Don Schmierer Responds to David Kato’s Murder
January 27th, 2011
On Thursday, Don Schmierer, one of the American evangelicals who visited in Uganda in 2009, said Mr. Kato’s death was “horrible.”
“Naturally, I don’t want anyone killed but I don’t feel I had anything to do with that,” said Mr. Schmierer, who added that in Uganda he had focused on parenting skills. He also said that he had been a target of threats himself, recently receiving more than 600 hate mails related to his visit.
“I spoke to help people,” he said, “and I’m getting bludgeoned from one end to the other.”
Myths and Consequences: The True Impact of the Kampala Anti-Gay Conference
May 26th, 2010
One criticism of the coverage of the three American Evangelists who held their anti-gay Kampala Conference in March 2009 and its aftermath is over the inference that without the conference, we wouldn’t be in this mess today. Critics of our coverage have charged that we have blamed Uganda’s rampant homophobia on these American activists — a position we have never held. Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, one of the principal American speakers who delivered his “nuclear bomb” at that notorious conference has even played the race card: “It’s racist to suggest that Africans have no will of their own to produce public policy to suit their own values.”
While we do reject the notion that homophobia in Uganda is an American import, I think it is proper nevertheless to hold the three Americans — Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and the International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Brundidge — accountable for the conference and its aftermath. As many independent observers have noticed, this particular conference, with the unwieldy title “Exposing the truth behind homosexuality and the homosexual agenda,” turned out to be — as I correctly feared when I first learned about it a week before it took place — the prime catalyst for the massive convulsion of anti-gay hysteria which followed and ultimately led to the tabling of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill before Parliament.
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo is a rare straight allies for LGBT people in Uganda, and he’s paid a very heavy price for his support. Last Friday, I asked him whether the link between the conference and the events following were overstated:
Jim Burroway: Over here in the US, we often get an unclear, distorted view of what’s happening in Uganda. But when we look, we find that there have been a lot of outing campaigns in the 2006, 2007. To put things in perspective, did that conference really make things worse for LGBT people in Uganda? Or was it just that the rest of us in the Western world, we noticed it because we hadn’t been paying attention before? Did it really make things worse?
Bishop Senyonjo: What we saw coming to the office, it made things worse. Because soon after that conference, we saw the introduction of the bill, you know what I mean? Because I think it was October something when Bahati came out with that bill, And we knew, I knew, different ones were at that conference that before the people come to speak to us, Lively and his company, they had also met with some members of Parliament and talked with them, even I think with the Minister of Integrity. So they had met with him and of course they spoke with someone in power behind them. Right? And not long after, this bill comes up.
Burroway: So, some of the people that you counsel, have they talked about their fears about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill?
Senyonjo: Oh yeah.
Burroway: Do you have any particular examples you can share without breaking anybody’s confidentiality?
Senyonjo: Many, many are afraid, and they have been coming and talking to me about it. And they are afraid and would like to run out of the country. And that is something very difficult. They don’t know how they can live in Uganda like that because their life will be in great danger, because they feel they cannot change what they are. And because many are losing their employment, we are trying to see that we can have some place where people can have what they call self-employment in a certain way so that they may not live a destitute kind of life. We’re trying to do what we can, to have some possible room where you can have people, even if for a short time in a transition to allow them to see where they are going. Some people would need some shelter for some time, they could need transit to get to work…
Burroway: Because a lot of them loose their family, too, is that correct?
Senyonjo: Oh yeah. That’s true. … so it is not easy. There is real fear of what is going to happen if this bill passed. And that is why many of us feel everything possible should be done to reject this bill.
Bishop Senyonjo was an eyewitness to all three days of the three-day conference, so I pressed him to talk more about Lively’s talk –particularly Lively’s assertion that homosexuality and Nazism are inextricably linked, and his blaming the Rwandan genocide on gays — but he was reluctant to touch those topics. “It creates a lot of unnecessary fears,” he said. “It does, and we may probably not want to repeat those.” Besides, he felt that those who attended the conference didn’t place much weight to those two points, which surprised me because I thought that those were the most incendiary parts of the entire conference.
Instead, it turns out that the centerpiece message that came out of the conference was Lively’s, Brundidge’s and Scmierer’s reinforcement of the myth that gays recruit school children through child sexual abuse. That was the message which struck a particular chord in Uganda. Bishop Senyonjo concurred:
Burroway: One of the things that I keep reading in the newspapers in Uganda that are on the Internet is that there’s a widespread belief that gay people are recruiting children in the schools, and then I heard basically Scott Lively say the same thing at his conference. Do you think that his talk helped confirm some of those fears that people have?
Senyonjo: Yeah. In fact, even myself, I was at one time accused that I was going to schools and trying to recruit, as it were, people into homosexuality, which is actually blackmail. And you can see, what are the intentions of these people to do this? …. People who will say this, they have very evil intentions which I don’t understand. Because I don’t go to schools to recruit young people. In each …. People develop into what they are, they know themselves whatever they are, what kind of sexual orientation they are. They are not being recruited into it.
Buroway: I know. I mean nobody recruited me.
Senyonjo: [Laughs] That’s what I’m saying there’s a lot of work we have to do in education. They threaten the parents, they say that people are going to schools trying to recruit their children into being gay or what? This is not true, you know?
Scott Lively’s philosophies have been deeply internalized here among those who are proponents of the law, and for people who are listening to these public dialogues on homosexuality, they’re hearing Scott Lively’s words reiterated by Ugandan Evangelicals and others who are proponents of the bill. And they believe it to be Gospel. They believe it to be scientific fact, what they’re listening to.
The Vanguard episode, “Missionaries of Hate,” which premieres tonight on Current TV, further confirms the critical role that March 5-7 conference played in propelling this myth as “scientific fact.” Here is one exchange between Pepe Onziema of Sexual Minorities Uganda and Peabody-award winning reporter Mariana van Zeller:
Pepe Onziema: (SMUG) The conference basically introduced the idea that homosexuals, their agenda is to recruit children into homosexuality.
van Zeller: So before this conference this concept didn’t really exist in Uganda?
The truth is, despite Pepe’s recollection, this allegation didn’t originate with the conference. I’ve seen these allegations in Uganda media long before the conference took place. But Pepe’s faulty memory reinforces what NPR’s Tomkins reported, that because those prior suspicions are now regarded as “scientific fact,” the March 5-7 conference has now been thoroughly associated with being the origin of the charge. Where before, the myth was passed on as rumor, this conference led by three American “experts” elevated this rumor to “fact.” Human rights advocate Julius Kaggwa told van Zeller confirms, “The theme of this conference was the gay agenda and the gay agenda was that there is a massive recruitment of school children into homosexuality.” He added:
There is a culture of fear among gay people and among non-gay people. I mean the non-gay people are fearing that the gay people are invading our culture and want to recruit children into this thing. The gay people are scared because there’s a massive onset of hatred, if you look like you’re gay then you might be arrested, you might get mob justice, you might just get assaulted. So there is generally fear on every front.
And to match what Bishop Senyonjo told me about his clients’ fears in the conference’s aftermath, van Zeller followed the story of “Long Jones,” a gay man who was arrested by police following the conference. Because of the conference, he said, “people became more out and spying and mentioning others.”
As we noted yesterday, van Zeller talked to Scott Lively, who admitted that he knew that Ugandan lawmakers were considering new legislation to “strengthen” their already draconian anti-homosexuality law (life imprisonment is already the current penalty, depending on how it is prosecuted). And as we have reported multiple times, the three Americans also met with Ugandan members of Parliament as part of their tour in March, 2009. Van Zeller also spoke with MP David Bahati, who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into Parliament. She asked him why he wrote the bill. His response:
I did that for the sake of protecting our children. Here in Uganda we have a problem of people promoting homosexuality, especially using money and materials to recruit young people.
And we know exactly where he got his “facts” from.
Missionaries of Hate: Where Killing Gays Is the “Lesser of Two Evils”
May 25th, 2010
Wednesday night’s premiere of the Vanguard documentary “Missionaries of Hate” represents the most complete video record so far of the past year’s anti-gay turmoil in Uganda that began when three American Evangelical held an anti-gay conference in Kampala in March, 2009. That conference set the stage for a long, drawn-out anti-gay convulsion that rocked the nation and ultimately led to the introduction of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill into Parliament.
Reporter Mariana van Zeller interviewed most of the key players in the drama that we’ve been following closely for the past year, including the bill’s sponsor MP David Bahati, Ugandan pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa, and many LGBT people who were most directly affected by the conference and its aftermath. But for me, the most riveting interview came near the end of the program when Mariana sat down with Scott Lively:
van Zeller: Do you then support the rest of the bill if you remove the death penalty part of it?
Lively: I would not have written the bill this way. But what it comes down to is a question of lesser of two evils. What is the lesser of two evils here? To allow the American and European gay activists to continue to do to that country what they’ve done here? Or to have a law that may be overly harsh in some regards? I think the lesser of two evils is for the bill to go through.
Maybe this explains why Lively has decided to go on the offensive, so to speak.
Lively also admits that he knew they wanted to introduce a “strengthened” anti-homosexuality bill before he conducted his anti-gay conference in Kampala alongside Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Brundidge. He says however that he didn’t know what the new bill would contain. The earliest draft of the bill that we have been able to find was one dated April 20, about six weeks after the conference. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced into Parliament on October 15.
One of the producers provided me with a preview of the documentary, and apart from a very few minor quibbles I cannot recall any other report in print or video which delves so completely and thoroughly into the aftermath of the infamous March 2009 anti-gay conference. Martin Ssempa’s bombastic presence looms large in the documentary, where we learn that his much-mocked predilection for showing gay porn was far more widespread than first reported. In fact, I lost count of the number of times he brought out his trusty laptop. We also see brief interviews with MP David Bahati who introduced the bill into Parliament (He believes that God chose Uganda for this battle), and we see footage of Lou Engle’s rally earlier this month on a sports field at Makarere University.
But most importantly, we see the effects of the bill through the eyes of LGBT people living in Uganda, some of whom were outed in the newspapers, experienced death threats, were arrested by police and beaten, and driven from their homes by their neighbors. Almost all of them remember the March 5-7 conference as the key instigator of the anti-gay hysteria that swept the nation last year. Referring to the three American evangelicals who lead that conference, Julius Kaggwa asked aloud, “I wonder if they are aware of just how much damage their visit caused?”
Whether they have been aware of it up until now, this documentary will leave no doubts about their culpability from today forward.
“Missionaries of Hate” airs Wednesday on Current TV at 10:00 EST.
Update: A preview of “Missionaries of Hate” is also available on Hulu.
Exodus International Issues Statement Condemning Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill
March 22nd, 2010
The board of directors of Exodus International has issued a statement condemning the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament. This statement comes amid year-long criticism of the ex-gay organization after one of its board members, Don Schmierer, conducted an anti-gay conference in Kampala alongside two other anti-gay American activists, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Brundidge. That conference, which included Lively’s infamous “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda”, fanned the already burning flames of virulent homophobia in that country and ushered in the proposal a draconian new law which would, among many other things, result in the death penalty for gay people under certain conditions.
In this latest statement from Exodus International, the Board says:
Exodus International believes that every human life, regardless of an individual’s sexual behavior, is of inestimable worth to God and that defending this principle is foundational in offering a Christian response to any issue. As such, Exodus International has not and will not support any legislation that deprives others of life and dignity including, but not limited to, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. We stand with all who are defending this basic, biblical tenet and remain committed to sharing the compassion, hope and life-giving truth and grace of Jesus Christ.
“In November of 2009, several of us sent a letter to Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and First Lady Musenevi expressing our concerns regarding The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. The legislation would render some homosexual practices crimes punishable by life imprisonment and possible death. We believe that sexual crimes against children, whether committed by someone of the same or opposite sex, are the most serious of offenses and should be punished; we consider same-sex behavior in consensual adult relationships another matter.
Exodus issued their open letter to President Yoweri Museveni on November 16, 2009, more than nine months following the Kampala conference. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was formally introduced into Parliament on October 15.
On March 10, 2010, barely a full year after the Kampala conference, Exodus International president Alan Chambers left a comment on Warren Throckmorton’s web site expressing disappointment over not having had an opportunity to appear on ABC’s Nightline, saying, ” would have loved nothing better than to share our disdain for this bill and apologize for going anywhere near such a horrible conference.” While this statement from Exodus accomplishes the first goal, there is no apology for having participated in the “Nuclear Bomb” conference.
The latest statement also condemns criminalization of homosexuality as a hindrance to the group’s mission “assist hurting men, women and youth who might otherwise seek help in addressing this personal issue.”
Exodus’s statement is signed by Alan Chambers, vice president, Randy Thomas, board chair Bob Ragan, and fifty-one other board members and ex-gay ministry leaders, including Don Schmierer. The full text of the statement is reproduced below. The statement appears on the Exodus International blog, but so far it does not appear on the organization’s official web site.
Scott Lively Endorses “Revised” Ugandan Bill. Do Exodus And Cohen?
January 10th, 2010
Scott Lively issued a statement dated today saying that he now supports the “revised” Anti-Homosexuality Bill. We have no idea what the revisions might be. Media reports indicate that it’s merely an elimination of the death-penalty provision, leaving the life imprisonment aspect intact, which is hardly an improvement given the prospect of spending the rest of one’s life rotting away in a Ugandan prison. Lively indicates that there is a forced conversion option, which would please him to no end. Of course, without knowing what the text of the “revised” bill might be, we have no way of verifying any of his claims which must be taken with a grain of salt.
In the lead-in to his statement, Lively says:
“I can\’t say that I necessarily agree with every element of the revised bill, but I believe this revision is an acceptable compromise under the circumstances and well within the prerogative of a civilized sovereign nation”
The bill, as currently written, has the following provisions:
- It expands the definitions for homosexual acts, making conviction easier. Current law requires evidence of penetration. The new law would expand the definition of homosexual activity to”touch(ing) another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” Touching itself is defined as “touching—(a) with any part of the body; (b) with anything else; (c) through anything; and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ. anus or mouth.”
- Affirms Uganda\’s lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality.
- Defines a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality” for those who engage in sex with someone under the age of 18, who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender” (so broadly defined as to include anyone who has had a relationship with more than one person, or who had sex with the same person more than once), or who had sex with a disabled person (consensual or not). The penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is death by hanging.
- Requires anyone arrested on suspicion of homosexuality to undergo HIV testing to determine the individual\’s qualification for prosecution of “aggravated homosexuality.”
- Criminalizes “attempted homosexuality” with imprisonment of seven years.
- Criminalizes “promoting” homosexuality with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years. This overly-broad provision would criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda . It could also be used against anyone extending counseling or otherwise aiding gay people. It would also criminalize any attempt to repeal or modify the law in the future, as those moves could also be seen as “promoting” homosexuality.
- Criminalizes the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
- Adds a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual\’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
- Labels landlords and hotel owners as proprietors of “brothels” and penalizes them with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people.
- Adds an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
- Voids all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill.
Since Lively has lent his endorsement to a revised version of this bill apparently sight unseen. Assuming the death penalty is stricken and the alternative to rotting away the rest of one’s life in a dank Ugandan prison is the false “choice” of forced conversion, it is incumbent upon him to answer which of these provisions he thinks are “well within the prerogative of a civilized sovereign nation”?
Let’s face it, Scott Lively is irredeemably evil, fully earning his three spots on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-gay hate groups. But what about the others? Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge cast their lot with Lively when they agreed to speak on the same platform with him. They haven’t fully condemned his continuing agitation in Uganda for a bill that he calls “a step in the right direction.” And, more importantly, they haven’t condemned Scott Lively’s hate-filled vendetta itself.
In fact, when Exodus International removed their link to Lively’s online condensed version of The Pink Swastika (which blames gays for Nazism and the Holocaust), they kept the tantalizing title “Homosexuality and the Nazi Party” which a quick Internet search lands the unsuspecting searcher onto Lively’s exercise in Holocaust revisionism. As for the link, Exodus now explains, “This opinion article by Scott Lively from 1995 is no longer offered by Exodus International.” Why not? Is it because they suddenly found Lively’s article objectionably after having provided that link since at least 2005? Or is it just because the “research” is out of date or that it’s no longer hosted on LeadershipU’s web site? Nobody knows and Exodus appears satisfied with that ambiguity. As of tonight, it’s still there. International Healing Foundation’s Richard Cohen hasn’t denounced Lively either for that matter.
Since they have not unambiguously disentangled themselves from Lively himself, their reputations remain entangled in his ongoing meddling in Uganda’s legislative process. And with that entanglement, they need to answer these questions: Do they agree than any part of this bill is a step in the right direction? If so, which parts?
Now more than ever, it is incumbent on Exodus president Alan Chambers, Cohen, Brundidge and Schmierer to fully and resolutely condemn Scott Lively and the other provisions of this bill, and issue a full apology to the LGBT citizens of Uganda who are suffering from the public vigilante campaigns which their conference sparked. They need to do this now before the idea of a “revised” bill being acceptable gains any further ground. It is long past time for them to call out evil by name.
But as I said, I doubt they will. To date, none of them have shown the integrity, the guts, nor the authentic witness of the Christian faith that they claim to hold so dear. Unless they separate themselves completely, forcefully, and without reservation from this unconscionable mess, Uganda will forever be their legacy and their cowardly silence will become the indelible image of Christ seen by LGBT people the world over. And thousands of Ugandans — and many more thousands of Americans — will never forget it.
Don Schmierer “sets the record straight”
January 8th, 2010
We tried diligently to get Don Schmierer to not go to Uganda. He went anyway.
We tried desperately to get Don Schmierer to speak out against the legislation proposed in Uganda to execute gay Ugandans or imprison them for life. He was silent.
In fact, Schmierer ignored us and the results of his international anti-gay activism until he was exposed on Rachel Maddow’s show. Then he issued a statement that appeared to be in conflict with the facts as we knew them to be.
Now he has told the Fox affiliate in Sacramento that it’s all a misunderstanding.
He says he thought he was preaching about open communication in parenting.
But now that his inbox is being flooded with hate-mail he says it’s all a misunderstanding.
“I’m trying to help people understand the differences and how to communicate and how to listen to each other.”
If Mr. Schmierer wishes to communicate, he knows how to reach us. If he wishes to clear up any misunderstandings, he can explain why his version of events contradict the video, news reports, and first hand accounts from the conference. We’d be happy to let him set the record straight – accurately, this time.
Exodus Board Members Plays The “Dupe” In Uganda
This commentary is the opinion of the author, and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
January 3rd, 2010
The New York Times has finally taken notice of the anti-gay pogrom that has been brewing in Uganda for nearly a year now. In Monday morning’s edition, Jeffrey Gettleman provides a brief overview of events over the past year that has led up to Uganda’s current attempt to legislate gay people out of existence, beginning with that infamous anti-homosexuality conference put on last March by three American anti-gay activists:
The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.
“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.
“That\’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”
What Schmierer has yet to acknowledge is that he had every opportunity not to be “duped,” as he put it. BTB’s Timothy Kincaid sent a warning via Exodus International president Alan Chambers before the conference took place, explaining exactly what he was getting into. Chambers either didn’t pass the warning on to Schmierer, or Schmierer chose to ignore it. The aggravating thing is that this could have been avoided — or, at the very least Exodus International’s implicit participation in the conference.
And of course, let’s not forget Exodus’s first attempt at “fixing” the problem they created — their hamfisted attempt to put a positive spin on Schmierer’s talk by “applauding” his being there.
Schmierer’s behavior in all of this is beyond appalling. He has yet to man up to his responsibility for his actions. Instead, his only public response has been to behave as a befuddled grandfather wondering what the fuss is all about. Charming in some quarters I’m sure, but of absolutely no use whatsoever to the people of Uganda who now stand to fear the midnight knock on the door — and possibly even the gallows. We’ve already seen arrests and blackmail, as well as accusations of homosexuality used as a political and sectarian weapon this year. This Times article provides further illustration of what people in Uganda have gone through:
Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.
“Now we really have to go undercover,” said Stosh Mugisha, a gay rights activist who said she was pinned down in a guava orchard and raped by a farmhand who wanted to cure her of her attraction to girls. She said that she was impregnated and infected with H.I.V., but that her grandmother\’s reaction was simply, ” ‘You are too stubborn.\’ ”
…”What these people have done is set the fire they can\’t quench,” said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.
Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans “underestimated the homophobia in Uganda” and “what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families.”
“When you speak like that,” he said, “Africans will fight to the death.”
This, of course, is nothing compared to what we will see should the Anti-Homosexuality Bill become law.
If Shmierer feels “duped,” then he needs to put a stop to his helplessness act and behave like a responsible adult. He has no problem traveling extensively around the world when it suits his purposes. This might be a good time for him to return to Uganda, to go on radio and television and talk to newspaper reporters — to try to fix what he helped break. He’s a world traveler, and he’s been to Uganda before; he knows the way.
But since the Exodus gang has no track record whatsoever in accepting responsibility for any of their actions, I predict that Schmierer, Chambers and the rest of Exodus will sit on their hands and pretend that nothing’s wrong. They’ll point to their solitary letter which got no play whatsoever in Ugandan media, and pretend that this small act was sufficient.
Having said that, I keep hoping that someday someone over there will seize the opportunity to prove me wrong. Sure, they’ll grumble about how mean we “militant homosexual activists” are. (That’s Exodus vice-president Randy Thomas new euphemism for this blog.) But their own engagement in the culture war blinds them from seeing the win-win two-fer that’s before them: they can take the bold steps necessary to correct their egregious mistakes and simultaneously make all of us “militant homosexual activists” look like idiots. All in one fell swoop.
But since they’ve been so entirely predictable, I’ll stick with my prediction. Schimierer will continue with his helplessness act, Chambers will pretend that his letter is enough, and Exodus will go on its merry way and pretend that nothing went wrong on their watch.
The ball is in their court to prove me wrong. I’ll even sweeten the pot: if they can prove me wrong, I’ll wear a dunce hat, publicly proclaim how wrong I was, and issue an apology of my own. Because I’m a man who stands behind my principles.
What Did Don Schmierer Know?
December 9th, 2009
Don Schmierer, a member of Exodus International’s Board of Directors was one of three Americans who traveled to Uganda to participate in an anti-gay conference last spring. That conference was the springboard from which anti-gay Ugandans propelled a pogrom against gay people which has resulted in proposed legislation to imprison gay Ugandans, to execute “repeat offenders” and HIV positive gays, to ban pro-gay advocacy, and to require friends, family, and acquaintances of gay people to turn them in to the government.
See our full coverage here.
Nine months after we here at Box Turtle Bulletin began our campaign to inform the world of this attack on human rights – after his participation was exposed by Rachel Maddow – Don Schmierer released a statement on the Exodus blog. In order to ensure that this statement is retained in its original form, it is included in its entirety at the bottom of this commentary.
The theme of Schmierer’s statement is that he was ignorant of any anti-gay political activism at the conference, that his message was redemptive and compassionate, and that he has no responsibility for the current state of affairs in Uganda.
But this is just the latest in the efforts of those at Exodus to position Schmierer in a such a way as to deflect criticism. We will inspect Schmierer’s statement, along with those of Exodus, and determine whether Don Schmierer was duped by anti-gay political activists or whether Don Schmierer is untruthfully seeking to cover up his part in an attack on human rights.
Let’s start at the beginning.
February 24, 2009 – Box Turtle Bulletin became aware of Don Schmierer’s scheduled attendance at the Uganda conference. We wrote a commentary condemning this decision and warning of possible consequences.
This conference will be taking place on very dangerous ground for LGBT citizens and residents of Uganda. Martin Ssempa, the influential evangelical pastor at Makerere Community Church, has called for open season on LGBT people – This is no idle threat.
Although we know that Exodus is aware of content at BTB, we left nothing to chance. I emailed Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, and made certain that he was aware that a Board Member of his organization would be participating in the conference. Further, I made certain that Alan was aware of Lively’s anti-gay advocacy and give the following warning:
Considering Lively’s history, there is little doubt that the crux of his presentation will be to make claims about the nature and intent of gay persons in Uganda and to encourage reprisals, state action, and public abuse of gay persons in that country. His political and religious efforts in Balkan states has contributed greatly to physical harassment of gay persons in that area (including pelting gay Christians with excrement and rotten food), a result that he did not discourage.
March 1, 2009 – Alan replied off the record and I will respect that request by not making his communication public.
My response included the following:
Please let me know if you and the Exodus leadership develop a position on Don Schmierer’s activities in Uganda. We will, of course, be interested in seeing whether the statements of Scott Lively or event organizer Stephen Langa will be similar to the light-the-torches-grab-the-pitchforks language they have both used in the past and will be looking to see whether Schmierer denounces or implicitly endorses their rhetoric.
NOTE: By March 1, we had already warned Exodus/Chambers/Schmierer that the conference would be political in nature, would likely result in physical harm to gay Ugandans, and that Schmierer would need to denounce the rhetoric or that his participation would be perceived as an implicit endorsement.
March 5, 2009 – the Uganda anti-gay conference started. Steven Langa introduced the purpose of the conference and its American guests. Our reporting from that day:
Langa began his talk by saying that Uganda law, which provides a life sentence for those convicted of homosexual acts, isn\’t strong enough.
He then announced that foreign gays were bribing Ugandan children to spread homosexuality. And then the rest of the day was provided for Don Schmierer to tell attendees that “one of the biggest causes of homosexuality is the lack of “good upbringing” in families—children should be brought up in proper Christian ways.”
We have received private communication from some in attendance that Don Schmierer did present himself as a Board Member of Exodus International and left listeners with the impression that he was representing that organization at the conference.
NOTE: On the day that Schmierer spoke but before his presentation, Langa spoke about increasing civil penalties for homosexuality above their current life-sentence punishment. We have no report that Schmierer objected.
March 6, 2009 – A government official announced to the conference that Uganda would soon be considering a bill to crack down on homosexuality. Our reporting from that day:
The Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo has today told a conference organized to discuss the ways to fight Homosexuality that he will soon submit a bill on pornography and homosexuality for discussion in Parliament.
Scott Lively encouraged the government to force gay people into ex-gay therapy.
That day Schmierer continued his discussions on family life. He made no assertions about the nature of homosexuality or gay people, but he gave his implicit endorsement of the assertions that would be presented by Lively.
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.
A relatively unknown ex-gay named Caleb Lee Brundidge, an associate of Richard Cohen, shared his testimony that afternoon. However, first Steven Langa continued his attacks on gay people from a political perspective.
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….!
Concerned by the reports out of Uganda, Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a supporter of traditional perspectives on sexuality with a history and contacts in the ex-gay world, recognized the situation in that nation to be volatile and dangerous and called on Alan Chambers to have Schmierer disavow the political agenda of the convention.
March 7, 2009 – The conference continued. Scott Lively spoke. Having been told that homosexuality is preventable by Don Schmierer and that it is changeable by Caleb Lee Brundidge, Lively was there to depict gay people as evil and the source of most of the world’s greatest inhumanities.
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 also played one of his favorite themes, equating homosexuality with pedophilia. As this is also one of Langa’s themes, their bold declarations that gay foreigners were preying on Uganda’s children was readily accepted.
To the best of our knowledge, Don Schmierer said absolutely nothing to contradict Lively’s absurdities, to dampen the fires of hatred and bigotry, to oppose oppressive political schemes, or to call for compassion or redemption.
March 8, 2009 – We note that Exodus International links to Scott Lively’s Nazi-revisionist claims with the title Homosexuality and the Nazi Party
March 9, 2009 – Exodus removes the link to Scott Lively without comment.
March 11, 2009 – We published an open letter to the Executive Board of Exodus calling on them to oppose the Ugandan political action and remove those responsible.
But truly concerned about the situation in Uganda and the shocking refusal of Exodus or Schmierer to respond, I took the additional step of contacting the executive director of an Exodus member ministry. Although we disagree about theology and the effectiveness of reorientation therapy, I respect his integrity.
We established a communication through which I was able to again reach out to Alan to plea for action to counteract the damage done at the conference.
March 13, 2009 – the Christian Post quotes Alan Chambers on the Uganda conference.
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.
The full statement:
“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.”
There was nothing from Schmierer, not even acknowledgment of the applause.
March 14, 2009 – Someone commenting on a site for Australian skiers said the following:
Last week I sat next to this guy (Don Schmierer) on a flight from USA to Europe. He was on his way to Uganda to speak at a conference there on how to convert people from homosexuality.
We started talking and he was interesting. He was a nice guy, moderate in tone and personality, and concerned not to offend me in case I had different views.
Of course, he has batsh!t crazy ideas that The Gay is caused by a domineering parent, or neglected kids or broken homes. Or something. Whatever, it’s a 100% acquired condition. Also the Nazis were all gay.
He works for Exodus International, which apparently is the leading Christian ministry focusing on the ex-gay (conversion) thing. They are not short of cash as it’s funded by billionaire Howard Ahmanson. Africa is a big focus for them – it’s religious and predominantly anti-gay, and Exodus wants to keep it that way.
Anyway, if anyone wants “Preventing the Homosexual Condition in Today’s Youth” I now have a copy.
I was unaware of this comment until a few days ago when a reader linked to it. I am attempting to follow up with the commenter. Until then, I cannot vouch for its veracity.
NOTE: If this statement is accurate, it suggests that Schmierer was not only aware or Lively’s Nazi-revisionism, but was in agreement. Further, it appears that Schmierer was aware of the political implications of his trip.
March 28, 2009 – I asked the executive director of the ex-gay ministry with whom I was communicating for one final favor:
I know that Don Schmierer has contact info for Steven Langa. It was Langa that organized the conference he spoke at which was the initiation point for this political effort. Can you please contact Don and ask him if he will speak to Langa and do what he can to prevent violence.
My contact, distressed by the situation, said he would be happy to do so.
Summer 2009 – Caleb Bundidge writes of his trip to Uganda in Richard Cohen’s newsletter. (PDF: 7MB/12 pages)
The forty seminar participants were professional ministers, clergy, teachers, counselors, and SSA strugglers. All were greatly enlightened by the content of the presentations. Lives were changed forever thanks to those who contributed to my trip to Uganda! One Bishop in attendance was more affirming of the gay agenda. Through the course of the conference, he became more informed and had a change of mind and heart.
NOTE: Bundidge makes no mention whatsoever of a gay bishop in attendance. Nor has anyone else reporting about the conference from any perspective.
November 16, 2009 – Exodus prepares a letter which objected to specific provisions of the “Kill Gays” bill. They limited their criticism to only those portions that would impact the ability of ex-gay ministries to counsel same-sex attracted persons.
In the comments on our thread, Alan Chambers strengthened his objections to the bill and pledged to help work against it. He described Don Schmierer’s involvement as follows:
I remain absolutely sure that Don Schmierer had no idea what all of this was about until on the ground there and that his desire in speaking was to teach what he always teaches about giving grace to those in need.
December 2, 2009 – Rachel Maddow breaks the story naming Schmierer and his involvement in the conference.
December 3, 2009 – Don Schmierer broke his silence. He issued the statement we’ve included below and signs on, after the fact, to the Exodus letter which has previously been sent.
In reviewing the chain of events as I personally know them to be, and comparing them to the statement issued by Schmierer, I see some significant discrepancies. Frankly, I have difficulty in seeing Schmierer’s statement as being truthful.
If Don Schmierer would like to make another statement, one that is reflective of the facts, I invite him to do so. I would also remind him that true repentance includes attempting to remedy his wrong.
If Don Schmierer wants the gay community – or God – to forgive him for the evil that has resulted from his actions, he is morally obligated to do whatever he can – and my expectations are very high – to repudiate this bill and all that it represents, to denounce the political efforts of Steve Langa and Scott Lively, and to expend time, effort, finances, and political capital in seeing that gay Ugandans do not suffer as a result of his own personal contribution to the situation.
To do otherwise will tell us in no uncertain terms that while Don Schmierer speaks of love and compassion, these words are but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
Don Schmierer On Uganda: “What, Me Worry?”
December 5th, 2009
After more than nine months of controversy over Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer’s participation in a virulently anti-gay conference in Kampala last March, he has finally deigned to speak up. And his defense is rather novel, something you might call the “Alfred E. Newman” defense. In a statement posted on Exodus International’s blog, Schmierer pretends that he had no idea that there was any problem with that conference until he was mentioned by Rachel Maddow:
Never in a million years did I expect to see my face on MSNBC. But there I was, plain as day – white hair, tanned wrinkles, looking every bit the grandfather I am- in a photo posted on Rachel Maddow\’s show last night. Unbeknownst to me, she had decided to discuss a conference I spoke at in Uganda several months ago.
Remember, this is after nine months of outcry over the outcome of this conference, months of his own organization’s prevarications, half-hearted defenses, and finally — finally! — a letter. Even after all that, it wasn’t until just this past Tuesday that he decided that maybe it was time to add his signature to the letter more than two weeks after it was originally issued. (Exodus vice president Randy Thomas explains that Schmierer’s late signature was due to the fact that he was gallivanting elsewhere around the world with his “redemptive” message — and we all know where that’s gotten us.) But it wasn’t until his mug showed up on national television did he decide it was finally time to make a statement.
This international experience, however, turned out to be a bit different. For starters, I didn\’t know much about the conference when I agreed to speak there. At first I thought I was the only speaker and was surprised to hear that Caleb Lee Brundidge of the International Healing Foundation and Dr. Scott Lively of Defend the Family International would be speaking as well. I disagree with several of their respective organization\’s beliefs about this issue and have found several comments to be inflammatory. In retrospect, my decision to speak there might have been different, but one thing I did know was that Ugandans needed to hear a redemptive, compassionate view of this issue. So I set off to do my best in providing it. When my portion of the conference was over, a Ugandan gay bishop complimented me and remarked with gratitude that I “really understood” the gay community as well as the true nature of this issue.
I’m glad he got his “redemptive” message across. But there’s a problem with this statement. On February 27, the week before the conference took place, and the just shortly after we first learned about the conference, BTB’s Timothy Kincaid wrote to Alan Chambers to warn him about the conference:
On Friday, February 27, we inquired to be certain that Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, was aware of the character and history of those participating at the Uganda anti-gay conference. Alan\’s response was off the record. But because he responded we know he received our email and was therefore aware of the list of presenters and of our concerns.
So on Monday we asked him to let us know if he and the Exodus leadership would develop a position on Don Schmierer\’s activities in Uganda.
We never heard back and the rest is a very well-documented history.
So what does this mean? Did Alan Chambers not pass on our concerns to Don Schmierer? If so, that would suggest that he does not maintain very good communications with his own board. But if the opposite is true, then Schmierer should have been warned about what he was up against and chose to go ahead anyway. Either way, this cop-out doesn’t just wash.
Schmierer concludes with what ought to be the main message, instead of his self-serving defense. He says:
What is true, however, and worth all the news media coverage possible, is the tragic nature of and heartbreaking potential this bill holds. I remember the gay bishop I spoke with and am deeply concerned that if this legislation were to go into effect, he would be in danger. I am grieved that the church and social workers I met may now be faced with the gut-wrenching decision of whether or not to turn in a gay friend or loved one. It should not be so. That is why I have signed on to the letter below in speaking out against this legislation. Please join me, and Rachel Maddow by extension, in voicing your concern over this bill.
Again, the concern is not so much over LGBT people (unless he knows someone personally who swallows Schmierer’s ex-gay line), but over church and social workers who may face a “gut-wrenching decision.” Fine. We’ll take whatever we can get. They say “better late than never,” but now I’m not so optimistic.
International Healing Foundation Issues Statement On Uganda
December 3rd, 2009
Rachel Maddow finally got a statement from Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation about Uganda’s proposed death penalty for LGBT people under certain circumstances:
Caleb Lee Brundidge was one of three American anti-gay activists participating at a conference in Kampala last march which led to the current crisis there for LGBT people. Other American anti-gay activists participating were Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively and Exodus International board member Don Schmierer. Rachel also read portions of a statement from Scott Lively which we already covered last Saturday. Don Schmierer belatedly signed on to the November 16 letter from Exodus condemning the Ugandan legislation. His signature was appended just this past Tuesday.
The portion of IHF’s statement that Rachel Maddow read was brief:
We condemn any harsh and extreme punishment of persons who identify as homosexual or who engage in homosexual behavior. Instead, we advocate education and counseling for those with unwanted Same-Sex Attraction.
We don’t know whether this is the entire statement or not, as it can be found nowhere on the International Healing Foundation’s web site. You can find plenty of sales clutter, but no statement.
What we do have is a typically vague non-statement. What is “harsh and extreme punishment”? The death penalty? Lifetime imprisonment? Any imprisonment? And what do they advocate for those who don’t have unwanted “Same-Sex Attraction”? (Note the capitalization; it’s Richard Cohen’s terminology, often abbreviated as SSA, to indicate that he believes that homosexuality is a mental illness.) What they do advocate is left unclear.
If the International Healing Foundation is at all familiar, it is chiefly because of Richard Cohen’s unorthodox methods to “cure” homosexuality, which include “touch” or “holding” therapy. On March 23, 2002, Richard Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association for multiple ethical violations. He now practices as an unregulated “coach.”
Caleb Lee Brundidge is also associated with Extreme Prophetic in Phoenix, AZ. Extreme Prophetic refused to condemn the proposed Ugandan legislation, saying “As a ministry we do not have an official opinion on political policies.” Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton notes the inconsistency behind that statement, since Extreme Prophetic’s stated mission is to “take over spheres and adminstrate them for the glory of God.” Among those spheres of influence is the political sphere. Extreme Prophetic’s own theology makes a mockery of their statement.
Brundidge himself has maintained complete silence.
Take Action: Tell Uganda To Respect Human Rights And Dismiss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
October 19th, 2009
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has issued an Action Alert, asking everyone to write to the Ugandan authorities to express your concern about their latest attempts to criminalize homosexuality and institute the death sentence in certain circumstances.
According to the text of the bill introduced in the Ugandan Parliament last week, the new law would:
- Reaffirm the lifetime sentence currently provided upon conviction of homosexuality, and extends the definition from sexual activity to merely “touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
- Create a new category of “aggravated homosexuality” which provides for the death penalty for “repeat offenders” and for cases where the individual is HIV-positive.
- Criminalizes all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years.
- Criminalizes the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
- Adds a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
- Adds an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
According to the IGLHRC, the bill’s impacts are wide-ranging:
The bill effectively bans any kind of community or political organizing around non-heteronormative sexuality. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be seriously compromised. Women, sex workers, people living with AIDS, and other marginalized groups may also find their activities tracked and criminalized through this bill.
The IGLHRC provides contact information (email and phone numbers, where available) and a sample letter. You can also send a letter to Exodus, the International Healing Foundation, and Abiding Truth Ministries, as well as and demand that they speak out on the latest outrage which stems from their representatives’ participation in a three-day anti-gay conference in Kampala. The currently proposed anti-homosexuality bill is a direct result of that conference put on by Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, Abiding Truth Ministry’s Scott Lively, and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge. For more information on the role their activists played in this latest outrage, please see the links to our coverage at the end of this post.
Please send your letter to:
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
State House Nakasero
Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi
Speaker of the Parliament
Edward Ssekandi Kiwanuka
Minister of Gender, Labour, and Social Affairs
Honorable Opio Gabriel
Chair of the Uganda Human Rights Commission
Directorate for Ethics and Integrity
Chair of the Uganda Diplomatic Human Rights Working Groups
Please also send a copy to:
Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda Embassy of the United States of America
Jerry P. Lanier
Send an email and fax to:
Ambassador to the US
Perezi K. Kamunanwire
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations
336 East 45 Street
New York, NY 10017
I am writing to express concern about legislation that would severely restrict the rights of Ugandan citizens, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their defenders, in direct contravention of domestic and international law. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 would not only reaffirm penalties for homosexuality, but would criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality,” including funding and sponsoring LGBT organizations and broadcasting, publishing, or marketing materials on homosexuality. Any person in authority who fails to report known violations of the law within 24 hours will also be subject to a significant fine and up to 3 years in prison – even when this means turning in their colleagues, family, or friends.
The negative repercussions of the bill in Uganda will be immediate and severe. It effectively bans the free association and expression that are necessary for a flourishing civil society, and creates a climate of fear and hostility that undermines the citizenship and solidarity of all Ugandans. It will lend itself to misapplication and abuse, and implicitly encourages persecution of LGBT people by private actors. Effective HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be difficult, if not impossible.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill violates National Objective 5(2) of the Ugandan Constitution, which provides that “the State shall guarantee and respect the independence of non-governmental organizations which protect and promote human rights.” Moreover, it directly violates the right to equality and freedom from discrimination (Article 21), the right to privacy (Article 27), the right to freedoms of speech, expression, association, and assembly (Article 29), the protection of minorities (Article 36), and the protection of civic rights and activities (Article 38) to which all Ugandans are entitled. It also violates the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party. This bill undermines Uganda’s commitment to the international human rights regime and threatens the basic human rights of all its citizens.
The Bill’s revocation of fundamental rights would also seriously undermine the country’s reputation and credibility in the international arena. Because it claims jurisdiction over Ugandans who violate its provisions while outside of the country, the Bill will strain Uganda’s relations with regional and international partners.
While people may hold differing opinions about sexual orientation and gender identity, the legislation before Parliament is an ineffective and fundamentally illegal way to express opposition to a minority group. In recognition of the importance of a diverse, dynamic civil society and the domestic and international commitments that Uganda has made, I urge you to swiftly dismiss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 and reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of all Ugandans.
Draft Anti-Gay Bill Circulating In Uganda
September 15th, 2009
Uganda appears to be inching closer to “strengthening” its already draconian anti-gay laws which already provide for a possible life sentence for those convicted of homosexuality. A draft of the proposed bill obtained by Box Turtle Bulletin indicates that Ugandan lawmakers intend to go much further.
In a draft dated April 20, 2009 and being circulated surreptitiously, the proposed bill creates an offense of “aggravated homosexuality” and provides for the death penalty under specific circumstances. It also provides for at least five years imprisonment (and no apparent maximum) for advocating on behalf of LGBT people. This extends not just to activists and organizations, but to individuals as well, including bloggers or anyone else using the internet or mobile phones — as well as anyone who makes a donation or offers a safe refuge for LGBT people. Furthermore, if anyone is “aware of the commission of any offense under this Act” and fails to report it to the police, they will be liable of up to six months imprisonment.
The draft also extends jurisdiction to people who are Uganda citizens or permanent residents but who commit offenses outside the country. This could mean that LGBT Ugandans abroad who engage in advocacy work could find themselves in danger of being imprisoned should they return to Uganda. LGBT Ugandans fleeing the country could also face extradition should they find themselves in a similarly hostile country.
The accompanying memorandum calls on the Uganda government to withdraw from any international obligations or treaties which the government interprets as running counter to the country’s anti-gay policies.
It is unclear at this time whether the proposed bill has undergone any modifications since April. There is no word yet on when the bill will be formally introduced into Parliament. It is believed that under current conditions when accusations of homosexuality have become a potent political tool, that few if any lawmakers will vote against the bill. It will be passed into law upon its third reading.
This drafting of this bill appears to have coincided with intense lobbying efforts by anti-gay activists following a conference held in Kampala which featured American Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively and Exodus International board member Don Schmierer. Exodus International released a statement “appauding” Don Schierer’s participation in the conference which ended with calls to strengthen Uganda’s homosexuality laws with a proposal to force LGBT people into ex-gay therapy upon conviction. That proposal does not appear in this draft.
That anti-gay conference quickly spawned other anti-gay meetings and rallies, including a march on Parliament on April 24, about the time this draft was written. By then, rumors were already circulating that anti-gay politicians sought to criminalize LGBT advocacy, which this draft appears to confirm. In July, Uganda’s Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba Buturo confirmed their intention to eliminate free speech for and on behalf of LGBT people. Meanwhile, a full-fledged public vigilante campaign was released on Uganda’s gay community, leading to several reports of arrests and reports.
The following is the full text of the draft that we received.
APRIL 20, 2009
THE ANTI – HOMOSEXUALITY BILL, 2009
1. The Principle
The object of this Bill is to establish a comprehensive legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting (i) any form of sexual relations between people of the same sex; and (ii) the promotion or recognition of such sexual relations in public institutions as healthy, normal or an acceptable lifestyle, including in the public schools, through or with the support of any government entity in Uganda or any non- governmental organization inside or outside the country. Research indicates that the homosexuality has a variety of negative consequences including higher incidences of violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and use of drugs. The higher incidence of separation and break-up in homosexual relationships also creates a highly unstable environment for children raised by homosexuals through adoption or otherwise, and can have profound psychological consequences on those children. In addition, the promotion of homosexual behavior undermines our traditional family values.
Given Uganda\’s historical, legal, cultural and religious values which maintain that the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman is the basic unit of society. This Bill aims at strengthening the nation\’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family. These threats include: redefining human rights to elevate homosexual and transgender behavior as legally protected categories of people.
This legislation is aimed at halting the advance of the “sexual rights” agenda, which seeks to establish additional legally protected classes based on sexual preferences and behaviors, as well as claims that people have rights based on these preferences and behaviors. Sexual rights activists have created new euphemisms to promote this agenda such as “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” “sexual minorities” and “sexual rights.”
This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic and that people who experience this mental disorder can and have changed to a heterosexual orientation. It also recognizes that because homosexuals are not born that way, but develop this disorder based on experiences and environmental conditions, it is preventable, especially among young people who are most vulnerable to recruitment into the homosexual lifestyle.
The Republic of Uganda needs comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect our cultural, legal, religious, and traditional family values against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on Uganda.
There is also need to protect our children and youths who are made vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technologies, parentless child developmental settings and increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption, foster care, or otherwise.
2. Defects in the existing law.
This legislation is designed to fill the gaps in the provisions of the constitution of Uganda and the penal code Act by establishing that, in Uganda, marriage is only between a man and a woman and that no other sexual unions or relationships will be recognized by the government.
The Penal Code Act (Cap 20) does not directly address this issue of homosexuality. It instead talks about unnatural offenses under section 145. This section does not specifically talk about homosexuality as an offense. It does not even have any reference to homosexuality. Not surprisingly the Act does not have a definition for homosexuality in the definition section.
The Penal Code Act does not explicitly address the issue of same sex unions and gender identity disorders which are damaging the social fabric of our nation at an alarming rate. There are no provisions in the Penal Code Act panelizing the procurement, promotion, disseminating literature and other forms of report for the offenses of homosexuality hence the need for legislation to provide for charging, investigating, prosecuting, convicting and sentencing of offenders on the above law. There is need for equal treatment of man and woman before the law in regard to homosexual offenses.
This legislation comes to complement and supplement the provisions of the Constitution of Uganda and the Penal Code Act by not only criminalizing same sex marriages but same -sex sexual acts and other related acts.
3.1. The objectives of the Bill
The objectives of the Bill are:
(a) To protect marriage as that only between a man and a woman in Uganda;
(b) To prohibit homosexual behavior and related practices in Uganda as they constitute a threat to the traditional family;
(c) To safeguard the health of Ugandan citizens from the negative effects of homosexuality and related practices;
(d) To establish progressive legislation protective of the traditional family that can serve as a model for other countries;
(e) To prohibit ratification of any international treaties, conventions, protocols and declarations which are contrary or inconsistent with the provisions of this Act;
(f) To ensure that no international instruments to which Uganda is already a party can be interpreted or applied in Uganda in a way that was never intended at the time the document was created;
(e) To withdraw from any international agreements to which Uganda already is a party, or file reservations to them, which are re-interpreted to include protection for homosexual behavior, or that promote same-sex marriage, or that call for the promotion or teaching about homosexuality as being healthy, normal, or an acceptable lifestyle choice, or that seek to establish sexual behavior, sexual orientation, or gender identity, or sexual minorities as legally protected categories of people; and
(f) To prohibit Uganda from becoming a party to any new international instruments that expressly include protection for homosexual behavior; promote same-sex marriage; call for the promotion or teaching about homosexuality or homosexual relations as being healthy, normal, or an acceptable lifestyle choice; and/or seek to establish sexual behavior, sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual minorities as legally protected categories of people
3.2. Part 1 of the Bill incorporating clauses 1 and 2 provides for Preliminary matters relating to commencement and Interpretation of the words and phrases used in the Bill
3.3. Part II of the Bill incorporating clause 3 to clause 6 prohibits homosexuality and related practices by introducing the offences of engaging in homosexuality, and the penalties of imprisonment upon conviction. This part also creates offences and penalties for acts that promote homosexuality, failure to report the offence and impose a duty on the Community to report Suspected Cases of homosexuality.
3.4. Part III of the Bill incorporating of clause 7 to clauses 9 provides for the jurisdiction of Ugandan Courts in Case of Homosexuality, including extra territorial Jurisdiction.
3.5. Part IV of the Bill incorporating clauses 10 and 11 provides for miscellaneous provisions on International Treaties, Protocols, Declarations and Conventions and the Minister to make regulations to give effect to the Act.
4. Schedule 1 of the Bill gives the value of the currency.
Hon. David Bahati
MP, Ndorwa County West
ARRANGEMENT OF CLAUSES
PART I -PRELIMINARY
PART II – PROHIBITION OF HOMOSEXUALITY
3. Offence of Homosexuality
4. Aggravated Homosexuality
5. Promoting Homosexuality
6. Failure to report offence
PART III – JURISDICTION
8. Extra – territorial Jurisdiction
PARTIV – MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
10. International treaties
PART I – PRELIMINARY
1 – Commencement
This Act shall come into force upon publication in the Gazette.
2 – Interpretation
In this Act, unless the Context otherwise requires –
“Gender” means male or female;
“Homosexuality” means same gender or same sex sexual acts;
“Homosexual” means a person who engages or attempts to engage in same gender sexual activity.
“Minister” means the Minister responsible for Ethics and Integrity.
“Sexual act” means –
(a) Stimulation or penetration of a vagina or mouth or anus or any part of the body, however slight of any person by a sexual organ;
(b) The use of any object or organ by a person on another person\’s sexual organ or anus or mouth;
“Sexual organ” means-a vagina or penis.
PART II: PROHIBITION OF HOMOSEXUALITY AND RELATED PRACTICES
3. Prohibition of homosexuality
(1) Homosexuality is prohibited.
(2) Any person who engages in homosexuality contrary to sub-section (1) commits an offense and on conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding 500 currency points or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or both.
4. Aggravated homosexuality
(1) Any person who commits the offense mentioned in section 3 above with another person who is below the age of 18 years in any of the circumstances specified in sub-section (2) of this section commits the offense and on conviction is liable to suffer death.
(2) The circumstances referred to in sub-section (1) are as follows: –
(a) Where the person against whom the offense is committed is below the age of 14;
(b) Where the offender is infected with HIV;
(c) Where the offender is a parent or guardian or a person in authority over, the person against whom the offense is committed;
(d) Where the victim of the offense is a person with disability; or
(e) Where the offender is a serial offender.
(3) Any person who attempts to commit the offense of homosexuality with another person below 18 years in any of the circumstances specifies in sub-section (2), commits an offense and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.
(4) Where a person is charged with the offense under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.
(5) Any person who without the consent of an adult victim being under their authority or not commits the offense mentioned in this section
5. Promotion of homosexuality
(1) Any person who,
(a) Participates in production, trafficking, procuring, marketing, broadcasting, disseminating, publishing homosexual materials;
(b) Funds or sponsors homosexuality and related activities
(c) Offers premises and other fixed or movable assets
(d) Uses electronic devices which include internet, films, mobile phone and
(f) Who acts as an accomplice or attempts to legitimize or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices
Commits an offense and on conviction is liable to a fine of five thousand currency points or imprisonment of at least five years or both.
(2) Where the offender is a corporate body or a business or an association or a Non-governmental organization conviction its Certificate of Registration shall be cancelled and the Director(s) or proprietors or promoter(s) shall be criminally liable.
6. Failure to report the offense
Any person who being aware of the commission of any offense under this Act omits to report the offense to the relevant authorities within 24 hours commits an offense and on conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred currency points or imprisonment not exceeding six months year.
PART IV -JURISDICTION
Save for aggravated homosexuality which shall be tried by the High Court, other offenses under this Act shall be tried by the Magistrates Court.
8. Extra – Territorial Jurisdiction.
This Act shall apply to offences Committed outside Uganda Where-
(1) A person who, while being a citizen of, or permanently residing in Uganda, Commits an act Outside Uganda, which act would Constitute an offence had it been Committed in Uganda.
(2) The offence was committed partly outside and or partly in Uganda.
A person charged with offence under this Act shall be liable to extradition under the existing Extradition laws.
10. Nullification of inconsistent International treaties, protocols, declarations and conventions.
(1). Any international legal instrument whose provisions are contradictory to the spirit and provisions enshrined in this Act, are null and void to the extent of their inconsistency.
(2). The foreign definitions of “sexual orientation”, “sexual rights”, “sexual minorities”, “gender identity” shall not be used in anyway to legitimize homosexuality, gender identity disorders and related practices in Uganda.
The Minister may by statutory instrument make regulations to effect implementation of the provisions of this Act, and Promote the objects of this Act.
One currency point is equivalent to twenty thousand Shillings.
Uganda Gays Arrested, Blackmail Attempts Reported
May 4th, 2009
The situation in Uganda shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. The Uganda press continues to play up the time-honored gays-as-child-predators slander, with the claim that the only reason for repeated generations of gay people is that they must “recruit” the next generation.
While that’s going on, Uganda’s Parliament appears poised to consider strengthening its already draconian law against homosexual acts. That action has the backing of Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni. Current law already provides a maximum lifetime sentence for conviction of participating in same-sex relations. This latest efforts appear aimed at making the condition of homosexuality itself illegal.
We now have media reports of one gay couple arrested in Mbale. It is believed others have been arrested and sentenced as well. We also have reported blackmail attempts, in which anti-gay activists demand money in exchange for not publicly denouncing the individual as gay.
One person at the center of the blackmail allegations is Uganda’s “ex-gay” star, George Oundo, who continues to play a prominent role in the national outing campaign of private citizens. He has also made some very splashy allegations against well-known public figures as well. Those allegations have appeared in print, and on radio and television.
One such appearance was on Uganda’s NTV television on March 29. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has obtained video of that broadcast:
The video features Oundo describing his “recruiting” efforts in Uganda’s schools. Strangely, his open admission of engaging in sexual acts with underage children has not led to calls for his arrest.
The television report intersperses brief shots of a pro-gay press conference held on August 16, 2007, which called on the Uganda government to allow LGBT people to live in peace. Many LGBT people attending that conference wore masks to shied their identity. That “Live In Peace” meeting led to that year’s public anti-gay vigilante campaign, with the tabloid Red Pepper playing a major role in that year’s campaigns.
As we reported earlier, Oundo got his first taste of public notoriety last September when he appeared on the pages of the hated Red Pepper seeking to embarrass the Ugandan LGBT community in a blatant bid for money. With that effort having come up dry, he appears now to be casting his lot with Stephen Langa’s Family Life Network
Langa’s Family Live Network began this latest round of anti-gay vigilantism with an anti-gay conference Kampala on March 3-5. That conference featured Exodus board president Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and purported raiser-of-the-dead and Richard Cohen protegé Caleb Lee Brundidge. Exodus International “applauded” Schmierer’s role at the conference, while Exodus President Alan Chambers tried to wash his hands of responsibility for the aftermath of Schmierer’s actions.
Uganda Anti-Gay Activists March, “Storm Parliament”
April 24th, 2009
The Daily Monitor of Uganda has this report on a march by local anti-gay activists held on Tuesday:
Activists against homosexuality in Uganda stormed parliament on Tuesday protesting against the practice and demanded a probe into the practice in the country.
The activists who were holding banners denouncing the activity were led by the Family Life Network in conjunction with religious leaders.
The groups led by the Executive Director of Family Life Network, Mr Stephen Langa while handing over their petition to the Deputy Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga said the Parliamentary select committee should also assess the extent of the damage homosexuality has caused to children and Ugandans.
…Mr Langa said the homosexuals under the group Sexual Minorities Uganda spend huge sums of money to recruit University students and those in secondary schools into homosexuality. They did not give details.
Another Uganda news outlet, UGPulse, reported that Deputy Speaker Kadaga “promised to push for the amendment of Article 31 of the Constitution which prohibits homosexual marriages. Langa had earlier noted that the article prohibits gay marriages but not the actions.”The Daily Monitor’s article indicates that the group explained that they wanted the proposed amendment to be broadened to “openly prohibit homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality and other related practices.” According to some reports, there are moves afoot to make merely being gay a crime.
The anonymous blogger GayUganda reports that the demonstration began at Makerere University, the principle university in Kampala. Makerere University serves as host to pastor Martin Ssempa’s weekly anti-gay talks known as “Prime Time.” From Makerere University, the march worked its way through Kampala to the Parliament building. Portions of the march were carried on local Ugandan television.
This march follows Sunday’s full-page article in the gossip tabloid The Red Pepper, which provided first names and other identifying features of more than fifty gays and lesbians in Uganda. Identifying features included places of residences, employers, partners’ names, and types of cars driven. The article does not appear on The Red Pepper’s web site. The Red Pepper promises another round of public outings next Sunday.
The same tabloid gained notoriety for conducting a similar public outing campaign in 2007. That campaign led to mob assaults, arrests, extra-judicial punishment, and drove some LGBT Ugandans into hiding or exile.
This year’s anti-gay campaign traces its origins to a March 3-5 conference held in Kampala featuring three American anti-gay activists. Conference speakers included Exodus board president Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and purported raiser-of-the-dead and Richard Cohen protegé Caleb Lee Brundidge.
Uganda Press Crank Up “Predator” Rhetoric
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.”
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.”
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.