Uganda Anti-Gay Conference: Day Two
March 6th, 2009
The Uganda anti-gay conference continues for a second day, with no further explanation on conference leaders’ endorsement of a parliamentarian proposal to upgrade Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law to include forced “therapy” on those who are convicted. Ugandan law already provides for a life sentence on conviction.
Exodus board member Don Schmierer has been a highly visible speaker at that conference. We contacted Exodus International President Alan Chambers expressing our concerns and seeking his comment a week ago, but his response was off the record and noncommittal. With Schmierer speaking at that conference for a second day — and as all accounts of that conference repeatedly identify him as an Exodus International board member — we eagerly await an official policy pronouncement from Exodus International on whether they support criminalization of homosexuality and the forced “conversions” of convicted gays and lesbians.
The blog of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) continues its coverage of the Uganda conference. Schmierer was again the featured speaker for the morning session. Kasha Jacqueline was there, and relayed her observations to IGLHRC blogger Victor Mukasa:
The facilitators for the first half of the day were still members of the Ugandan organization Family Life Network, together with Don Schmierer, a member of the board of the American “ex-gay” organization, Exodus International.
The workshop started with a recap of the first day of the conference. Participants were asked to share what they had learned or what captured their attention. Kasha Jacqueline told me that the first participant had nothing else to say except, “Homosexuals are sick and dangerous.” In response, she raised her hand and asked, “What disease was discovered yesterday that you claim they are suffering from?”
After someone claimed that homosexuality is unnatural, Kasha asked, “Who decides what is natural?” Schmierer responded directly to the second question saying that his role at the workshop involves teaching about family values; other facilitators would answer questions about homosexuality being unnatural later in the conference. For the rest of the morning, Schmierer continued with his teachings on family values and how to manage children in the family.
I would presume that when Schmierer pointed to “other facilitators [who] would answer questions about homosexuality being unnatural,” he’s referring to Scott Lively, a co-founder of virulent anti-gay extremist group Watchmen On the Walls and author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,in which he writes that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” At a Watchmen conference in Riga, Latvia in 2007, Lively claimed that gays were evil “followers of the Father of Lies.” He further described gays as being “sick,” claiming that gays don’t really want to be gay but are trapped in the grip of a militant homosexual leadership. Earlier that year, Lively excused the anti-gay hate crime murder of Satendar Singh before an audience in Novosibirsk, Russia.
The IGHRC notes that a film was shown just before lunch featuring American ex-gays:
A film was shown during the session before lunch featuring “ex-gay” Americans testifying about how they were “cured” of homosexuality. All described abuse and violence in their families during childhood and poor relationships with one of their parents. All were “born again Christians” who had “healed” from homosexuality.
Participants were shocked to hear such testimonies for the first time. They asked questions like, “How long does it take for one to heal from homosexuality?” and “Does it hurt?” One of the “ex-homosexuals” on the film testified that he had a poor relationship with his father. This led him to wanting to be with men looking for a father’s love. After the film one participant asked, “If he was looking for a father’s love from men, how did those relationships turn sexual? Would he have become sexual with his own father had they had a good relationship?”
There are two possible films which may fit this description. One is the 2004 film “I Do Exist.” That one features Noé Gutierrez, who has since denounced the ex-gay movement and says that he is no longer ex-gay. An earlier film, “It’s Not Gay,”features Michael Johnston, who then headed Karuso Ministries. That film came out in 2000. In 2003, Johnston was forced to shut down his ministry after it was discovered that he had been hosting orgies with other men, taking drugs, and practicing unsafe sex without disclosing his HIV seropositive status. The American Family Association still sells “It’s Not Gay,” desipte Johnston’s very public downfall. There are very few ex-gay films, and I can’t think of any others which fit this description off hand. I’m trying to find out more about it, and will pass along what I’ve learned.
[Update: Another, perhaps more likely possibility for the film is the 2006 "Homosexuality 101," which was produced by NARTH president Julie Harren. It features Alan Chambers, Julie Harren, Mike Ensley (recently laid off as Exodus Youth Analyst), Christine Sneeringer (head of Exodus-affiliated New Creations Ministry), and Jack Harren (Director of West Palm Beach, Florida's Family Ties ministry and, at that time, head of a local PFOX chapter). Of the three films, "Homoseuxality 101" is the only one being sold by Exodus.]
The conference’s afternoon session was given over to Caleb Lee Brundidge, of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation and the Phoenix-based Extreme Prophetic ministries, where he goes around to area mortuaries trying to raise the dead. So far, he reports no successes, which no doubt approximates his success rate as a counselor for Cohen’s hug-and-cuddle cures for homosexuality. His presentation at Kampala appears to have been similarly unimpressive:
An LGBTI activist told me that Caleb was contradicting himself. “First he testified that he didn’t have a good relationship with his father. Later, when a participant noted that there are a lot of homosexuals that she knows that come from great families and have good relationships with their parents, Caleb interjected and said that he had a great relationship with his father. That was contradictory!”
GayUganda sums up the mode of the conference:
[Stephen] Langa was the first to take the floor. A harangue. Uganda is going into total moral collapse. It is worse and more serious than economic collapse. Soon, the world will turn inside out and upside down, and homosexuals will be presidents….! You get the gist, hey? Rallying up the troops. Making sure that people get the message.
Don [Schmierer] handles prevention of homosexuality. Lee [Brundidge] is the ex-gay, and Scot [Lively] is the guy who handles advocacy. And Langa rallies everyone up. In apocalyptic, fire and brimstone terms. Question- it gets old when I am blamed for the worlds ills. So, thanks, but no thanks. And by the way, volunteers wanted for the formation of Homosexual Prevention Clubs in Uganda. Any takers?
…And he [Brundidge] then went ahead and described the steps to take in the Reparative Therapy. Much counseling, touching, listening, backsliding and some casting out of spirits.
Scott Lively takes the stage tomorrow. That’s where the real fun begins.