Thursday, February 16, 2012

Those who go after gays and sex workers will one day go after teachers and doctors

By Daniel K. Kalinaki

Posted Thursday, February 16 2012 at 00:00

Last week, after a day long meeting in Entebbe, and as we sat in the hotel lobby bar waiting out the traffic to Kampala over drinks, we noticed an interesting group of young people headed to dinner.

Someone in our party then pointed out that the group was comprised of gay rights activists who were attending a seminar at the hotel. We paid them no further attention but I remember wondering quietly to myself what would happen if word got round about the meeting.

As it turned out, it did. A few days later Fr. Simon Lokodo, the ethics and integrity minister, turned up at the meeting and broke it up, ordering the police to arrest some of the organisers in the process. The raiding of the meeting came just a few days after a watered down version of David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill was reintroduced before Parliament.

Those who love to “bash the gays” were quick to congratulate Bahati, whose Bill has brought him fame and notoriety beyond his wildest dreams, and Lokodo, who many had never heard of outside his Karamoja constituents, until the story broke.

One must pity the Ethics minister; he has to wait around quietly, trying not to be noticed when fellow ministers are being accused of corruption, until an emotive subject such as this springs up to afford him an opportunity to show face and justify his income.

Regardless of one’s views about homosexuality, we must all worry when fundamental freedoms, including the constitutional right to assembly and expression, are violated in this manner. As far as is publicly known the meeting was broken up not because the participants were involved in homosexuality which remains a crime on our books, but because the minister did not like what they were discussing.
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It is not the first time. Last year James Nsaba Buturo, who was ethics minister before Lokodo, ordered the closure of a workshop that Akina Mama, a civil society group that works to empower women, had organised at Serena Lake Victoria Hotel to train sex workers in human rights and leadership. Before you fall off your moral high horse it might be useful to note that it is not just the gay-huggers and sex workers who are being hunted down and shut up.

Recently the police cordoned off Bat Valley Primary School and, in the process, stopped a meeting teachers had called to discuss whether they should go on strike again to force government to raise their salaries.

Sources in civil society say organisations working on oil issues have had meetings in Amuru, Kanungu and Buliisa broken up to stop them from teaching locals about their rights and responsibilities over the oil resources.

What is happening is a deliberate erosion of civil liberties and the rights to assemble and express alternative points of view. The banning and violent breaking up of Walk-to-Work demonstrations is the most notable event but it could be argued that the banning of Bimeeza, those outdoor town hall-style radio talk shows has done even more to hamper ordinary citizens from holding officials to account and express their views on topical issues.

The overt and covert attacks on the media are just the icing on a poisoned cake.
To institutionalise this closing off of the public space, the government has proposed a law – the Public Order Management Bill – that not only seeks to reverse a court decision but also makes it very hard for people to meet and discuss the way they are governed.
This country has a history of people settling their differences violently and the road to violence that we are walking down is paved by hundreds of pebbles that have been thrown at our rights and liberties.

We can never expect to agree unanimously on controversial matters such as homosexuality but we must never allow a situation in which we can’t talk about our differences, or one in which only those who say things we like to hear are allowed to speak.

It is easy to thumb one’s nose at the gay rights activists and call for them to be jailed and the keys cast into Lake Victoria but the same people who will arrest the gays will one day return to arrest the teachers and doctors asking for better conditions. We should not let our moral convictions interfere with our legal obligation to respect the rights of all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ugandan Pastor's Gay Porn Stunt Upsets U.S. Christians

A Ugandan pastor, who is one of the chief supporters of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill, screened gay porn in his church to the dismay of gay rights supporters and Christians alike.
The methods Martin Ssempa has used in trying to persuade people on how evil homosexuality is and garner support for the legislation have troubled Christians, including those who believe homosexual behavior is sin.
"I can’t speak for everyone, except that everyone was upset and for all different reasons," Kelsey Hartsell, a student from Pacific Lutheran University studying in Kampala – Uganda's capital city – told Dr. Warren Throckmorton, who started a grassroots movement to oppose the bill.
"Regardless of my position on homosexuality and/or the bill I can tell you what upset me was that ‘Pastor’ Ssempa was preaching against people encouraging hate and intolerance," she said. "He shamed himself as a pastor by disregarding what he thought of as sin as an action, and turned the people doing what he calls the sin into something less than human. From where I stand a pastor should be teaching forgiveness because no person as the right to judge another so even if he disagreed with their actions that doesn’t disqualify them from humanity."
According to Hartsell, who walked out with other PLU students in the middle of the presentation, Ssempa displayed pornographic photos of white men from about the 1970s "doing what he considered to be dangerous acts in the bedroom."
Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, says the latest event "demonstrates the extremes pursued by Rev. Ssempa to demonize homosexuals."
Though Throckmorton does not agree with homosexual behavior, he believes Christians should practice love and forgiveness as Jesus did in his day when dealing with sin.
Gay rights groups have denounced Ssempa's action, especially for showing the vulgar images in the presence of minors.
Defending his actions, Ssempa told the BBC's Network Africa program, "In Africa, what you do in your bedroom affects our clan, it affects our tribe, it affects our nation.
"We are in the process of legislation and we have to educate ourselves about what homosexuals do."
Homosexuality is currently illegal in Uganda, but the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced to strengthen the criminalization of the behavior. Those suspected of "aggravated homosexuality" and who are HIV-positive or engage in sexual acts with those under 18 years of age could face life imprisonment or the death penalty. The measure also imposes punishment on those who support gay organizations or who know about a homosexual and fail to report it to authorities.
The bill has drawn international attention, mainly criticism from national and religious leaders.
President Obama recently called it "odious." Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, spoke out against the bill.
The Anglican Church of Uganda, meanwhile, released a statement expressing support for the bill with amendments – one of which calls for the exemption of health care professionals, pastors and counselors who may minister to homosexuals or care for HIV patients from punishment.
Church leaders on the Uganda National Pastors Task Force Against Homosexuality have also backed the bill but recently recommended that the sentence for the offense of aggravated homosexuality be reduced from the death penalty to 20 years imprisonment.
Wednesday's screening wasn't the first time Ssempa presented questionable images. Last month another PLU student blogged about a similar incident.
"[T]the pastor came back to the stand and played this disgusting power point about what 'homosexuals do in their bedrooms.' (or what he thought occurred)," Lindsey Potter wrote in a blog. "I could not believe that a pastor was using such negative and vulgar images to try to persuade his audience. Several of my class mates were in tears, my mind was definitely feeling perplexed.
"I believe that the Bible is all about Gods grace and love, and in the end the only person who has the right to judge the conditions of our hearts is God."

Exodus Leaders Issue Statement Against Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill

After participating in a conference that has been linked to spawning the latest wave of anti-gay hostility in Uganda, Exodus International released a statement this week denouncing the country's Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
"Exodus International believes that every human life, regardless of an individual’s sexual behavior, is of inestimable worth to God and that defending this principle is foundational in offering a Christian response to any issue," reads a statement issued by the Board of Directors of Exodus International and its North American membership. "Exodus International has not and will not support any legislation that deprives others of life and dignity including, but not limited to, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009."
The legislation was proposed last October, months after Uganda hosted a conference featuring three American speakers. They spoke on "Exposing the Truth behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda."
Among the speakers was Exodus board member Don Schmierer.
The conference drew criticism for its support of the criminalization of homosexuality and enforced therapy for gays. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda and can come with the penalty of life imprisonment but the proposed bill strengthens the law and also introduces the death penalty for those convicted of "aggravated homosexuality."
Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, recently expressed regret for participating in the conference and hoped to clarify the organization’s position through ABC News, which produced an investigative piece on the issue earlier this month.
"I am disappointed that Exodus won’t be heard in this piece," Chambers wrote on the blog of Warren Throckmorton, who started a grassroots movement to oppose the bill. "Sadly, Don Schmierer declined the interview and our request to go on record with ABC was denied. I would have loved nothing better than to share our disdain for this bill and apologize for going anywhere near such a horrible conference."
Leaders at Exodus International – which claims to be the world's largest Christian referral and information network dealing with homosexual issues – sent a letter in November to Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and First Lady Musenevi expressing concerns regarding the bill. But this week's statement is considered to be Exodus' first official one.
Schmierer was among the signatories.
"We believe that sexual crimes against children, whether committed by someone of the same or opposite sex, are the most serious of offenses and should be punished; we consider same-sex behavior in consensual adult relationships another matter," reads the statement, released Monday on the organization's blog.
Exodus board members and other ministry leaders affirm that homosexual behavior was not part of God's creative intent for human sexual expression, but they state that the Christian church must remain a safe, compassionate and confidential place.
"The Christian church must be permitted to extend the love and compassion of Christ to all, regardless of an individual’s adherence to scripture," they say in the statement. "We believe that such legislation would make this mission a difficult, if not impossible, task to carry out."
They also note that "government coercion" is not the answer.
As some of the signatories, including Chambers, previously struggled with same-sex attractions, they stressed, "[I]t wasn’t through coercion that Christ set us free, but through the gracious invitation He extended to us for relationship and the freedom He gave us to choose our own path."

Joyce Meyer Joins Critics of Uganda's Anti- Gay bill

Charismatic preacher Joyce Meyer has added herself to the list of prominent U.S. ministry leaders who have spoken out against Uganda’s highly contentious Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
In a statement released Monday, Meyer said it is “increasingly evident” that the bill introduced in the Ugandan parliament is a “profoundly offensive, dangerous and disturbing attack on the very foundation of individual liberties and human rights afforded not only to the good citizens of Uganda, but on the at-large global community.”
“If enacted, this hostile legislation will also further, and adversely, serve as a major setback in the global health efforts to combat Uganda's AIDS epidemic and reduce the record-high infection rates among the country's HIV population, an already at-risk community that could be further ostracized, threatened, and targeted as potential criminals,” she added, echoing comments from groups such as World Vision.
Proposed last October, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill seeks to strengthen the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda by introducing the death penalty for people who are considered serial offenders, are suspected of "aggravated homosexuality" and are HIV-positive, or who engage in sexual acts with those under 18 years of age.
Though Member of Parliament David Bahati, who proposed the bill, said the legislation is necessary to protect Uganda’s children from being “recruited” into homosexuality, the bill has provoked criticism and protests internationally, including in the United States, where both liberal and conservative church leaders have expressed their opposition.
Among those who have spoken out against the legislation are Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, popular megachurch pastor Rick Warren, and leaders of Exodus International – which claims to be the world's largest Christian referral and information network dealing with homosexual issues.
In her statement Monday, Meyer stressed that her motivation and intent is not to interfere with Uganda's political agenda or internal affairs but that, as a believer, she has a moral and ethical duty that compels her to speak out against injustice wherever it may be in the world.
“As a global society, we do not have to agree, endorse or condone the lifestyle choices of others. However, history has taught us that we equally cannot and should not excuse those who would hide behind religion or misuse God's word to justify bigotry and persecution,” she insisted.
Despite criticisms, bill sponsor Bahati and those supporting the legislation insist that it is based on the foundations of "strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family" and "protect[ing] the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda."
Notably, however, some supporters – including Uganda's Catholic leadership – say they do not back the death penalty provision and instead recommend that the death penalty sentence be replaced with 20 years imprisonment.
Some, including the Anglican Church of Uganda, have also expressed support for amendments to the legislation that call for exemption from punishment for health care professionals, pastors and counselors who may minister to homosexuals or care for HIV patients.
On Friday, a Ugandan parliamentary panel reported that a timetable has not yet been set for debate on the bill.
Furthermore, Stephen Tashyoba, chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee tasked with reviewing the bill before it can be presented to the House, said the legislation is not a priority.
"As far as I am concerned, we really have more urgent matters to discuss like electoral reforms, which are already behind schedule," he told Agence France-Presse.
Presently, homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda - as it is in many sub-Saharan African countries - punishable by incarceration in prison for up to 14 years.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the government of South Africa is the only official entity to acknowledge gay rights.



(Please circulate to all your African contacts)

The COALITION OF AFRICAN LESBIANS (CAL), a pan African network of lesbian, bisexual and gender non-conforming people, organizations and individuals, calls upon every person who believes in the dignity, equality and freedom of every human being, to take note of and act urgently to halt the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which has just been re - tabled in Uganda. We look to African human rights activists and defenders, politicians, religious leaders, cultural leaders, scholars, lawyers, medical professionals, educators, parents and all human rights respecting and promoting individuals and institutions, to take such urgent action.
The draconian Bill was re-tabled in the Parliament of Uganda by Member of Parliament, David Bahati, on February 7, 2012. The Bill had its first reading and was referred to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for scrutiny. The Committee is expected to examine it and conduct public hearings, and then it will report back to the House for a formal debate on the Bill.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 was first introduced in the Parliament of Uganda by Member of Parliament, David Bahati, as a Private Member’s Bill in October, 2009. The Bill proposes severe prison sentences, and in some cases the death penalty. It states that anyone who commits the offence of homosexuality will be liable to life imprisonment as the provisions, according to the Bill, are meant to “protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex.” The Bill further states that “aggravated homosexuality” will be punished by death as it aims to ban all forms of expression advocating for homosexuality. It would also be an offence for a person who is aware of any violations of the Bill’s provisions not to report them to the authorities within 24 hours. Furthermore, the Bill proposes to criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality” which is a provision targeting civil society and human rights defenders. These and other provisions of the Bill go beyond targeting homosexuals, to affect families, human rights defenders, teachers, neighbors, friends, spiritual leaders, medical professionals, shop owners, to mention but a few.

Stand out and up against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 NOW. We have limited time. Resist this unconstitutional bill and take on one, some or all of the following actions;
1. Pass on this Call to Action to as many concerned Africans as you can and urge them to take action.

2. Write emails to and or call Ugandan Members of Parliament (MPs) urging them to resist and reject the Bill in its entirety because it is anti-human rights and affects every Ugandan in different ways. The full list of all 386 MPs can be found at Click on the MP’s name and you will get their email address and phone number. The MPs can also be contacted through social media such as Facebook. Just search for their name on Facebook and or Twitter.

3. Write to the President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and urge him to reject this draconian proposed Bill in its entirety. Urge him to discourage further debate and consideration of the Bill by Parliament and to decline to sign this unconstitutional Bils into law. (Contacts below)

4. Write, call or fax the Inspector General of Police in Uganda, Major General Kale Kaihura, and urge him to ensure the protection of the human rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda and those who defend LGBT people. This includes protection from both state and non-state actors who have started to take the law in their hands by harassing and violating LGBT Ugandans. (Contacts below)

5. Write, fax and or call the Minister of Justice in Uganda, Hon. Major General Kahinda Otafire, and the State Minister of Justice Hon. Fred Ruhindi and urge them to speak out against the unconstitutionality of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 and to discourage any further debate on the Bill. (Contacts below)

6. Write to the Minister of Health in Uganda, Hon. Dr. Christine Ondoa and bring to her attention the implications of this Bill on the fight against HIV/AIDS and on access to medical services by LGBT citizens. (Contacts below)

7. Write to the Cardinal of Uganda, His Eminence Emmanuel Wamala, and the Arch Bishop of the Church of Uganda , The Most Revd Henry Luke Orombi and urge them to stand out and up and oppose the Bill in its entirety. Tell them that homosexuals need their protection. Point out, to the Cardinal of the Catholic Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says in Article 6, 2358: The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. They are called to protect and not to remain silent amidst injustice and discrimination. (Contacts below)

8. Write, call, fax your Minister of Foreign Affairs and urge him/her to put pressure on the Government of Uganda against the further debating of the unconstitutional Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.

For more information, please contact;

Victor Mukasa
Advocacy Advisor for East Africa
Coalition of African Lesbians
Tel: +27 11 918 2182
Mobile: +27 78 436 3635

Fikile Vilakazi
Programs Director
Coalition of African Lesbians
Tel: +27 11 918 2182



The President of the Republic of Uganda
H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Email:, cc:

The Inspector General of Police
Major-General Kale Kaihura
Tel: +256 414 258 114
Fax : +256 414 270 502

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
Hon Maj.Gen Kahinda Otafire
Tel: +256-414- 230538
Fax: +256-414- 254829

State Minister of Justice
Hon. Fred Ruhindi

Minister of Health
Hon. Christine Ondoa
Tel: +256-414-340872
Mobile: +256772428346/ +256701428346
Fax: 256-41-4231584

The Cardinal of the Catholic Church
His Eminence Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala
Tel: +256 414 510389/510570/510544/510571
Fax: +256 41 510545

Archbishop of Uganda & and Bishop of Kampala
The Most Revd Henry Orombi
Tel: +256 414 270 218 / 9
Fax: +256 414 251 925

Sexual Minorities Uganda Rejects and Opposes the Re-Tabled Anti Homosexuality Bill, 2009

Press Statement –
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Kampala 13 February 2012

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) gravely opposes the Parliament’s re-tabling of Hon. David Bahati’s notorious “Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 on 7 February 2012 at the opening of the 9th Parliament. The re-tabling of the Bill comes a few days after the first anniversary of the murder of SMUG’s Advocacy and Litigation Officer - David Kato who was killed on 26 January 2011.
“This bill if passed will only serve to show that the state is not committed to protecting minority groups within its borders” said Dennis Wamala, Vice Chair SMUG Executive Board.
Last week international media widely reported that the bill has been amended to remove the provision that would assign the death penalty to someone who was convicted of ‘serial’ acts of homosexuality. However this is inaccurate. While Hon. Bahati has indicated his ‘willingness’ as the Member moving the Bill to remove the provision, the version re-tabled appears to be the original, intact form. According to SMUG, even if such an amendment were to be recommended and adopted, it would render the Bill no more acceptable.
“This bill is not only about homosexuality, but it can actually target the heterosexual community, who, for instance, fail to disclose people they know are homosexuals. We shall fight it to end” said Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of SMUG and 2011 Laureate - Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
We call on the Members of Parliament and the executive to focus on the real issues that are affecting the nation such as unemployment, inadequate health services especially with the outbreak of the ‘nodding disease’ in Northern Uganda.
“It is un-African to suggest killing, whether it is because of sexual orientation or any other reason. We think this bill is very unfair. We are lobbying for its removal,” said Anglican priest Michael Kimindu, the African president of the Other Sheep, a gay rights group in Kenya.
Sexual Minorities Uganda reiterates that the bill be withdrawn in its entirety because it is antihuman rights and affects every Uganda in ways they do not understand. “With or without the death penalty, this Bill remains unacceptable, and Ugandans who love their country, regardless of sexual orientation, should stand against it.” Pepe Julian Onziema.
SMUG urges all Ugandan allies to take the following actions:
• Contact the leadership of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee and express
your opposition to the Bill.
• Issue public statements condemning this bill
* Write emails to and/or call Ugandan Members of Parliament (MPs) urging them to resist and reject the Bill in its entirety.. The full list of all 386 Members of Parliament can be found at
We urge our Regional and International Partners to take the following actions:
• Contact Ugandan embassies in foreign countries and express your opposition to the Bill in any form.
Sexual Minorities Uganda - SMUG is a network of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex organizations based in Uganda. SMUG is the 2011 Laureate of The Rafto Prize.
For further details, contact:
Frank Mugisha –
Pepe Julian Onziema-

Friday, February 3, 2012

Clerics told not to wed homosexual couples

Church leaders under their association of Born Again Faith Federation insist fellow clerics should not wed any gay couples should government give in to donor pressure to drop the proposed Anti-homosexuality Bill.
Dr Joseph Serwadda, the leader of the federation, said recently that there are signs that the government will be “forced to soften on the demands by the gay movement” in order to throw away the already-shelved Bill which was brought forward by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati.
“The church needs to be assured that government will stand its ground, and this evil be kept where it belongs – in the secret closets of those who practice it,” Dr Serwadda told this newspaper.
The Marriage Act of 1904 does not provide for same-sex marriage.
The comments come at the same time former South African president Thabo Mbeki said the anti-gay proposed law does not make any sense.
Recently, US President Barack Obama and the UK warned they would use foreign aid and asylum conditionalities to push for homosexuality to be decriminalised in Uganda and other “conservative countries”.
Uganda relies heavily on the US, receiving military help to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army and has sent troops to Somalia to fight the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group.
When contacted, the Bill’s architect, Mr Bahati, said late last year: “Our position as a country is clear. Our Constitution prohibits homosexuality and we are not in a trade of values.”
Mr Bahati also advised Mr Mbeki to first read and understand his Bill.
“The Bill was brought to curb a several issues including inducement, recruitment and funding homosexuality. His excellency (Mr Mbeki) needs to read the Bill and understand the spirit in which it was brought and the context in which we are talking about,” Mr Bahati said.