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Posts for April, 2009

Uganda Press Crank Up “Predator” Rhetoric

Jim Burroway

April 6th, 2009

The recent flare-up of anti-gay activity in Uganda has taken on a very dangerous turn lately, with two tabloids providing “tips” on how to spot gays and lesbians. These “tips” are based on common misinformed stereotypes, some of which were promulgated from the recent series of anti-gay gatherings taking place in the aftermath of a conference earlier this month featuring three American anti-gay activists.

Uganda’s Weekly Observer’s “tips” is in the form of person-on-the-street interviews, in which random Ugandans offer their suggestions on how to spot gays and lesbians, like this one:

Sarah Nakiwolo, 22, Student
What I know is that men who are gay tend to like all the fancy things that are normally appreciated by women. For example they will want to always treat their hair, apply make-up and act like women by pulling at their blouses (shirts) and jeans, which are normally tight. They also tend to gesture around like women by folding their hands, you know. Then for women, they will behave like men. They wear men’s clothes a lot and would rather cut their hair to appear like men and do not fuss about make up. God made sex for man and woman, period. It will be hard to stop gay acts unless government comes out with a strict law.

Of the nine interviews, only one cautioned that “it would not be wise to stereotype.” There were no counterbalancing interviews of gay people or experts, legitimate or otherwise.

The second, more disturbing element is that the Red Pepper is beginning to get involved. The latest issue featured this story:

Researchers told us last night that over three million Ugandans have engaged in homosexual activities knowingly or unknowingly…. Last week Sunday Pepper talked in confidence to some people who had ever been cornered into homosexual acts and below we give you their chilling confessions.

Those researchers are unnamed. What follows is two “confessions.” One was subtitled, “I survived being bum-drilled by a senior journalist,” and the other, “I became a lesbo unknowingly.”

Ugandan newspaper headlines in 2007. Click to enlarge.

Ugandan newspaper headlines in 2007. Click to enlarge.

The Red Pepper’s entry into the latest round of anti-gay grandstanding was expected, but it’s disturbing nonetheless. In previous anti-gay campaigns, the Red Pepper became notorious for printing first names and identifying details of those it alleged were gay.

The Red Pepper’s “confessions” article isn’t the only recent story the tabloid has run recently. The Red Pepper also ran this story, which carried lurid allegations against named individuals who are members of an opposition political party. Stories like these are common means of discrediting legitimate opposition in Uganda, and the Red Pepper’s accounts are typically the most intentionally outrageous:

Monster whopper wielding homosexual activists last year reportedly grabbed and attempted to drill the tiny bums of Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) members, Red Pepper exclusively reveals.  UYD is a vibrant youth wing of the opposition Democratic Party.

The chilling story is that late last year, UYD boss, Fred Mukasa Mbidde ferried 40 UYD members by bus to attend a conference on African Democracy at Victoria Hotel, Nakuru in Kenya. Sources that attended the workshop say it was organized and financed by AUF, a Norwegian based political party well known for bankrolling bum shafting and gay activities worldwide.

The organization which was represented by a bummy lady identified as Anja Riiser, has been secretly securing visas for bum-bonking experts and gay stars to countries like Spain, Norway, Italy and Canada.

The article goes on to names of several “UYD boys whose bums survived being cracked by bazungu’s [sic] monster whoppers.”

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

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

The recent anti-gay conferences led by Stephen Langa featuring Exodus board member Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and Richard Cohen Protegé Caleb Lee Brundidge gave a legitimizing gloss on the image of “predatory homosexuals,” an image which has been the main component of past anti-gay vigilante and extrajudicial campaigns. Both Schmierer and Lively, cited as American “experts” on homosexuality, pointed to child sexual abuse as a means for “recruiting” youth into homosexuality.

Schmierer, in particular, used his credentials as an ex-gay “expert” to push the “molestation” theme as a pathway to homosexuality.  In his book, An Ounce of Prevention: Preventing the Homosexual Condition in Today’s Youth, Schmierer writes, “Sexual abuse, including molestation and/or rape is a key factor in homosexuality. We will return to this repeatedly because it is so significant.” And indeed he does, repeatedly. As do the extremists who are whipping up dangerous levels of vitriol in Ugandan newspapers, radio and television — backed by the “expertise” of Exodus and Lively.

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

Forced Outings Continue As Uganda LGBT Advocates Allege Oundo Is In It For The Money

Jim Burroway

March 31st, 2009

The campaign of forced public “outings” of alleged LGBT individuals have continued in Uganda, including allegations against a popular Catholic priest and gospel singer, among others:

In his remarks, [Paul] Kagaba also named an employee of a Kampala city hospital and a European residing on Entebbe road among the prominent gay promoters in the country.

Meanwhile, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) held a sparsely attended news conference to call for the protection of equal rights for that nation’s LGBT citizens:

Victor Mukasa, the coordinator of the Uganda Minority Sexual Rights group says the campaign against homosexuals in the country is based on wrong information that homosexuality is an acquired behavior which can be taught to people.

Mukasa says homosexuals are naturally born attracted to people of the same sex and do not “change like weather”. Mukasa says it is wrong for Langa and his group to accuse homosexuals of being in a campaign to recruit and change school children into homosexuality. He says these allegations are aimed at making Ugandans to hate homosexuals and force the government to become punish homosexuals.

One interesting detail from this Uganda Pulse article is this very obliquely stated allegation:

But the Family Life Network recently presented a group of former homosexuals who claimed they used to recruit students through offering them money and friendship. Mukasa says the people claiming to have been working to promote homosexuality in schools have been paid to talk bad about homosexuals in order to make Ugandans hate homosexuals, instead of appreciating their differences. [Emphases mine.]

George Oundo at yesterday's press conference

George Oundo

This brings to light earlier allegations about George Oundo that I have heard privately from anonymous sources. Those private sources have told me that the widespread belief in Uganda’s LGBT community is that Oundo “switched sides” for financial gain.

As we’ve noted, the charge that gays are “recruiting” Ugandan children has been a recurrent them in this and past anti-gay campaigns. Oundo threw more fuel on that fire when he became a centerpiece for an anti-gay press conference carried live by three Ugandan television stations. At that press conference, Oundo claimed that after having been a gay activist, he is now — only five months later — heterosexual. He also claimed that during his time as an activist, he was paid by wealthy foreign activists to recruit children into homosexuality. If this were true, that would mean that Oundo admitted to having committed the crime of child sexual abuse. But that technical detail is being overlooked as Oundo threatens to publicly name private individuals from among Uganda’s beleaguered gay community.

We published some background information on Oundo’s transformation from gay activists to gay denouncer, which included several arrests and detentions by police and a surprise appearance in the hated Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper last October. That paper had led previous anti-gay vigilante campaigns by outing private gay citizens to employers, neighbors and police. The Red Pepperarticle included Oundo’s complaints that the gay community was refusing to provide financial assistance.

The private reports that I had received alleged that Oundo had come to believe that LGBT activism was a lucrative trade and he began demanding his cut, and they cite his appearance in the hated Red Pepper as a public gambit for payment. That allegation is certainly consistent with the main theme behind the Red Pepper article.

Red Pepper article featuring George (“Georgina”) Oundo (Click to enlarge).

Red Pepper article featuring George (“Georgina”) Oundo (Click to enlarge).

Now SMUG’s chairperson has gone on record with similar allegations, saying that Oundo’s turning away from the LGBT community has less to do with suddenly finding Jesus, and more to do with finding the highest bidder:

A confession by George Oundo and his claim that he has abandoned homosexuality seems to be nothing more than him trying to get back at the LGBTI movement in Uganda since he accuses the leaders of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) of neglecting him and his friend when they were in need.

…Oundo also said that the other eight men who confessed are people who also have grievances with the LGBTI movement in Uganda.

…Frank Mugisha, Chairperson of SMUG said that George Oundo expected too much from the LGBTI movement.

“It is bad that he is using his sexual orientation for selfish gains. When his demands were not met by the LGBTI community, he sought a new tactic. We believe he has not changed he is still gay and will always be, it is a matter of time before we will all find out that he is lying”, Mugisha concluded.

Update: Minutes after posting this, an email newsletter from SMUG landed in my inbox. It contained this update:

The situation is still hostile, minutes after holding our press conference, the anti gay religious groups with  ex-gay Ouudo George also held a press conference. In the press conference they ‘outed’ more LGBTI people, our partners and uttered continuous false accusations, insults and threats.

The outings and threats continue…

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

Uganda Activist Cites Disbarred “Therapist” As Authority on Homosexuality

Jim Burroway

March 31st, 2009

David Roberts at Ex-Gay Watch has posted another exclusive video of Ugandan pastor Stephen Langa, as he cites Richard Cohen’s 2000 book, Coming Out Straight, as an authority on the homosexual agenda. The video was taken during a March 15th follow-up meeting to the three-day conference conducted by American anti-gay activists, which included Richard Cohen protegé Lee Caleb Brundidge.

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What are some of their strategies? One: redefine homosexuality as an inborn condition based on genetics and biology, so that it will be regarded as irreversible. There is no proof, there is no study that has found that homosexuality is genetic. None, none. In fact, this man has a whole chapter on it. Now this man is a former homosexual, he has a whole chapter on all the science, on all the studies that homosexuals claim [...] the genetics of homosexuality, and all of them don’t qualify. They are unrepeatable. You cannot politicize… [...] an experiment cannot be done, it cannot happen. It doesn’t work. It’s not there. But we see they portray it as such. They portray it as such.

Second, focus on who they are and not what they do. It’s a very critical tactic. A very critical tactic. What does that mean? This shifts the debate from the arena of morality, ethics and psychology to politics, human rights and social injustice. Here’s how clever they are. This is a matter of morality. This is a matter ethics. This is a matter of psychology. But now they shift it to politics, human rights and social injustice. They play on your sense of justice. “Oh, but look at the injustice. See?” They’re like the Blacks, and that is wrong. You see, and here it is. “In this way they emulate the pattern of the Civil Rights movement.” In America, what was the civil rights movement? People are being discriminated against because they are Black.

Now the difference between that and a legitimate civil rights issue and an issue which is not a civil rights issue is this: If that thing is something you have no choice about and something inborn, then it is a civil rights issue. For example, your tribe, if somebody discriminates against your tribe, your color, you know? Those kinds of things. Those are things which are legitimate civil rights and human rights items. But issues of choice, if I choose to be a thief, if I choose to be a murderer, I cannot stand up and say, “Oh, you see, I was born this way.” No.

But you see, these guys are clever. They want to equate legitimate issues that demand or that deserve human rights protection with things that don’t. And that is how they were able to win in South Africa, because they say, “Well oh, Blacks were discriminated against, the Blacks in South Africa. So we are also like that.” And so the South African government, as the other people passed, they also passed. And in America, this came up at the time when they see Black civil rights had just gained prominence and had just got their rights, and so they also smuggled themselves into the middle of it. And they came together with the Blacks. But that’s the tactic. It’s the tactic. It’s the tactic.

There is so much in this short clip that is wrong that it’s hard to know where to begin. But there is one thing that bears mentioning. Anti-gay activists who assert that there is no biological basis for homosexuality for anyone pretend that there were only three studies worth mentioning. Those studies include Simon LeVay’s 1994 brain study, Bailey and Pillard’s 1991 twins study, and Dean Hamer’s 1993 X-chromosome study. As far as activists are concerned, these are the only studies that have ever been published, and none of them “proved” that homosexuality is biological or genetic.

The truth is however that there have literally been hundreds of studies published in peer-reviewed journals in the past twenty years or more, the preponderance of which suggest a biological basis for homosexuality in many people. Anti-gay activists refuse to acknowledge those studies. Instead, they only pick on the three weakest and easiest to disprove studies.

Page 207 of Richard Cohen’s book, emComing Out Straight/em

Page 207 of Richard Cohen’s book, Coming Out Straight.

This is the sort of “science” one would expect from Richard Cohen. He has been banned for life from the American Counseling Association, and his controversial “holding” or “touch” therapy techniques — which are also clearly demonstrated in that same book Langa is so fond of — has made him the laughingstock of the ex-gay movement. Seeing it being used as fodder for Uganda’s latest anti-gay campaign, while Exodus — America’s largest and best known umbrella organization of ex-gay “experts” — remains silent is no laughing matter.

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

Uganda Situation Continues To Deteriorate; Exodus Washes Their Hands

Jim Burroway

March 30th, 2009

The anonymous blogger GayUganda is reporting that Stephen Langa, the director of Family Life Network who has been leading the latest anti-gay vigilante campaign, is now speaking on Ugandan FM radio stations advocating the arrests of Ugandan LGBT leaders. GayUganda also reports that Langa is calling some of those very leaders requesting meetings. No word on what he intends to say or do at the proposed meeting. LGBT Ugandans, naturally, are very cautious.

Meanwhile, GayUganda has a very prescient suspicion about Exodus:

Did his American friends know that they were stirring up this kind of hatred and hate mongering? They will throw up their hands in helplessness. They never planned this, they will say, with wide eyed innocence.

GayUganda nails it, as this describes Exodus’ behavior perfectly. Publicly, we’ve only seen the lame three sentence statement that was issued on March 13. But privately, we do know that they are playing the innocence card exactly as GayUganda predicts.

Exodus has the capacity to contact Ugandan media to publicly condemn the latest anti-gay campaign. After all, if a professor from a small northeastern Christian college can do it, so can Alan Chambers. And that professor didn’t have the benefit of direct contacts that Don Schmierer has. Yet Exodus continues to wash their hands of any responsibility for their own board member who has provided “expert” cover for Langa’s latest campaign.

GayUganda writes that plans for April including gathering signatures for a petition and, more worrisome, a mass rally in one of the stadiums with a march on Parliament.

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

Videos Surface of Ugandan Activists Stirring Anti-Gay Fervor; Fears of Violence Grow

Jim Burroway

March 28th, 2009

We’ve gotten word from three separate Ugandan sources that local gays and lesbians in Uganda are worried about imminent violence, with many making plans to go into hiding or leave the country. The word on the street is that police detentions are pending (which one government minister has already promised) and that Stephen Langa’s Family Life Network is preparing another round of public vigilantism. LGBT citizens believe that Wednesday’s press conference, carried live by three television channels, was just the opening salvo. This press conference follows well-recognized patterns from previous anti-gay campaigns, which were cheered on by the media. Gay sources in Uganda report being terrified, with few daring to venture out of their homes.

David Roberts at Ex-Gay Watch has obtained exclusive video of the March 15th meeting conducted by Stephen Langa. That meeting was a follow-up to a March 5-8 conference at Uganda’s posh Triangle Hotel featuring three American anti-gay activists: Exodus Board member Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and Richard Cohen protegé Caleb Lee Brundidge. That conference applauded Uganda’s draconian law which calls for life imprisonment for those convicted of homosexual acts, and called further for those convicted be subject to forced ex-gay therapy. Schmierer’s continuing silence on those proposals have been taken by Ugandan activists as an endorsement of those policies by American ex-gay experts.

In the first of the two videos posted at Ex-Gay Watch, we see Stephen Langa quoting material from Scott Lively’s The Pink Swastika in this perverse version of the history of the gay movement:

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Alright. The history of the modern gay movement. This is from Mr. Lively, he was here last week, and he was one of the people who was having a lot of research on homosexuals. He wrote this book you can see, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality and the Nazi Party. He has a lot of data, lot of data, lot of data on homosexuality and on the homosexual movement.

“Now, in America this gentleman, Henry Garber [sic], was a German-American soldier who served in Germany after the First World War. He was among the occupational forces that was in Germany during and after the First World War. And then he went back to America and began activism, but in a very small way, a very small way. And Henry Garber [sic] molested a boy by the name Champ Simmons. When Champ Simmons grew up, he also molested a boy known as Harry Hay. This Harry Hay is the grandfather of the modern gay movement.

“This man here in the ’40s, they guy who really began what is now today the gay movement that has taken over the whole world. He taught communism for eighteen years, and during that time he learned how society can be taken over. Because communists taught how society can be taken over using economic means. But he understood those tactics and taught the gay activists on how to overthrow the moral fiber of the Western World, which was based on marriage and the family. So he took these guys’ tactics and strategies on how to overthrow a society. And so they began to do their work, they began to do their work. And the gay movement you see today and all these things you see around the world are as a result of what this guy taught these people, and his disciples are now busy and enforces what he has said, including those who are in this country. They all came out of this guy’s movement.”

As we’ve reported throughout this series, these activists have exhibited a particular obsession with the idea that homosexuality can be transmitted like a virus through child molestation. Notice Langa’s macabre assertion that homosexuality passed via molestation from Garber to Simmons to Hays, as though it were a simple yet genealogical line. This idea that was reinforced by Exodus board member Don Schmierer, who provided the germ of that scientifically untenable theory in his talk at the March 5-8 conference in Kampala.

(This “genealogy” is a very good example of the many distortions which thoroughly permeate The Pink Swastika. Jonathan Katz, whose 1976 book Gay American History is purportedly the “source” of Lively’s genealogy, reports Hays’ “recruitment” very differently. Quoting Hays: “I enticed an ‘older’ gentleman (he must have been at least 33) to ‘bring me out’ by finagling his picking me up in Los Angeles’s notorious Pershing Square. Poor guy — he was appalled to discover, subsequently, that I was both a virgin and jailbait!” Hays was seventeen at the time. So much for his innocent “molestation.”)

In the second video, Langa remains focused on the gays-as-predators theme, citing Michael Swift’s satire, “A Gay Revolutionary,” as though it were a factual manifesto. As he dramatically reads aloud portions of that now-famous satire, notice the camera panning across the room to the shocked audience which is taking it all in:

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“…as we see here. This is not a joke, what we’re dealing with here is not a joke. And of course, their cause — they don’t care about you. They want your children! Look at what this homosexual activist said:

“We shall sodomize your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity, of your shallow dreams and vulgar lies. We shall seduce them in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums in your seminaries, in your church groups, in your movie theater bathrooms, in your houses of Congress, wherever men meet with men. Your sons shall become our minions and do our bidding. They shall be recast in our image.”

“Criminals! That’s what the gays want to do, that’s what the gays want to do. They are after your children.”

“It’s not a joke”?

As a matter of fact, this passage is a joke. It’s an intentional, outrageous joke on the part of the writer, and that fact is part of the public record. While anti-gay extremists love reading this aloud to incite hatred towards gays and lesbians — and Langa’s dramatic recitation is par for the course — they invariably omit the preface, which sets the context for the entire piece:

This essay is an outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor.

That’s right. It’s a work of fiction, a satire — and the author said so when it originally appeared in the Gay Community News way back in 1987. In fact, the anonymous writer used the pseudonym “Michael Swift,” which is an obvious homage to the English language’s most famous satirist, Jonathan Swift.

It’s hard to improve on David Robert’s observation:

Depicting this work of satire written in the heat of the AIDS crisis as having serious intent is nothing less than an incitement to violence. Combined with the prestige provided by supposed American “authorities” on homosexuality in the meetings of March 5-8, Langa here brings to the surface the greatest fear, and one that has been used by so many campaigns against marginalized groups throughout history — they are a danger to your children. A lie served up by a “man of God,” backed by “experts” from the West and representatives of their own government. This is all a dangerous recipe for violence against anyone who is, or is perceived to be, gay in Uganda.

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

Call for Reporting Gays in Zambia

Timothy Kincaid

March 27th, 2009

According to Behind the Mask, the Vice-President of Zambia has called for Zambians to report suspected homosexuals so that they can be prosecuted.

“Zambia is a Christian nation and it shall continue to be so because it is part of our constitution. And acts such as homosexuality are not part of the Christian norm. In 2005, this house passed stiff laws against homosexuality. For people having carnal knowledge of each other against the order of nature the punishment is a minimum of 15 years imprisonment. If you have carnal knowledge of an animal you serve a minimum of 25 years”.

Vice president Kunda said, as a good number of parliamentarians said “yes, yes” “ I know there are some prominent people in our society who are practicing homosexuality, some of them are engineers, some are lawyers and some are journalists.”

At this point there were shouts of “shame” and more laughter among many parliamentarians, including the vice president himself.

“If you have information about such people, report them to the law enforcement agencies. There are also some people who are bisexual and they marry to cover up their activities, but at the end of the day we know them,” said vice president Kunda as the laughter increased in the house.

Ugandan Gov’t Poised to Take “Stern Action” Against Gays

Jim Burroway

March 26th, 2009

This morning’s Uganda Pulse reports this worrying development:

The government has threatened to take stern “action” against promoters of homosexuality and lesbianism in Uganda.

The State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo said today that the government is working on stern modalities to fight homosexuality especially in schools.

This follows a petition by parents under the Family Life Network NGO claiming that homosexual promoters are very active in Uganda and are luring students into the practice with cash gifts and promises to needy students from unstable or poor families.

The Executive Director of Family Life Network, Stephen Langa told journalists in Kampala that many children had been psychologically tortured and traumatized by experiences of homosexuality which the group described as unnatural and anti Christian.

Dr. Buturo says the government is going to act swiftly to stop what he calls “moral corruption” of vulnerable Ugandans, especially children into homosexuality.

He says the practice of same sex relationships is illegal in Uganda and unacceptable to the people of Uganda. The minister did not however specify which stern action was to be taken, given that the High Court ruled last year that all Ugandans, including homosexuals and lesbians are accorded the same rights and freedoms by Uganda’s constitution.

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

More on Uganda Anti-Gay Vigilante Incitement

Timothy Kincaid

March 25th, 2009

This news report came out two days ago – prior to the one we reported today. In it, newly ex-gay George Oundo presented some rather strong claims in Uganda:

A man shocked parents on Sunday when he confessed to recruiting school children into homosexuality as part of a programme to promote the practice in Ugandan schools.

George Oundo said funders gave them “much money” and training abroad and that he would target mostly the needy children who had problems of tuition and pocket money and “others who like outings.”

Oundo describes a rather structured effort

Oundo said he got seriously involved in promoting homosexuality in 2003. “I was taken to Nairobi for training,” he said. “I used to supply pornographic materials in form of books and compact discs showing homosexuality to young boys in many schools,” he explained.

And Oundo identifies the culprits

The training, he said, was facilitated by Gay and Lesbian Coalition. “I also got the pupils’ telephone contacts. We used to meet with both girls and boys in schools during ceremonial parties,” he asserted.

Oundo said homosexuality was spread by international human rights organisations.

In the West most readers would recognize this as rather outlandish and not be quick to believe Oundo’s statements. Uganda, however, is fertile ground for these statements and it is almost certain that this seed will grow vines.

It is difficult to know the motivation for Oundo’s actions and statements. But perhaps it helps to know that Oundo was a gay activist who in September was arrested for “recruiting homosexuals”, beaten, denied food and medication, and held for several days until international pressure from human rights organization led to their release. I think that it is likely not coincidental that Oundo’s statements now vindicate the police claim and vilify the human rights groups.

The Christian community in Uganda has now declared war on the lives of gay men and women in that county. And they have been abetted by American leaders in the anti-gay and ex-gay ministries.

Sadly, these Americans wish to pretend that their actions have no consequences, that they were just presenting “a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality” to the world and that they bear no responsibility for any blood shed as a direct result of their anti-gay missionary efforts.

And make no mistake, there will be blood shed.

Other pastors yesterday told journalists in Kampala the war against sodomy would be long and challenging but must be fought.

In Uganda, “war” is not engaged by polite discourse and ballot box propositions.

It is not often in life that we experience real evil. But I do not hesitate to state that the participation of Exodus International in this conference and the justification of this anti-gay incitement by its president, Alan Chambers, is truly evil.

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

Another Anti-Gay Vigilante Campaign May Have Begun In Uganda

Three television stations, two newspapers reporting senstional allegations.

Jim Burroway

March 25th, 2009

Two newspaper (so far) and three television stations in Uganda have reported on a sensationalistic press conference organized by Stephen Langa, director of Kampala-based Family Life Networks, which appears to be the start of a fresh public anti-gay vigilante campaign.

The Ugandan media is continuing to take notice of the recent anti-gay conferences and meetings which have been taking place in Kampala the past few weeks. The most recent meeting was held on March 22. These series of meetings were instigated by a three-day conference organized by Langa and featured talks by three American anti-gay activists, including Exodus board member Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and Richard Cohen protegé Caleb Lee Brundidge.

Ugandan news media have been issuing regular reports of that conference and two follow-up meetings which have been held on successive Sundays since then. The latest one from Uganda Pulse reported on a press conference held today:

Parents in Uganda have expressed concern over the increasing levels of homosexuality, defilement and sexual harassments of children. The parents under the Family Life Network (FLN) says that information revealed from several reliable sources indicates that many children in schools are facing horror, frustration, mental and psychological torture for being cajoled into homosexuality.

FLN’s Executive Director, Langa Steven say [sic] that there are agents involved in recruiting children into homosexuality and lesbianism. Langa says that these suspected groups take advantages children by using deception, manipulation and coercion.

Pastor Joseph Male who addressed a press conference in Kampala with Langa also says that findings show that immorality groups are recruiting children into homosexuality. He says these homosexual promoters hide behind human rights organization and claim to be protecting sex minorities Uganda.

Pastor Male claims that these groups spend about 2,000,000 per week to recruit university students into homosexuality and lesbianism.

Another news outlet, New Vision, reported:

EIGHT more men yesterday confessed involvement in homosexuality and gay activities, which they said they had abandoned. Speaking to journalists at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala, the youthful men described homosexuality as abnormal and anti-Christian, and declared war against it.

The tough-talking men were accompanied by George Oundo, who earlier in the week denounced homosexuality and confessed recruiting school children into the practice.

“We have been involved in recruiting homosexuals, spreading the gospel of homosexuality, and we know the operations of homosexuals,” said 27-year-old Emma Matovu, who took to homosexuality 13 years ago. “We shall do all it takes to eliminate the practice in Uganda.”

Matovu, who said he abandoned the practice two weeks ago, asserted: “Homosexuality is dangerous and dehumanising but is growing fast in Uganda.”

According to the New Vision article, the press conference was organized by — you guessed it — Stephen Langa, the same pastor who hosted the three American anti-gay activists during the first week of March.

Past campaigns of anti-gay vigilantism have called out gays by name and description in the public media. This looks disturbingly like the start of a new campaign:

Oundo said the eight men would fight the vice because they were victims with a tormenting experience. “We shall expose those who refuse to abandon the practice and we shall not be intimidated because we are protected by Jesus,” he asserted. “We know their operations, including a restaurant in the city centre where homosexuals wait for clients from nearby hotels.”

He urged his former partners to abandon the practice, saying Uganda should become a role model in fighting the “barbarism”.

He called on Juliet Mukasa, the head of the Sexual Minorities in Uganda (SMUG), Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo, a gay rights activist and headmaster Kisule (other name withheld) to abandon the practice.

…Addressing the press conference, Family Life Network chief Stephen Langa read a statement from parents and concerned citizens, urging the Government to establish a probe to assess the prevalence of homosexuality in Uganda.

The anonymous blogger GayUganda has posted a series of panicked short posts about the news conference which was shown on three national television stations. These latest developments have him understandably nervous:

Our nice, confortable closet is well and truly blown apart. In a homophobic country, our anonymity is torn up, and we are being accused of the most heinous of crimes. We are recruiting, and teaching children homosexuality.

Damage control now is a necessity. What will follow?

Is funny that the lies and sensationalism has so caught up everyone that it is impossible for us to insist that these are lies. The lesson of history. Tell a lie about a small unpopular group, and you are able to sustain the conversation with bigger and bigger lies. Think the Hutus in Rwanda. Jews in Germany…! Stretching the point? Am I?

A witch hunt. Very possible.

Some interesting outings? Possible.

How long will I be able to continue blogging? How safe is my blogging?

But we have survived adversity before now. We will survive even this. Will kind of mean that some of us will have to stand up and take the heat. Problem may be jobs and other things. Can we beat the taint of evil? Homosexuals recruiting! Oh well.

Tough days ahead.

The papers tomorrow will be interesting. Watch this space.

(Remember some prayers for those who are outed, whether or not they are gay!)

Indeed. Remember some prayers.

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

US Tax Dollars Funding African Anti-Gay Extremists

Jim Burroway

March 24th, 2009

Last January, BTB’s Timothy Kincaid highlighted the fact that some of Africa’s most ardent anti-gay extremists have received funding from the U.S. government to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. Among those receiving funds from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is Uganda’s Martin Ssempa, who lead a public anti-gay vigilante campaign through the streets of Kampala demanding that the government “arrest all homos.”

Last week, Richard J. Rosendall, writing for the Bay Windows observed where some of the PEPFAR funding goes:

Charles Francis, a disillusioned former Bush appointee to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, seeks a course correction from the new president and Congress. He wrote to me last week about the need to reverse the Bush legacy that includes alliances with violent homophobes like Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa and born-again Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza. The latter’s ruling party organized a March 6 demonstration in Bujumbura in which thousands of people demanded the criminalization of homosexuality.

“Today,” Francis writes, “we see this wave growing dangerously across the continent, from Senegal, where AIDS activists are now imprisoned, to Nigeria, where lawmakers want to jail gay people merely for living together, to Uganda, where three Americans recently held a public seminar on the ’Homosexual Agenda.’ It is time to put a ’hold’ on PEPFAR until Congress can demand the transparency and the necessary reform for this program.”

Our tax dollars are lining the pockets of those who don’t just promote prejudice and hatred, but who even would have us dead, exiled, or imprisoned for life. PEPFAR needs to be scrapped or exhaustively overhauled to include accountability and transparency, and which demands accountability and transparency on the part of its recipients. Ssempa must not receive one more cent of my tax money. Or yours.

[Hat tip: Michael Airhart]

Schmierer’s & Lively’s Uganda Talks Continue to Reverberate

Jim Burroway

March 23rd, 2009

We mentioned earlier that there would be a follow-up meeting for the anti-gay conference held by three American activists, including Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively and Exodus board member Don Schmierer. A follow-up meeting was called for March 15. The anonymous blogger Gay Uganda has posted an eyewitness account of that meeting.

Stephen Langa, of the Kampala-based Family Life Network was the principal speaker at the follow-up meeting. For the first part of his talk, he channeled the false pseudoscience of Exodus Board member Don Schmierer and Richard Cohen, a so-called “coach” who has been banned for life by the American Counseling Association. Gay Uganda’s anonymous eyewitness reported:

In his presentation Stephan Langa said homosexuality is not about sex, it is about the search for a fatherly or motherly figure. Children with bad parenting end up becoming homosexuals as they search for mother’s or father’s love.

He also mentioned another cause of homosexuality as child abuse; he said that the homosexuals he has counseled have been abused as children. He sited broken families as another cause of homosexuality.

He mentioned domineering mothers and abusive fathers as another cause of homosexuality, as well as negligent father who are emotionally off with children. Exposure to pornography as another cause of homosexuality.

He said some people are lured into homosexuality by money and other social favors

Rebellion, he said some children become homosexuals because they want to be rebellious, noting that homosexuality is some kind of rebellion.

He also said same sex attraction is a disorder and quoted: Richard Cohen MA. He emphasized the point that all homosexuals can change since all disorders can be changed. Homosexuality is not genetical, it is a learned behavior and what is learned can be unlearned. (Richard Cohen MA.)

These discredited theories, of course, run counter to a significant body of science which has investigated various aspects of the origins of homosexuality. But then, as Dr. Warren Throckmorton, who defends the right of practitioners to offer sexual identity therapy, points out, “This coalition is not dedicated to ministry but political engagement.”

And an important part of the political movement’s tactics has been to emphasize heavily the allegations that children are recruited into the “homosexual lifestyle” through sexual abuse. These allegations were on prominent display at the follow-up meeting. In the clearest use of the allegation, Langa repeated Lively’s fanciful history of the gay rights movement:

He talked about Henry Garber, who was a German American soldier in 1924, that Henry Garber sodomized Champ Simmons and Champ Simmons Sodomized Harry Hay. Then Harry Hay started the whole gay movement that gays follow to date. Source: The PINK SWASTIKA – Dr. Scott Lively.

Scott Lively speaking at a 2007 Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia

Scott Lively

One might be forgiven if they thought that Langa had grossly overly simplified Lively’s history. But on page 150 of The Pink Swastika, Lively provides almost exactly this perverse “genealogy” in just two short sentences: “This ‘peculiar fact’ was that the man who recruited (Harry) Hay into homosexuality (at age seventeen), Champ Simmons, was himself seduced by a former member of the SHR. In a perverse sort of way, then, it seems appropriate that Hay would become known as ‘The Father of the Modern Gay Movement’.” (The SHR, or The Society of Human Rights, was founded in Chicago by Henry Gerber.)

Langa’s presentation of “the gay agenda” followed on these same lines, with repeated emphasis on the false link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse. The so-called agenda began with, “They focus on who they are and what they want. They are after your children.” And it ended with, “They don’t care about you adults they want your sons and your daughters.” The repeated warning of being “after your children,” is especially troubling given that it was an incessant refrain in past Ugandan anti-gay vigilante campaigns. Reactions from the audience, therefore were predictable:

We should investigate homosexuality in Uganda

…Recruit people to become activities against homosexuality, in this case people with in the audience volunteered to be members….Find out what or who is making homosexuality prominent in Uganda.

There are many dangers and anti – social behaviors in schools which are not talked about. This was mentioned while refereeing to head teachers / teachers who are homosexuals. An emphasis that homosexual teachers should be stopped from teaching.

Participants emphasized life career developments and moral uprightness in schools The need for a strategic plan to train, teachers to identify children practicing homosexuality. The laws on homosexuality are weak, hence the need to strengthen these laws.

Parents were encouraged to participant in law making decisions in Uganda so that to strengthen the laws on homosexuality

To establish a unit at Police to deal with homosexuality

At one point in the meeting, there was this disturbing development:

…During the reactions a prominent pastor also said that they have been talking with an ex gay activist who has given them a five year plan for the gay agenda in Uganda. And they have submitted this plan to the ministry concerned, that they await reactions.

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer, a speaker at the anti-gay conference in Uganda

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer, a speaker at the anti-gay conference in Uganda

Is Exodus Board member Don Schmierer the “ex gay activist” with a five year plan? Exodus has been recklessly silent over their board member’s involvement in the conference alongside a well-known holocaust revisionist and two-time entrant on the SPLC’s hate groups list. And Exodus’ silence continues to facilitate the chain of events that their board member has set into motion, events which may well lead to increased dangers for LGBT citizens of Uganda. Already, in this account the tensions appear to be close to the boiling point:

A participant asked a liberal question on issues of sexuality: You have associated homosexuality with all evils, defiles, child molesters etc don’t you think that also heterosexuals defile or molest our children why don’t you address this issue as well. He was answered: We are here to talk about homosexuality, do not divert us. After this question he was intimated, almost thrown out of the meeting.

The meeting ended with calls to “tighten the law on homosexuality.” One participant told the audience that parliament was drafting a new law that “will be tough on homosexuals.” Conviction of homosexual acts in Uganda already carry the threat of a life sentence. Another meeting was called for yesterday, March 22.

Don Schmierer and Scott Lively have set in motion a chain of events which have not yet played themselves out. And Exodus remains irresponsibly silent as these events continue to unfold. We will continue to watch events in Uganda very closely, and we will hold Exodus accountable for their role in lending their name to legitimize these developments.

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

Lively Defends Forced Therapy Proposal

Jim Burroway

March 17th, 2009
Scott Lively speaking at a 2007 Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia

Scott Lively speaking at a 2007 Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia

Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively offered a defense of his proposal to compel Ugandan gays and lesbians into forced therapy:

And remember that homosexuality is literally illegal in this country. Imagine how bad things would be if the criminal law were abandoned. By the way, the false accusation against me, now circulating in the US, is that I called on the Ugandan government to force homosexuals into therapy. What I actually said is that the law against homosexuality should be liberalized to give arrestees the choice of therapy instead of imprisonment, similar to the therapy option I chose after being arrested for drunk driving in 1985 (during which time I accepted the Lord and was healed and transformed into a Christian activist). [Emphasis in the original]

Lively’s analogy is appalling. A conviction for drunk driving in any U.S. state is nothing like being convicted for homosexuality in Uganda, which carries a penalty of spending the remainder of one’s life in a dank Ugandan prison. And a “choice” between spending the rest of your life in that cold, dark cell and undergoing an unproven, unregulated therapy is not a choice. Lively can dress it up all he wants, but forced therapy is forced therapy.

Exodus International waited nearly a week before announcing that they no longer support the criminalization of homosexuality or forcing people into therapy. We are still waiting for Exodus to explicitly denounce Scott Lively after Exodus board member lent his credibility to Lively’s proposal at the Ugandan conference while remaining silent in Uganda over this proposal.

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

When Good Men Do Nothing

Jim Burroway

March 16th, 2009

Anti-gay activists are not all cut from the same cloth. There’s a broad spectrum of behavior among them, from the well-reasoned and considerate to the dangerously crazy. One can imagine a hierarchy of sorts: Those at the top of the hierarchy are the more reasonable ones who can generally see gays and lesbians as human beings and can usually address the debates with honesty and integrity, even as they continue to oppose policy proposals which are important for LGBT people. Only a few examples come to mind which fit that description (David Blankenhorn would be one). The most visible LGBT opponents, like Focus On the Family or the Family Research Council, sit recognizably below that top notch, but they are nevertheless well above the bottom rung of this hierarchy.

Now don’t get me wrong. Focus and FRC certainly fight against us at every turn, and they aren’t above lying and distorting to try to get their way. But one can imagine that there are steps they will not take, steps that those at the very bottom of our hierarchy have no qualms about taking.

Scott Lively speaking at a 2007 Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia

Scott Lively speaking at a 2007 Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia

Those who anchor themselves firmly at the bottom include those who have called for our execution (Paul Cameron), who rejoiced in our deaths (Fred Phelps), who excuse those who have killed some among us (Scott Lively), who tell everyone who will listen that the Nazi movement was a fully homosexual one (Lively, again), that it was the gay Nazis and not straight Nazis who harbored a special animosity towards Germany’s Jews (ditto), or that gay activists are all secret fascists determined to remake the world in the image of Nazi Germany (ditto again).

In other words, there are those whose purpose it is to stoke the fears and visceral hatred of ordinary people to prod them into doing the most extraordinary, horrific things — whether its killing a gay immigrant in Sacramento, flinging feces at gay worshipers at a church in Latvia, or hunting down LGBT people on the streets in Uganda.

However much we disagree with Exodus, FOTF, FRC and others, we must at least grudgingly recognize that there are many things which are beneath them.

Hatred Is An Extraordinary Thing
It is that recognition of this hierarchy of opposition which leads us here at BTB to refrain from using the word “hate” wherever possible. We use that word to describe people’s motivations only under the most rare and extraordinary circumstances because we recognize that the evil of hatred in its purest form is a most rare and extraordinary thing.

The Southern Poverty Law Center agrees. They list only twelve anti-gay hate groups across the country. Notice that Exodus, FOTF and FRC are not listed. That’s because the SPLC doesn’t label just anybody as a hate group based on policy positions. To be listed, the group must “go beyond mere disagreement with homosexuality by subjecting gays and lesbians to campaigns of personal vilification.

There are only twelve groups on the SPLC’s list, which suggests to me that it’s pretty easy to avoid landing on it. But one man bears the unusual distinction of appearing on the list twice. Scott Lively is Abiding Truth Ministries, and he is also a co-founder of Watchmen On the Walls. As far as I know, he’s the only person to have inaugurated one-sixth of all the SPLC’s listed anti-gay hate groups in America. One really has to go out of one’s way to earn that rare position, but Lively has well earned his place.

Exodus International President Alan Chambers

Exodus International President Alan Chambers

Exodus International however has operated in a very different mode from Lively’s. They’ve tended to operate somewhere nearer to the Focus On the Family territory rather than than the Traditional Values Coalition territory in my anti-gay hierarchy. Exodus has worked vigorously against gay-supportive policy proposals, sometimes being less than candid about their own movement in the process. And Exodus International president Alan Chambers isn’t above deploying in a bit of rabble-rousing himself. When he spoke at the Family Impact Summit in 2006, Chambers described gay advocates as following an “evil agenda” while reminding his audience of the famous warning attributed to Edmund Burke: all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

But for the most part, Exodus tends to shy away from alarmist rhetoric, preferring instead to present a shiny, agreeable face for the ex-gay movement. While they’re not averse to the politics of personal vilification in front of selected audiences away from the spotlight, they’ve avoided completely immersing themselves in it to the degree that Lively has with such consistency.

Chambers: “I Do Care How People Are Impacted By My Words”
In early 2008, New Direction Executive Director Wendy Gritter gave a profound keynote address at the Exodus Leadership Conference, which she followed up with a heartfelt essay on Ex-Gay Watch. Wendy pointed to the distractions that politics placed on their work in the ex-gay movement, and she called upon ministries to become “pastorally-focused, not politically driven.” She also called on ex-gay leaders to express remorse for the harms they had done to clients and others in the gay community. Chambers, who just a few months earlier gave his rousing talk at the Family Impact Summit, appeared to have been touched by Wendy’s words, particularly in how the ex-gay movement impacts the gay community:

“What is said by gay activists is not lost on me. I do care how people are impacted by my words, actions and ministry. Ironically, I know the Lord uses every voice, suggestion, encouragement and criticism to shape me.”

That’s not to say the Exodus changed much since then. Despite eliminating the position of Director of Governmental Affairs, Exodus remains as engaged in the culture war today as it ever was. And yet for all of our vigorous disagreements with Exodus International, we believed that there were still places that Exodus would not go. Places too — dare I say it? — hateful for Exodus to enter.

I’ve heard Alan Chambers publicly denounce the hatred — yes, I said it — of Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church. He has done it in front of ex-gay audiences, and he did it at the much more hard-line Family Impact Summit — the same venue where Chambers delivered his “evil agenda” line. I personally witnessed Chambers denounce Phelps both without reservation and with conviction in front of an audience which, frankly, was only a little more moderate than a roomful of Phelps’s (judging by how many in the audience who were uncomfortably fidgeting with their Blackberrys as Chambers spoke). This tells me that Chambers recognizes that people are impacted not just by his words, but by Phelps’ words and others’ as well.

Doing Nothing
Exodus Board Member Don Schmierer worked alongside Lively in Kampala last week at a conference which lauded Uganda’s draconian criminal penalties against LGBT people and recommended a reinforcement of that law by forcing LGBT people into therapy. Exodus International president Alan Chambers applauded Schmierer’s participation, saying:

Unfortunately, Uganda as a country has demonstrated severe hostility towards homosexuals supporting criminalization of homosexual behavior and proposing compulsory therapy – positions that Exodus International unequivocally denounces. It is our sincere desire to offer an alternative message that encompasses a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality not just here in America, but around the world. We applaud our board member’s attempt to convey these truths to a country in need.”

The problem, of course, is that there is no evidence whatsoever that Schmierer attempted to “convey these truths.” There’s no record that Schmierer spoke up against criminalization of homosexual behavior or compulsory therapy. But he didn’t do nothing. In fact, we have it on record that Schmierer did more than nothing. He pointedly deferred to Lively when asked about whether homosexuality was natural.

There are so many things wrong with this picture, it’s hard to know where to begin. Should we be more outraged over an Exodus leader lending legitimacy to Lively’s hate-inspired revisionist history — I no longer hesitate to use the word “hate” in this context – which Lively has been energetically spreading throughout the world? Or should we focus our anger over Schmierer’s deferring to Lively instead of addressing the precarious situation LGBT people find themselves in Uganda while he was actually there and on the ground? Or should we instead remain appalled that Chambers remained silent and watched as this episode unfolded for all to see?

I’ve pretty much come to expect just about anything from Lively. His rhetoric is extremely dangerous, especially in countries like Uganda where his relentless vilification of LGBT people finds fertile ground. But I didn’t expect Schmierer to remain silent while sharing the stage with the founder of two — two!– hate groups which conduct “campaigns of personal vilification” against an entire community. And the last thing I expected from Chambers was to see him refuse to denounce Lively.

Chambers can denounce Phelps but not Lively. Why is that? Is it because Phelps is an easily dismissed clown while Lively has considerable influence in some quarters? Is it because Phelps is harmless because he lacks a measurable following, while Lively attracts large crowds when he speaks overseas? Or is it because Phelps has denounced Exodus as sharply as Exodus has denounced Phelps, but Lively is a colleague of Seattle pastor Ken Hutcherson — another Watchmen co-founder who Chambers counts among his close friends?

Chambers’s silence in the presence of a Holocaust revisionist is shocking because, irony of ironies, it is the Holocaust itself – the very tragic historical fact that Lively skewers to vilify gay people — that warns us about the consequences of good men doing nothing.

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

Sanctimony Alert

Jim Burroway

March 13th, 2009

Exodus International’s vice-president Randy Thomas has collected his thoughts on the Uganda anti-gay conference mess. How’s this for a jaw-dropper:

It isn’t going to be a gay activist yelling at the Ugandan government that will actually get our ssa brothers and sisters out of jail. It will be people like me pleading with these leaders to recognize the Christ-likeness inherent in respecting self-determination and the dignity of every soul that draws breath. If I had the opportunity I would go directly to the jail and visit these people and plead for their freedom.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Talk is cheap. Book the damn flight already.

I saw this earlier this afternoon and spent the rest of the day trying to figure out to respond. But at the end of the day I just had to give up. I’m speechless. I’ll be spending this weekend counting to 100,000.

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

Scott Lively and Alan Chambers Respond to Questions About Uganda Conference

Timothy Kincaid

March 13th, 2009

Dr. Warren Throckmorton contacted Scott Lively about the coverage of the Uganda conference in which he endorsed criminalization of homosexuality. Here is his response:

I did promote therapy as an option to imprisonment, citing my own experience benefiting from optional therapy after an arrest for drunk driving many years ago. In fact, it was during that period I accepted Christ and was spontaneously healed of alcoholism and drug addiction.

I don’t think under the circumstances homosexuality should be decriminalized in Uganda since it seems to be the only thing stopping the international “gay” juggernaut from turning Uganda into another Brazil.

He also posts the full Exodus International response.

Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, responded to reports about an Exodus board member’s participation at a conference in Uganda on homosexuality:

“Unfortunately, Uganda as a country has demonstrated severe hostility towards homosexuals supporting criminalization of homosexual behavior and proposing compulsory therapy – positions that Exodus International unequivocally denounces. It is our sincere desire to offer an alternative message that encompasses a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality not just here in America, but around the world. We applaud our board member’s attempt to convey these truths to a country in need.”

I don’t trust myself to respond just yet other than to say that it would seem that Alan doesn’t know the meaning of the word “unequivocally”.

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

Exodus Applauds Schmierer’s Part in Uganda Conference

Timothy Kincaid

March 13th, 2009

The Christian Post has an article today in which Warren Throckmorton was critical of the carelessness with which ex-gay ministries approached the conference in Uganda:

“It is illegal to be homosexual in Uganda. There’s also a category of homosexuality (act) that has a potential for life imprisonment,” said Throckmorton to The Christian Post on Wednesday. “How often it is enforced is not clear.”

“I think it’s inappropriate to try to transplant American concepts of ex-gay ministry into an environment where you can’t even go in and open yourself up to that kind of disclosure without some kind of risk,” he said.

But Alan Chambers, President of Exodus, was not apologetic.

In response, Exodus International said it applauds its board member Don Schmierer, who attended the Uganda conference, for his effort to convey an “alternative message that encompasses a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality,” according to a statement by Exodus International president Alan Chambers to The Christian Post on Wednesday.

Exodus says neither Schmierer nor the ministry agrees or endorses Uganda’s criminalization of homosexuality law, imprisonment of homosexuals or compulsory therapy. Rather, the ministry says it “unequivocally denounces” the positions the government of Uganda has towards homosexuality.

We do not yet have the full text of the statement. But to be perfectly honest, my stomach turned when I read this.

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

Ex-Exodus Minister Condemns Uganda Conference

Timothy Kincaid

March 12th, 2009

New Direction is a ministry in Canada for those individuals who struggle with sexual and gender identity issues. Until last year they were an affiliate of Exodus International, but chose to disassociate due to a difference in view about the purpose and direction of ex-gay ministries. New Direction strongly believes in staying out of politics and is more interested in engaging gay people than in winning battles at the ballot box.

However, the situation in Uganda is beyond the typical rhetoric or political positioning. And it has compelled Wendy Gritter, the leader of New Directions, to respond regarding what God’s calling for His people:

It is not just to advocate for the criminalization of gay people. Currently, gay people in Uganda face the possibility of life in prison. This ought not to be! And those who name the name of Jesus need to speak up and say so.

It is not just to coerce gay people into therapy. Disputes about the harm of reparative therapy aside, forced therapy ought not to be. And those who know the invitational character of Jesus need to speak up and say so.

It is not just to stir up fear and hatred of gay people. Blaming gay people for the genocide in Rwanda cannot be tolerated. Equating homosexuality with pedophilia when the research clearly refutes such a notion is inexcusable. It must be challenged for what it is – inciting hatred and potential violence towards gay people in an already volatile context such as Uganda. Such hatred is completely inconsistent with God’s call to shalom. And those who follow Jesus need to speak up and say so.

Wendy invites other Christians to join her in countering the behavior engaged in by the Uganda conference participants.

I invite others to join me in calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality throughout the world. I invite others to join me in standing for justice for our gay neighbours – in Uganda and throughout the world. And I invite others to do all they can, through relationship and in word & deed, to overcome the incitement of hatred with love.

I hope that those who seek to be followers of Christ will pay careful attention to Wendy’s words.

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

Ugandan Conference Leaders Call For Another Meeting While Pushing Pedophilia Theme; Exodus Continues Silence

Jim Burroway

March 12th, 2009

Ugandan media is reporting the results of the anti-gay Conference held last weekend in Uganda:

Family Life Network and other stakeholders last week organized a seminar and series of meetings on the subject of homosexuality. The Executive Director of Family Life Network Stephen Langa, participants received shocking and worrying revelations about the level of defilement and recruitment of school boys and girls into homosexuality and lesbianism.

Langa says in a statement that some parents asked if there is any safe school in Uganda, given the level of immorality and organized rackets in schools. According to the statement from the workshop, the information available indicates that both day schools and boarding schools are affected by this vice.

It says that during the seminars, it has come to light that organized homosexual/lesbian groups are using money to entice their victims and are encouraging the victims to recruit their fellow students in schools. As such, Langa, also a panelist on Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), says that his organization in conjunction with other stakeholders unanimously agreed to hold a parents’ consultative meeting be held as a matter of urgency.

Ugandan newspaper headlines in 2007. Click to enlarge.

Ugandan newspaper headlines in 2007. Click to enlarge.

This “urgent” meeting will take place on March 15. Uganda has a history of media-led vigilante campaigns, having witnessed at least three such campaigns between 2005 and 2007. Previous campaigns have also deployed the “gay recruitment” theme as part of their rhetoric. The re-appearance of this rhetoric in Ugandan media coupled with an announced meeting of concerned parents and citizens is worrying.

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer, a speaker at the conference in Kampala

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer, a speaker at the conference in Kampala

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer spoke at that conference. Conference leaders voiced support for Uganda’s legal ban on homosexuality, which provides for a life sentence for those convicted. The conference announced that they sought to strengthen that ban by requiring convicted gays and lesbians to undergo ex-gay therapy. When asked about social issues, Schmierer recommended “other facilitators [who] would answer questions about homosexuality being unnatural,” including noted Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively.

BTB’s Timothy Kincaid first contacted Exodus International about Don Schmierer’s participation in that conference on February 27, a week before the conference’s start. That was met with silence. Yesterday, representatives of Truth Wins Out, Ex-Gay Watch, and BTB released an open letter to the Exodus board calling on Exodus to clearly state its position on criminalization of homosexuality and forced therapy, remove Don Schmierer from the board of directors, and denounce Holocaust revisionist and Watchmen On the Walls co-founder Scott Lively. It also calls for Alan Chamber’s resignation. So far, there has been no response from Exodus on any of these points.

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

Nigerian Gay Advocates Speak Out Against New Bill

Jim Burroway

March 11th, 2009
Gay rights activist Rashidi Williams addresses the committe of Nigeria's National Assembly (BBC)

Gay rights activist Rashidi Williams addresses the committe of Nigeria's National Assembly (BBC)

Nigerian gay rights advocates spoke out against a new bill which is supposed to outlaw same-sex marriages. The bill however goes much further than simply defining marriage as between a man and a woman. It will also provide prison sentences for gay people who merely live together, and for anyone who “aids and abets” them.

Nigerian gay rights activists spoke against the bill at a public committee meeting of the National Assembly. The new law provides a prison sentence of three years for anyone who has “entered into a same gender marriage contract.” The bill also defines same-sex marriage as gay people living together. It provides a sentence of five years or a fine for anyone who “witnesses, abet and aids the solemnization” of a same-sex marriage. The law also criminalizes anyone working in organizations which advocate for gay rights. Activists points out that the proposed bill law would punish those who “aids and abets” people to live together with a tougher sentence than the couple concerned.

Homosexuality is already punishable by fourteen years in prison. In the twelve northern states that have adopted Shari’a law, a conviction can bring a sentence of death by stoning. Nigeria, like Uganda, is also the scene of media-driven acts of public vigilantism against gays and lesbians:

On September 12, local newspapers Nation, Vanguard, PM News and the Sunday Sun published photos, names, and addresses of members of the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered-friendly church in Lagos. Following publication, persons started harassing the 12 members. One woman was attacked by 11 men, while others were threatened, stoned, and beaten. No investigation was initiated by year’s end.

Open Letter To the Exodus International Board of Directors

Jim Burroway

March 11th, 2009

We’ve been following with great alarm the participation of Exodus International board member Don Schmierer in an anti-gay Conference in Uganda this past weekend. (Our coverage began here.) We aren’t alone in our concerns. Today, I join Ex-Gay Watch’s David Roberts and Truth Wins Out’s Wayne Besen and Michael Airhart in calling for swift action by the Exodus Board of Directors. Our open letter to the Exodus board is below.

I signed this letter because I believe that as we watched events unfold over the past week, we saw the Exodus leadership cross a line they hadn’t crossed before. The repugnant nature of Schmierer’s associations and actions go beyond anything we’ve seen from a supposedly mainstream advocacy organization. Calling for Alan Chambers’ resignation may seem like a strong response, but I assure you I did not come to this lightly. Longtime readers will know that I am not in the habit of demanding resignations. In fact, it’s not something I’ve ever done before. But watching these disturbing events unfold — and in consideration for the safety of LGBT citizens in Uganda and elsewhere — there must be strict and swift accountability for what happened. Otherwise the very name of Exodus will have taken on a whole new meaning.

That said, I should point out that I signed this letter in my role as editor of this web site, but I did not sign it on behalf of any other writers of Box Turtle Bulletin. That means the usual cautions apply: this letter may or may not necessarily represent the opinions of other writers at this web site. But it most certainly represents mine.


Open letter to the Exodus International Board of Directors:

We, the undersigned organizations, have monitored the ex-gay industry for more than a decade. To our great horror, prominent members of the ex-gay organization Exodus International participated last week in a conference in Uganda that promoted shocking abuses of basic human rights. This included draconian measures against gay and lesbian people such as forced ex-gay therapy, life imprisonment for people convicted of homosexuality and the formation of an organization designed to “wipe out” gay practices in Uganda. The conference also featured Scott Lively, a holocaust revisionist who at the event also blamed the 1994 Rwandan genocide on gay people.

The facts incontrovertibly show that Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, was aware of the list of speakers and abhorrent content prior to the conference. Exodus board member Don Schmierer, who spoke in Uganda, made no objections to the radical and dangerous platform offered. Instead, these mortal threats to the lives of gay and lesbian people were met with a deafening silence. Exodus, in effect, gave this insidious conference its tacit approval.

Today, we take the unprecedented step of joining together to demand that Exodus International’s Board of Directors take immediate action to hold accountable those who used the Exodus brand to promote an atmosphere conducive to serious human rights abuses. The accountability must begin with reasonable and responsible action by Board Chair Bob Ragan, including:

  • Dismissing Exodus President Alan Chambers for his knowing role in using Exodus to promote human rights abuses
  • Removing Board member Don Schmierer for speaking at a hate conference that promotes physical harm and psychological torture against GLBT people
  • Boldly articulating Exodus’ policy against human rights abuses including forced therapy
  • Promising to end future participation in all conferences that call on the persecution and criminalization of gay and lesbian people

We do not take this call to action lightly. These steps are necessary and commensurate with the massive breach of ethics and trust by the Exodus leadership. Clearly, Exodus has lost credibility and its claim to “love” gay people in the aftermath of Uganda seems duplicitous and insincere. As long as Chambers and Schmierer remain at Exodus, the organization is hopelessly compromised and even complicit in grave human rights abuses. It is time for the Exodus Board, led by Bob Ragan, to assert its moral authority by appointing new leadership and taking the organization in a more humane and principled direction.

Sincerely,

Jim Burroway                                 David Roberts
Box Turtle Bulletin                          Ex-Gay Watch

Wayne Besen                                 Mike Airhart
Truth Wins Out                               Truth Wins Out


The documentation implicating Exodus leaders for their participation at a hate conference in Uganda is robust and powerful. Most important, it is guided by indisputable facts:

The Case
Don Schmierer is a member of the board of directors for Exodus International. Last weekend, he used those credentials while speaking at an anti-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda alongside noted Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively. Those credentials as a leader of American’s largest and most influential ex-gay organization gave Schmierer the ability to speak authoritatively about the policies and ethics of sexual reorientation therapy. And more broadly, his presence as a leader of Exodus International lent credibility to the other speakers at the conference and the policy recommendations that emerged.

And so with Exodus International’s prestige fully utilized, we were outraged to discover that the conference was a forum for some of the most despicable statements and recommendations we have ever come across. During this conference we heard:

  • Gays blamed for the rise of Nazism in Germany. According to one eyewitness, Lively spoke extensively about his revisionist version of Nazi history, based on his book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party. In that book and in speeches, he claims that Nazi movement was, at its core, a homosexual movement. Despite the historical record to the contrary, Lively blames gays for the rise of Nazism and for the Holocaust itself, and claims that “the connection between homosexualism and fascism is not incidental.”
  • Gays blamed for the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Lively often claims that wherever gays gain the upper hand, they unleash a murderous rampage on innocent populations. In The Pink Swastika, Lively claims that “homosexuals are responsible for 68% of all mass murders in America.” According to one eyewitness at the Kampala conference, he extended that charge by blaming gay men for the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, which borders Uganda just to the south.
  • Gays blamed for recruiting/molesting children. In line with a common slander deployed by Ugandan anti-gay extremists in recent campaigns of anti-gay vigilantism and violence, Lively claimed that the gay rights movement consists of an entire network trying to recruit young children, including “predatory homosexuals who are always out to satisfy their sexual desires.”
  • Parents blamed for their children’s homosexuality. Don Schmierer presented his contradictory list of fourteen “signs that an adolescent may be struggling with gender issues.” But his focus appeared to have been on one suggested cause: it’s the parent’s fault. One eyewitness said, “He told participants that one of the biggest causes of homosexuality is the lack of “good upbringing” in families. In other words, good parents make straight children; bad parents, gay children.
  • Calls for new laws enacted in Uganda to require that those convicted of homosexuality be forced to undergo sexual reorientation therapy. The law in Uganda currently calls for a life sentence upon conviction for homosexuality. As far as we have been able to tell, no one at the conference called for decriminalization of homosexuality, nor a reduction in the current penalties. Instead, there were calls to strengthen the law to add the requirement that convicted gays be forced to endure unregulated and unproven therapies, under duress and against their will.
  • Announcement of a new organization designed to “‘wipe out’ gay practices” in Uganda. It is unclear what form or tactics this new organization will take, but another follow-up meeting was called for March 15. Our fear is that this will lead to another round of officially sanctioned extrajudicial anti-gay vigilantism, with Ugandan media — as they did in previous campaigns — publicly identifying private LGBT citizens and calling for their arrest or worse.

Given Uganda’s recent history, this is no idle fear. There were at least three successive public anti-gay campaigns in 2005, 2006 and 2007. In the most recent campaign, government-affiliated newspapers published articles identifying specific individuals with physical descriptions, addresses, places of employment — even photos — of those targeted, making them easily identifiable to neighbors, family members, employers, and the police.

Watching this unfold with the active participation of an Exodus board member has left us concerned with the direction that Exodus is taking. Some of us contacted Exodus president Alan Chambers on Friday, February 27 to raise our concerns about Schmierer’s participation alongside a Holocaust revisionist at this conference. We did this even though we do not believe it is the responsibility of Exodus’ critics to inform Exodus about the activities of an Exodus leader.

Chambers is not just the President of Exodus International, he’s also a fellow board member with Don Schmierer. He, along with board chairman Bob Ragan, had plenty of time to contact Schmierer to demand that he withdraw from the conference. (They do have cell phones, SMS text messages and email in Uganda, especially at the luxurious four-star Hotel Triangle in Kampala where the conference took place.) Chambers also had plenty of time of time to publicly articulate Exodus’ policy on forced conversions and criminalization of homosexuality, two subjects which are not new to the controversies surrounding ex-gay ministries. And he had plenty of time to clarify Exodus’ position on Scott Lively’s Holocaust revisionism and to denounce Lively’s dangerous rhetoric. But in all of this, Chambers has remained silent.

Don Schmierer, as a board member — and as one who was identified at the conference under those very credentials — could have spoken out against the excesses of anti-gay violence that has marked Uganda’s history. He could have spoken out against criminalization of homosexuality and denounced the policy recommendation of forced conversion therapy against the will of the individual being “treated.” Schmierer could have denounced Lively’s rabid anti-gay extremism, historical revisionism, and dangerous scapegoating. But in all of this, Schmierer has remained silent.

And the board, particularly Board Chairman Bob Ragan, could have exercised is oversight responsibility to ensure that Exodus’ name and reputation remain unsullied by its association with Scott Lively and the Uganda conference.

Exodus serves as an umbrella organization of some two hundred ex-gay ministries, each of which, according to Exodus, is “an independent organization which has met Exodus’ criteria for membership.” If Exodus is unable to regulate the actions of its own board member, how can we expect Exodus to monitor the practices and qualifications of their member ministries?

Despite informing Exodus of our concerns on February 27, they have remained silent on Schmierer’s association with Scott Lively, as well as their own links to him. And with the passage of each day, as we’ve received more reports about the conference, our concerns have grown to outrage.

It is not the first time forced therapy has become an issue with Exodus International. This issue was raised in 2005 when “Zach”, a 16-year-old gay teen, was forced against his will to attend an eight-week ex-gay therapy program at Exodus-affiliated Love In Action in Memphis. That same year, another father drove his 17-year-old son to Love In Action in handcuffs. Despite all this, Love In Action remains one of Exodus’ most prominent member ministries. Today, the calls for enshrining forced therapy into Ugandan law has been met with silence at Exodus. We call upon Exodus once and for all to address the morality of forcing people into unregulated and unproven therapies against their will.

Laws banning private consensual relationships between adult same-sex couples are no longer in force in the United States. While this is settled law in this country, it is not a settled position among most anti-LGBT organizations. Furthermore, criminalization of private, consensual relationships remain a reality in many countries throughout the world, many of which provide harsh, draconian penalties upon conviction. As Exodus International engages in ex-gay movements around the world, we call upon Exodus once and for all to address the morality of punishing private adult consensual relationships.

Because of Schmierer’s actions, Exodus International will bear responsibility for any renewed convulsions of violence that may arise in the aftermath of this conference. Given the highly volatile history of anti-LGBT vigilantism in Uganda, we find Schmierer’s actions there appallingly reckless and irresponsible. Lives and the well being of many Ugandans may well be at stake in the weeks and months to come. Because of the danger that Schmierer’s actions may pose to citizens of that volatile nation, we call upon the Board of Directors of Exodus International to remove Don Schmierer from the Board of Directors.

Scott Lively, along with another of Alan Chambers’ “good friends”, Seattle pastor Ken Hutcherson, is a co-founder of Watchmen On the Walls, one of twelve anti-gay hate groups identified and tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Incidentally, Scott Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries is also listed by the SPLC as a hate group. While speaking at a Watchmen conference in Novosibirsk, Russia, in 2007, Lively excused the murder of Satendar Singh, a gay immigrant from Fiji who was killed in an anti-gay hate crime in Sacramento. We call upon the Board of Directors of Exodus International to resolutely and unambiguously denounce Scott Lively’s dangerous rhetoric. We further call upon the Board to end future participation in all conferences that call on the persecution and criminalization of gay and lesbian people.

It is clear that that Exodus under the leadership of Alan Chambers has failed to live up to its claim of challenging “those who respond to homosexuals with ignorance and fear.” The Board must take swift action and remove Chambers as its leader. If the Exodus Board fails to act, it bears culpability and full responsibility for creating a climate where hate crimes can and do occur both at home and abroad.


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

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