Are these Martin Ssempa’s Fingerprints on the Latest Anti-Gay Campaign?

Jim Burroway

October 5th, 2010

I broached that question this morning after reading Warren Throckmorton’s blog. Throckmorton had obtained more complete scans of the article that appeared in Uganda’s tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) with the screaming headline, “Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids!!” In the larger scan, we have the following quote attributed to Martin Ssempa:

We shall fight on until we rescue our country from the hands of evil. A lot of money from gay organizations is filtering in to destroy the morals of our kids. The was has just started,” said Sempa in an exclusive interview at his office in Kampala last night.

Given the wholesale myth-making that made up the rest of the article, Throckmorton asked whether Ssempa actually was interviewed by Rolling Stone, saying “If Ssempa did not give this interview, then he should immediately offer a public statement that he no longer believes in these tactics and fulfill his word to his supporting church, Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas.”

Martin Ssempa's email to governmental officials, as reproduced in Rolling Stone, Oct 2,2010.

Martin Ssempa's email to governmental officials, as reproduced in Rolling Stone, Oct 2,2010. (Click to enlarge)

Since that post this morning, a helpful reader in Uganda sent more scans from the same edition of Rolling Stone. Of particular interest is another article that appears on page six, immediately following the pictorial spread on pages 4 and 5 of LGBT Ugandans. That article by Giles Muhame, who is also identified elsewhere in the paper as Rolling Stone’s managing editor, is fully devoted to Ssempa’s demand that an audit of Uganda’s AIDS commission be made public.

I have no quarrel with Ssempa’s demand, as I haven’t been following this particular issue. In general, transparency is always critical to good governance and an important guard against corruption, and I hope HIV/AIDS NGO’s and doners are paying attention. But what is particularly interesting is that some five-sixths of this article consists of what is described as a “secret email” that Ssempa sent to Uganda’s Inspector General of Government and the Health Ministry. Rolling Stone reprints the entire email verbatim, including the email addresses.

There are only four email addresses listed in the reprinted email. The three “To” addresses are to the Ugandan government, which, according to Rolling Stone, is sitting on a “damning” audit report. The fourth email address, the “From” address is Ssempa’s gmail address, which happens to be the very same email account he used when he commented on BTB last March.

Given the circumstances of the controversy and the framing of it in Rolling Stone, there are only four sources where this email could have come from, and three of those sources would not benefit from its publication. Only one possible source benefits, and that is Martin Ssempa. On that basis, it appears almost certain that Ssempa fed Rolling Stone virtually the entire contents of the full-page article.

And if this is indicative of a close working relationship between Rolling Stone’s managing editor and Ssempa, then that helps to explain something else that is puzzling about the anti-gay vigilante expose published on page 2.

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge.)

Our helpful reader sent a full-page scan of the article titled “Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids!!” It’s a more complete scan than I was provided yesterday. Again, I have obscured names and places, as well as the photo. Except I left one name unobscured, that of an American journalist by the name of Katherine Roubos. Her “outing” is located at the top of the leftmost column:

KATHERINE RUOBOS [sic]: She used to work for Daily Monitor. She was deported on Pastor Ssempa’s influence. He reportedly contacted government officials who pressured the newspaper to take action. Katherine used to ask only gay-related questions at press conferences. At one time, she asked FDC boss Col. Kizza Besigye whether he would give gays powers to recruit more kids in their groups.

Katherine Roubos is an American citizen and resident. In 2007 she was journalism intern assigned to Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest and most reputable independent newspaper. Her byline appeared on a handful of stories covering a range of topics, but the story that caught Ssempa’s ire was one she published on August 16, covering first ever press conference held by an LGBT advocacy group in Uganda. (The Monitor’s story is no longer online, but a copy is available here.)

Daily Montor photo of Sexual Minorities Uganda's press conference in 2007

Daily Monitor photo of Sexual Minorities Uganda's press conference in 2007.

The press conference was groundbreaking. Conducted by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), many of the leaders and attendees famously wore masks in order to hide their identities. The message of the conference was simple: “Let us live in peace,” as they discussed HIV/AIDS, discrimination, and police brutality.

This came as a dual shock to anti-gay activists in Uganda. Not only was the press conference itself an unprecedented act of boldness, but Roubos’ coverage of it was wholly balanced and completely devoid of the typical stereotypes and sneering attitudes commonly expressed toward gay people in the popular press.

Demostrators demanding "Catherine" Roubos' deportation.

Demonstrators demanding "Catherine" Roubos' deportation.

Coverage in the government-owned New Vision was, surprisingly, similarly balanced. But for whatever reason (Roubos’ nationality maybe?) it was Roubos’ article that attracted Ssempa’s attention. Just a few days later, he organized a mass rally at a rugby field in Kampala to denounce the press conference and demand Roubos’ deportation. Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo also spoke at that rally. As far as I am able to determine, Roubos has never been deported. (My attempts to contact her have been unsuccessful.) She stuck around at least long enough to finish another article co-written by LGBT advocate Val Kalende for Daily Monitor in late September, which documented a famous case of police misconduct and brutality — another landmark story in its own right.

That was more than three years ago. As far as I have been able to determine, she left the country when her three-month internship was up. I have no idea whether she’s been back or not. At any event, Ms. Roubos’ time in the Ugandan limelight is ancient history. But whoever contributed Roubos’ name to Rolling Stone certainly hasn’t forgotten her, and wants to make sure readers don’t forget that Ssempa was responsible for her “deportation.”

It’s very puzzling to see her name in these pages, considering that she is neither a Ugandan citizen nor resident, nor even relevant to Ugandans generally. Except, perhaps, for someone who still holds a grudge and never forgets a name. Even if he did spell her name wrong.


October 6th, 2010

great job, Jim!

after reading this, i’m convinced that ssempa is fully responsible for the rolling stone’s witch hunt and disgraceful journalism.

he claims that rich and powerful homosexuals are pushing the “gay agenda” in uganda, using money and fancy toys to recruit school kids into homosexuality… and then he goes on to recruit young journalists into his anti-gay propaganda campaign, by splash out no doubt… enough for a front page anti-gay hysteria rousing headline reminiscent of his extravagant “kill the gays” propaganda campaign (who could ever forget his hateful public rallies, scat porn shows, workshops, newspaper articles, blogs, statements on youtube, interviews on radio and national television)… in addition to the rolling stone’s front page, he must have paid for the several pages of anti-gay trash and the full page public relations piece in which ssempa portrays himself as a smiley HIV/AIDS hero… the “author” of that article merely formatted ssempa’s “work” …mostly blowing his own trumpet to attract sympathy, support and sponsors.

if only ssempa’s remaining sponsors and associates would realize how he fools them into giving him money and support for the noble cause of HIV/AIDS activism, and then diverts it towards his greatest passion… his “kill the gays” propaganda campaign. it amazes me that reputable organizations and sane individuals would still wanna be associated with such a malevolent man.


October 6th, 2010

As I imagine the publishers of the real Rolling Stone own the name and all associated rights on an international basis, is it worth contacting them to inform them of this infringement?

Under the circumstances, I suspect their lawyers would act swiftly to protect their good name from being used and sullied by these maniacs.

As for the headline “Probe Them”, Freud lived too soon…..


October 6th, 2010

Jim, I do not agree with you on your deliberate attempts to link Ssempa to this “Hate Campaign”. Atleast I have lived in Uganda for quite a long time and I have ever done some HIV/AIDS work with UAC. Dr. Apuuli has had terrible run ins with most his staff which has always resulted into firing and resignation. It must not have been Ssempa who fed Rolling Stone with this information. Better still I think I have an idea of who could have done that. So linking Ssempa to that article is really negatively motivated to say the least.

While I donot agree with the killing of the homos, I also want the world to respect the cultures of Uganda. Homosexuality is highly unheard of practise in any corner of this nation. Their values are strong. The pressure piled up on this tiny nation is immense that her power to make private decision is almost being crippled by the Gay lobbists. I am no homosexual and forever I will never be, not even will I encourage any of my grandchildren to embrace it.

Because of my response, I’ll definately receive hot attacks from the lobbists but hey am Ugandan. I just need to show you our stand. We do not kill and will not kill BUT We will not tolerate gayism in Uganda. Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and many other nations have done this and have succeeded.


October 6th, 2010

One direction I can see this going is violence toward foreign nationals. This would be one of the reasons for his ‘deporting’ demand. They are working hard to link ‘gay’ with the US and Europe.

As for it not being part of Ugandan culture… it exists in every culture in the world. It has since before history was recorded and will be until the end of history as well. That doesn’t mean the cultures all accept it. Just don’t try to claim there are NO same-sex activity and relationships in Africa.

They have to hide it to not be beaten, to not lose their jobs and families, to in some instances not be killed. So, the claim that it is not there is dishonest. The world changes and so do cultures. Those that do not adapt and grow, they implode in the end. Those that do not respect all of their people, they end up having no people left in the end.

To outright lie and call for the death of a group of people shows the direction the culture is going. To claim that children are recruited is a lie that is just outrageous. To claim that it is foreigners doing this, show us proof other than words. Talk is cheap, lives are not.


October 6th, 2010

Lael, thank you for your response. Well you have spoken without givivng me also evidence. I wish you did. I will still stand with my statement; in some cultures, it is unheard of. That you either believe it or not, it still stands. If our culture does not embrace why force on us…why not let us go our way??? I think Civility demands that we have respect for other, whatever they don’t embrace let’s not force them to take it. Atleast for the few homos I have talked to, they all indicate that they were recruited into it. They didn’t join willingfully. What would you make of that. Right now there is one former homo am sponsoring in India for his further studies. He was recruited just because he didn’t school fees.

Secondly, it is true homos have raped kids. Infact if you want to get more, meet with the leaders of the few Children’s choirs that always frequent America for shows. In May, I councelled whose rectum was raptured by a homo. This boy was on diapers. These things happen, it’s just good we leave it like that. Otherwise many people would be exposed. Talk is cheap, lives are not. May you live up to this as you promote your agenda.


October 6th, 2010


The culture you refer to is not Ugandan.

Real Ugandan and African culture was replaced by a Western culture brought to you originally by Christian missionaries and now re-enforced by their modern era equivalents – the American evangelical mega-churches.

Before the Christians turned up and destroyed your culture, straight people, bi-sexual people, gay people and lesbian people were just part of life.

Coming back to today, as Western nations are turning away from Christian inspired bigotry and becoming more accepting, these churches are looking again to Africa for their survival, money and power.

And, sadly, as in a previous age, we see you are just allowing yourselves to be used yet again by falling for the lies of a certain kind of self-serving white man once more.


October 6th, 2010

It’s time for the US and the EU to stop all aid $ to Uganda. Clearly the country of Uganda prefers to go it’s own way, and should pay for it alone, not with my tax $.

Priya Lynn

October 6th, 2010

Jame said “If our culture does not embrace why force on us…why not let us go our way??? I think Civility demands that we have respect for other, whatever they don’t embrace let’s not force them to take it.”.

No one is forcing you to take anything. You’re free to be or not be gay as you choose. Gay people have just as much right to live their lives as you do, if their mere existence is “forcing” gayness on you then your mere existence is “forcing” heterosexuality on them and you should not do that, you should leave Uganda or stop being heterosexual – works both ways.

Jame said “At least for the few homos I have talked to, they all indicate that they were recruited into it. They didn’t join willingfully.”.

That’s a lie. No one can be recruited to be gay. Either you’re same sex attacted or you aren’t, no one can encourage or force you to have attractions you don’t.

Jame said “Secondly, it is true homos have raped kids.”.

It is true that heterosexuals have raped kids and as heterosexuals make up the vast majority of the population in Uganda the vast majority of child rape is done by heterosexuals yet somehow you don’t seem to want to call for heterosexuality to be eliminated. You’re just a lying hate-filled purveyor of evil.


October 6th, 2010

White Christians have whitewashed (no pun intended) and rewritten the history of Africa the same way communists did to other countries.

Timothy Kincaid

October 6th, 2010


Atleast for the few homos I have talked to, they all indicate that they were recruited into it. They didn’t join willingfully. What would you make of that.

In May, I councelled whose rectum was raptured by a homo. This boy was on diapers.

You have exposed yourself to be a fraud.

You have come here with stories designed to shock, but instead have met those who know your claims to be ridiculous.

No doubt such claims sell well among those who have no familiarity with either sexual attraction or human physiology, but the readers at Box Turtle Bulletin are not ignorant, foolish, superstitious, or gullible.


October 6th, 2010

@ Jame

I find it interesting that you came here in the first place. What agenda do you have? Is it to try to convince us of Ssempa’s innocence regarding the article? Is it to engage ‘the gays’ in an argument to distract from the article and the agenda of Rolling Stone, Red Pepper, Ssempa and other anti-gay government people?

You counter my demand for proof with my own words. My response: look it up. The information is easily accessible at a library and failing that, the internet. Anthropology has covered this material long ago. I am not talking about anything radical. Nice attempt to distract again. Show me your proof of recruiting. Show me your proof that foreigners are doing this. Show me proof that you even care what our opinion really is.

When your country considers ‘hang them’ an acceptable answer to the gays, I don’t see why the world must just sit back and accept it without comment. When your government seriously considers making it law that death is the answer to gays, the world will have something to say. Does Uganda want to participate with the rest of the world? Does Uganda want that foreign aid money? Then we have a right to comment and disapprove. Denying the humanity and rights of gay people anywhere is a denial of civility and decency.

Chris McCoy

October 6th, 2010

Jame wrote:

Homosexuality is highly unheard of practise in any corner of this nation.

It is unheard of because you do not tolerate it being discussed. It is not that it does not happen, it is that you do not allow to it be talked about openly. Refusing to talk rationally about homosexuality does not make all homosexuals magically disappear. It just makes them go into hiding, fearing for their lives.

Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and many other nations have done this and have succeeded.

Those countries which outlaw homosexuality did not eliminate homosexuality from their countries. The homosexuals are still there. All that those countries did is make sexual terrorism legal.


October 6th, 2010

It is no use arguing with Jame. He and others like him will continue to ignore education and enlightenment in favor of distortions, blanket statements, and blatant falsehoods, because those premises are what validate their hatred.


October 7th, 2010

Jame and EZam

Did you know that Kabaka Mwanga who ruled Buganda Kingdom in Uganda towards the end of the 19th Century, was also sexually interested in MEN?

And you say that homosexuality is un-African?

One is only entitled to their opinions, and not to facts. You better check yours.


October 7th, 2010

@ Jame,

This is will be long…

Ivan said it perfectly “the culture you refer to is not Ugandan.” But, as a proud black woman, I will go further as to why your position about “African values” on Homosexuality indicates that YOU are still COLONIZED and have completely lost touch and/or ignorant of real Africaness. Sadly, you are not the only one who is this way.

Same-Sex relationships and Transgender folks existed in Africa BEFORE the presence of Europeans. In Pre-colonial African sexuality was not fixed and more in touch with nature. Gender roles were a bit more flexible. Most South African Zulu healers were women, but some were male to female transgender healers. The Kenyan Mugawe a religious leader of the Meru is a male that would wear women’s clothes and would marry a man. Angolan Kwayamas would do the same. Lesbian affairs occurred among ummarried Akan women of present-day Ghana. I can go on…

Oh and here are some souces to back it up: David Greenberg: The Construction of Homosexuality, “Out in Africa” by Gauruv Desai. Another book you might want to read is, African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization.

Homophobia in Africa is a product of European Colonialism. The values that you are promoting are based on old European puritan views that were never originally Ugandan. I might go further and take it that you are a Christian and that you may follow the bible. If not, it is apparent Ugandans have been brainwashed by a real Un-African European import, Christianity.

I ask you and folks like Martin Ssempa, if you follow the bible, have you also accepted Leviticus 25, Exodus 21, Ephesians 6, Timothy 6, Luke 12, and my favorite Genesis 9. You know that Curse of Ham Story?… part of the reason why Christianity was imposed on African slaves in the first place? These biblical passages refer to the bibles explicit support for slavery and the destiny of dark skinned folks.

If Uganda want to eradicate the Gays, based on the whim of Christian evangelicals and their bible, you should accept that our dark skin is inferior and we are only fit to be slaves. Also, condemn the Republic of Uganda for being an independent state from Great Britain since 1962. The Republic should be under the jurisdiction of the Imperial British East Africa Company and there should be call for enslaving Ugandans…just like the old days.

Then again Jame, you’re probably a victim of misinformation and so lost from your blackness, you can’t even begin to comprehend my point.


October 7th, 2010


Why is that directed to me? I was pointing out that Jame has been brainwashed by its government and/or church.


October 7th, 2010

@ Cynthia. I want to marry you right now. Only kidding. Excellent post though.


October 19th, 2010

Ugandans actually believe these kinds of ridiculous conspiracies? And forget education, this seems like a basic common sense / gullibility thing.

Sure, even early American settlers hunted their imagined witches, but this seems so much more convoluted and sensational. Vast recruitment campaigns, initiation of “new” members, etc … REALLY???

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