Ugandan “Ex-Gay” Recants — Again
April 14th, 2011
Last week, we reported that George Oundo, the off-again, on-again Ugandan “ex-gay” poster boy under Pentecostal Pastor Martin Ssempa’s wing, was on-again, supporting Ssempa’s drive to re-open debate in the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill which is languishing in Uganda’s Parliament. Oundo stood before reporters and claimed that he had been a founding member of a group whose aim was the ““recruitment of the next generation of homosexuals.” He also accused human rights groups, including the London-based Amnesty International, of financing the recruitment of young Ugandans into homosexual lifestyles.
The New York Times finally decided to catch up with this week-old news today, reporting on Ssempa’s demand that Parliament begin debating the bill. But their report adds an interesting addendum to the story: Oundo recanted his story an hour after his public statement:
But an hour later, in a quiet hotel, Mr. Oundo recanted much of what had been said at the meeting.
“David Kato was murdered; it was a plot,” Mr. Oundo said. “I don’t support the bill.”
As for being a “former homosexual,” that, too, was not true.
“I’ve always been gay,” Mr. Oundo said, in a timid but growing voice. “I didn’t choose it.”
“David Kato was the first one who taught me to protect my human right,” Mr. Oundo added.
Mr. Oundo said that his presence alongside Mr. Ssempa at Parliament had been to “protect” himself and that he had been contacted only that morning by Mr. Kagaba about the meeting and offered about $42 to attend. He said Mr. Ssempa had offered him about $2,000 in 2009 to repent and switch sides in the debate, but later reneged. Either way, Mr. Oundo became a poster-child for Mr. Ssempa’s anti-homosexuality movement.
Mr. Ssempa declined to comment on the allegations.
Mr. Oundo admitted that he had picked up boyfriends at high schools and universities, what the antigay movement calls recruiting. But he said Uganda’s gay population was full of “natural-borns,” like himself.
“If I live or die, I am gay, and if I am buried, bury me gay,” he said.
It’s hard to know what to believe when it comes to Oundo. He was a key player in a series of vigilante campaigns in 2009, particularly in the campaigns which immediately followed the infamous March 2009 anti-gay conference put on by American activists Scott Lively, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge. Oundo himself appears to have a great deal of difficulty deciding which side he should be on. This story, which appears to show Oundo playing both sides of the fence on the very same afternoon, only adds to the confusion.
Ssempa, Oyett Press Uganda’s Parliament on Anti-Homosexuality Bill
April 6th, 2011
Lead by Pastor Martin Ssempa, a charismatic and vocal opponent of homosexuality in Uganda, the group asked Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker Edward Kiwanuka to fight the emerging “homo-cracy” in Uganda and enter the bill for debate.
“We as religious leaders and civil society are distressed that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is being deliberately killed largely by the undemocratic threats of western nations,” he said. “These same nations who promote democracy don’t want our representative to discuss laws to protect our children from the human trafficking of recruiting our children into homosexuality.”
Ssempa leads the Inter-Religious Taskforce Against Homosexuality. During the session with Speaker Kiwanuka, the Task Force presented a portion of over 2 million signatures it said were gathered from around Uganda in support of the bill.
The group trotted out Paul Kagaba, an “ex-gay” associate of Martin Ssempa who alleged that he had been “recruited” into homosexuality at the age of seventeen by murdered LGBT advocate David Kato. Kagaba has been implicate in at least two vigilante outing campaigns, the most recent of which is suspected of having been orchestrated by Ssempa himself.
Another putative ex-gay, George Oundo, re-appeared in this latest episode with his own allegations of foreign recruitment. Oundo has also participated in vigilante campaigns as well, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the infamous March 2009 anti-gay conference put on by American activists Scott Lively, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge. Oundo himself appears to have a great deal of difficulty deciding which side he should be on, but for now he appears to have cast his lot with Ssempa once again.
Julius Oyet’s appearance here is notable. Oyet and Ssema were present in the gallery when the Ugandan Parliament first considered the indroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Oyet, who is President of the Ugandan branch of the U.S.-based College of Prayer (which itself is a ministry of Rev. Fred Hartley’s Lilburn Alliance Church in Atlanta), was made a member of M.P. David Bahati’s staff to lobby Parliament for the bill’s passage. While Bahati is the bill’s author and sponsor, Oyet played a crucial role in its drafting. He repordtedly told a documentary filmmaker:
I was there. I have been part of the brains behind it. We worked on it. We planned who should propose it. It is the Ugandan’s bill. It is the culture of Uganda to keep purity. It is everybody’s voice. I worked with Bahati on this.
Two weeks ago, Information Minister Kabakumba Masiko spoke on behalf of President Yoweri Musevini’s government to announce that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would not be voted on by Parliament. Bahati however insists that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, where the bill currently resides, will still hold hearings. The bill will automatically die if it does not come up for a final vote before the current Parliament ends on May 20.
Update: Daily Monitor picks up the story and adds a couple of interesting items. First, Daily Monitor quotes Parliament Speaker Edward Ssekandi:
“The mover of the Bill (David Bahati) is still a member of the 9th Parliament and even if the current Parliament doesn’t debate it, the new Parliament will do it,” Mr Ssekandi said.
This, I believe, indicates that he expects the bill to be reintroduced into the next Parliament after the current one ends.
And finally there’s this: a group of students from Makarere University had earlier met with Steven Tashobya, chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, and told him that “ recruitment of gays was rampant at the university campus“:
The students told Mr Tashobya that each of their colleagues who join homosexuals is paid a monthly salary of Shs800,000.
That’s about US$340, which is more than the average annual per-capita income in Uganda. Where’s my US$340? Nobody told me about this!
The Lies of Martin Ssempa, Part II
March 13th, 2010
Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa’s latest tirade includes a “testimony” by George Ooundo, a deeply disturbed man who was an important ex-gay “success story” for a short while. A very short while. Last we heard, he is now ex-ex-gay and seeking forgiveness in the LGBT community for being part of a massive anti-gay vigilante campaign. I don’t know what demons Oundo is wrestling with, and for the sake of compassion for this obviously troubled young man, the less said the better. But Ssempa’s account of Oundo’s “story of transformation” somehow avoids one critically important element: Oundo hasn’t changed at all.
It looks like we may have the beginnings of an ongoing series.
Uganda’s Anti-Gay Campaign Snares LGBT People and Rival Pastors, Tabloid Promises More “Outings”
May 14th, 2009
The situation in Uganda continues to deteriorate, with the latest anti-gay campaign now descending into what appears to be a circular firing squad among rival Pentecostal pastors. But while that civil war is going on, LGBT Ugandans continue to be caught up in the crossfire. The anonymous blogger Gay Uganda reproduced a statement from Sexual Minorities Uganda about the arrest of two gay men in Mbale:
Sexual Minorities Uganda – SMUG, visited Mbale and learnt that Fred Wasukira who is commonly known as Namboozo Margrete is business man in Mbale town who owns a bar and several houses in Mbale. On the night of 7th April 2009, the two were witnessed in a romantic mood at a bar in Namakweki Mbale district and according to the Police officer we talked to, the two were calling each other by names “darling , sweetheart” , we were told that from the bar Fred and Brian proceeded to their house where they were followed by residents, who alerted area local councils and the Police. They were caught kissing and cuddling at their house. Police and area local councils picked them up and took them to Mbale Police station, where they were held until the 17th April. 2008. At Maluke Prison we were not allowed to visit the prisoners saying it was not a visiting day, however we confirmed that they are on remand at Maluke Prison in Mbale.
That was in early April. On April 30, Gay Uganda reported that the two were still being held by police. He also reports of a seventeen year old male in Mukono who has been sentenced to life imprisonment, and another case in Entebbe. Gay Uganda continues:
Suddenly, prison is becoming something that anyone suspected of being gay gets rail roaded to. Doesn’t matter that you may not be gay. Or you may not be guilty. Fact is, us seasoned gay people are kind of too suspicious to be caught in the act. But damn!
This latest campaign began nearly two and a half months ago when three American anti-gay activists spoke at a conference in Kampala organized by Pastor Stephen Langa’s Family Life Network. 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.
The March 3-5 conference called for Uganda’s laws against homosexuality — which currently call for a life sentence — to be “strengthened” with an option to force those convicted into ex-gay therapy. Exodus International “applauded” Schmierer’s role at the conference, but Exodus President Alan Chambers later tried to wash his hands of responsibility for it as the repercussions of the conference unfolded.
Those repercussions include a public outing campaign which named more than sixty people in the pages of the tabloid newspaper The Red Pepper. In an interview posted Monday on the South African web site Beyond the Mask, the News Editor for The Red Pepper, Ben Byarabaha, promised to continue the outing campaign. Byarabaha said, “We are just exposing the vice, the immorality from colonialists that is eluding African culture. As long as the practice is still illegal, we shall continue the campaign.”
LGBT people aren’t the only ones in danger of being caught up in this latest anti-gay vigilante campaign. Uganda’s anti-gay religious leaders are taking advantage of the opportunity to accuse rival pastors of homosexuality.
The first round in this pastor-against-pastor conflict was fired soon after George Oundo claimed to have been saved and became an immediate “ex-gay” in Pastor Martin Ssempa’s Makerere Community Church in Kampala. Oundo’s “salvation” occurred sometime after he went sought money from Uganda’s fledgling LGBT rights organzation, Sexual Minorities Uganda. Apparently snubbed by the LGBT community, Oundo found a savior in Ssempa and Pastor Stephen Langa, director of Kampala-based Family Life Network.
Ssempa had led several anti-gay campaigns in the past, but this time he appears to be taking a back seat to Langa, who organized a news conference featuring Oundo. It was at that news conference where Oundo named a popular Catholic priest, Fr. Anthony Musaala, as a homosexual. Musaala, whose Charismatic Renewal Movement has a huge youth following, just happens to be a longtime rival of Ssempa.
Other pastors are jumping onto the “outing” bandwagon to settle scores as well, and the rivalries are so complex that it takes some diagramming to keep it all straight. Here goes: Pastor Solomon Male of Arise for Christ Ministry accused Pastor Robert Kayanja of the Rubaga Miracle Center Cathedral of being a homosexual, along with “a group of other pastors.” Kayanja’s Rubaga Miracle Center is a very large and prosperous megachurch in Kampala. (Controversial American faith healer Benny Hinn will present a “Fire Conference” at that church on June 5th and 6th.) But an apparent friend of Kayanjka, Pastor Joseph Serwadda of the Victory Christian Centre, another megachurch in the Ndeeba section of Kampala which operates two FM stations, accused Male of of being an impostor, saying that he doesn’t even have a church.
Kayanja’s personal aide, Chris Muwonge, was allegedly kidnapped and tortured by armed men and held for five days. His captors allegedly wanted him to make a video statement accusing Kayenja of molesting young boys. Kayanja accused his rival, Pastor Michael Kyazze of the Omega Healing Center of being behind the plot. Kyazze’s assistant, Pastor Robert Kayiira was arrested earlier for trying to sneak a laptop computer into Kayanja’s Miracle Center. His close friend? Pastor Solomon Male. Kayanja reportedly believes that Martin Ssempa is involved in the allegations against him as well.
Solomon decries the kidnapping as “a desperate but tactical attempt to divert attention from the broader anti-homo and cult awareness campaign.” That’s right. He also accuses his rivals of fraud, “miracle faking,” and human sacrifices. And now there is a report that another Kayanja aide, Herbert Tumukunde, was kidnapped and tortured. He was reportedly rescued just as he was drenched in kerosene and was about to be set on fire.
Meanwhile, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of the Church of Uganda was fending off insinuations that he was gay. The Rt. Rev. Senyonjo believes those insinuations came from the Church of Uganda’s Archbishop Luke Orombi. Senyonjo is the retired bishop of West Buganda Diocese. He has written and spoken out in support of Uganda’s beleaguered LGBT community. Senyonjo isn’t gay, but merely speaking up in support of LGBT people can draw dangerous accusations in the current climate.
That, or being a rival pastor.
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 Columnist: “Happy Easter …Irrespective of Sexual Orientation”
April 10th, 2009
Columnist Bernard Tabaire, writing for Uganda’s Daily Monitor, offers a very refreshing and sane take on the latest round of anti-gay agitation taking place in Ugandan media. His column is so wonderful and refreshing, it’s hard to know where to start. He starts this way:
It is Holy Saturday, today, the final day of Holy Week and of Lent – “a period of spiritual preparation for Easter which typically involves fasting, penance and prayer”. Besides fasting, penance and prayer, the Lent period in Uganda this year has been characterised by something else: virulent gay-bashing.
Tabaire calls out Stephen Langa, director of Kampala-based Family Life Network, on this latest round of public gay-bashing with remarkable clarity and logic. He notes the obvious rivalries between Langa and other “Christian” leaders — petty rivalries which appear to behind charges that one prominent Catholic priest was gay. Those charges were made by some so-called “ex-gays” that were trotted out by Langa at a press conference. But of the more concerning accusations — that gay Ugandans are “recruiting” schoolchildren, Tabaire asks the questions that ought to be obvious:
But enticing minors into sexual activity, any sexual activity, is illegal as well. So why are the Georginas [referring to George Oundo and Emma Matovu] not reporting this matter to the police? Why do they report to Mr Langa’s little outfit? If they do not know about the rights of children, surely, Mr Langa knows. Why does he then not encourage them to report these things to the police?
In fact, the police should swing into action and arrest anyone, straight or gay, who has lured children to sexual activity. Otherwise they will stand accused of going along with Mr Langa’s posturing as the guarantor of morality in Uganda.
Indeed, the main point that has come out of Mr Langa’s shrill anti-gay crusade is that adults are messing with our children. This, though, begs the question: what has recruitment of children into homosexuality got to do with two consenting adults having a sexual relationship? In his zeal, Mr Langa appears over his head here. He needs to straighten his priorities not gays and lesbians.
Tabaire also points out the obvious dangers which stem from this latest upsurge of anti-gay rhetoric and accusations:
There is something potentially dangerous in what Mr Langa is doing in inveighing against fellow Ugandans just because they are not heterosexual. It will come as no surprise if individuals falsely name others as gay or lesbian to settle personal scores.
Tabaire’s column is a very welcome island of sanity in the sea of madness we’ve seen lately. I hope this will encourage others to raise their voice as well.
And maybe — just maybe — Exodus President Alan Chambers will be moved by the celebration of the Easter season to muster the courage that Bernard Tabaire has demonstrated. Maybe.
Chambers rushed to Peter LaBarbera’s defense, and LaBarbera’s life and liberty isn’t close to being threatened. Meanwhile, we hear that Ugandan television followed police as they arrested two gay men in their own homes. Those men will reportedly spend their Easter weekend in jail.
I hope that in this season, Alan Chambers may find the courage to contact Ugandan media — as Warren Throckmorton did, so we know it’s not that difficult to do — and call for a halt to the vigilantism that his fellow Exodus board member facilitated. A member of his organization helped to create this mess; he can make a big difference in trying to correct the situation.
Alan, the ball is in your court. You can choose to do the right thing, or you can continue to remain silent. The choice is yours. Happy Easter, irrespective.
Exodus Maintains Month-Long Silence Amid Ugandan Gov’t Calls For LGBT Arrests
April 2nd, 2009
Update: Calls for mass arrests on radio continue. For more information, see the end of this post for the latest update.
The situation in Uganda continues to escalate. Late yesterday, Uganda’s New Vision followed up on Stephen Langa’s launch of a public forced “outing” drive against Ugandan LGBT individuals and against rivals who are alleged to be gay. On Monday, Langa sponsored a press conference in which another allegedly “former gay activist” Paul Kagaba accused a very popular Catholic priest and gospel singer, Fr. Anthony Musaala, of being gay.
Musaala is a well-known figure, and the Catholic church is seen as a rival to Stephen Langa’s evangelical organization. New Vision followed up with a statement from Fr. Musaala’s colleagues and from Musalla himself:
Father Francis Ssemuddu, the head of St. Matia Mulumba parish in Old Kampala, said the accusations “were untrue”. Ssemuddu said the church was clear about aberrant sexual practices and how to guide offenders get out of “the abnormal behaviour”.
Musaala, the charismatic preacher and gospel music award winner, was on Tuesday accused by a self-confessed former homosexual of eight years of promoting the illegal practice. Paul Kagaba said the priest had often held parties for the gays at his residence in Gayaza near Kampala.
…Musaala argued that as a church minister, he had given spiritual guidance to homosexuals, lesbians and prostitutes since 1999, but he was not gay himself. “But ethically, I cannot name them,” he said.
Explaining why people take to homosexuality, the dancing priest, as he is sometimes called, blamed the desire for money and “inherent feelings that drive them”. His involvement, he said, was limited to helping the gay abandon the practice some of whom “want to commit suicide”. “I want to show them the true path to salvation,” he said. “This is a journey that requires someone to walk with as a guide.”
“These people are stigmatised and I am totally against this because they need our help,” said Musaala.
Meanwhile, parliament members are outraged that Ugandan authorities permitted Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) to hold a public news conference. In an indication of the risks that are taken whenever anyone identifies themselves as being gay, members of parliament are demanding that those identified at the news conferences be arrested:
Latif Sebaggala (DP) said the Government was tolerant because donors had threatened to cut funding if homosexuals were stopped. “We are worried about our children. If the Government is silent, it means it is silent approval,” he said.
Henry Banyenzaki (NRM) blamed poor enforcement of laws which he said had escalated homosexuality, rape, defilement and child sacrifice. In reply, Daudi Migereko, the Government chief whip, argued that anybody was free to hold a press conference without permission from the Government.
However, he said, by doing so, the gays had exposed themselves and the Government would go after them.“Homosexuality is illegal. The Minister of Ethics, Dr. Nsaba Buturo, has been clear on the matter. Those involved will face the long arm of the law,” he said.
Henry Kajura, the second deputy Prime Minister, said the Government would not compromise on moral and cultural values because of donor pressure.
“The Government will soon show its teeth,” he warned. “Our society abhors homosexuality.”
Uganda’s latest spasm of anti-gay actions is a direct outcome of a three-day conference organized by Family Life Network’s Stephen Langa, featuring three American anti-gay activists, including Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively and Exodus board member Don Schmierer. Leaders of that conference applauded Uganda’s draconian anti-homosexuality laws, which provide a life sentence for those convicted. Conference leaders called for strengthening the law to proved for forcing gays and lesbians into conversion therapy. Schmierer, the supposed “expert” on ex-gay therapies and policies at the conference, remained silent on policy questions, and instead pointedly referred those questions to other speakers at the conference, including Lively.
Exodus released a very tiny three-sentence statement claiming to be against the policy proposals coming out of Uganda, while simultaneously “applauding” Schmierer’s participation in the conference which promulgated those proposals. That statement has not been released publicly, and it does not appear anywhere on Exodus’ web site. There is also no evidence that Exodus is making any attempt to convey any statements to Uganda media.
Grove City college professor Dr. Warren Throckmorton, meanwhile, was able to get an interview into the news outlet Uganda Pulse condemning the conference. This indicates strongly that if Exodus wanted to make a statement to the Ugandan people, there are means with which they could do it. Instead, Exodus continues to do nothing.
Update: The public calls for mass arrests continue in the media:
At 6 p.m., popular radio station KFM played clips from interviews with Dr. James Nsaba Buturo and Member of Parliament, Latif Sabagala. Sabagala said that homosexuality is unacceptable because it interferes with the moral values of Ugandans. He sent out a message to government agencies telling them to hunt down homosexuals and arrest them since they have exposed themselves. Dr. James Nsaba Butuaro said that they would discuss the issue in Parliament and get some action. The 9 o’clock news played another clip of Sabagala, saying that there are no laws protecting gays in Uganda.
…I spoke to Frank Mugisha, the chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). “The LGBTI-community is still scared,” he said. “After our press release yesterday, the public is confused. They do not know what to believe. Those who are thinking through everything they have heard from the ex-gay activists have begun to realize that this is just an agenda to crush the gay rights movement, and it is full of lies.”
Forced Outings Continue As Uganda LGBT Advocates Allege Oundo Is In It For The Money
March 31st, 2009
The campaign of forced public “outings” of alleged LGBT individuals have continued in Uganda, including allegations against a popular Catholic priest and gospel singer, among others:
In his remarks, [Paul] Kagaba also named an employee of a Kampala city hospital and a European residing on Entebbe road among the prominent gay promoters in the country.
Meanwhile, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) held a sparsely attended news conference to call for the protection of equal rights for that nation’s LGBT citizens:
Victor Mukasa, the coordinator of the Uganda Minority Sexual Rights group says the campaign against homosexuals in the country is based on wrong information that homosexuality is an acquired behavior which can be taught to people.
Mukasa says homosexuals are naturally born attracted to people of the same sex and do not “change like weather”. Mukasa says it is wrong for Langa and his group to accuse homosexuals of being in a campaign to recruit and change school children into homosexuality. He says these allegations are aimed at making Ugandans to hate homosexuals and force the government to become punish homosexuals.
One interesting detail from this Uganda Pulse article is this very obliquely stated allegation:
But the Family Life Network recently presented a group of former homosexuals who claimed they used to recruit students through offering them money and friendship. Mukasa says the people claiming to have been working to promote homosexuality in schools have been paid to talk bad about homosexuals in order to make Ugandans hate homosexuals, instead of appreciating their differences. [Emphases mine.]
This brings to light earlier allegations about George Oundo that I have heard privately from anonymous sources. Those private sources have told me that the widespread belief in Uganda’s LGBT community is that Oundo “switched sides” for financial gain.
As we’ve noted, the charge that gays are “recruiting” Ugandan children has been a recurrent them in this and past anti-gay campaigns. Oundo threw more fuel on that fire when he became a centerpiece for an anti-gay press conference carried live by three Ugandan television stations. At that press conference, Oundo claimed that after having been a gay activist, he is now — only five months later — heterosexual. He also claimed that during his time as an activist, he was paid by wealthy foreign activists to recruit children into homosexuality. If this were true, that would mean that Oundo admitted to having committed the crime of child sexual abuse. But that technical detail is being overlooked as Oundo threatens to publicly name private individuals from among Uganda’s beleaguered gay community.
We published some background information on Oundo’s transformation from gay activists to gay denouncer, which included several arrests and detentions by police and a surprise appearance in the hated Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper last October. That paper had led previous anti-gay vigilante campaigns by outing private gay citizens to employers, neighbors and police. The Red Pepperarticle included Oundo’s complaints that the gay community was refusing to provide financial assistance.
The private reports that I had received alleged that Oundo had come to believe that LGBT activism was a lucrative trade and he began demanding his cut, and they cite his appearance in the hated Red Pepper as a public gambit for payment. That allegation is certainly consistent with the main theme behind the Red Pepper article.
Now SMUG’s chairperson has gone on record with similar allegations, saying that Oundo’s turning away from the LGBT community has less to do with suddenly finding Jesus, and more to do with finding the highest bidder:
A confession by George Oundo and his claim that he has abandoned homosexuality seems to be nothing more than him trying to get back at the LGBTI movement in Uganda since he accuses the leaders of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) of neglecting him and his friend when they were in need.
…Oundo also said that the other eight men who confessed are people who also have grievances with the LGBTI movement in Uganda.
…Frank Mugisha, Chairperson of SMUG said that George Oundo expected too much from the LGBTI movement.
“It is bad that he is using his sexual orientation for selfish gains. When his demands were not met by the LGBTI community, he sought a new tactic. We believe he has not changed he is still gay and will always be, it is a matter of time before we will all find out that he is lying”, Mugisha concluded.
Update: Minutes after posting this, an email newsletter from SMUG landed in my inbox. It contained this update:
The situation is still hostile, minutes after holding our press conference, the anti gay religious groups with ex-gay Ouudo George also held a press conference. In the press conference they ‘outed’ more LGBTI people, our partners and uttered continuous false accusations, insults and threats.
The outings and threats continue…
The “Ex-Gay” Star of the Uganda Anti-Gay Campaign
March 26th, 2009
I reported yesterday afternoon on the Uganda media circus surrounding the anti-gay activists who held a press conference, where an ex-gay by the name of George Oundo claimed to have spent a lifetime recruiting schoolchildren into homosexuality. The widespread media coverage of that press conference, along with Oundo’s fanciful statements, may well set the stage for yet another orgy of anti-gay violence and public vigilantism.
Timothy Kincaid followed that up with a report on a meeting held in Kampala on March 22, which featured more outlandish claims by George Oundo. That meeting set the stage for yesterday’s press conference.
Who is George Oundo?
I asked around among contacts in Uganda who wish to remain anonymous. The picture that emerges is both strange and disturbing.
George Oundo was known in Uganda’s tight-knit gay community as Georgina, a “flamboyant, no holds barred homosexual activist.” She had spoken at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2007, and she was known for being very outgoing and confident. But because of her “flamboyance” she drew considerable attention and was arrested by police numerous times.
There are reports that she also had some personal difficulties and, some say, was emotionally unstable. Whether it was because of her arrests, or whether she had problems beforehand, it’s unclear. Given what we know about police brutality and torture of LGBT citizens, the former is certainly plausible. She had a difficult time holding down a job, and was dependent on handouts from friends.
She was arrested again on September 10, 2008 along with Brenda Kiiza outside of Kampala for “recruiting homosexuals” — which is not a crime under Uganda’s criminal code. The Uganda constitution provides that suspects cannot be held for more than 48 hours, but she and Brenda were held for eight days and released only after their lawyer threatened to take the police to court. During their detention, they were reportedly beaten and denied food, and Oundo was denied treatment for her diabetes.
And that’s where the story gets really strange. On September 8, just two days before her arrest,Oundo appeared on the pages of the Uganda tabloid The Red Pepper. In this article, she appears with Kiiza talking about a previous arrest that they had experienced and the trouble they were encountering since then. In the article headlined “Stranded Gay Couple Pondering Suicide,” Ounda complains of being shunned by Ugandan LGBT activists, a charge that was denied by Victor Juliet Mukasa of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).
What makes this appearance in the Red Pepper strange is that this was the very paper which had earlier been the instigator of previous anti-gay vigilante campaigns. The Red Pepper was notorious for publishing names and identifying details of gay Ugandans, calling on citizens to take action and for the police to round them up. Many gays in Uganda went into hiding or left the country to avoid getting caught up in the violence. Others saw their lives shattered as their identities were splashed across the pages of the Red Pepper. The paper’s reputation as the prime instigator of hatred and violence was firmly established in the gay community, both in Uganda and abroad.
So why did Georgina go to that particular paper to tell her story? It’s not as if the Red Pepper decided to turn over a new leaf in its coverage of LGBT issues. Look at this article from March 5, 2009, just as the anti-gay conference was getting underway:
MPs To Discuss Bum Shafting
Members of Parliament are set to discuss the rate at which bumshafters are slowly but surely entrenching themselves in Uganda, Red Pepper can exclusively reveal. The meeting which is to take place on March 5 at the parliamentary conference hall will be officiated over by the first lady Janet Kataha Museveni.
Snoops have seen an open invitation to all MPs in which the organizers of the meeting want the legislators to among other things understand the Gay movement’s agenda which is bent on destabilizing society. The MPs will also have to understand in detail the Gay blueprint for transforming this nation and also how Uganda can respond to the bumshafters’ secret agenda.
“This is an executive sensitization meeting themed ‘Exposing the truth about bum shafting and the homosexual agenda” part of an invitation seen by RP reads. Recently, State Minister for ethics and integrity Nsaba Buturo informed MPs at Imperial Royale hotel that a group of bum shafting leaning donor countries had approached him seeking for his nod to start funding and campaigning for bum shafting in Uganda, but he refused.
This vice of homosexuality has been reported in several institutions including churches, schools and high institutions of learning.
We don’t know why she chose to be interviewed and photographed by the Red Pepper, despite its well-earned enmity in the gay community. Did she finally break under repeated police torture and mistreatment? Or were other factors also in play? There are rumors — some pretty wild ones of jealousies, betrayals, recriminations and more — which need confirmation before we can repeat them. And that confirmation will undoubtedly be difficult to obtain, if not impossible. But it does appear that whatever Georgina’s motivations may have been, her appearance in the hated Red Pepper gave the the gay community reasons to became suspicious of her, and she became seen as being too dangerous for the besieged gay community.
And now, barely five months later, those suspicions are confirmed in the minds of many who knew her or knew of her. Georgina — now George — is a confirmed danger to the community. Oundo knows many people in Uganda’s gay community — who they are, where they live and where they work. This newest development threatens to inflame an already tense situation in a country that has witnessed repeated campaigns of public vigilante acts and widespread extrajudicial detentions, beatings and torture of LGBT people.
Oundo is back in the spotlight again, completing a journey that began on the pages of the Red Pepper last October. And his statements to the media are particularly inflammatory, claiming that he had been trained and paid by foreign gay activists to recruit Ugandan schoolchildren into homosexuality. With statements like that receiving wide media attention, the ground is now well laid for a fresh round of violence against Uganda’s beleaguered gay community.
And all of this began when three Americans — Exodus board president Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and Richard Cohen Protege Caleb Lee Brundidge — spoke at a conference in Kampala in early March and endorsed proposals to strengthen Uganda’s criminal code which bans homosexual acts with a lifetime sentence, with the penalty of compelling gays and lesbians into forced therapy.
More on Uganda Anti-Gay Vigilante Incitement
March 25th, 2009
A man shocked parents on Sunday when he confessed to recruiting school children into homosexuality as part of a programme to promote the practice in Ugandan schools.
George Oundo said funders gave them “much money” and training abroad and that he would target mostly the needy children who had problems of tuition and pocket money and “others who like outings.”
Oundo describes a rather structured effort
Oundo said he got seriously involved in promoting homosexuality in 2003. “I was taken to Nairobi for training,” he said. “I used to supply pornographic materials in form of books and compact discs showing homosexuality to young boys in many schools,” he explained.
And Oundo identifies the culprits
The training, he said, was facilitated by Gay and Lesbian Coalition. “I also got the pupils’ telephone contacts. We used to meet with both girls and boys in schools during ceremonial parties,” he asserted.
Oundo said homosexuality was spread by international human rights organisations.
In the West most readers would recognize this as rather outlandish and not be quick to believe Oundo’s statements. Uganda, however, is fertile ground for these statements and it is almost certain that this seed will grow vines.
It is difficult to know the motivation for Oundo’s actions and statements. But perhaps it helps to know that Oundo was a gay activist who in September was arrested for “recruiting homosexuals”, beaten, denied food and medication, and held for several days until international pressure from human rights organization led to their release. I think that it is likely not coincidental that Oundo’s statements now vindicate the police claim and vilify the human rights groups.
The Christian community in Uganda has now declared war on the lives of gay men and women in that county. And they have been abetted by American leaders in the anti-gay and ex-gay ministries.
Sadly, these Americans wish to pretend that their actions have no consequences, that they were just presenting “a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality” to the world and that they bear no responsibility for any blood shed as a direct result of their anti-gay missionary efforts.
And make no mistake, there will be blood shed.
Other pastors yesterday told journalists in Kampala the war against sodomy would be long and challenging but must be fought.
In Uganda, “war” is not engaged by polite discourse and ballot box propositions.
It is not often in life that we experience real evil. But I do not hesitate to state that the participation of Exodus International in this conference and the justification of this anti-gay incitement by its president, Alan Chambers, is truly evil.
Another Anti-Gay Vigilante Campaign May Have Begun In Uganda
Three television stations, two newspapers reporting senstional allegations.
March 25th, 2009
Two newspaper (so far) and three television stations in Uganda have reported on a sensationalistic press conference organized by Stephen Langa, director of Kampala-based Family Life Networks, which appears to be the start of a fresh public anti-gay vigilante campaign.
The Ugandan media is continuing to take notice of the recent anti-gay conferences and meetings which have been taking place in Kampala the past few weeks. The most recent meeting was held on March 22. These series of meetings were instigated by a three-day conference organized by Langa and featured talks by three American anti-gay activists, including Exodus board member Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and Richard Cohen protegé Caleb Lee Brundidge.
Ugandan news media have been issuing regular reports of that conference and two follow-up meetings which have been held on successive Sundays since then. The latest one from Uganda Pulse reported on a press conference held today:
Parents in Uganda have expressed concern over the increasing levels of homosexuality, defilement and sexual harassments of children. The parents under the Family Life Network (FLN) says that information revealed from several reliable sources indicates that many children in schools are facing horror, frustration, mental and psychological torture for being cajoled into homosexuality.
FLN’s Executive Director, Langa Steven say [sic] that there are agents involved in recruiting children into homosexuality and lesbianism. Langa says that these suspected groups take advantages children by using deception, manipulation and coercion.
Pastor Joseph Male who addressed a press conference in Kampala with Langa also says that findings show that immorality groups are recruiting children into homosexuality. He says these homosexual promoters hide behind human rights organization and claim to be protecting sex minorities Uganda.
Pastor Male claims that these groups spend about 2,000,000 per week to recruit university students into homosexuality and lesbianism.
Another news outlet, New Vision, reported:
EIGHT more men yesterday confessed involvement in homosexuality and gay activities, which they said they had abandoned. Speaking to journalists at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala, the youthful men described homosexuality as abnormal and anti-Christian, and declared war against it.
The tough-talking men were accompanied by George Oundo, who earlier in the week denounced homosexuality and confessed recruiting school children into the practice.
“We have been involved in recruiting homosexuals, spreading the gospel of homosexuality, and we know the operations of homosexuals,” said 27-year-old Emma Matovu, who took to homosexuality 13 years ago. “We shall do all it takes to eliminate the practice in Uganda.”
Matovu, who said he abandoned the practice two weeks ago, asserted: “Homosexuality is dangerous and dehumanising but is growing fast in Uganda.”
According to the New Vision article, the press conference was organized by — you guessed it — Stephen Langa, the same pastor who hosted the three American anti-gay activists during the first week of March.
Past campaigns of anti-gay vigilantism have called out gays by name and description in the public media. This looks disturbingly like the start of a new campaign:
Oundo said the eight men would fight the vice because they were victims with a tormenting experience. “We shall expose those who refuse to abandon the practice and we shall not be intimidated because we are protected by Jesus,” he asserted. “We know their operations, including a restaurant in the city centre where homosexuals wait for clients from nearby hotels.”
He urged his former partners to abandon the practice, saying Uganda should become a role model in fighting the “barbarism”.
He called on Juliet Mukasa, the head of the Sexual Minorities in Uganda (SMUG), Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo, a gay rights activist and headmaster Kisule (other name withheld) to abandon the practice.
…Addressing the press conference, Family Life Network chief Stephen Langa read a statement from parents and concerned citizens, urging the Government to establish a probe to assess the prevalence of homosexuality in Uganda.
The anonymous blogger GayUganda has posted a series of panicked short posts about the news conference which was shown on three national television stations. These latest developments have him understandably nervous:
Our nice, confortable closet is well and truly blown apart. In a homophobic country, our anonymity is torn up, and we are being accused of the most heinous of crimes. We are recruiting, and teaching children homosexuality.
Damage control now is a necessity. What will follow?
Is funny that the lies and sensationalism has so caught up everyone that it is impossible for us to insist that these are lies. The lesson of history. Tell a lie about a small unpopular group, and you are able to sustain the conversation with bigger and bigger lies. Think the Hutus in Rwanda. Jews in Germany…! Stretching the point? Am I?
A witch hunt. Very possible.
Some interesting outings? Possible.
How long will I be able to continue blogging? How safe is my blogging?
But we have survived adversity before now. We will survive even this. Will kind of mean that some of us will have to stand up and take the heat. Problem may be jobs and other things. Can we beat the taint of evil? Homosexuals recruiting! Oh well.
Tough days ahead.
The papers tomorrow will be interesting. Watch this space.
(Remember some prayers for those who are outed, whether or not they are gay!)
Indeed. Remember some prayers.