Mountain, which tells the story of a young businessman coming to terms with being gay in a climate of homophobia, was due to be performed at the National Theatre of Uganda last week before regulators intervened. Some shows went ahead at two smaller venues, but the National Theatre refused to stage the scheduled performances. "We are all disappointed but not surprised that we could not perform at the National Theatre," said the actor Okuyo Joel Atiku Prynce, who plays the gay character at the centre of the story. "What is surprising is the fact that we have received no clear reason. No one is taking responsibility for this decision." He said the play was not intended to promote a specific agenda, but rather to add to public debate. "We're actors, not activists," he said. "The play is there to inspire discussion in the community and to get a reaction from people. We want it to open up a dialogue." Uganda has a reputation as a deeply homophobic society, largely based on the anti-homosexuality bill introduced to parliament in October 2009. The bill, which has not yet been voted on, proposes severe penalties, including death, for those found guilty of having same-sex relationships. In January 2011 the gay rights activist David Kato was murdered shortly after a local newspaper published images of him and other gay people under a headline urging readers: "Hang them." The River and the Mountain has provoked controversy not only for its sympathetic portrayal of gay people, but also because it suggests that much of the anger and hatred has been whipped up by politicians and religious leaders for their own purposes. Its British playwright, Beau Hopkins, said he had hoped the play would promote discussion about homosexuality. "The aim of the play was for it to be discussed by those who saw it and in the local media," Hopkins said. "The local media seem to have agreed not to talk about it, which is disappointing. We're also particularly disappointed that it won't be staged at the National Theatre, as there it would have reached more Ugandans." The production was stopped by the regulating Media Council, which told producers a day before it was to open that the script needed to be cleared by authorities – not normally a requirement for theatrical productions. But the council's Pius Mwinganisa told the Guardian this was standard practice and not politically motivated. He said authorisation for The River and the Mountain remained "under consideration". Christopher Senyonjo, a bishop who was thrown out of the Church of Uganda in March 2006 in part because of his vocal support for the gay community, criticised the decision. "This play helps people understand that gay people should be understood rather than rejected out of hand," he said. "My church wanted me to condemn homosexuals but I cannot condemn people who are just the way they were born."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Uganda to clamp Internet after gay-rights hacking

Uganda vowed to tighten its Internet security after government websites were hacked earlier this week. A proposed bill that calls for the death penalty for those caught in homosexual acts has sparked outrage. Gay rights activists hacked several Ugandan government websites to denounce what they perceive to be the harassment of homosexuals in the east African nation of more than 35 million. "Message to the government of Uganda: you want to put people to death only because they have different likings," read one message posted on the website of the Uganda Law Society on Thursday. Uganda reintroduces controversial anti-gay bill A controversial bill, which calls for execution for some homosexual acts has been re-introduced in the Ugandan parliament. The timing of the bill may be just a ploy to divert attention from other issues. (08.02.2012) A Ugandan government statement said a hacker with the Twitter handle @PinkNinj4 defaced several government websites, including those of the prime minister's office, parliament, the Uganda Securities Exchange and Uganda Law Society. "Hijacking our websites and using strategies of blackmail to promote their dark agendas is unacceptable to us," said government spokesperson Karoro Okurut. On Friday, the government promised to beef up online security. "Our first priority is to apply all necessary resources to give all institutions, the tools, processes and support they require to strengthen the security of their IT systems in case of any incident," the Ugandan National Information Technology Authority said in a statement. A hacked posting on the website of prime minister Amama Mbabazi Thursday contained a fake press release announcing the prime minister's support for a gay pride parade. "We have got to expel the narrow mindedness from this country, and begin afresh, starting with a full and formal apology to all homosexuals living in Uganda today," the statement said. It was removed by Friday. "Odious" legislation Debate has raged over a controversial bill codenammed LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) that initially called for the hanging of individuals convicted of same-sex sexual activity more than once. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda for both genders Currently before a parliamentary committee, progress on the bill seems to have stalled - but that hasn't stopped debate. Denounced as "odious" by US President Barack Obama, the proposed bill has been widely condemned outside Africa, where homosexuality is illegal in 37 countries. Obama's opposition to the bill is shared by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who earlier this month praised Ugandan gay rights activists for their bravery. "It is critical for all Ugandans - the government and citizens alike - to speak out against discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of anyone," Clinton said. "That's true no matter where they come from, what they believe, or whom they love." The bill would also mandate the death penalty for those who engage in same-sex sexual activity with a minor, or those who have HIV - the virus that causes AIDS. Few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and the loss of jobs. Media often "out" people suspected of being homosexual. In 2006, Ugandan newspaper The Red Pepper published a list of the first names and professions of 45 allegedly gay men, many of whom purportedly suffered harassment as a result. In 2010 Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone published the full names, addresses, and photographs of 100 allegedly gay Ugandans, accompanied by a call for their execution. Same-sex sexual activity among males is illegal in most African nations. Female same-sex sexual activity, however, is legal in some - such as Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. South Africa is the only country in Africa to legally recognize same-sex marriages.

Gay Ugandans: Loud and Proud

Activist speaks out against her country’s tradition of homophobia—and for progress towards LGBT rights Val Kalende About 10 years ago, when I first came out to my guardian and, later, to my closest colleagues at the Daily Monitor newspaper in Uganda, I was nothing short of terrified of losing both family and friends. As I had anticipated, declaring my love for fellow women got me my own share of homelessness, verbal abuse and alienation, even from people I trusted the most. Abandoned as a teenager and forced into maturity at a tender age, I always believed in the transformative power of truth, because the truth, as they say, sets us free. My “coming out” story as a Pentecostal-raised Ugandan lesbian woman is no different from the story of the activists who marched at the first-ever LGBT Pride parade in Uganda on Aug. 4. When I learned that my colleagues were organizing Pride, I was more concerned about what Pride means to us as Africans than replicating what we have witnessed at Pride parades elsewhere. When I saw my colleagues marching on a muddy road, some walking barefoot with the national flag held high, not only was I reminded of our Africanness, but I felt close to home. And then I thought of our fallen comrade David Kato, who has constantly been on my mind since I saw the film Call Me Kuchu, and whose life was cut short before we could experience this moment. I got teary. I believe the concept of Pride anywhere it is celebrated is not just a moment; it is a precursor for change. I believe that like the 196[3] March on Washington in the United States, which sparked a revolution that sent ripples of change as far as Africa, what happened in Uganda a few days ago will change the politics of local organizing among LGBT movements in Africa. At the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) I research how African LGBT movements organize, and how international NGOs such as IGLHRC can support their work. In every country there's a unique strategy for organizing that is directly related to how each movement started. In Uganda organizing an LGBT movement was partly prompted by President Yoweri Museveni's denial that there were any LGBT people in Uganda. On a recent visit home I made a statement I knew wasn't going to get me too many friends, even among fellow activists. I said our struggle must move away from the victimization narrative and begin to focus on positive stories. It doesn't help us when foreign journalists, bloggers, and allies present our struggle as “desperate” and come to Uganda simply to write about what is wrong with our country while ignoring our success stories. While the “desperate” narrative puts us in the international spotlight and does hold our leaders accountable, it also pits us against our fellow nationals. A balance of both narratives will bring the change we all need. I have been involved with LGBT community organizing in Uganda long enough to observe how far we have come and what we have managed to achieve amidst very difficult circumstances. For instance, there was a time when Ugandan LGBT activist and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) founder Victor Mukasa was the lone visible face of our struggle. It is because activists like Mukasa tirelessly knocked on the doors of consular offices -- even if those doors sometimes didn't open -- that U.S. and other world leaders care about LGBT people outside their borders. Today, world leaders like Ban Ki-moon and Hillary Clinton listen and are committed to taking action. On balancing both the negative and positive, it is important that we acknowledge that the first Uganda Pride was a success and at the same time condemn state-sponsored harassment of LGBT activists. Three transgender women and professional dancers, while running away from the scene after police raided the event, were handcuffed, arrested and harassed. One transgender woman, Beyonde, was reportedly beaten by a policeman for resisting arrest. It has become a trend for Ugandan police to arrest, harass, humiliate, and in some cases shoot at unarmed civilians. Two months ago, a video of an armed and uniformed policeman half-undressing and squeezing the breast of a prominent female politician was making the rounds on the Internet. Police anywhere in the world are mandated to enforce the law, not to break it. In my country they are breaking it. State security officials have unlawfully raided three LGBT gatherings in the past six months. While the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is still being debated for passage, it should be made clear that it is still proposed legislation. Enforcing a not-yet-passed bill as law is not only unlawful; it is a gross violation of human rights. Similarly, the growing trend of labeling any gathering of LGBT people a "gay wedding" is an affront to human rights and a red herring informed by utter ignorance and speculative fear of the unknown. While religious fundamentalists in the West are now clutching at straws as laws against same-sex marriage are repealed, they are exporting their homophobic values to Africa. We have learned enough from Christian missionaries, such as Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, to know that when Western conservative narratives are exported to Africa, African politicians see an opportunity to further criminalize same-sex persons. As we proudly and loudly showed up at the Beach Pride parade last week at the Botanical Gardens in Entebbe, we were simply demanding our right to peaceful assembly, expression, and association -- the same rights enjoyed by all other Ugandan citizens. Val Kalende is a Fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia. This article first appeared in The Huffington Post’s Gay Voices.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Clinton honors Ugandan human rights advocates

By Michael K. Lavers on August 3, 2012 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored Ugandan human rights advocates on Friday (Blade photo by Michael Key) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday honored a group of Ugandan human rights activists at a ceremony in the country’s capital. Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, was among the members of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law who received the State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala. Both Clinton and Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Johnnie Carson thanked Mugisha by name for his advocacy on behalf of LGBT Ugandans. “I’ve said before it is critical for all Ugandans — the government and citizens alike — to speak out against discrimination, harassment and intimidation of anyone. That’s true no matter where they come from, what they believe or whom they love,” said Clinton. “No one has been a stronger champion than all of you. You’ve been organized, disciplined, and savvy. You have marshaled the evidence and made the arguments using the rights enshrined in Uganda’s constitution and in international law. And by doing so, you are a model for others and an inspiration to the world.” Clinton said she discussed the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill that once contained a provision that would have imposed the death penalty upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts and ongoing violence against LGBT Ugandans during a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni earlier in the day. She also visited a clinic for people with HIV/AIDS funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Both Clinton and President Obama urged the Ugandan government to protect the rights of its LGBT residents following the Jan. 2011 murder of gay activist David Kato inside his Kampala home. The White House and British Prime Minister David Cameron have also suggested that a country’s LGBT rights record should play a role in the allocation of foreign aid. “I’m well aware that you do your work often amidst difficult, even dangerous circumstances. I know that some of your lives have been threatened, your friends and families intimidated. But I want you to know that the United States is and will be your partner,” Clinton told the activists. “I raised these issues with President Museveni today, because this isn’t just about carving out special privileges for any one group; this is about making sure universal rights are protected for all people. A violation of anyone’s rights is a violation of everyone’s rights.” She reiterated this message in separate remarks to embassy staffers and their families. “A few minutes ago, I presented the State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award to the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law. This is, as many of you know, a group of brave men and women standing up for universal human rights right here in Uganda, not to carve out special privileges for any group, but to ensure that universal rights are shared by all people,” said Clinton. “We very much know the importance of this, because Uganda has so many talented people — men and women — and we want to see everybody have a chance to live up to their own God-given potential, to make a contribution to themselves, their families and to society and their country.” Mugisha echoed Clinton’s sentiments. “As Secretary Clinton stated, this prestigious human rights award emphasizes what we’ve been saying all along: we are not asking for special treatment. We are simply asking that the same rights afforded to every other Ugandan by our constitution and international law also be applied to the LGBTI community,” he told the Blade. “We are grateful for the support of Secretary Clinton in this work as we face tremendous opposition by Ugandan religious leaders and parliamentarians who want to make criminals out of human rights defenders and civil society organizations.” Clinton began her 11-day trip to Africa in Senegal on Tuesday. She traveled to Uganda from South Sudan and will visit Kenya, Malawi and South Africa before returning to the U.S. on Aug. 10.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Yet Activists pull off historic pride event! Melanie Nathan, August 4, 2012 For several weeks and with great excitement Ugandan LGBT activists have been building a Beach Pride event. The idea was to celebrate with friends and to hold a private party for those who wanted to attend. Activists kept the Pride event under wraps and a few of us bloggers in the international community, who had knowledge of it, decided not to report the event until it was successfully over. However it would seem that the police persecution included spying on the privacy of the group of activists who had been organizing the event as a private party. Instead of reporting purely on its success I have to report on the unwarranted arrests. Yet in doing so and after speaking to activists, I soon realized that even with police harassment, the event was full of fun and pride, with its success enhanced by the unyielding and brave determination of a group of people so severely persecuted. In Uganda it is illegal to commit an act “against the order of nature.” Homosexuality has been interpreted as illegal under this definition. But nowhere is it legal to break up an innocent party, even if the attendees proclaim to be LGBT. The law seeking to ban the so called and ill defined “promotion of homosexuality” has yet to pass Parliament. Nonetheless Entebbe police raided the party and have arrested my friends. Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) under the strongest terms condemns the raid of the Uganda Beach Pride Parade and arrest of Human and gay rights activists, who included the Director of FARUG and the coordinator of Pride Uganda; Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, Jay Abang; the programs manager of FARUG; Ms. Stella Nyanzi; a Human Rights Defender; Sandra Ntebi and Julie; Lerato a South African on media team, Rachael Adams and visitors from other counties. Police stormed the venue where people had gathered after a beach march and ordered the party to stop and that no one should leave the area. Police are believed to have been tipped off by either a small group of Christians who were for baptism a few yards away or by the local of the area who had gathered to witness the pride event. However according to word I have received the police told activists that they were arrested because of “orders from above.” This indicates the authorities were spying on organizers and knew about the event which was not made public. Iy also indicates a continued drive to persecute the LGBT community in Uganda, regardless of the legality of the gatherings. Police alleged that there was a gay marriage taking place and that two gay men were seen kissing. They then declared that the gathering was unlawful and wanted to arrest the whole group. Kasha and group then volunteered to go to the police station to give a statement. Upon arrival, they found another group that was part of the pride team that had prior been arrested. By press time, they had been all been released. In an interview with Jay Abang, she said “…I feel like our rights have been trampled upon. It is becoming a habit of police to interrupt our gatherings. It is as if a section of Ugandans do not deserve certain rights. The laws and bills have not been passed but police is already enforcing them” It should be noted that police have so far raided and closed down two workshops that have been organized and attended by members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community in Uganda, earlier this year, one being a capacity building workshop which was organized by FARUG in February and another which was organized by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders in June. FARUG is urging that the entire LGBTI community to remain steadfast and strong and continue with all the remaining activities planned for Pride parade and film festival Uganda. this should not derail us form our objective of pride. We call upon the judicial system of Uganda to order an injunction against interruption of any activities organized and participated in by the LGBTI community in Uganda. “We call upon human rights activist, civil society, the nation and the international community to condemn police rampant and unlawful arrests of gay rights activists.” The Ugandan activists are amongst the most profoundly courageous human rights campaigners I have yet experienced. The amazing part of this story is that activists did not allow the arrests to stop the proceedings and a Pride event went on regardless with the continuation of the planned after party. The sad part was that Kasha, due to her detention was unable to attend. I checked in with her. She has been released and is doing well. But it was a great day for her she said, adding the fact that she had the great honor to meet U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is visiting Uganda. ” We are going strong till we end our planned activities,” Kasha told me. “Even as I was put on the police van I kept telling our people do not be intimidated and that they should keep going on until pride is officially over.” I hope our international community will lend support. http://oblogdeeoblogda.me/2012/08/04/u-s-secretary-hillary-clinton-pays-tribute-to-ugandan-gay-rights-defenders/


Posted by Alexis Okeowo “Can you imagine that the worst place in the world to be gay is having Gay Pride?” Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera asked a crowd of cheering gay men, lesbians, transgendered men and women, and queers somewhere in between. It was Saturday afternoon, and we were on the shores of the giant, cloudy Lake Victoria in the Ugandan city of Entebbe, where L.G.B.T. activists had decided to stage the country’s first Pride Parade. Nabagesera, a lesbian activist covered, for the occasion, in glitter and neon spray paint, with homemade angel wings, was being half-sarcastic. A barrage of media coverage has painted the country as a hell for gays—a place where they are suffering and being attacked constantly—and, despite the need to combat such threats, L.G.B.T. Ugandans were tired of hearing a story that ignored their nuanced experiences of both joy and hardship. But Nabagesera was also sincerely pleased: a crowd of nearly a hundred people had come out, fears of arrest notwithstanding, to celebrate their existence. The air was thick with confetti, paint fumes, and anticipation. I’ve spent a couple of months this year working on a story about gay rights here, as an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow, and was surprised to see that the narrative had made yet another unexpected turn. Though activists are in the middle of a lawsuit they filed against ethics and integrity minister Simon Lokodo, who has been on a zealous effort to shut down all gay-advocacy workshops and non-profits allied with L.G.B.T. activists, spirits were high to the point that a Pride event was not just wanted, but needed. Uganda’s Pride was a weekend-long event, made up of film screenings, a fashion show in drag, and all-night (and into the morning) parties. Two hundred and fifty tickets had been sold, though, as a vivacious trans woman named Cleo told me, fifty-some people showed up on Thursday and Friday, because many were still wary about gathering in large groups. “We couldn’t have done this kind of thing two years ago, and for those that were here back then, they almost can’t believe things are safer and better now,” Cleo said. The first two days went off without a hitch, and more people, predictably, showed up for the evening bacchanals. I took a bus from Kampala, the capital, to Entebbe on Saturday morning with a number of the participants. A trans woman named Bad Black showed me glamour photos taken of her at an L.G.B.T.-friendly studio in town: in them she is wearing a wig, dresses, and lingerie. Bad Black, who helps run a foundation that helps H.I.V.-positive L.G.B.T. Ugandans, was wearing typical male attire for the bus ride, but wore gold earrings and had short, fluffy curls. She can’t dress as a woman on a daily basis, but planned to change once we got to the lake. Nature, a cheerful trans woman sitting in front of us, plucked a photo to admire it and remarked, “Hmm, photos do lie.” The bus erupted into laughter. Several people, adorned in rainbow-patterned scarves and armbands, pulled out makeup compacts and started to apply bright eye shadow and lipstick. We made noisy stops along the highway to pick up more attendees, and passersby, curious about the laughter and music, peered inside. The botanical grounds around the lake are a languid picnic destination for families and couples, but relatively secluded: an ideal location for a parade that was still on shaky ground, safety-wise. At the area reserved for the festival, participants wore yellow wristbands to identify themselves to each other and let loose. People swam, drank, and danced as a D.J. played loud music. I met people like Akram, who operates a “gay-video library.” Activist Frank Mugisha, who appeared dressed in a sailor’s costume with a rainbow sash and called himself Captain Pride, told me, “I just wish I had a switch to turn on that would make everyone who’s gay say they are gay. Then everyone who is homophobic can realize their brothers, their sisters, and their aunts are gay.” He confessed that he was shocked to see so many people in attendance. As the parade began, in a convoy of marchers and cars blasting more music, people held up signs like “African and Gay. Not a Choice.” Children who lived nearby flocked to the parade, and adults stared, clearly stunned, and, in some cases, amused. The marchers chanted, “We are here” (a reference to those who say that there are no gays in Africa), and danced and sang in a chorus that was at once moving and exciting under a rainstorm of ribbons and flags. Nabagesera’s German shepherd trotted around in a rainbow-colored handkerchief. A woman named Claire said, “Even if Lokodo came today, he could not stop us.” But Lokodo did come, or at least the police did. Hours after the parade ended, police raided the gathering, supposedly because they had heard a gay wedding was taking place, and arrested three participants, detained a photographer, and demanded statements from others, reminding all of the threats that gays still face. The station police chief eventually released them, and celebrations continued in Kampala. On Sunday, closing events went as planned. One participant, Ambrose, who was in charge of selling Pride-themed T-shirts, explained that the dynamics of being gay in Uganda have changed: “This is who we are. We are here to stay. And we are not going anywhere.” Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/08/gay-and-proud-in-uganda.html#ixzz22q4uBRB4

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The U.S. Christian Right and the Attack on Gays in Africa

By Rev. Kapya Kaoma (Project Director at Political Research Associates) The Uganda Story For two days in early March 2009, Ugandans flocked to the Kampala Triangle Hotel for the Family Life Network's "Seminar on Exposing the Homosexuals' Agenda." The seminar's very title revealed its claim: LGBT people and activists are engaged in a well thought-out plan to take over the world. The U.S. culture wars had come to Africa with a vengeance. To put on the conference, the Uganda-based Family Life Network led by Stephen Langa with the goal of "restoring" traditional family values and morals in Uganda teamed with two U.S. hatemongers from the Christian Right, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively and Dan Schmierer of the ex-gay group Exodus International.[1] Vocal opposition in international circles did not stop the country's high profile religious leaders, parliamentarians, police officers, teachers, and concerned parents from attending. Indeed, parliamentary action to wage war on gays was on the conference agenda. It was not enough that homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. As someone stated from the podium, [The parliament] feels it is necessary to draft a new law that deals comprehensively with the issue of homosexuality and takes into account the international gay agenda.Right now there is a proposal that a new law be drafted.[2] The unsuspecting audience heard Lively promote his book, The Pink Swastika, and his argument that not only are gays seeking to take over the world, but they also threaten society by causing higher rates of divorce, child abuse, and HIV/AIDS. Legalizing homosexuality is on par with accepting "molestation of children or having sex with animals," he said. As Lively puts it, LGBT issues cannot be considered human rights issues. "The people coming to Africa now and advancing the idea that human rights serves the homosexual interests are absolutely wrong," he said. "Many of them are outright liars and they are manipulating history; they are manipulating facts in order to push their political agenda." Lively even tarred abortion rights as "a product of the gay philosophy" meant to promote sexual promiscuity in order to "destroy the family." In sum, he warned, U.S. homosexuals are out to recruit young people into homosexual lifestyles so they must be stopped. Lively had a receptive audience. Harry Mwebesa of Family Life Network told the crowd, Dr. Scott told us about Brazil where 10 years ago, homosexuality was unheard of.Today it is the capital.There are people that have been against homosexuality that are having to leave because of the pressure and the threats that they are putting on them. That is how serious it is. Another participant who called himself Elijah said, The man of God [Scott Lively] told us about a movement behind the promotion of homosexuality and it is called gay movement. Me, I had never heard of that. But I got to know that there is a force behind homosexuality which we need to tackle with force. He also told us that these people who are behind this evil, they have all resources that they need to spread this evil. [In] Africa, Uganda in particular...it is more easy for the young generation to get attracted into the evil. Since that day, we need to stand firm to fight homosexuality. If only Lively's influence ended there. But a few days later, he met with Ugandan lawmakers and government officials, some of whom would draft parliament's Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009 the next month. This act would ban LGBT organizing and give the death penalty for gays, though not heterosexuals, who have sex with someone underage or while infected with the HIV/AIDS virus.[3] Lively and the "traditional family values" language of U.S. antigay campaigners echoes through the first draft of the legislation dating to April: Research indicates that the homosexuality has a variety of negative consequences including higher incidences of violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and use of drugs. The higher incidence of separation and break-up in homosexual relationships also creates a highly unstable environment for children raised by homosexuals through adoption or otherwise, and can have profound psychological consequences on those children. In addition, the promotion of homosexual behavior undermines our traditional family values. Family Life Network's Langa pushed people at a follow up meeting to stand up for the tougher law against homosexuality for their children's sake, echoing Lively in charging that Ugandan gays and activists were being paid by U.S. gays to recruit schoolchildren into homosexuality. Amid the utter hysteria, any sense that homosexuality has been in Africa from time immemorial was lost. While hardly embraced, and indeed illegal in many countries, at least LGBT people were not hounded by churches and police alike until American culture warriors came to Africa. Bishop Christopher Ssenjonyo, one of the most progressive voices on LGBT issues in Uganda, expressed his own concerns about the Americans' role to me in March, "I am sure that these lies will incite public hatred against gays." How Did We Get Here? How did we get to this point? Scott Lively and Don Schmierer are just two among a parade of right-leaning American Christians who have brought the U.S. culture wars to Africa. But unlike the United States, in Africa sexual minorities are only thinly organized and have few allies who will stand up with them. Those who do are tarred as neocolonialist and racist, because of the effectiveness of U.S. Right organizing in Africa. The result is tragedy. Thankfully, because of Kenya's democratic past and stronger civil society, citizens managed to challenge and slow down efforts for broad criminalization of homosexuality. But in more authoritarian countries, like Uganda and Nigeria, where some counties punish homosexuality with death, U.S. religious conservatives are better able to promote their anti-LGBT agenda, building on decades of missionary work. U.S. evangelicals like California's Rick Warren have turned their attention to Africa as its role in global Christianity has grown. As Warren recently told Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, "If you want to know the future of evangelicalism, it is in [Africa, Asia and Latin America.] To give you an example, in 1900 there were only 10 million Christians in all of Africa -- 10% of the population. Today there are 360 million Christians in Africa, over half the population."[4] Warren's numbers are wrong and fewer than half of Africans are Christian. Still, 30 million of the Anglican Communion's 77 million members live in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya. Warren is especially influential on the continent, enjoying close ties to African religious and political leaders. They quote him to justify discrimination against LGBT people, and to support their challenge to U.S. mainline Protestants liberalizing their policies around gay ordination. "Homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right," Warren said during a March-April 2008 visit with African religious and political leaders in Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. That quote has reverberated ever since.[5] Warren's bestselling book, A Purpose Driven Life is studied across sub-Saharan Africa and his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California has close ties with leaders across Africa, including, until recently, Martin Ssempa of Uganda's Makerere Community Church. Ssempa is one of the key architects of the antigay bill and persecution of LGBT people in Uganda. He made global news when he published the names of LGBT people in the local press and destroyed condoms to promote abstinence-only programs in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Ssempa was a regular visitor to Saddleback until Warren distanced himself from him in 2008. Within Africa, Warren seems to be progressive when it comes to fighting poverty, illiteracy and HIV/AIDS. These efforts have painted him as a real partner in development. However, his antipoverty and education strategies also promote conservative institutional power and ideologies in Africa, including homophobia. As Warren's "purpose-driven" projects in Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda have grown, so too have levels of active homophobia and proposed laws against LGBT people. And Warren's allies particularly Anglican Archbishops Henry Orombi of Uganda, Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda and Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya are in the forefront of advocating for stiffer laws against LGBT persons in their countries.[6] Archbishop Orombi argues that U.S. homosexuals should be kept out of Uganda because they are "taking advantage of the abject poverty in Africa to lure people into their club [homosexuality]."[7] In neighboring Nigeria, Archbishop Akinola wrote, "We are especially concerned about those who are using large sums of money to lure our youth to see homosexuality and lesbianism as normative. We must consistently and faithfully teach about God's commands on this ungodly practice and help those with such orientation to seek deliverance and pastoral counsel."[8] History of U.S. Conservatives in Africa If they had faced strong opposition, U.S. conservatives might not have been so successful in promoting their homophobic politics. Traditionally, evangelical African churches have been biblically and doctrinally orthodox but socially progressive on such issues as national liberation and poverty, making them natural partners of the politically liberal western churches. But their religious orthodoxy also provides the U.S. Right with an opportunity. Africans resonate with the denunciation of homosexuality as a postcolonial plot; their homophobia is as much an expression of resistance to the West as it is a statement about human sexuality. Similarly campaigns for "family values" in Africa rest on rich indigenous notions of the importance of family and procreation. In Africa, "family" expresses the idea that to be human is to be embedded in community, a concept called ubuntu. African traditional values also value procreation, making those hindering this virtue an enemy of life (see box 2). Although Rick Warren's involvement in Africa is the most celebrated, and Lively's perhaps the most notorious, they are not the first U.S. conservative evangelicals to influence African policies. Pat Robertson's television show The 700 Club is watched across sub-Saharan Africa. Yet most Africans are not aware that Robertson supported the civil war in Angola and the oppressive White governments of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa. He was one of many U.S. conservative evangelicals, some of whom came to Africa as missionaries in the 1980s, who sided with those White minority governments in their effort to stop the spread of liberation theology. Allied with them was and is the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), a U.S. neoconservative group that also supported the White regimes and challenged the National Council of Churches as a group of dangerous Marxists supporting subversion. The group formed in 1981 with the goal of weakening and splitting U.S. mainline denominations in order to block their powerful progressive social witness promoting social and economic justice.[9] During this same period, the U.S. mainline churches sided with oppressed Africans living in White regimes. Along with exposing the crimes committed in the name of fighting communism, these churches provided financial and social support to displaced families in Africa, Asia, and South America. But today the mainline churches are labeled as neocolonialists and this history is forgotten. You can still hear snippets of the old right-wing scripts in today's attacks on the mainline churches. James V. Heidinger II, the president of Good News, the United Methodist Church's renewal movement which opposes gay ordination and supports conservative theology, tarred official Methodist churches as lacking "a theology of mission but has bought into liberation theology. Mission for them involves bringing about social and political change in third world countries. They favor social ministry at the expense of evangelism."[10] Similarly, IRD's executive director, Mark Tooley, recently sought an apology from the NCC and World Council of Churches for supporting "Marxist" revolutionaries in Africa. His organization is a lead force in mobilizing renewal movements like Heidinger's to use African leaders and the debate about gay ordination and marriage as a wedge in U.S. mainline conflicts IRD's latest but perhaps most effective tactic in diminishing the social witness of its mainline church opponents (for more on the U.S. conflict, see box 3 and my recent report, Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia).[11] The torrential flow of conservative Christian resources to Africa helps wash away the memory of their alliances with White regimes. Through their extensive communication networks in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible schools, and educational materials, U.S. religious conservatives warn of the dangers of homosexuals and present themselves as the true representatives of U.S. evangelicalism, effectively marginalizing mainline U.S. churches that once had strong relationships on the continent. Right-wing groups have enticed African religious leaders to reject funding from mainline denominations which require documentation of how the money is spent and instead to accept funds from conservatives, further empowering the U.S. evangelical viewpoint while giving local bishops the opportunity to line their pockets. To reach Africans, U.S. evangelicals now broadcast their Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Although generally disinterested in helping poor Blacks in their own backyard, in Africa U.S. White conservatives driven to convert the continent dominate social services, run orphanages, schools and universities, and provide loans.[12] These conservatives and evangelical charities like World Vision, Solar Light for Africa, and the IRD-founded Five Talents use their presence in Africa to address the question of homosexuality from a conservative albeit misleading position. In this way, almost all U.S. conservative Christians working in Africa are responsible for exporting homophobia to Africa. Indeed, Africans do not distinguish between moderate evangelicals in World Vision and Hard Right figures like Scott Lively. For them, the term "evangelical" conveys the notion of Protestant Christianity as a whole, without the substantive distinctions made by U.S. religious groups. And U.S. conservative evangelicals support diverse Anglican, Presbyterian and Pentecostal church leadership in Africa with which they share no denominational tie. For instance, the Providence Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan is not an Episcopal congregation yet it provides funding to the Anglican Church of Uganda.[13] Some U.S. support goes directly to salaries, and has since 1998, as Reverend Aaron Mwesigyi of the Ugandan archibishop's office explained.[14] Opposing Mainline Witness While U.S. evangelicals are actively disseminating their antigay views through their mission work, American mainline renewal movements reach out to African churches for support in fights against gay ordination and marriage, helping to further crystallize this as an African issue. At their behest, Anglican churches in Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria rejected funding from The Episcopal Church USA in 2004 over disagreements about gay ordination and other culture war issues. While these attacks have resulted in schisms within the Episcopal Church USA and the Presbyterian Church USA and continue to threaten the unity of the United Methodist Church, they offer African churches financial and ideological benefits, including a voice in international circles. As Kenya's Rosemary Mbongo told me, "Africans, Asians, and Latin American evangelical Christians have the voice today; they owe it to American conservatives." Although conservative circles celebrate this rejection of aid as a sign of Africans' moral purity, Africans simply responded to U.S. conservatives' demands. A Kenyan professor noted, "American conservatives have been in my office several times requesting that we cut ties with The Episcopal Church USA and other progressive funders in exchange for their funds. They have succeeded in getting small colleges into their camp but we have refused."[15] The apparent plan is to encourage African church leaders to swap their relationships with mainline churches for U.S. conservative organizations and individuals. While it is largely U.S. evangelical money displacing mainline funds supporting African churches, renewal movements within mainline U.S. churches reap the rewards by securing the alliance of Africans in fighting their battles over gay ordination and other issues at home and in international venues. This effort started as early as 1999, when members of the IRD-affiliated renewal movement in The Episcopal Church USA went to Africa to ask African bishops to support suspending the American church from the worldwide Anglican Communion for being too gay friendly and socially liberal. More recently, IRD and United Methodist Church renewal groups organized African delegates to prevent the United Methodist Church from lifting its ban on the ordination of LGBT clergy during its global General Conference in 2008. Jerald Walz of IRD put it this way, "Wherever there is theological agreement, Americans are making ways of helping their brothers and sisters both financially and theologically. In the UMC, Americans reached out to the African delegates by helping them navigate the system... Americans are also reaching out to their African friends by giving them a voice at international gatherings."[16] Africa's attacks on U.S. mainline churches intensified when The Episcopal Church USA consecrated an openly gay person, Gene Robinson, as a bishop in 2004. On the surface, Bishop Robinson's consecration was an Episcopal issue. However, renewal movements in the Episcopal, United Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, and other U.S. conservatives used it as an organizing tool to preach hatred against LGBT people. In addition to citing Robinson as an example of Western corruption, they partnered with African religious leaders to demand that the Episcopal Church USA be excommunicated from the worldwide Anglican Communion and replaced with conservative leadership. The churches then used their "principled" rejection of mainline money as a fundraising opportunity. In appeals to U.S. conservatives, Canon Allison Barfoot said the Anglican church of Uganda in Kampala lacked working phones because it had rejected money from the Episcopal Church USA.[17] Two years after the Anglican Church of Kenya cut ties with the Episcopal Church USA in 2004, the Reverend Canon Rosemary Mbogo, its Provincial Mission coordinator, appealed for tithing from U.S. evangelical churches "to help the Kenyan province."[18] Their requests to U.S. conservatives appear to have been answered, since both churches confirmed that U.S. conservatives provide regular funding to churches in both countries. U.S. evangelical money is attractive because it does not come with the demands for strict accountability made by mainline churches.[19] Bishops can spend it as they like. Ironically, U.S. conservatives have always campaigned against "unrestricted" giving in U.S. mainline churches. But in Africa, they prefer unrestricted giving as another way of undermining progressives. Local fears that this lack of accountability breeds corruption appear well grounded. Canon Alison Barfoot, an American conservative, administers American funding at the Anglican Church of Uganda headquarters without giving African accountants any access to U.S.-related financial information or books, we learned.[20] Furthermore, dissident U.S. Episcopal Bishop John Guernsey of Woodbridge, Virginia, vets all U.S. donations and mission partnerships with Uganda to ensure they come from "friendly" churches, and other U.S. conservatives play that role for other countries, bypassing usual safeguards.[21] Their safeguards are loose enough that Bishop Samuel Sekadde, the retired Bishop of Namirembe, is under suspicion for alleged misuse of church funds.[22] The independent Uganda Monitor observed that the bishop's estates and private home suggest that "the good bishop was either living beyond his means or helping himself to church property."[23] Neocolonial relationship Despite historical evidence of homosexuality in Africa long before the Europeans arrived, most conservative African religious and political leaders now view homosexuality as a Western export, and a form of imperialism and neocolonialism. And of course, U.S. conservatives exploit and encourage this belief. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose wife is a close ally of Rick Warren, warned, "It is a danger not only to the believers but to the whole of Africa. It is bad if our children become complacent and think that people who are not in order are alright. These foreigners should go and practice their nonsense elsewhere."[24] Because Africans are sensitive to neocolonialism, the conservative claim that homosexuality is part of a "Western agenda" gives African church leaders ammunition to demand greater influence and power in the affairs of the church.[25] Denouncing homosexuality is Africa's way of claiming power over the western world. In this regard, when Africans claim that homosexuality is un-African, they are pointing to a politics of postcolonial identity.[26] This history gives the struggle greater depth and tenacity, and for that reason, African involvement in U.S. church issues will continue. Moreover, rejecting what is claimed to be an imposition from the West gives them power both within the African context and with American conservatives of all persuasions. Ironically enough, although American conservatives repeatedly accuse progressives of being imperialist, it is their dealings with Africa that are extremely imperialistic. Their flow of funds creates a form of clientelism, with the expectation that the recipients toe an ideological line. They put words into the mouths of their African church allies, even writing or rewriting their anticolonial statements to reflect U.S. conservative concerns. In one of many examples, IRD reworked a statement Rev. Jerry Kulah of Liberia wrote in preparation for a 2008 Methodist conference to use as a general African statement, adding in its anti-Islamic politics, Cognizant of the massive silent invasion of Islam upon global community with its excessively and liberal use of Arab-oil funds to propagate its faith, we are afraid that the current unrestricted embrace of liberalism within the United Methodist Church is endangering the chances of our children of not considering Christianity as a possibility. It creates a breeding ground for the rapid expansion of Islam among our future posterity." [italics indicate IRD changes][27] In contrast, U.S. mainline churches repeatedly demonstrate their opposition to neocolonialism of all sorts, not least by supporting the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to fight poverty in postcolonial Africa. Yet American conservatives succeed in dismissing such efforts as neocolonial attempts to bribe Africans into accepting homosexuality, which they characterize as a purely Western phenomenon. Sadly, the sensitivity of mainline church leaders in the United States to charges of colonialism can silence them from speaking out on LGBT issues. The African attacks create a dilemma for them: How can they be relevant to their own global North context, while remaining connected to global mainline Christianity? Unfortunately, the fear of isolation leads many social and theological progressives in the church to ignore social justice issues in their daily proclamations. While Episcopalians risked schism to support gay bishops, U.S. Presbyterian and Methodist churches do not openly ordain LGBT clergy. African clergy directly threatened to cut links with Presbyterians in 2004 if they did. Despite the active role American progressives played and continue to play in Africa, they were out-organized. The Attack on Islam Another U.S. conservative ploy is to suggest that mainline churches' acceptance of homosexuality puts African Christian witness at a competitive disadvantage with Islam in winning converts. Thus U.S. conservatives whip up concerns about Muslims and homosexuals simultaneously in their attacks on mainline churches' social witness. Alan Wisdom, the Director of Presbyterian renewal group Action for Faith and Freedom, observed that the U.S. mainline churches' "desire to dialogue with Islam ignores the plights of the Christian minorities in Islamic nations."[28] In November 2008, Jim Tonkowich, then IRD president, announced that his group was "beginning a project to research how the actions of the Episcopal Church promoting homosexuality is negatively impacting Christians in Africa who live within and alongside Muslim cultures."[29] In a February 2009 telephone interview, Faith McDonnell, the Director of IRD's Religious Liberty Programs and of the Church Alliance for a New Sudan, explained, Islam prohibits homosexuality Radical Muslims would use it as another reason for attacking Christians who would be viewed as infidels We are competing with Islam in Africa. Muslims are going to use the argument that Africans are part of the wider communion which accepts homosexuality. It has happened in the Sudan where one Bishop has already formed the Reformed Episcopal Church by appealing to the argument that he is not part of the Church of homosexuals. Homosexuality hampers the witness of the Christian witness in Africa. When asked whether IRD and its allied renewal movements had evidence for such claims, McDonnell replied, "We do not have any empirical evidence yet. This is solely what Christians are thinking and it is damaging the witness among Christians." However, even African religious conservatives discount this idea and there is no evidence for it in Uganda, Kenya, or Nigeria. One senior clergyman in Kenya told me, "Such an argument does not make sense Islam has been part of the African heritage in Kenya. My grandfather was Muslim and on his death bed he was baptized by his son who was the Bishop." Similarly Paul Ssembiro, the Mission Coordinator in Archbishop Orombi's office observed, "Uganda's opposition to homosexuality has nothing to do with Islam. I don't think it is has anything to do with the Islamic faith." The Kenyan Anglican priest Michael Kimindu noted that this argument is intended to "elicit support from U.S. conservatives concerned about radical Islam." Indeed, Archbishop Orombi has cooperated with Muslims in attacking LGBT people in Uganda. But in 2007 he told his American allies what they wanted to hear: Muslims are attempting to conquer "not so much by the sword but by the dollar. Muslims also are offering vocal opposition to laws that protect women's rights because these are not in the Koran.'"[30] Conclusion The relationship between U.S. conservatives and African religious leaders is inhibiting the right of LGBT people to live freely and without persecution both in the United States and Africa. In Africa, people's lives are threatened not only by vigilantism but by government action. If we agree that African churches should be allowed to map their own agenda in the global church, then the conservatives should let go of Africa. Unfortunately, they will not, at least not without a fight. It is important that progressive activists in mainline churches are now taking the fight to conservatives and putting them on the defensive at home. In the United Methodist Church, progressives managed to expose IRD and renewal movements' attempt to influence African delegates to the 2008 international church gathering by giving out cellphones. In the Episcopal Church, progressives exposed the presence of conservative lobbyists at international Anglican conferences. They are also making new inroads with African religious leaders. It is a positive sign that the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and the Congo as well as bishops from West Africa traveled to the United States to attend the 2009 General Convention of Episcopal Church USA. Not only did American progressives represent their positions in their own words, the African leaders were able to explore the American church's intentions in Africa. Most of the African bishops pointed to poverty as one of the biggest challenges Africa faces and sought the church's support in antipoverty struggles even though the Episcopal Church lifted the moratorium on blessing of same sex marriages and ordination of gays and lesbians to the office of the bishop. Although not all agreed with the position taken by the Episcopal Church on LGBT issues, African bishops were generally sympathetic with their U.S. colleagues on the matter. The campaign challenging Rick Warren to denounce the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda which he still has not done -- is another example of taking the fight to America. Because the U.S. Right is so skillful at twisting the mainline church statements in Africa as colonial interference, these challenges on conservatives' home territory provide vital support for LGBT Africans under attack. We must make sure that they are not collateral damage in the U.S. culture wars