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The “Ex-Gay” Star of the Uganda Anti-Gay Campaign

Jim Burroway

March 26th, 2009

I reported yesterday afternoon on the Uganda media circus surrounding the anti-gay activists who held a press conference, where an ex-gay by the name of George Oundo claimed to have spent a lifetime recruiting schoolchildren into homosexuality. The widespread media coverage of that press conference, along with Oundo’s fanciful statements, may well set the stage for yet another orgy of anti-gay violence and public vigilantism.

Timothy Kincaid followed that up with a report on a meeting held in Kampala on March 22, which featured more outlandish claims by George Oundo. That meeting set the stage for yesterday’s press conference.

Who is George Oundo?

I asked around among contacts in Uganda who wish to remain anonymous. The picture that emerges is both strange and disturbing.

George Oundo was known in Uganda’s tight-knit gay community as Georgina, a “flamboyant, no holds barred homosexual activist.” She had spoken at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2007, and she was known for being very outgoing and confident.  But because of her “flamboyance” she drew considerable attention and was arrested by police numerous times.

There are reports that she also had some personal difficulties and, some say, was emotionally unstable.  Whether it was because of her arrests, or whether she had problems beforehand, it’s unclear. Given what we know about police brutality and torture of LGBT citizens, the former is certainly plausible. She had a difficult time holding down a job, and was dependent on handouts from friends.

She was arrested again on September 10, 2008 along with Brenda Kiiza outside of Kampala for “recruiting homosexuals” — which is not a crime under Uganda’s criminal code. The Uganda constitution provides that suspects cannot be held for more than 48 hours, but she and Brenda were held for eight days and released only after their lawyer threatened to take the police to court. During their detention, they were reportedly beaten and denied food, and Oundo was denied treatment for her diabetes.

And that’s where the story gets really strange. On September 8, just two days before her arrest,Oundo appeared on the pages of the Uganda tabloid The Red Pepper. In this article, she appears with Kiiza talking about a previous arrest that they had experienced and the trouble they were encountering since then. In the article headlined “Stranded Gay Couple Pondering Suicide,” Ounda complains of being shunned by Ugandan LGBT activists, a charge that was denied by Victor Juliet Mukasa of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).

Red Pepper article featuring Georgina Oundo (Click to enlarge)

Red Pepper article featuring Georgina Oundo (Click to enlarge)

<em>Red Pepper</em> article from the 2006 vigilante campaign. (Click to enlarge)

Red Pepper article from the 2006 vigilante campaign. (Click to enlarge)

What makes this appearance in the Red Pepper strange is that this was the very paper which had earlier been the instigator of previous anti-gay vigilante campaigns. The Red Pepper was notorious for publishing names and identifying details of gay Ugandans, calling on citizens to take action and for the police to round them up. Many gays in Uganda went into hiding or left the country to avoid getting caught up in the violence. Others saw their lives shattered as their identities were splashed across the pages of the Red Pepper. The paper’s reputation as the prime instigator of hatred and violence was firmly established in the gay community, both in Uganda and abroad.

So why did Georgina go to that particular paper to tell her story? It’s not as if the Red Pepper decided to turn over a new leaf in its coverage of LGBT issues. Look at this article from March 5, 2009, just as the anti-gay conference was getting underway:

MPs To Discuss Bum Shafting
Members of Parliament are set to discuss the rate at which bumshafters are slowly but surely entrenching themselves in Uganda, Red Pepper can exclusively reveal. The meeting which is to take place on March 5 at the parliamentary conference hall will be officiated over by the first lady Janet Kataha Museveni.

Snoops have seen an open invitation to all MPs in which the organizers of the meeting want the legislators to among other things understand the Gay movement’s agenda which is bent on destabilizing society. The MPs will also have to understand in detail the Gay blueprint for transforming this nation and also how Uganda can respond to the bumshafters’ secret agenda.

“This is an executive sensitization meeting themed ‘Exposing the truth about bum shafting and the homosexual agenda” part of an invitation seen by RP reads. Recently, State Minister for ethics and integrity Nsaba Buturo informed MPs at Imperial Royale hotel that a group of bum shafting leaning donor countries had approached him seeking for his nod to start funding and campaigning for bum shafting in Uganda, but he refused.

This vice of homosexuality has been reported in several institutions including churches, schools and high institutions of learning.

We don’t know why she chose to be interviewed and photographed by the Red Pepper, despite its well-earned enmity in the gay community. Did she finally break under repeated police torture and mistreatment? Or were other factors also in play? There are rumors — some pretty wild ones of jealousies, betrayals, recriminations and more — which need confirmation before we can repeat them. And that confirmation will undoubtedly be difficult to obtain, if not impossible. But it does appear that whatever Georgina’s motivations may have been, her appearance in the hated Red Pepper gave the the gay community reasons to became suspicious of her, and she became seen as being too dangerous for the besieged gay community.

George Oundo at yesterday's press conference

George Oundo at yesterday’s news conference

And now, barely five months later, those suspicions are confirmed in the minds of many who knew her or knew of her. Georgina — now George — is a confirmed danger to the community. Oundo knows many people in Uganda’s gay community — who they are, where they live and where they work. This newest development threatens to inflame an already tense situation in a country that has witnessed repeated campaigns of public vigilante acts and widespread extrajudicial detentions, beatings and torture of LGBT people.

Oundo is back in the spotlight again, completing a journey that began on the pages of the Red Pepper last October. And his statements to the media are particularly inflammatory, claiming that he had been trained and paid by foreign gay activists to recruit Ugandan schoolchildren into homosexuality. With statements like that receiving wide media attention, the ground is now well laid for a fresh round of violence against Uganda’s beleaguered gay community.

Exodus board member Don Schmierer (left) and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively (right)

Exodus board member Don Schmierer (left) and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively (right)

And all of this began when three Americans — Exodus board president Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and Richard Cohen Protege Caleb Lee Brundidge — spoke at a conference in Kampala in early March and endorsed proposals to strengthen Uganda’s criminal code which bans homosexual acts with a lifetime sentence, with the penalty of compelling gays and lesbians into forced therapy.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Comments

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Margaret Muyinda
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

We all believe in fredoom for every individual.According to the bible,God wouldnt have destroyed sodom and Gommorah for homosexuality.After hearing testimonies from former homosexuals/lesbians and what they been through,I feel we need to go back to the God ordanied marriage of man and woman.No one ever talks about the side effects of homosexual practice.What of AIDS and cancer.I dont think promoting homosexuality is thw way forward by making it seem like those speaking against it are promoting hate.I believe in something if it has benefits.Ive seen more disadvantages than advantages from former lesbians and homosexuals.Lets be real and not promote something that has so dehumanised the human race.We cant live the lie that same sex marriages are ideal and fun.They are dangerous and the side effects both mental and physical are not good.I conclude by saying return to God’s ideal written in the bible of one woman and one man.thanks

Die Situation in Uganda… « Steven Milverton
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

[…] The “Ex-Gay” Star of the Uganda Anti-Gay Campaign […]

a. mcewen
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

The last time I checked, AIDS affects more than gays. However, when it comes to AIDS, as an African-American, I can tell you that villfication of lgbt people of color in this country has led to a rise in the rate. I am scared that the road that Uganda is going down will be worse.

Believing that homosexuality is a sin is one thing. But isn’t intimidation, lying, and coercion also sins?

Intimidation, lying and coercion have done a lot more to dehumanize humanity than being gay.

Lastly, I would invite you to look on this page and so many others about the so-called dangers of homosexuality. They are nothing more than lies created to exploit folks like yourself.

Timothy Kincaid
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

Margaret Muyinda,

I pity you. You have chose to believe and to spread lies. May God show mercy on you for your ignorance and forgive you for your malice.

De-Gayed in the UK: New Study Released « Peterson Toscano’s A Musing
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

[…] In other ex-gay news: Read the disturbing developments coming out of the Ugandan-based, US-backed ex-gay movement over at Box Turtle Bulletin. […]

Ben in Oakland
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

I feel sorry for the boy. He has to do this to save his own life, would be my guess. Or maybe he is just a vicious piece of shit enticed by power.

Ben in Oakland
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

“that has so dehumanised the human race.We cant live the lie that same sex marriages are ideal and fun.They are dangerous and the side effects both mental and physical are not good.”

thank you for your dehumanzing comments. You’re full of crap.

sorry, timothy.

SharonB
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

Sorry, Margaret,
I believe the blood of Ugandan Martyrs is on YOUR hands, and on the hands of others like you who so easily and thoughtlessly breathe lies and accusations against innocent human beings you DON’T even know.

Ben in Oakland
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

…against innocent human beings you DON’T even know….

and whom, we may add, you know nothing about.

John
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

Margaret Muyinda

It will be a long, long time (if ever) that the body count from people dying from AIDS will even begin to approach the number of dead bodies stacked up around the world due to religious violence.

Add to that the fact that only a minority of the people in Africa have contracted HIV from homosexual activity and your point makes less and less sense.

Bruce
March 27th, 2009 | LINK

I just want to say thank you for the excellent coverage you have given to this truly important topic. A job superbly done, Thank You.

Oh, and Margaret, even if I believed in a god I wouldn’t impose my time on such a worthy being as to beg for your forgiveness, I’m sure that if such a thing actually existed, it would refuse your invented sense of self-worth in it’s name anyway.

Sisanda
April 29th, 2009 | LINK

Up until recently I had never really given thought to how fortunate I am as an African to live in a country that respects and in a way protects my rights to choose who I love and even enter into a recognized marriage with that particular partner. South Africa is by no measure the perfect example of a country that is free of homophobia. But at least the hate not sponsored by the state or condoned by the public. I would really like to encourage every individual to take the time to examine their views on what their prejudice is based on. And at most, you will find that it is the fear of the unknown and the only way to counter act that fear is to educate yourself on what you fear and to your surprise you might find that you were afraid of something that was completely harmless. Many believe that homosexuality is un-African unnatural and an abomination against God. Unfortunately I don’t want to seem like I am lecturing, but if you take time to properly research these beliefs you will find that none of them are true. Do not allow others with their own agendas pull the wool over your eyes. Stop fearing the unknown.

Strange, True & Religious : Uganda’s strange anti-gay feeding frenzy has pastors accusing rivals of gayness
May 14th, 2009 | LINK

[…] first round in this pastor-against-pastor conflict was fired soon after George Oundo claimed to have been saved and became an immediate “ex-gay” in Pastor Martin Ssempa’s […]

Erin
March 14th, 2010 | LINK

Why is there a traditional values coalition ad on your page making a heinous & ridiculous statement that passing ENDA will lead to drag queens and tranvestites teaching about gay sex in classrooms?

Hot Sticky Ex-Gay Action « Peterson Toscano's A Musing
August 28th, 2010 | LINK

[…] Zach Stark, the 16-year old forced into the Love in Action Refuge program in 2005 and the recent anti-gay legislation in Uganda that was inspired by US promoters of ex-gay treatment. (Over at Box Turtle Bulletin you can see […]

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