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Posts for March, 2009

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.

Scott Lively: The Gay Agenda Is “To Turn The Whole World Gay”

Jim Burroway

March 10th, 2009

Kasha Jacqueline has reported some more statements made by Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively at the anti-gay conference held in Uganda last weekend. That conference featured three anti-gay American activists, including Watchmen On the Walls co-founder Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and Caleb Lee Brundidge, of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation.

This lastest post by Kasha at the IGLHRC web site focuses mainly on a question-and-answer session with Lively. It’s unclear to me whether this is a literal transcript or a highly detailed paraphrasing. I’ve watched Lively speak at length during multiple sessions at two other conferences. If this isn’t a transcript, then Kasha certainly did a great job at capturing Lively’s tone, manner and cadence.

On the gay movement’s tactics in Uganda and elsewhere:

They gay movement is very evil and we must stop it immediately.

You have a gay movement in Uganda that is operating at a high level, which you must bear in mind. This gay movement around the world has a handbook that they use and that is what the Ugandan gay movement is using now. You must be ready to stop this gay agenda. And don’t think that fighting the gay movement is the solution—you will be fighting a losing battle because this movement has come to stop humanity. They have a clear vision, mission and strategies. The only way to defeat them is to compete with them. Their movement is 70 years old and that’s why they don’t care about you. They know you will die soon and they will replace you and take over the nation. They have decided to recruit the youth.

You have a lot of work to do. Homosexuality is immoral and we cannot sit back and see immorality controlling nations. Homosexuality is equivalent to paedophilia in many ways. Homosexuals cannot control their sexual desires and behaviors. If all of us acted upon our desires and feelings then where would the world be? Families would break up because of adultery. People would continue to molest children, etc.

Again, Lively reinforces the charge that gays molest children as a tactic for recruitment. This, despite the evidence from experts in the field of child sexual abuse who say that gay people do not molest children at rates any different from straight people.

On the LGBT movement’s ultimate goals:

“But again why is it so important for us to stop people from becoming gay?”—a participant asked. It’s very important because the homosexual agenda is to turn the whole world gay.

Lively was asked about the World Health Organization’s scrapping of homosexuality as a mental illness. Again, he sees conspiracy:

Gay people have penetrated all international bodies to their advantage; they are the ones in all important places/positions because of their political agenda. Editors of national newspapers, TV chiefs… Remember I told you they have a very clear vision, mission and strategies, said Lively.

And finally, we cannot leave unnoticed the  veiled threat which levied against gay observers at the conference by an unnamed “facilitator”:

“They are homosexuals among us updating their networks about what we are discussing. What should we do about that?”—an angry participant asked. If they are homosexuals here, feel at home, responded a facilitator. We are not against you. We love you. But if you have been planning to get us, we are planning to get you back.

It is unclear what the facilitator would consider constituting “planning to get us,” but the response of “we are planning to get you back” must be taken seriously in a country where LGBT advocates have been forced into hiding or made to flee the country. Police sweeps, public vigilantism and extrajudicial torture and deaths were common during recent anti-gay pogroms heralded by Ugandan media with close ties to the government. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, and conviction can garner a life sentence.

This conference, which featured Exodus board member Don Schmierer during its first two days, has recommended an added penalty for gays and lesbians of mandatory ex-gay therapy.

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

Ugandan Gay Asylum Seeker Back In UK

Jim Burroway

March 9th, 2009
John Bosco Nyombi

John Bosco Nyombi

In 2001, John Bosco Nyombi, a gay Ugandan, had sought asylum in the UK based on fears for his safety back in his homeland. But last September, Britain’s Border Agency forcibly repatriated Nyombi back to Uganda, in violation of Mr. Nyombi’s due process rights and against official Home Office policy and procedures. A British judged responded by ordering the Home Office to return Nyombi back to Britain. Nyombi arrived on March 6. According to Gays Without Borders:

He fled to the UK from Uganda where homosexuality is illegal and carries a punishment of life in prison.

His case has attracted publicity in Uganda. Mr Bosco said in a statement seen by the court that, on his return to his homeland, his circumstances had become “quite desperate”. He had been beaten up during a period in detention and he had now gone into hiding to avoid being interviewed by the police about his homosexuality.

The judge said the evidence before him made it perfectly plain that Mr Bosco had come to the notice of the authorities, and this had added to the risk of his human rights being breached by reason of his homosexuality.

Mr. Nyombi’s March 6 return to Britain coincides with an anti-gay conference led by Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, which was in its second day in Kampala, Uganda. On that very same day, conference leaders announced a new recommendation that Uganda’s already draconain law against homosexuality be strengthened to force convicted gays and lesbians into sexual reorientation therapy.

EU Group Condemns Ugandan Conference

Jim Burroway

March 9th, 2009

A European Parliament intergroup has issued a press release condemning the Ugandan anti-gay conference, and called out the three Americans by name:

European Parliament’s Intergroup condemns Ugandan parliamentarians for meeting anti-human rights militants.
European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights strongly condemns the meeting of 5 March between several Ugandan parliamentarians and Scott Lively, Don Schmierer, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Stephen Langa of the USA and Uganda-based groups working to diminish human rights of LGBT persons.

“It is very sad that representatives of Ugandan parliament who should work for the rights of every Ugandan citizen, gravely discredit themselves by meeting people who work to spread hate and diminish rights of other human beings”, said Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup. “It would never be acceptable for any member of the European Parliament to meet for example representatives of Ku Klux Klan thus I do not understand the rational of those Ugandan parliamentarians who agreed to the meeting with anti-gay militants.”

Raúl Romeva, Vice-President of the Intergroup for the GREENS/EFA added, “If these Ugandan parliamentarians are serious about respecting the constitution of their country and in particular Chapter 4 on Protection and promotion of fundamental and other human rights and freedoms, they should instead be working towards abolishing those discriminatory laws of Uganda which still deny full human rights to gay and lesbian citizens.”

Don Schmierer is a board member of Exodus International. This is the first time that I’m aware of that an activity by an Exodus board member has earned the condemnation of an official governmental committee. Today marks the tenth day since we made Exodus president Alan Chambers aware of the actions of a board member. We still hear nothing but silence from Exodus.

[Hat tip: Andy at UK Gay News]

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

Uganda Anti-Gay Conference: Day Three — Gays Blamed For Rwandan Genocide & Pedophilia; More Exodus Ties To Holocaust Revisionism

Jim Burroway

March 8th, 2009

Extensive Updates (March 9): Those who read this post yesterday are urged to read it again today. We have more details about Lively’s comments at the conference, namely his claim which equate homosexuality with pedophilia, as well as conference leaders’ views on Ugandan law which currently provides for a life sentence on conviction of homosexual acts.  Those details have been added below.

According to anonymous blogger GayUganda — as we said, Ugandan gay bloggers need to remain anonymous for their own safety — American Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively provided the much-anticipated red meat on day three of the anti-gay conference taking place in Kampala.

On Saturday, Lively repeated his discredited historical revisionist theory in which he claims that the cornerstone of  Germany’s Nazi lies firmly in the gay movement, and that the gay movement today, if left unchecked, will result in a similarly murderous fascism wherever it goes. In Kampala, he went further by expanding his examples of what he calls homosexuals’ murderous impulse by blaming the 1994 Rwanda genocide on gay men.

Lively is one of three Americans speaking at that conference, along with Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and a relative unknown Caleb Lee Brundidge, of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. Brudidge is also a member of Phoenix-based Extreme Prophetic ministries, where he goes around to area mortuaries trying to raise the dead. On the second day of the conference, leaders called for a new Ugandan law mandating ex-gay therapy for convicted gay men and women, in  addition to the current maximum life sentence upon conviction of of homosexuality.

Scott Lively’s Pink Swastika
To understand Lively’s demented assertions, it’s important to read his book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, In it, he contends that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” A brief outline of his book is presented on the LeadershipU web site. His book is also available for free online in its entirety, and it was also offered for sale at the Uganda conference, with Lively referring to it throughout his talk.

The essence of Lively’s thesis is this: The Nazi party’s idealized view of masculinity was a significant draw to “butch” homosexuals. He cites as his principle evidence the rumored homosexuality of Ernst Roehm, the leader of the early Nazi paramilitary group known as the Brownshirts. Lively claims the Brownshirts trace their origins to the Wandervogel youth movements, which he says was “dominated and controlled by the pederasts… and its leadership was rife with homosexuality.” Lively also claims that Adolph Hitler was probably gay and a homosexual prostitute while in Vienna (the unsubstantiated phrases like “probably homosexual,” “almost certainly homosexual”, “may well have been homosexual,” and “it is assumed” pop up with astonishing regularity in his book) — while elsewhere say Lively concludes that Hitler was “probably not” gay. But in either case, he concluded that Hitler “knowingly and intentionally surrounded himself with practicing homosexuals from his youth.”

Lively adds that “There is no question that homosexuality figures prominently in the history of the Holocaust,” saying that German gays were eager to target Jews for extinction because of Judaism’s traditional prohibition against homosexuality. He doesn’t explain why Christianity’s traditional prohibition against homosexuality — which held a far greater moral influence throughout Europe — was ignored.

As for the estimated 15,000 gay men who were sent to concentration camps under Germany’s notorious Paragraph 175, Lively contends that the Nazis almost never used the law against actual gay men (the law was silent on lesbians), claiming that most of those who were convicted weren’t gay, but political enemies. Or if they were gay, then it was because they were effeminate. He writes, “There is evidence to suggest that only the effeminate homosexuals were mistreated under the Nazi regime — and usually at the hands of masculine homosexuals.” In fact, Lively is very fascinated by what he considers “the enduring Butch/Femme conflict among German homosexuals.”

The very few historians who have bothered to take his book seriously have dismissed it out of hand. They point out that most of Lively’s source material comes from Nazi political opponents, and that it was a common practice in Germany’s political culture to charge that one’s political opponents were overrun by homosexuals. Before coming to power, Nazis themselves used this tactics against the Wiemar Republic as well as against their Bolshevik and Socialist opponents. And they weren’t alone. Social Democrats, Conservatives, Bolsheviks, Socialists, Liberals and Centrists all used the same charges against the Nazis, as well as against each other, often with little or no reality behind the charges.

Lively however used only one set of those charges — those against the Nazis — and ignored the political context to maintain that the Nazis were overrun with homosexuals, specifically “Butch” gay men. He only raises the specter of “baseless charges” when discussing the evidence that the Nazis themselves persecuted gays throughout their reign of terror.

Lively’s book also goes beyond Nazi Germany, claiming that Nazis’ murderous tendencies wasn’t an aberration of homosexuals’ power, but a natural consequence of it. “From the ashes of Nazi Germany,” he writes, “the homo-fascist Phoenix has arisen again — this time in the United States.” He claims that “eight of the top ten serial killers in the United States were homosexual, and that homosexuals were responsible for 68% of all mass murders.”

Macho Gay Men and the Rwandan Genocide
Lively has a way of throwing red meat to the crowd wherever he speaks. When he spoke in Novosibirsk, Russia in 2007, Lively excused the murder of Satendar Singh in Sacramento, a 19-year-old gay Fiji man who was murdered by Russian immigrants. The Russian audience broke into cheers and applause as Lively described Singh’s murder.

At his talk in Uganda, Lively added a new twist, blaming the 1994 Rwanda genocide on gay men.The anonymous blogger GayUganda attended the conference and listened in horror:

He [Lively] is a Conspiration Theorist. A person who forms a theory on causation, and then goes ahead to wrap all perception of his world around that theory. His theory explains all perceptions. Whether it is the gay agenda wrapped in the Nazi supremacy, or the macho gay men who caused the Rwanda Genocide. Anything that seems to question his theory is attacked, dismissed, irrelevant. And, if you dont believe him, you are of a reprobate mind, or you are a closet homosexual following the Homosexual agenda.

No. I am not joking. (I wish I was)

Gays and Pedophilia
The Rwandan Genocide wasn’t the only red meat that Lively threw out at the conference. A blogger with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) reports:

The gay movement has capitalized on teenagers with same-sex attraction, sending messages urging them to act on their impulses. Teenagers indulge in sex and then they get hooked.

Equating homosexuality with pedophilia, Lively argued that there is a whole network trying to keep young people in the movement, including “predatory homosexuals who are always out to satisfy their sexual desires.”

This is very much in line with the charges that local Ugandan anti-gay extremists have made during previous acts of anti-gay vigilantism, when private LGBT Ugandan citizens were identified in the media with calls for their arrest or worse. When people like Scott Lively make claims like this, it goes straight to the worst fears that uninformed people have about gay people, despite the fact that social-science research clearly demonstrates gays are no more likely to molest children than straights.

But this slander has been effective in Uganda, forming one principle foundation for much of the public anti-gay vigilantism that Uganda has witnessed over the past several years. Stephen Langa, of Kampala-based Family Life Network and organizer of the conference, was quoted as far back as 2004 as saying:

FLN has also found out that homosexuality and lesbianism are spreading like wild fire in schools,” Langa said.  “There is rape inside schools and sex among students themselves. We have also found incest and cases of teachers molesting children and a lot of abortions,” he added.  Much of the promiscuity is germinating from viewing pornography in the media and the Internet and blue movies.  “If nothing is done to address the present state of affairs, the present generation of parents will find themselves having to bury their children instead of their children burying them,” Langa stressed.

Conference leaders and Ugandan Law
Lively was asked about the current state of Ugandan law, which provides for a life sentence for homosexuality. Lively reportedly approved of the existing law, and endorsed adding a provision mandating forcing convicted gay men and women into ex-gay therapy. Conference speakers had called for such a law on the second day of the conference.

According to another report, Lively made the utterly unsupported claim that until “the gays took over the clinics” there were very effective treatments for homosexuality. In fact, there has never been any independent evidence based on long-term followup reviews to suggest that attempts to change sexual orientation have ever been “very effective,” or even anything more than minimally so.

Another report had this comment on the conference participants view of Ugandan law:

At the end of the day, all the international presenters at the seminar commended Ugandans for taking a strong stand against homosexuality through their constitution, which criminalizes homosexuality, as well as through efforts like conferences that encourage parents and concerned citizens to come up with strategies against homosexuality.

Adding more fuel to the fire, GayUganda had earlier noticed that this apparent press release was posted on The Earth Times:

Kampala Anti-gay activists in Uganda Saturday formed a pressure group to discourage homosexuality, following a two-day conference of religious leaders, teachers and social workers in the capital Kampala.

The group, to be called the Anti-Gay Task Force, is intended to “fight against the spread of homosexuality and lesbianism in the country,” spokesman for the group Stephen Langa told reporters. Same sex-relationships and marriages are illegal in Uganda, and human rights groups have criticized the government for harassing homosexuals.

The task-force said that it would one day “wipe out” gay practices in the African state.

Ugandan newspaper headlines in 2007. Click to enlarge.

Ugandan newspaper headlines in 2007. Click to enlarge.

The task force to “‘wipe out’ gay practices” was discussed again at the conference on Saturday, and conference organizers have called for a followup meeting in Kampala on March 15.

The threat to “‘wipe out’ gay practices” is not an idle threat in a nation that provides a life sentence for those convicted of homosexuality. Further, Uganda witnessed at least three separate campaigns of government sanctioned and media-led vigilantism between 2005 and 2007. The last spate of violence was sparked by a press conference of LGBT leaders calling on the nation to simply allow gays and lesbians to live in peace. The LGBT leaders at that press conference wore face masks out of fear of being identified.

This conference poses a very dangerous development in a country with such a volatile history in how it treats gays and lesbians.

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

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer, one of three American speakers at the Kampala conference.

Exodus International’s Links To Scott Lively
This is the volatile environment that Exodus Board member Don Schmierer decided to join. Schmierer, who spoke during the first two days of the conference, is arguably most qualified person at the conference to speak on the ethics of forced conversions and criminalization of homosexuality. Media reports in Uganda and elsewhere have consistently identified him as being a member of Exodus’ board, and so when he speaks and acts, it is seen as being on behalf of Exodus International.

Schmierer’s participation at that conference, absent any other statement from Exodus’ board and leadership, appears to constitute at least an implicit endorsement of that policy, if not overt endorsement. It has been nine days since we contacted Exodus International President Alan Chambers to ask for a statement on Schmierer’s participation. We know Alan Chambers received our email because two days later he replied with a very brief and insubstantial off-the-record email. He has yet to offer any explanation for Schmierer’s actions or Exodus policy on the record.

Schmierer isn’t the only link between Exodus International and Scott Lively. In fact, there’s a literal one right there on Exodus’ web site. Exodus International maintains an extensive library of online articles. In the Exodus library, under the topic of “society”, the Exodus web page maintains a link to Scott Lively’s LeadershipU post based on “The Pink Swastika.” The link from Exodus contains this blurb:

Homosexuality and the Nazi Party
The pink triangle, symbol of the “gay rights” movement, is familiar to many Americans. As the badge used by the Nazis to designate homosexuals in the concentration camps, the pink triangle perfectly expresses the message of “gay rights.”

Exodus website featuring Scott Lively's article, "Homosexuality and the Nazi Party" (excerpt highlighted, click to enlarge)

Exodus website featuring link to Scott Lively’s article “Homosexuality and the Nazi Party” (Article and blurb highlighted. Click to enlarge.)

With such a direct link to Lively’s article on the Exodus International web site, Exodus gives its endorsement to Lively’s discredited historical theories. That approval is strengthened with the Exodus board member’s participation alongside Lively in Uganda, as they call for forced conversions and blame the Rwandan massacre on gay men. This is particularly dangerous in an environment where gays and lesbians have been hunted, tortured, and forced into hiding during several spates of officially-sanctioned and media-led vigilantism — the very same dynamics, ironically, which led to the Rwandan genocide.

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

Uganda Anti-Gay Conference: Day Two

Jim Burroway

March 6th, 2009
Exodus Board member Don Schmierer

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer

The Uganda anti-gay conference continues for a second day, with no further explanation on conference leaders’ endorsement of a parliamentarian proposal to upgrade Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law to include forced “therapy” on those who are convicted. Ugandan law already provides for a life sentence on conviction.

Exodus board member Don Schmierer has been a highly visible speaker at that conference. We contacted Exodus International President Alan Chambers expressing our concerns and seeking his comment a week ago, but his response was off the record and noncommittal. With Schmierer speaking at that conference for a second day — and as all accounts of that conference repeatedly identify him as an Exodus International board member — we eagerly await an official policy pronouncement from Exodus International on whether they support criminalization of homosexuality and the forced “conversions” of convicted gays and lesbians.

The blog of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) continues its coverage of the Uganda conference. Schmierer was again the featured speaker for the morning session. Kasha Jacqueline was there, and relayed her observations to IGLHRC blogger Victor Mukasa:

The facilitators for the first half of the day were still members of the Ugandan organization Family Life Network, together with Don Schmierer, a member of the board of the American “ex-gay” organization, Exodus International.

The workshop started with a recap of the first day of the conference. Participants were asked to share what they had learned or what captured their attention. Kasha Jacqueline told me that the first participant had nothing else to say except, “Homosexuals are sick and dangerous.” In response, she raised her hand and asked, “What disease was discovered yesterday that you claim they are suffering from?”

After someone claimed that homosexuality is unnatural, Kasha asked, “Who decides what is natural?” Schmierer responded directly to the second question saying that his role at the workshop involves teaching about family values; other facilitators would answer questions about homosexuality being unnatural later in the conference. For the rest of the morning, Schmierer continued with his teachings on family values and how to manage children in the family.

I would presume that when Schmierer pointed to “other facilitators [who] would answer questions about homosexuality being unnatural,” he’s referring to Scott Lively, a co-founder of virulent anti-gay extremist group Watchmen On the Walls and author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,in which he writes that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” At a Watchmen conference in Riga, Latvia in 2007, Lively claimed that gays were evil “followers of the Father of Lies.” He further described gays as being “sick,” claiming that gays don’t really want to be gay but are trapped in the grip of a militant homosexual leadership. Earlier that year, Lively excused the anti-gay hate crime murder of Satendar Singh before an audience in Novosibirsk, Russia.

The IGHRC notes that a film was shown just before lunch featuring American ex-gays:

A film was shown during the session before lunch featuring “ex-gay” Americans testifying about how they were “cured” of homosexuality. All described abuse and violence in their families during childhood and poor relationships with one of their parents. All were “born again Christians” who had “healed” from homosexuality.

Participants were shocked to hear such testimonies for the first time. They asked questions like, “How long does it take for one to heal from homosexuality?” and “Does it hurt?” One of the “ex-homosexuals” on the film testified that he had a poor relationship with his father. This led him to wanting to be with men looking for a father’s love. After the film one participant asked, “If he was looking for a father’s love from men, how did those relationships turn sexual? Would he have become sexual with his own father had they had a good relationship?”

There are two possible films which may fit this description. One is the 2004 film “I Do Exist.” That one features Noé Gutierrez, who has since denounced the ex-gay movement and says that he is no longer ex-gay. An earlier film, “It’s Not Gay,”features Michael Johnston, who then headed Karuso Ministries. That film came out in 2000. In 2003, Johnston was forced to shut down his ministry after it was discovered that he had been hosting orgies with other men, taking drugs, and practicing unsafe sex without disclosing his HIV seropositive status. The American Family Association still sells “It’s Not Gay,” desipte Johnston’s very public downfall. There are very few ex-gay films, and I can’t think of any others which fit this description off hand. I’m trying to find out more about it, and will pass along what I’ve learned.

[Update: Another, perhaps more likely possibility for the film is the 2006 “Homosexuality 101,” which was produced by NARTH president Julie Harren. It features Alan Chambers, Julie Harren, Mike Ensley (recently laid off as  Exodus Youth Analyst), Christine Sneeringer (head of Exodus-affiliated New Creations Ministry), and Jack Harren (Director of West Palm Beach, Florida’s Family Ties ministry and, at that time, head of a local PFOX chapter). Of the three films, “Homoseuxality 101″  is the only one being sold by Exodus.]

The conference’s afternoon session was given over to Caleb Lee Brundidge, of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation and the Phoenix-based Extreme Prophetic ministries, where he goes around to area mortuaries trying to raise the dead. So far, he reports no successes, which no doubt approximates his success rate as a counselor for Cohen’s hug-and-cuddle cures for homosexuality. His presentation at Kampala appears to have been similarly unimpressive:

An LGBTI activist told me that Caleb was contradicting himself. “First he testified that he didn’t have a good relationship with his father. Later, when a participant noted that there are a lot of homosexuals that she knows that come from great families and have good relationships with their parents, Caleb interjected and said that he had a great relationship with his father. That was contradictory!”

GayUganda sums up the mode of the conference:

[Stephen] Langa was the first to take the floor. A harangue. Uganda is going into total moral collapse. It is worse and more serious than economic collapse. Soon, the world will turn inside out and upside down, and homosexuals will be presidents….! You get the gist, hey? Rallying up the troops. Making sure that people get the message.

Don [Schmierer] handles prevention of homosexuality. Lee [Brundidge] is the ex-gay, and Scot [Lively] is the guy who handles advocacy. And Langa rallies everyone up. In apocalyptic, fire and brimstone terms. Question- it gets old when I am blamed for the worlds ills. So, thanks, but no thanks. And by the way, volunteers wanted for the formation of Homosexual Prevention Clubs in Uganda. Any takers?

…And he [Brundidge] then went ahead and described the steps to take in the Reparative Therapy. Much counseling, touching, listening, backsliding and some casting out of spirits.

Scott Lively takes the stage tomorrow. That’s where the real fun begins.

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

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