Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Ugandan Pastor Issues Video Response To Rick Warren

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2009

Martin Ssempa

Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa issued a video response to Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren’s vigorous condemnation of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  And boy is Ssempa upset with Warren. It took Warren just six and a half minute to concisely and clearly condemn the bill as “unjust, extreme and un-Christian.” It took Ssempa two videos and nearly eighteen minutes to respond.

In the first video posted to YouTube on December 28, Ssempa continues to misrepresent what the text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would provide.

YouTube Preview Image

In this segment, Ssempa discusses one of the misconceptions about AIDS that some hold in Africa, where some people believe that having sex with a virgin will cure someone of HIV/AIDS. Ssempa then argues that the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” is an absolute necessity in order to criminalize raping of children, which Ssempa incredibly claims is not against the law in Uganda.

The problem with that, of course, is there is no such gaping loophole in Ugandan law. Here’s Section 129(3) and (4) of the Penal Code, as amended in 2007 (Act No. 8 of 2007):

Any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen years in any of the circumstances specified in subsection (4) commits a felony called aggravated defilement and is, on conviction by the High Court, liable to suffer death.

The circumstances referred to in subsection (3) are as follows-

(a) where the person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of fourteen years;

(b) where the offender is infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV);

(c) Where the offender is a parent or guardian of or a person in authority over, the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) where the victim of the offence is a person with a disability; or,

(e) where the offender is a serial offender.

In other words, Ugandan law already covers what is commonly called “defilement” in a very gender-neutral way. What’s more, Ssempa’s contention that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is intended only to cover “defilement” is blatantly false. Again, we go to the text of the bill for its definition of “aggravated homosexuality:”

3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the

(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;

(b) offender is a person living with HIV;

(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;

(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;

(f) offender is a serial offender, or

(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by  enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,

(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

The text is very plain. The bill goes beyond criminalizing sex with underage minors — which Ugandan law already does. It penalizes any gay person who is HIV-positive with death by hanging, the method of legal execution in Uganda, whether that person had sex with a minor or a consenting adult.

Part 2 continues with Ssempa’s misrepresentation of “aggravated homosexuality.”

YouTube Preview Image

Both parts of this video response taken together follow roughly the letter that Ssempa sent to Warren demanding that Warren apologize for his condemnation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He repeats that demand in the second part of his video.

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



December 31st, 2009 | LINK


Very very good. Someone make sure those videos dont disappear from youtube.

Because they will. Soon as he sees that people are fact checking him and pinning down his lies.

And let us go on pinning down the lies. Because they are lies and lies and lies. That is Ssempa’s best fodder. Lies.

December 31st, 2009 | LINK

It appears that the pastor or whomever owns that youtube account is censoring and deleting comments that don’t agree.

December 31st, 2009 | LINK

I’m curious about subsection f:

“(f) offender is a serial offender”

…it sounds like the bill is saying that if a person is a serial _homosexual_ then they are guilty of aggravated homosexuality. So, an HIV-negative person who is twice convicted of having consensual gay sex would face death?

Priya Lynn
December 31st, 2009 | LINK

That’s correct, Phil.

David C.
December 31st, 2009 | LINK

I can only conclude that Martin Ssempa is willfully ignorant, a liar, seriously deluded, a political tool, a bigot, mentally ill, or some combination of all of these. Ugandans must reject this man and everything he stands for.

December 31st, 2009 | LINK

On the plus side

Rick Warren is getting a good taste of what his homophobe peers dish out.

Maybe he’ll learn something about the birds he flocks with.

David C.
December 31st, 2009 | LINK

Rick Warren is getting a good taste of what his homophobe peers dish out. —David

Perhaps this will prompt Pastor Warren to take another good, hard look at that “purpose” thing he likes to go on about. While he’s at it, he might also want to carefully reexamine his notion of grace, fully internalizing and not merely saying:

The freedom to make moral choices is endowed by God. Since God gives us that freedom, we must protect it for all, even when we disagree with their choices.

Of course, similar advice applies to Martin Ssempa and all of his colleagues who seem to have their ears stopped to the words that condemn the dangerous course he and other misguided Ugandan spiritual leaders are on, words which are coming from faith communities throughout the world.

Jean-Paul Bentham
January 1st, 2010 | LINK

What a pile of crap! Nothing but rhetoric and nauseating emotional paternalism.

And this guy is expecting anywhere from 3 to 5 million Ugandans to demonstrate in the streets of Kampala on January 19TH??!!

Long live equal civil rights! Long live the Universal Declaration of Human Rights!

Uganda Gay Rights! Uganda Gay Rights! Uganda Gay Rights!

January 1st, 2010 | LINK

it’s interesting that Ssempa says that he says that ‘homosexuality’ breaks the laws of 5,000 years of culture, from Timbuktu to Cairo. Actually, the oldest known visual representation and celebration of same sex love is Egyptian. And actually too, African tribal and cultural history is relatively equivalent to American Indian traditions, where there is a spectrum of genders, an acceptance and respect for all people, and an enlightened view of the reflection of the divine in all human beings. I wrote to Ssempa and said I thought he was a puppet dancing to Rick Warren’s twisted music. You can send him your opinion directly as well: “Martin Ssempa”
Just for the record, he does list this email on his rolls royce of a website and invites communication from all comers.
Happy 2010

January 1st, 2010 | LINK

One more thing- the national task force that he mentions- it’s a paper tiger- there’s a Ugandan Joint Christian Council that he refers to:

you can join this- I did, and therefore it is easier to keep an eye on them. The ‘task force’ in his Rick Warren letter refers to principally 3 hazily defined religious bodies:
-“The National Fellowship of Born again Churches” (hard to say exactly what that is, but it hardly sounds mainline denominational)
-“The Seventh Adventists Church” (he doesn’t have the correct title of the denomination quite right in this instance)
-and “The Uganda Joint Christian Council”

The interesting thing about that council is that there is no evidence of activity on their website between roughly 2005- to this year, when suddenly there were a couple of new front page articles, to give the website that lived-in, cared-for look. I think it’s a sham and his whole national task force is a sham as well.

It would be extremely interesting to compare the claim in his letter that his pastors task force speaks for the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda- and cross check that with the Vatican offices to see if this ridiculous sounding claim is at all viable. He may not be saying anything deceptive intentionally, but the authority he claims to represent seems to be rather overextended. Particularly since the Catholic Church has condemned the proposed legislation.

January 1st, 2010 | LINK

I’ve flagged the videos.

January 1st, 2010 | LINK


you have got the man right. He lies, dazzles and dodges, picking up a fact, twisting it, and then turning to present it in another way. That is Ssempa.

Fact check him and most of his facts dont jell. Not at all.

That National Task Force of pastors was 20 pastors who met in the Minister of Ethics and Integrity’s office to formulate an answer to the wave of condemnation from Christians outside the country.

In Uganda itself, the Catholic Church has come out with a statement AGAINST the bill. I know for a fact that they have been double talking, supporting the bill, but being prodded by the Vatican to follow Catholic teaching. They cannot support the Task Force or any of its statements. Because it is directly contradictory to the statement of the Catholic Bishops of Uganda read by the Archbishop. It is on BTB

January 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Martin Ssempa speaks English well. I admire that so many people outside the states make a point to learn other languages. I should learn a different language too. BUT. I don’t understand the language of lies and manipulation.

January 3rd, 2010 | LINK

English is one of Uganda’s official languages..

January 5th, 2010 | LINK

With 80% of HIV/AIDS cases in Africa contracted HETEROSEXUALLY, I guess we can expect an Anti-Heterosexuality Bill of 2010???

January 6th, 2010 | LINK

Ssempa’s claim that witchdoctors advise their hiv/aids clients to rape virgins/kids is just another example of Ssempa being untruthful… that has been a persistent problem in South Africa for years, but that particular phenomenon is alien to Uganda. In South Africa, mostly baby girls not boys, have been victimised this way… it’s almost exclusively a problem of “heterosexual” child rape… in SOUTH AFRICA, NOT UGANDA. He’s lying on purpose as usual, just to generate more hate and disgust towards homosexuals. What a shame… many Ugandans are buying his lies. Will he ever get tired of lying?

Even if it were a problem in Uganda, as he implicitly suggests… this bill wouldnt solve that problem at all.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.