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Posts for August, 2014

Constitutional Court Strikes Down Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2014

At noon this morning Kampala time, Uganda’s Constitutional Court has declared the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act null and void. The Court said that the law was invalid because Parliament lacked the constitutionally-mandated quorum when it passed the legislation last December. Article 88 of Uganda’s constitution (PDF: 469KB/192pages) requires that at least one third of members be present any time Parliament votes “on any question.”

The court room was reportedly tense as people gathered this morning for the session to start at 9:30 local time (2:30 a.m. EDT). The court had heard testimony on Wednesday and Thursday over the quorum issue, and observers were expected the court to rule on that question today. As 9:30 came and went, the Court announced that they were putting off the morning’s session until noon. Pastor Martin Ssempa reportedly became agitated as the morning progressed, and police had to step in to settle the situation down.

When the Constitutional Court resumed at Noon, it read its judgment nullifying the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Meanwhile, Ssempa’s twitter feed went silent after the court’s verdict. As of this moment, this was his last tweet:

J. Lester Feder reports that LGBT activists are bracing for another round of violence following the court’s decision:

The law’s supporters, like Ssempa and the leadership of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, had been whipping up their supporters during the two days of hearings before the ruling, and LGBT activists expected a backlash if they won.

“Many people are going to retaliate and attack community members,” said Kasha Jacqueline of the organization Freedom and Roam Uganda, another of the petitioners. “People are going to retaliate — not just the members of parliament and anti-gay groups and religious leaders, but in the community as well.”

The Anti-Homosexuality Act provided a lifetime sentence for those who convicted of homosexuality. It also imposed a lifetime sentence for those who convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” which include “serial offenders” of homosexuality “or related offences.” Related offenses include lifetime imprisonment for entering into a same-sex marriage, seven years for conducting one, five to seven years for advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people, five years for providing housing to LGBT people, and seven years for providing services to LGBT people. The Act also provided for the extradition of any “person charged with an offence under this Act.”

Before its passage, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill had been safely bottled up in Parliament, but observers believe domestic politics eventually took over and ensured the bill’s passage. Originally introduced in 2009, the bill remained bottled up in the House, which failed in its last minute efforts to pass the bill before the Eight Parliament expired in 2011. House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga had spent much of 2012 and 2013 raising her profile in a possible bid to challenge President Yoweri Museveni in the run-up to the 2016 general elections, engineered the bill’s reintroduction in Parliament in February 2012. It’s passage appeared imminent at the end of that year when it became a political football in a larger fight over control of the country’s newly-developing oil reserves. As Parliament tore itself apart over a contentious oil bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill rose to the top of Parliament’s published Order Papers, which sets the agenda for the day, under the heading of “Business to follow,” of actions to take place after the oil bill’s passage. It was believed that the hugely popular Anti-Homosexuality Bill was being held close at hand as a potential unifying measure. But after Parliament passed the contentious petroleum legislation, it broke for Christmas and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was quietly removed from the Order Papers when Parliament resumed in the Spring of 2013.

But behind-the-scene plans to swiftly pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill without debate emerged in April 2013, when the opposition magazine Observer reported that a MP’s were lobbying Kadaga to hold the debate in a closed-door session so that individual members could speak freely without having foreign donations to their pet projects or travel visas jeopardized. On December 20, Kadaga made a snap call to bring the Anti-Homosexuality Bill before the house for a final vote, despite the bill not appearing on the order papers for the day. Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi objected to the vote citing the lack of quorum, but Kadaga overruled Mbabazi and the bill passed on December 20.

Museveni’s initial reaction was to wrote a letter to Kadaga criticizing Parliament’s rushed approval about the bill. Among his many complaints were that the bill was passed without the proper quorum. He told representatives of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in January that he would reject what he called the “fascist” Anti-Homosexuality Bill. But again, politics intervened. Mbabazi was also maneuvering to challenge Museveni’s position at the same time as Kadaga, and he was already on record as objecting to Parliament’s passage of the legislation. Museveni’s about-face in February was seen by many as part of a larger effort to counter Mbabazi’s efforts to build a rival power base within the ruling National Resistance Movement. Museveni signed the bill on February 24.

The bill’s signing initiated a wave of anti-gay vigilantism in the press while the government raided several NGO’s for allegedly “promoting” homosexuality. In March, a coalition of human rights groups petitioned the Constitutional Court, charging that the Anti-Homosexuality Act violated several constitutionally-guaranteed rights, including the rights to privacy, free expression, thought, assembly, association, civil participation, and the rights to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. It also charged that Parliament acted improperly in passing the bill without a quorum.

In Uganda, it’s typical for court cases to proceed at a snails pace, with months passing between small bursts of activity. Cases often languish for years. So it was a significant surprise when the Court’s first act came late last week with a snap call for both sides to present their cases on Wednesday and Thursday, which caught a lot of people off guard. State Attorney Patricia Mutesi complained that she wasn’t prepared to proceed with her arguments and asked for a delay, but the court rejected that request. It heard testimony Wednesday and Thursday, and delivered its decision today. That lightning-quick movement is practically unprecedented, leading many to speculate on the politics behind the court’s dramatic move. Museveni is planning to travel to Washington, D.C. next week to attend a summit of African leaders.

LGBT and human rights activists say they expect the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to be reintroduced in Parliament again, but it would mean starting the entire process over again, including motions to seek permission to introduce the bill, a certificate of financial implication from the government, and committee hearings. That certificate of financial implication is likely the most logical step for Museveni to step in to quash the bill. When the bill was first introduced, the certificate certified that there were no financial implications, but with several countries suspending or canceling foreign aid to Uganda over the AHB, the financial toll of reintroducing the bill is now known to be enormous. It is believed that foreign aid makes up from twenty to thirty percent of Uganda’s GDP, and about twenty percent of the government’s budget.

Uganda’s Constitutional Court Hears Challenge to Anti-Homosexuality Act

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2014

NTVUganda reported on Wednesday’s proceedings before Uganda’s Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Petitioners challenging the AHB contend that the law not only violates the constitution, but was passed in Parliament without a quorum. If this report is representative, it appears that the central question in today’s proceedings was the lack of quorum. Uganda’s Daily Monitor this morning provided further details of that exchange:

“You should be very careful if you are to pass this Bill, you must have quorum. These are not joking matters,” (attorney for petitioners) Mr. (Nicholas) Opiyo quoted the Prime Minister as saying to the Speaker of Parliament.

Mr Opiyo further quoted the Prime Minister: “I would like to see quorum in the House before passing this Bill.”

He argued that Ms Kadaga violated the Rules of Procedure of Parliament and the Constitution. Another lawyer representing pro-gay activists, Mr Caleb Alaka, accused Ms Kadaga of not minding to check whether there was the right quorum to pass the Bill into law despite being alerted about the lack of the same.

Mr Alaka added that another MP during the voting process, whose name he did not mention, shouted that they should go ahead and pass the Bill into law, saying after all they had passed other Bills into law without the recommended quorum.

Mr Alaka submitted that the AG, through the affidavit of Mr Denis Bireije, the commissioner of Civil Litigation has not challenged the issue of quorum, literally meaning that they have conceded.

In the circumstances, Mr Alaka asked the court to allow their petition and among others, declare that the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed without the right quorum, hence its null and void.

The matter of a quorum is very important here. Article 88 of the Uganda Constitution (PDF: 469KB/192 pages) is very specific about it:

88. Quorum of Parliament.

(1) The quorum of Parliament shall be one-third of all members of Parliament entitled to vote.

(2) The quorum prescribed by clause (1) of this article shall only be required at a time when Parliament is voting on any question.

(3) Rules of procedure of Parliament shall prescribe the quorum of Parliament for the conduct of business of Parliament other than for voting.

There are 375 members of Parliament, 263 of which are held by the ruling National Resistance Movement. A quorum would consist of 125 members.

There was one interesting bit of pertinent information that came out of this report. In order for a law to go officially in effect, it must be printed in the Uganda Gazette. “Gazetting” a law is a common procedure in Commonwealth countries. It’s typically a mere formality but an important one, as it marks the law’s first official day in force. According to Daily Monitor:

The pro-gay activists, among others, want court to issue permanent orders staying the operationality of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. They also want court to permanently stay the gazetting of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 which has not yet been gazetted.

This should be surprising, as the government has been raiding NGO’s and shutting them down over allegations that they were violating specific clauses of the AHB, namely those prohibiting the “promotion” of homosexuality.

The WBS report was considerably less balanced, reporting unfounded allegations that the former Opposition leader Prof. Moris Ogenga Latigo was petitioning against the AHB “to get quick money from individuals promoting inhuman acts.” Pentecostal Pastor Martin Ssempa, one of the AHB’s staunchest supporters, was given free access to WBS’s cameras for his speech.

The law that was passed, was passed out of great difficulty. And we see over here many men and women who have been given money by the whites, the Europeans, the Americans, to come and to try to stop the good law that was made. And they are using every trick necessary. They have also threatened our judges and our officers that if they do not make rules or they are seen as against homosexuality, that they will not have visas, they will not travel.

In a separate article, Daily Monitor reported that after the State Attorney tried to put off proceedings to a later date, she submitted the government’s response Thursday morning. This means that Constitutional Court could deliver a ruling as early as tomorrow.

Petitioners against the AHB include Makarere University School of Law’s Prof. Joe Oloka-Onyango, MP Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, veteran journalist Andrew Mwenda, former opposition leader Prof. Morris Latigo, Dr. Paul Nsubuga Ssemugoma (who longtime BTB readers may remember as the formerly-anonymous blogger GayUganda), and LGBT activists  Frank Mugisha, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, and Pepe Julian Onziema.

Human Rights Groups Petition Uganda’s Constitutional Court over Anti-Homosexuality Act

Jim Burroway

March 11th, 2014

Petition to the Constitutional Court (click to download/PDF: 219KB/11 pages).

Uganda’s Daily Monitor reports:

A coalition of fifty civil society organisations on Human rights today filed a petition in the constitutional court challenging the legality of Law on Homosexuality.

The activists argue that the Anti Homosexuality Act violates Ugandans’ Constitutionally guaranteed right to: privacy, to be free from discrimination, dignity, to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, to the freedoms of expression, thought, assembly and association; to the presumption of innocence, and to the right to civic participation.

In a statement issued by the Coalition Members, the petitioners said that the Act represents an effort by the Executive and Parliament to scapegoat an unpopular minority for political gain.

There are ten named petitioners, including LGBT rights activists Dr. Paul Semugoma (longtime BTB readers may know him as the formerly the anonymous blogger GayUganda), Freedom and Roam Uganda founder Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera, transgender rights activist Julian Pepe Onziema, and Sexual Minorities Uganda executive director Frank Mugisha. The petition was also signed by Joe Oloka-Onyango, a Professor of Law and Director of the Makerere University Human Rights and Peace Centre in Kampala; Andrew Mwenda, a journalist and founder of the Ugandan news magazine Independent; and M.P. Fox Odoi-Oywelowo. Rounding out the named petitioners are the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) and the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD).

The petition states that the Anti-Homosexuality Act was passed by parliament without a proper quorum as required by Uganda’s Constitution and that it violates the Constitutions guarantees of equality and privacy. The petition also argies that “in criminalising touching by persons of the same sex, creates an offence that is overly broad and is in contravention of the principle of legality” under the Constitution. The petition then goes on to each clause of the Anti-Homosexuality Act and describes the articles of the Constitution the clause violates.

It would appear that the law itself is not yet officially in effect. The final step to make a law official is for it to be “gazetted,” or published in the official Uganda Gazette. This is a common formality in a number of British Commonwealth nations, but Daily Monitor notes that the Anti-Homosexuality Act has not yet undergone that step. The petition asks the court to “permanently stay() the gazetting of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.”

The petition is also calling on the court to issue an order barring media from publishing photos, names, addresses and occupations of people thought to be gay. Since President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act on February 24, tabloids like Red Pepper, Hello and others have been waging mass vigilante campaigns on their front pages and publishing other stories designed to incite hatred and violence. There have been reports on blogs and social media that LGBT people are receiving eviction notices from their landlords.

Ugandan LGBT Activists React

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2014

Frank Mugisha is the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda:

Pepe Julian Onziema changed his Twitter name to IAMGoingNowhere:

Kasha Jacqueline heads Freedom and Roam Uganda:

Uganda’s Parliament Passes Anti-Homosexuality Bill (UPDATED)

Jim Burroway

December 20th, 2013

There are multiple reports from Uganda media indicating that the nation’s Parliament has given its final approval to the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill today. The independent Daily Monitor leads with the story:

Parliament has passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009, which proposes life imprisonment for homosexual acts.

A proposal for a 14-year-sentence for those convicted for homosexual acts, which the Bill criminalises, was rejected by Members of Parliament who instead maintained the life imprisonment proposal.

After voting to pass the Bill into law MPs asked the President to assent to it fast enough so it becomes law. They also passed a motion thanking the House Speaker for the “gift”.

The tabloid Red Pepper confirms the story, as do Warren Throckmorton and the BBC, which reports that the bill apparently passed despite a possible lack of quorum in Parliament:

The prime minister opposed the vote, saying not enough MPs were present. …She says that Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi might follow up on his complaints about a lack of quorum, while it remains to be seen whether President Yoweri Museveni will sign the bill into law.

The government-owned New Vision reports that the Prime Minister said “there would be further ‘consultations’ on part of the government.” It also reports that President Yoweri Museveni “will decide if it becomes law or not.”

Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s decision to bring the bill up for a vote appears to have been a surprise. There has been no indication that the bill would be brought for a vote in the Order Papers posted on Parliament’s web site.

It is unclear which provisions of the bill’s original proposals made it into the final version passed by Parliament. This BBC report indicates the death penalty was dropped, but news agencies, including the BBC, have a very long history of getting this wrong before. (Update: Parliament Watch tweets that the death penalty was removed in favor of life imprisonment.) Last year, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee made numerous recommendations to the bill, but held those recommendations secret. Warren Throckmorton has obtained a copy of those recommendations and posted them here.  The original bill (PDF: 847KB/16 pages) contained the following provisions:

Clauses 1 and 2: Anybody Can Be Gay Under the Law. The definition of what constitutes “homosexual act” as defined in the first two clauses are so broad that just about anyone can be convicted of just about anything, including “touching” with the “intent” of committing “homosexuality,” even when fully clothed. It also sets the penalty for any “homosexual act” as life imprisonment. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended reducing that sentence to fourteen years, but based on news reports it appears that Parliament has rejected that recommendation. (Update: Parliament Watch tweets that the subclause outlawing “touching” with the “intent” of committing homosexuality was deleted.)
Clause 3: Anyone Can Be “Liable To Suffer Death”. And you don’t even have to be gay to be sent to the gallows. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended replacing the death penalty with a life sentences, but it is not clear whether Parliament approved that recommendation. (Update: Parliament Watch tweets that the death penalty was removed in favor of life imprisonment.) But can anyone seriously imaging that spending a lifetime in Uganda’s notorious Luzira prison is any better? Especially once your fellow prisoners learn that you were sent there for “aggravated homosexuality”?
Clause 4: Anyone Can “Attempt to Commit Homosexuality”. All you have to do is “attempt” to “touch” “any part of of the body” “with anything else” “through anything” in an act that does “not necessarily culminate in intercourse.” The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended the removal of this clause for being “too hard and difficult to prove and may cause absurdities.” (Update: Parliament Watch conforms that Clause 4 was deleted.)
Clauses 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10: How To Get Out Of Jail Free. The bill is written to openly encourage and even opens the possibility for financial incentives for one partner to turn state’s evidence against another. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended the removal of Clause 8, which would have prohibited the “conspiracy to engage in homosexuality.” The committee also recommended the removal of Clause 10, which would have prohibited the “detention with intent to commit homosexuality.” The reason given for the removal of both clauses was to prevent “absurdities.” At this time it is unknown whether Parliament followed through on those recommendations. (Update: Parliament Watch confirms that Clause 8 was deleted. They also confirm that Clause 10 was deleted.)
Clauses 7, 11, and 14: Straight People In The Crosshairs. The bill has specific clauses that would also target family members, doctors, lawyers, and even landlords for refusing to turn gay people over to the police or providing services to anyone that they know to be gay. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended eliminating Clause 14 (“failure to disclose”), but it’s unclear whether Parliament adopted that recommendation. (Update: Parliament Watch tweets that the “failure to disclose” clause was deleted.) Providing services or providing lodgings still appear to be illegal.
Clause 12: Till Life Imprisonment Do You Part. Officiating a same-sex wedding results in up to three years’ imprisonment. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended changing the penalty for entering into a marriage from life to fourteen years. It’s unclear whether that recommendation was adopted. (Update: Parliament Watch tweets that the penalty for conducting a marriage was raised to seven years.)
Clause 13: The Silencing of the Lambs. All advocacy — including suggesting that the law might be repealed — will result in prison sentences.
Clause 14: The Requirement Isn’t To Report Just Gay People To Police. It’s To Report Everyone. A closer look shows that the requirement to report doesn’t just apply to gay people, but to anyone, gay or straight, who violates the law’s clauses. (Update: Parliament Watch tweets that the “failure to disclose” clause was deleted.)
Clauses 16 and 17: The Extra-Territorially Long Arm of Ugandan Law. “Crimes” committed outside of Uganda by Ugandan citizens or residents will result in prosecution in Uganda.The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended eliminating these clauses, but it’s unclear whether Parliament adopted that recommendation
Clause 18: We Don’t Need No Stinking Treaties. The bill not only violates several international treaties, it also turns the Ugandan constitution on its head. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended eliminating Clause 18, but it’s unclear whether Parliament adopted that recommendation
Clauses 15 and 19: The Establishment Clauses For The Ugandan Inquisition. These clauses empower the Ethics and Integrity Minister to enforce all of the bill’s provisions. He’s already gotten a head start.

Ugandan Activist Speaks Out Against Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

December 4th, 2012

Her name is Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, but her friends call her “Bombastic Kasha.” She is Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) and the 2011 winner of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. She narrowly escaped arrest last February when Ugandan police raided a gay rights conference in Entebbe.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that Pepsi has a very large presence in Uganda. One group is calling on Pepsico to speak out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill:

…(O)ur allies on the ground tell us that if Pepsi, which has a huge presence in Uganda, speaks out against the bill and the harmful effect it would have on investment and economic development in Uganda, it would force Ugandan officials to put the bill on hold — or even pull it entirely. Add your name to our petition to Pepsi, telling it to speak out against this horrific “Kill the Gays” bill that’s racing through the Ugandan Parliament.

Eyewitness Gives Account of Raid On Entebbe

Jim Burroway

February 15th, 2012

Dr. Hilda Tadria, co-founder of the African Women’s Development Fund, was giving a talk at the LGBT conference in Entebbe, Uganda that was raided by Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo. She has issued this statement describing the raid:

At a hotel in Entebbe this week, I was subjected to an experience that I would not wish upon my worst enemy. I am a recently retired (but not tired) almost 70 year old married mother of two and grandmother of seven. For many years, I have trained and mentored young people in leadership skills and the art of advocacy, particularly in connection with the subjects of Gender and Human Rights. On Tuesday I was invited to facilitate a session on leadership, using the the Four Frames of Leadership to a group of sexual minorities. Another facilitator at the meeting was Hope Chigudu. Like me, Hope is a law-abiding married mother of senior citizenship. A few hours into my session, the Hon. Rev. Simon Lokodo—Minister of Ethics and Integrity—walked into the room.

The Minister introduced himself and proceeded to give a lecture on ethics and morality. In addition, he accused the gathering of being an illegal assembly ‘recruiting’ people into homosexuality, even insinuating that we were having sex in the meeting room. Then, in a strange twist of events, the Minister declared the meeting disbanded. Everybody was just told to go home. Kasha Nabagesera, activist and conference Convenor was threatened with arrest, while one of the participants who came from Sweden was challenged to explain how she had even entered the country. Soon after closing the meeting, the Minister was heard telling somebody over the telephone, “Yes, I have just disbanded them.”

Prior to his entry into the meeting, the Minister sent a message to the conference Convenor requesting details of the meeting. The program and all the training materials relating to the conference were sent to him, and the Minister asked to sit in on the proceedings. There being nothing to hide, the Convenor invited him to attend the meeting. Little did we know that the Minister would flare up in anger, make baseless accusations about the gathering and order the meeting closed. I was personally shocked by the action of the Minister, and the level of violent infuriation and intolerance he displayed. For a man of God, I saw no compassion, a great deal of prejudice and an utter unwillingness to listen. The Minister was too angry to hear good sense and simply failed to respond to any pleas for reason, ignoring both myself and Hope.

Reflecting on what happened on Tuesday, it is quite clear to me that the Minister over-stepped all boundaries of rational behavior. But more importantly, he blatantly violated the Law. In the first instance, every Ugandan has the right to assemble, speak freely and to have an education. This was a workshop convened to conduct training in skills that every citizen is entitled to. Secondly, although the Minister even went so far as to make the laughable claim that the gathering could have been planning a military coup or was plotting to disrupt national security, there is not an iota of evidence to support either claim. But I was most shocked that the Minister asserted that the government had all the right and the power to stop any kind of gathering that was taking place anywhere in the country; what a statement of arrogance and unbridled power! I find this wholly unacceptable and unsupported by any provision in the law. It is well known that if a gathering is to be stopped, there must be reasonable grounds to do so accompanied by the relevant legal documents, such as a court instruction or a Police order. The Hon. Minister was in possession of neither.

Tuesday’s actions by the Hon. Minister do not have any support in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, or in any law known to me. Indeed, as I look ahead to the future Uganda that I want my grandchildren to live and thrive in, it is not the one I witnessed on Tuesday. Impunity comes in many guises; while the fascist actions of that day focused on a small group of activists, there is no telling who the target will be tomorrow. Autocratic government officials like the Rev. Simon Lokodo belong to an era I thought we had left far behind.

Despite earlier reports that Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera was detained by police, LGBT advocates in Uganda say that she escaped detention, although she may still be in hiding. According to the online news portal UGPulse, “Lokodo says as the person mandated to maintain good morals in Uganda, it was his duty to ensure people do not meet to discuss ‘immoral acts’ in public places like hotels.” Uganda’s Observer reports that Lokodo, a defrocked Catholic priest, claimed the conference gatherers were “planning violence” and were “gathered to recruit people into the practice of homosexuality.”

Sexual Minorities Uganda has condemned the raid:

SMUG condemns this outright abuse of office by the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity.

According to Frank Mugisha one of the Coordinators of the Capacity Development workshop and present at the time; ‘’Closing our workshop today totally violates our constitutional rights and this intimidation will not stop us from fighting, for equal treatment of all Ugandan citizens.’’ Frank Mugisha is the Executive Director of SMUG and 2011 Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award Laureate

The Minister also ordered the arrest of Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera, the Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda and 2011 Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders when she dared to challenge him for disrupting the workshop. Kasha with the help of colleagues was whisked out of the hotel to safety.

The State Minister’s actions are illegal and in direct contravention of the Constitution of Uganda, The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other international human rights covenants to which Uganda is a party. These human rights instruments all robustly promote and protect the rights to Freedom of Speech, Expression, Association, Peaceful Assembly and the Right to Information of all citizens and human beings, without discrimination.

Sexual Minorities Uganda strongly condemns this notorious and continuous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda. Our campaign for equal rights is rooted in the fact that, as Ugandans, we are entitled to the respect and protection of the law just like all other Ugandans.

Actions:

1. We call on the Government of Uganda to protect the rights of citizens to peacefully assemble and associate as is guaranteed in our Constitution and in international human rights law.

2. We call on the Government of Uganda to protect all peoples within her borders against threats, violence and harassment by state and non-state actors, irrespective of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

3. We call on the Government and people of Uganda to reject the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would only serve to further violate international human rights law and plant seeds of hate, intolerance and violence in Ugandan society.

4. We call on the Ugandan people to reject the government’s move to use homosexuality issues to divert Ugandans’ attention from the most pertinent issues that are affecting the nation.

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project has also condemned the raid:

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) condemns this infringement on the right to freedom of assembly and association as provided by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, and calls on the Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity to explain the grounds on which the actions were taken. EHAHRDP recalls the rights of human rights defenders to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without harassment or intimidation as provided by the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Raid On Entebbe: Uganda Government Shuts Down LGBT Rights Conference

Jim Burroway

February 14th, 2012

Kasha Jacqueline Nabageser

The African web site Behind the Mask led with the story this morning:

Kasha Jacqueline, the Director of Lesbian Rights group Freedom and Roam Uganda was briefly arrested today after a Ugandan cabinet minister staged a raid on a meeting of LGBTI activists and human rights defenders.

Activists at the meeting said police were deployed to ensure activists leave the premises. …Kasha’s close friends have since told Behind the Mask that she has been set free.

The cabinet minister’s raid forcefully stopped the meeting of LGBTI activists who had gathered for a capacity building workshop for human rights defenders.

The raid was personally led by Ethics and Integrity minister Simon Lokodo, a defrocked Catholic priest, who accused the gay rights advocates of “recruiting children into the gay life,” according to Behind the Mask. He also ordered the arrest of Kasha Jacqueline Nabageser, but she fled the hotel and was able to avoid Lokodo’s security guards.  Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, picks up the story:

“I have closed this conference because it’s illegal. We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home,” Minister Lokodo told the participants.

Hotel staff had been asked by the organisers not to direct anyone to Elgon hall where the conference was taking place unless the person had been cleared. This would have required a phone call from the organisers.

The Minister said the hotel’s management apologized for hosting the event.

According to Daily Monitor, the conference was being held over the course of two weeks at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe, and was due to wrap up today with an evening barbecue at the hotel’s pool.

Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo

Last week, Lokodo signed a statement posted on Uganda’s official press web site distancing the government from the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which had been reintroduced into Parliament. While he tried to distance the government from the bill, Lokodo also lectured the international community that “cultural attitudes in Africa are very different to elsewhere in world,” and that “the bill before parliament even if it were to pass, would not sanction the death penalty for homosexual behavior in Uganda.” Despite Lokodo’s statement, the death penalty is still firmly in place in the proposed bill. He also falsely asserted that “the main provisions of this bill were designed to stem the issue of defilement and rape which in the minds of Ugandan’s is a more pressing and urgent matter that needs to be addressed.” A look at the bill however makes clear that the issues of “defilement and rape” are little more than afterthoughts which provide a fig leaf to cover the bill’s direct assault against Uganda’s gay community.

It is not uncommon for the Ugandan government to violate the free assembly rights of its citizens. It has been a routine practice where political opposition leaders are concerned for several years. More specific to the gay community, Lokodo’s predecessor, James Nsaba Buturo, blocked the screening of a documentary film depicting LGBT human rights workers in December 2010 .

In 2011, Kasha Jacqueline Nabageser was awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

UK Reverses Decision To Deny Visa To Ugandan LGBT Advocate

Jim Burroway

August 22nd, 2011

Last week, we reported that Britain’s Border Agency (UKBA) has denied a visa for Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) founder and executive Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, who was scheduled to open a pride celebration in Derry, Northern Ireland later this month. Today, Paul Canning reports that UKBA has reversed its decision and granted Kasha a visa:

Kasha was today granted a visa to visit Northern Ireland. When reapplying in Kampala she reports it being granted extremely quickly. We understand that there has been significant lobbying regarding the previous visa denial, in particular of the UK Foreign Office.

UK Denies Visa for Ugandan LGBT Advocate

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2011

Britain’s Border Agency (UKBA) has denied a visa for Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) founder and executive Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, who was scheduled to open a pride celebration in Derry, Northern Ireland later this month. Paul Canning reports that a UKBA spokesperson said that her visa was denied because Immigration officials feared that she might not return home after travelling to Britain. According to that spokesperson:

Each application to enter the UK is considered on its individual merits and in accordance with the immigration rules”.

“The onus is on the applicant to demonstrate that they meet the immigration rules. This may include providing evidence of financial ties to their home country which would indicate that they intend to return home at the end of their proposed visit.”

“Our rules are firm but fair and where insufficient evidence is provided visa applications may be refused, though the individual is able to apply again at any time and any new evidence will be considered.”

UKBA denies that Nabagesera’s LGBT advocacy was a factor in their decision.

Despite UKBA’s decision, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera has strong ties to the LGBT community in Uganda, and she has travelled abroad numerous times as part of her advocacy, returning every time to her were back home. She spoke last weekend at an international meeting of Amnesty International in Geneva. Earlier this year, she wasawarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights by a consortium of ten international organizations. In May, she debated Ugandan MP David Bahati, the sponsor of draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill on Voice of America television. Last week, Nabagesera led a major educational campaign in Uganda to counter the widespread homophobia in that country. In other words, none of this looks like the profile of someone who flees a country at the first opportunity. Nabagesera clearly has ties and commitments in Uganda, and her commitments have been recognized internationally. All of this makes UKBA’s decision very puzzling and troubling.

Ugandan LGBT Advocacy Group Reports Suspicious Burglary

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2011

Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) has reported that their offices were broken into on Saturday night. According to a message posted on facebook by the group’s leader, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, thieves took five computers, two printers, a server, microwave oven and all office phones. Most worrying, some documents were taken, including the group’s membership database. A jerrycan of acid was left behind, and acid was poured into padlocks. No one was in the office at the time.

The crime has been reported to the police, but Kasha reports that they have not yet arrived at the premises to investigate the crime scene.

[Hat tip: Paul Canning]

“Kill the Gays” Bill Author Vows To Push Bill In New Parliament

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2011

Uganda’s independent Sunday Monitor this morning has published an interview with MP David Bahati, sponsor of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill, in which he reiterated that the close of the 8th Parliament was simply “pressing the pause button.” He told Monitor reporter Philippa Croome that the bill’s death penalty “is something we have moved away from,” despite the fact that the death penalty has not been removed at all. In fact, the recommendation from the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee, which was given jurisdiction over the bill, recommended striking the phrase “shall suffer death” and replacing it with the phrase “shall suffer the penalty provided for aggravated defilement under Section 129 of the Penal Code Act.” Section 129 itself calls for the death penalty, which means that if the committee’s recommendations were adopted the death penalty would remain in place. It just wouldn’t be so obvious to those who don’t know what Section 129 specifies.

The death penalty however is barely scratching the surface for what the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would do, which Bahati acknowledges:

But the focus is on inducement, stopping the inducement of our children to this behaviour, and promotion- those two things are the ones that we will be focusing on.

If protecting children is the focus of the Bill, why does it require an entirely separate bill from current child protection laws?

We are not really singling out anybody. In 2007, we had an Act which stops defilement, the defilement Act, it is already there. We have the Penal Code which criminalises homosexuality in some form, but it is not specific, it’s not effective, it needs strengthening.

The Bill comes in to include other issues that have emerged over time-issues of promotion, it has never happened, it is happening now, issues of inducing children- it was never there, it was happening now.

Sunday Monitor also interviewed gay rights LGBT Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera. She is the founder and director of Freedom and Roam Uganda and winner of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders by a coalition of international human rights organizations. She called on the international community to continue to stand up for human rights in Uganda.

Every human rights violation that happens in Uganda, we need Ugandans to stand up and say enough is enough – and our allies in the international community to also stand up. At the end of the day, Uganda is not alone, we operate in a global village.

She also denounced the false charges that gays were trying to “recruit” children into homosexuality:

If I found someone trying to recruit children into homosexuality, I would even hand them in myself – he is trying to pretend that he’s protecting children of Uganda, but he’s not doing that.

Today, he thinks he is condemning Kasha, but he could be condemning his own children in future. There are very many children who are growing up and he is pretending to be protecting them, but they could turn out to be like some of us.

The issue here is not even recruitment or promotion. For two years, Bahati has been asked by everyone to produce the evidence and he has not produced it. He is just using that to get sympathy from the masses of people in Uganda who are parents – that’s the only reason he has insisted we are recruiting children. He does not have any other argument.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Postponed Until Friday

Jim Burroway

May 11th, 2011

[Update: 8:00 p.m. EDT: Jacqueline Kasha Facebook status says:

The Bill kept being raised but because of time it wasnt discussed. However after all the reactions that came from MPs it has strong support.On our way out the Government whip together with another MP Odong Otto told security that we shouldnt be allowed back in parliament and that we should all go to the West.

Those statements mean that should the Bill be discussed on Friday which is the next date agreed by the house. Its very possible it will sail through. Today a Bill was discussed for the 2nd and 3rd reading and voting within 20mins, it didnt pass because of lack of quorum so meaning should the AHB reach the floor it will pass because it has a lot of support.

We need a HUGE miracle.

Jacqueline’s assessment is considerably more pessimistic than Melanie Nathan’s source. It’s very difficult to handicap this race.]

[Update: 3:10 p.m. EDT: Melanie Nathan has an update: I have received word from a source in Uganda’s Parliament that although the Bill is on the agenda for Friday, tomorrow being a national holiday for the swearing in of President Museveni, they assert that there is a very strong chance the Bill will not make it to the floor and that Parliament will be prorogued before it can be debated and voted upon. The source, stated that Cabinet members and government have been overwhelmed with e-mails, statements and complaints from all around the world.  The source believes this may well factor into preference given to other Bills in the last moments of this Parliamentary Session.  The source went further to state that it was made as a commitment to him from the Speaker that “there would not be time” to hear it.  He did not necessarily trust the commitment.”  I think it is wise not to trust that commitment.]

[Update: 1:50 p.m. EDT: Frank Mugisha told the Associated Press that today’s Parliament proceedings were interrupted by a walkout among women MP’s who were upset over an unrelated bill (Both the Marriage and Divorce Bill and the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill have drawn fire from women’s groups. It’s unclear which bill triggered the walkout.) Parliament was then unable to continue due to a lack of quorum.]

Uganda’s Parliament has suspended business for the day without having taken up debate and a vote on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Sexual Minorities Uganda’s Frank Mugisha, who has been on hand at Parliament (and enduring insults from Parliament members as a result) just posted on Facebook that Parliament will reconvene on Friday with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill back on the agenda.

Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, has been focusing its resources on the larger ongoing turmoil over nationwide month-long riots, demonstrations, and today’s return of opposition leader Kizza Besigye from Nairobi, Kenya. He was expected to return to Entebbe today after having been treated in a Nairobi hospitals for injuries sustained at the hands of Uganda’s security forces. Ugandan security forces reportedly tried to block his return, and as of this writing it is still unclear whether he will be allowed to do so. Debate over Besigye’s return has overtaken events in Uganda’s Parliament, which may account for its sudden recess until Friday.

Warren Throckmorton also confirms that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will be scheduled for Friday. While the 8th Parliament remains constitutionally in effect until May 18, a Parliament spokesperson told Throckmorton that Friday is the last day the current Parliament can act because swearing-in ceremonies for the 9th Parliament will begin on Monday.

Contrary to widespread mainstream media reports, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is neither dead nor dropped. This isn’t the first time mainstream media has gotten this wrong.

ADDENDUM, 5/14: It turns out that the walkout by women delegates was over the Marriage and Divorce Bill. The bill would have “it would abolish forced marriage and allow women to divorce their husbands on the basis of cruelty, among others,” according to Daily Monitor. The walkout occurred when the Attorney General said that he was not ready for the bill to be voted on.

Uganda’s High Court Ruling Against “Hang Them” Tabloid Campaign

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2011

Ugandan High Court ruling barring Rolling Stone from publishing names and addresses of private LGBT citizens (Click to download: 1.3MB/10 pages)

As we reported earlier this morning, Uganda’s high court released a ruling permanently prohibiting the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the venerable U.S. publication by the same name) from continuing its public vigilante campaign against that country’s LGBT community. We now have the text of that ruling (PDF: 1.3 MB/10 pages), which was signed on December 30 by Judge Musoke Kibuuka.

Judge Kibuuka found that the actions of Rolling Stone violated the privacy rights of LGBT Ugandans, and as well as the right to human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment. Of the latter, Judge Kibukka wrote:

Upon that objective test, court would easily conclude that by publishing the identities of the applicants and exposing their homes coupled with the explicit call to hang them because “they are after our kids”, the respondents extracted the applicants from the other members of the community who are regarded as worthy, in equal measure, of human dignity and who ought to be treated as worthy of dignity and respect. Clearly the call to hang gays in dozens tends to tremendously threaten their right to human dignity. Death is the ultimate end of all that is known worldly to be good. If a person is only worthy of death, and arbitrarily, then that person’s human dignity is placed at the lowest ebb. It is threatened to be abused or infringed.

For the objective test, the court cited a Canadian case from 2002, when a man published an advertisement showing four scriptural passages next to an image of two stick men holding hands inside a circle with a line through it. The CBC notes that the decision was overturned by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in 2006. It’s unclear whether the grounds for that 2006 decision would have any bearing on the Ugandan case.

The court rejected Rolling Stones argument that because homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, the applicants were not eligible for protection because they were criminals:

It must be noted that this application is not about homosexuality per se. it is about fundamental rights and freedoms. However, court not agrees that section 145, of the Penal Code Act renders every person who is gay a criminal under that section of the Penal Code Act. The scope of section 145 is narrower than gayism generally. One has to commit an act prohibited under section 145 in order to be regarded a criminal.

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

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

This point may serve as fodder for those who support the passage of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. That bill greatly expands the definition of what constitutes homosexual behavior far beyond the sex act. It will also criminalize advocacy on behalf of LGBT people and make criminals of family members who refuse to report their loved ones to police. If that bill were to become law, merely bringing this case to court and arguing in defense of LGBT people could be taken as “promotion” of homosexuality, leading to fines and a sentence of between five to seven years. The bill may be brought to a vote during a lame-duck session of Parliament following the February 18 elections.

The court issued a permanent injunction against Rolling Stone, “their servants and agents, from any further publications of the identities of the persons and homes of the applicants and homosexuals generally.” The order only applies to Rolling Stone, but human rights advocates believe that it may serve as a precedent for other tabloids to follow. Red Pepper and Onion (also no relation to the U.S. satirical newspaper by the same name) have also engaged in vigilante campaigns in recent months.

The judge awarded each applicant 1,500,000 Uganda Shillings (US$650) for damages, plus court costs.

Giles Muhume, Rolling Stone editor, remained defiant in the face of the court ruling. In a press release, he said that “homos had a short-lived smile today” but that Rolling Stone would appeal the decision. Calling the ruling a risk to media freedom, Muhume added, “The newspaper will fight homos on different fronts. Our supporters should remain strong –- the agents of the devil shall be defeated.”

Click here to read the Ugandan High Court’s decision.

What Did Don Schmierer Know?

Timothy Kincaid

December 9th, 2009

Don SchmiererDon 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, 2009We 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, 2009Someone 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.

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

Click here to read Don Schmierer’s statement.

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