Ugandan LGBT Advocates Denounce Child Sexual Abuse

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2010

It’s a reflection on the sad state of things in Uganda that the main LGBT advocacy organization has to issue a statement like this. But like many of the most anti-gay extremists in the U.S. ( including some who went to Uganda for the three day anti-gay conference last March), most Ugandans believe that gay people are child molesters. This was a prominent theme of the anti-gay conference, and that theme was like napalm thrown on an already burning bonfire.

In normal situations, being against child sexual abuse and molestation is an assumed position. But things are not normal in Uganda, where child molestation is constantly used as justification for the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament — even though the bill goes much, much further than simply addressing child sexual abuse, which Ugandan law already covers quite nicely. But two of Uganda’s LGBT advocacy groups have issued a statement clarifying what ought to be obvious in normal societies around the world: gay people oppose child sexual abuse with the same fervor as straight people. They also offer to work with the government to fight against child exploitation and abuse.

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



Our movement recognizes violence, harassment and sexual abuse of minors as violation of human rights.  As a  movement of people who stand for social justice, we express profound dismay at any form of sexual abuse whether hetero or homosexual.

We share Hon. David Bahati\’s desires as expressed in the preamble of Bill 18:

  1. To strengthen the nation\’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the family unit.  It is nevertheless important to point out that most of these can hardly be realized through the regulatory mechanism of the law.
  2. To protect the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, particularly the positive aspects of it.
  3. To protect Ugandan children and youth who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation—whether hetero or homosexual.

However, while we agree that we must seek ways of dealing with issues that threaten our families, we do not agree that consensual adult homosexual relationships is one of those issues.  It is therefore our humble opinion that the Bill be unpacked and scrutinized so as to avoid a law that will be used to discriminate people who are not harming anyone. There is need to separate the concept of consensual sex and non-consensual sex. In other words, we implore Hon. Bahati to withdraw his private members Bill in its entirety. As Professor Ogenga Latigo, the Leader of the Opposition said of this ´kill-the-gays´ Bill, “we cannot plunge into a legislative process before looking at what is happening, the facts and what the trends are”.

Homosexuals form a small group of people who, when people feel vulnerable, are blamed for all society\’s problems. Gays have been blamed for the spread of HIV, including certain government officials saying ´Gays are not Government? priority in the fight against HIV & AIDS.´ Let it be understood: it\’s not homosexuality that spreads AIDS; it is the culture that brutalizes gay men and forces them underground that spreads AIDS. To blame the spread of HIV on a minority group of people is burying our heads in the sand and failing to deal with the real problem facing our country.

Homosexuals are not the rapists and child molesters who pounce on unsuspecting family members. Research shows that over 50% of child sexual abuse reports involve children below the age of 10, and the perpetrators are heterosexual men. (Study cited in Uganda Youth Development Link, Report on Sectoral Study on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Uganda, Commissioned by the International Labour Organisation and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development- January 2004)

The 2006 national study on Domestic Violence by Law Reform Commission confirmed that 66% domestic violence (2006 national study on Domestic Violence of people in all regions of Uganda reported that Domestic Violence occured in their homes and the majority of the perpertratpors were ´male heads of household´. ( See Law Reform Commission, A Study Report on Domestic Violence, April 2006 at p.112)

The millions of Ugandan children orphaned by HIV & AIDS.  The Uganda Aids Commission puts the cumulative number of orphans due to AIDS at 2 million. Homosexuals are not largely responsible for these figures since they are not considered as people who procreate.

In addressing what Pastor Martin Ssempa and his group are peddling as ´Public Outcry´, first and foremost it is not true that the Penal Code provision on ´Aggravated Defilement´ does not cover abused boys. Section 129 (3)  clearly  says: ´Any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen years commit a felony called aggravated defilement´. It does not limit the legal protection to girls.

As a movement, we respect and value the rights of all human beings regardless of who they are, who they have sex with and how they have sex. We SHALL be behind any efforts seeking to curb sexual abuse against minors just as we are committed to supporting any efforts seeking to curtail sexual abuse against curative rape against lesbians, and the unrealistic religious fundamentalist agenda that seeks to demonize homosexual abuses over heterosexual abuses.

As Freedom and Roam Uganda we:

  1. Totally oppose the Bill as a whole and therefore calls for its complete withdrawal.
  2. Do not support amendment of the Bill.
  3. Support criminalization of non-consensual sex, for example, rape and paedophilia, whether homosexual or heterosexual.
  4. Oppose the criminalisation of consensual sex between adults of sound mind.
  5. The Penal code should be amended to draw an effective distinction between consensual sex and non-consensual sex.


Freedom and Roam Uganda- FARUG

Freedom and Roam Uganda is a member organisation of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people\’s organisations based in Uganda.

For further details, contact:

Val Kalende
Freedom and Roam Uganda

Frank Mugisha
Sexual Minorities Uganda

Lynn David

January 4th, 2010

Starting off as they do by describing sexual abuse of minors as “any form of sexual abuse whether hetero or homosexual” gets me into that defensive (anti-Cameronesque) mode as abuse by an adult of a child of the same gender is not of necessity due to a homosexual orientation. FARUG would seem to lending authority to the wording in the bill which unfairly defines pedophilia upon a child of the same gender as the offender as ‘aggravated homosexuality‘ despite their opposition to the bill.

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