Ugandan Activist Speaks Out Against Anti-Homosexuality Bill
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
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.
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
February 14th, 2012
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
January 3rd, 2011
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.
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.”
What Did Don Schmierer Know?
December 9th, 2009
Don Schmierer, a member of Exodus International’s Board of Directors was one of three Americans who traveled to Uganda to participate in an anti-gay conference last spring. That conference was the springboard from which anti-gay Ugandans propelled a pogrom against gay people which has resulted in proposed legislation to imprison gay Ugandans, to execute “repeat offenders” and HIV positive gays, to ban pro-gay advocacy, and to require friends, family, and acquaintances of gay people to turn them in to the government.
See our full coverage here.
Nine months after we here at Box Turtle Bulletin began our campaign to inform the world of this attack on human rights – after his participation was exposed by Rachel Maddow – Don Schmierer released a statement on the Exodus blog. In order to ensure that this statement is retained in its original form, it is included in its entirety at the bottom of this commentary.
The theme of Schmierer’s statement is that he was ignorant of any anti-gay political activism at the conference, that his message was redemptive and compassionate, and that he has no responsibility for the current state of affairs in Uganda.
But this is just the latest in the efforts of those at Exodus to position Schmierer in a such a way as to deflect criticism. We will inspect Schmierer’s statement, along with those of Exodus, and determine whether Don Schmierer was duped by anti-gay political activists or whether Don Schmierer is untruthfully seeking to cover up his part in an attack on human rights.
Let’s start at the beginning.
February 24, 2009 – Box Turtle Bulletin became aware of Don Schmierer’s scheduled attendance at the Uganda conference. We wrote a commentary condemning this decision and warning of possible consequences.
This conference will be taking place on very dangerous ground for LGBT citizens and residents of Uganda. Martin Ssempa, the influential evangelical pastor at Makerere Community Church, has called for open season on LGBT people – This is no idle threat.
Although we know that Exodus is aware of content at BTB, we left nothing to chance. I emailed Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, and made certain that he was aware that a Board Member of his organization would be participating in the conference. Further, I made certain that Alan was aware of Lively’s anti-gay advocacy and give the following warning:
Considering Lively’s history, there is little doubt that the crux of his presentation will be to make claims about the nature and intent of gay persons in Uganda and to encourage reprisals, state action, and public abuse of gay persons in that country. His political and religious efforts in Balkan states has contributed greatly to physical harassment of gay persons in that area (including pelting gay Christians with excrement and rotten food), a result that he did not discourage.
March 1, 2009 – Alan replied off the record and I will respect that request by not making his communication public.
My response included the following:
Please let me know if you and the Exodus leadership develop a position on Don Schmierer’s activities in Uganda. We will, of course, be interested in seeing whether the statements of Scott Lively or event organizer Stephen Langa will be similar to the light-the-torches-grab-the-pitchforks language they have both used in the past and will be looking to see whether Schmierer denounces or implicitly endorses their rhetoric.
NOTE: By March 1, we had already warned Exodus/Chambers/Schmierer that the conference would be political in nature, would likely result in physical harm to gay Ugandans, and that Schmierer would need to denounce the rhetoric or that his participation would be perceived as an implicit endorsement.
March 5, 2009 – the Uganda anti-gay conference started. Steven Langa introduced the purpose of the conference and its American guests. Our reporting from that day:
Langa began his talk by saying that Uganda law, which provides a life sentence for those convicted of homosexual acts, isn’t strong enough.
He then announced that foreign gays were bribing Ugandan children to spread homosexuality. And then the rest of the day was provided for Don Schmierer to tell attendees that “one of the biggest causes of homosexuality is the lack of “good upbringing” in families—children should be brought up in proper Christian ways.”
We have received private communication from some in attendance that Don Schmierer did present himself as a Board Member of Exodus International and left listeners with the impression that he was representing that organization at the conference.
NOTE: On the day that Schmierer spoke but before his presentation, Langa spoke about increasing civil penalties for homosexuality above their current life-sentence punishment. We have no report that Schmierer objected.
March 6, 2009 – A government official announced to the conference that Uganda would soon be considering a bill to crack down on homosexuality. Our reporting from that day:
The Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo has today told a conference organized to discuss the ways to fight Homosexuality that he will soon submit a bill on pornography and homosexuality for discussion in Parliament.
Scott Lively encouraged the government to force gay people into ex-gay therapy.
That day Schmierer continued his discussions on family life. He made no assertions about the nature of homosexuality or gay people, but he gave his implicit endorsement of the assertions that would be presented by Lively.
After someone claimed that homosexuality is unnatural, Kasha asked, “Who decides what is natural?” Schmierer responded directly to the second question saying that his role at the workshop involves teaching about family values; other facilitators would answer questions about homosexuality being unnatural later in the conference.
A relatively unknown ex-gay named Caleb Lee Brundidge, an associate of Richard Cohen, shared his testimony that afternoon. However, first Steven Langa continued his attacks on gay people from a political perspective.
Langa was the first to take the floor. A harangue. Uganda is going into total moral collapse. It is worse and more serious than economic collapse. Soon, the world will turn inside out and upside down, and homosexuals will be presidents….!
Concerned by the reports out of Uganda, Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a supporter of traditional perspectives on sexuality with a history and contacts in the ex-gay world, recognized the situation in that nation to be volatile and dangerous and called on Alan Chambers to have Schmierer disavow the political agenda of the convention.
March 7, 2009 – The conference continued. Scott Lively spoke. Having been told that homosexuality is preventable by Don Schmierer and that it is changeable by Caleb Lee Brundidge, Lively was there to depict gay people as evil and the source of most of the world’s greatest inhumanities.
On Saturday, Lively repeated his discredited historical revisionist theory in which he claims that the cornerstone of Germany’s Nazi lies firmly in the gay movement, and that the gay movement today, if left unchecked, will result in a similarly murderous fascism wherever it goes. In Kampala, he went further by expanding his examples of what he calls homosexuals’ murderous impulse by blaming the 1994 Rwanda genocide on gay men.
Lively also played one of his favorite themes, equating homosexuality with pedophilia. As this is also one of Langa’s themes, their bold declarations that gay foreigners were preying on Uganda’s children was readily accepted.
To the best of our knowledge, Don Schmierer said absolutely nothing to contradict Lively’s absurdities, to dampen the fires of hatred and bigotry, to oppose oppressive political schemes, or to call for compassion or redemption.
March 8, 2009 – We note that Exodus International links to Scott Lively’s Nazi-revisionist claims with the title Homosexuality and the Nazi Party
March 9, 2009 – Exodus removes the link to Scott Lively without comment.
March 11, 2009 – We published an open letter to the Executive Board of Exodus calling on them to oppose the Ugandan political action and remove those responsible.
But truly concerned about the situation in Uganda and the shocking refusal of Exodus or Schmierer to respond, I took the additional step of contacting the executive director of an Exodus member ministry. Although we disagree about theology and the effectiveness of reorientation therapy, I respect his integrity.
We established a communication through which I was able to again reach out to Alan to plea for action to counteract the damage done at the conference.
March 13, 2009 – the Christian Post quotes Alan Chambers on the Uganda conference.
In response, Exodus International said it applauds its board member Don Schmierer, who attended the Uganda conference, for his effort to convey an “alternative message that encompasses a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality,” according to a statement by Exodus International president Alan Chambers to The Christian Post on Wednesday.
The full statement:
“Unfortunately, Uganda as a country has demonstrated severe hostility towards homosexuals supporting criminalization of homosexual behavior and proposing compulsory therapy – positions that Exodus International unequivocally denounces. It is our sincere desire to offer an alternative message that encompasses a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality not just here in America, but around the world. We applaud our board member’s attempt to convey these truths to a country in need.”
There was nothing from Schmierer, not even acknowledgment of the applause.
March 14, 2009 – Someone commenting on a site for Australian skiers said the following:
Last week I sat next to this guy (Don Schmierer) on a flight from USA to Europe. He was on his way to Uganda to speak at a conference there on how to convert people from homosexuality.
We started talking and he was interesting. He was a nice guy, moderate in tone and personality, and concerned not to offend me in case I had different views.
Of course, he has batsh!t crazy ideas that The Gay is caused by a domineering parent, or neglected kids or broken homes. Or something. Whatever, it’s a 100% acquired condition. Also the Nazis were all gay.
He works for Exodus International, which apparently is the leading Christian ministry focusing on the ex-gay (conversion) thing. They are not short of cash as it’s funded by billionaire Howard Ahmanson. Africa is a big focus for them – it’s religious and predominantly anti-gay, and Exodus wants to keep it that way.
Anyway, if anyone wants “Preventing the Homosexual Condition in Today’s Youth” I now have a copy.
I was unaware of this comment until a few days ago when a reader linked to it. I am attempting to follow up with the commenter. Until then, I cannot vouch for its veracity.
NOTE: If this statement is accurate, it suggests that Schmierer was not only aware or Lively’s Nazi-revisionism, but was in agreement. Further, it appears that Schmierer was aware of the political implications of his trip.
March 28, 2009 – I asked the executive director of the ex-gay ministry with whom I was communicating for one final favor:
I know that Don Schmierer has contact info for Steven Langa. It was Langa that organized the conference he spoke at which was the initiation point for this political effort. Can you please contact Don and ask him if he will speak to Langa and do what he can to prevent violence.
My contact, distressed by the situation, said he would be happy to do so.
Summer 2009 – Caleb Bundidge writes of his trip to Uganda in Richard Cohen’s newsletter. (PDF: 7MB/12 pages)
The forty seminar participants were professional ministers, clergy, teachers, counselors, and SSA strugglers. All were greatly enlightened by the content of the presentations. Lives were changed forever thanks to those who contributed to my trip to Uganda! One Bishop in attendance was more affirming of the gay agenda. Through the course of the conference, he became more informed and had a change of mind and heart.
NOTE: Bundidge makes no mention whatsoever of a gay bishop in attendance. Nor has anyone else reporting about the conference from any perspective.
November 16, 2009 – Exodus prepares a letter which objected to specific provisions of the “Kill Gays” bill. They limited their criticism to only those portions that would impact the ability of ex-gay ministries to counsel same-sex attracted persons.
In the comments on our thread, Alan Chambers strengthened his objections to the bill and pledged to help work against it. He described Don Schmierer’s involvement as follows:
I remain absolutely sure that Don Schmierer had no idea what all of this was about until on the ground there and that his desire in speaking was to teach what he always teaches about giving grace to those in need.
December 2, 2009 – Rachel Maddow breaks the story naming Schmierer and his involvement in the conference.
December 3, 2009 – Don Schmierer broke his silence. He issued the statement we’ve included below and signs on, after the fact, to the Exodus letter which has previously been sent.
In reviewing the chain of events as I personally know them to be, and comparing them to the statement issued by Schmierer, I see some significant discrepancies. Frankly, I have difficulty in seeing Schmierer’s statement as being truthful.
If Don Schmierer would like to make another statement, one that is reflective of the facts, I invite him to do so. I would also remind him that true repentance includes attempting to remedy his wrong.
If Don Schmierer wants the gay community – or God – to forgive him for the evil that has resulted from his actions, he is morally obligated to do whatever he can – and my expectations are very high – to repudiate this bill and all that it represents, to denounce the political efforts of Steve Langa and Scott Lively, and to expend time, effort, finances, and political capital in seeing that gay Ugandans do not suffer as a result of his own personal contribution to the situation.
To do otherwise will tell us in no uncertain terms that while Don Schmierer speaks of love and compassion, these words are but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
Scott Lively: The Gay Agenda Is “To Turn The Whole World Gay”
March 10th, 2009
Kasha Jacqueline has reported some more statements made by Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively at the anti-gay conference held in Uganda last weekend. That conference featured three anti-gay American activists, including Watchmen On the Walls co-founder Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and Caleb Lee Brundidge, of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation.
This lastest post by Kasha at the IGLHRC web site focuses mainly on a question-and-answer session with Lively. It’s unclear to me whether this is a literal transcript or a highly detailed paraphrasing. I’ve watched Lively speak at length during multiple sessions at two other conferences. If this isn’t a transcript, then Kasha certainly did a great job at capturing Lively’s tone, manner and cadence.
On the gay movement’s tactics in Uganda and elsewhere:
They gay movement is very evil and we must stop it immediately.
You have a gay movement in Uganda that is operating at a high level, which you must bear in mind. This gay movement around the world has a handbook that they use and that is what the Ugandan gay movement is using now. You must be ready to stop this gay agenda. And don’t think that fighting the gay movement is the solution—you will be fighting a losing battle because this movement has come to stop humanity. They have a clear vision, mission and strategies. The only way to defeat them is to compete with them. Their movement is 70 years old and that’s why they don’t care about you. They know you will die soon and they will replace you and take over the nation. They have decided to recruit the youth.
You have a lot of work to do. Homosexuality is immoral and we cannot sit back and see immorality controlling nations. Homosexuality is equivalent to paedophilia in many ways. Homosexuals cannot control their sexual desires and behaviors. If all of us acted upon our desires and feelings then where would the world be? Families would break up because of adultery. People would continue to molest children, etc.
Again, Lively reinforces the charge that gays molest children as a tactic for recruitment. This, despite the evidence from experts in the field of child sexual abuse who say that gay people do not molest children at rates any different from straight people.
On the LGBT movement’s ultimate goals:
“But again why is it so important for us to stop people from becoming gay?”—a participant asked. It’s very important because the homosexual agenda is to turn the whole world gay.
Lively was asked about the World Health Organization’s scrapping of homosexuality as a mental illness. Again, he sees conspiracy:
Gay people have penetrated all international bodies to their advantage; they are the ones in all important places/positions because of their political agenda. Editors of national newspapers, TV chiefs… Remember I told you they have a very clear vision, mission and strategies, said Lively.
And finally, we cannot leave unnoticed the veiled threat which levied against gay observers at the conference by an unnamed “facilitator”:
“They are homosexuals among us updating their networks about what we are discussing. What should we do about that?”—an angry participant asked. If they are homosexuals here, feel at home, responded a facilitator. We are not against you. We love you. But if you have been planning to get us, we are planning to get you back.
It is unclear what the facilitator would consider constituting “planning to get us,” but the response of “we are planning to get you back” must be taken seriously in a country where LGBT advocates have been forced into hiding or made to flee the country. Police sweeps, public vigilantism and extrajudicial torture and deaths were common during recent anti-gay pogroms heralded by Ugandan media with close ties to the government. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, and conviction can garner a life sentence.
This conference, which featured Exodus board member Don Schmierer during its first two days, has recommended an added penalty for gays and lesbians of mandatory ex-gay therapy.
Uganda Anti-Gay Conference: Day Two
March 6th, 2009
The Uganda anti-gay conference continues for a second day, with no further explanation on conference leaders’ endorsement of a parliamentarian proposal to upgrade Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law to include forced “therapy” on those who are convicted. Ugandan law already provides for a life sentence on conviction.
Exodus board member Don Schmierer has been a highly visible speaker at that conference. We contacted Exodus International President Alan Chambers expressing our concerns and seeking his comment a week ago, but his response was off the record and noncommittal. With Schmierer speaking at that conference for a second day — and as all accounts of that conference repeatedly identify him as an Exodus International board member — we eagerly await an official policy pronouncement from Exodus International on whether they support criminalization of homosexuality and the forced “conversions” of convicted gays and lesbians.
The blog of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) continues its coverage of the Uganda conference. Schmierer was again the featured speaker for the morning session. Kasha Jacqueline was there, and relayed her observations to IGLHRC blogger Victor Mukasa:
The facilitators for the first half of the day were still members of the Ugandan organization Family Life Network, together with Don Schmierer, a member of the board of the American “ex-gay” organization, Exodus International.
The workshop started with a recap of the first day of the conference. Participants were asked to share what they had learned or what captured their attention. Kasha Jacqueline told me that the first participant had nothing else to say except, “Homosexuals are sick and dangerous.” In response, she raised her hand and asked, “What disease was discovered yesterday that you claim they are suffering from?”
After someone claimed that homosexuality is unnatural, Kasha asked, “Who decides what is natural?” Schmierer responded directly to the second question saying that his role at the workshop involves teaching about family values; other facilitators would answer questions about homosexuality being unnatural later in the conference. For the rest of the morning, Schmierer continued with his teachings on family values and how to manage children in the family.
I would presume that when Schmierer pointed to “other facilitators [who] would answer questions about homosexuality being unnatural,” he’s referring to Scott Lively, a co-founder of virulent anti-gay extremist group Watchmen On the Walls and author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,in which he writes that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” At a Watchmen conference in Riga, Latvia in 2007, Lively claimed that gays were evil “followers of the Father of Lies.” He further described gays as being “sick,” claiming that gays don’t really want to be gay but are trapped in the grip of a militant homosexual leadership. Earlier that year, Lively excused the anti-gay hate crime murder of Satendar Singh before an audience in Novosibirsk, Russia.
The IGHRC notes that a film was shown just before lunch featuring American ex-gays:
A film was shown during the session before lunch featuring “ex-gay” Americans testifying about how they were “cured” of homosexuality. All described abuse and violence in their families during childhood and poor relationships with one of their parents. All were “born again Christians” who had “healed” from homosexuality.
Participants were shocked to hear such testimonies for the first time. They asked questions like, “How long does it take for one to heal from homosexuality?” and “Does it hurt?” One of the “ex-homosexuals” on the film testified that he had a poor relationship with his father. This led him to wanting to be with men looking for a father’s love. After the film one participant asked, “If he was looking for a father’s love from men, how did those relationships turn sexual? Would he have become sexual with his own father had they had a good relationship?”
There are two possible films which may fit this description. One is the 2004 film “I Do Exist.” That one features Noé Gutierrez, who has since denounced the ex-gay movement and says that he is no longer ex-gay. An earlier film, “It’s Not Gay,”features Michael Johnston, who then headed Karuso Ministries. That film came out in 2000. In 2003, Johnston was forced to shut down his ministry after it was discovered that he had been hosting orgies with other men, taking drugs, and practicing unsafe sex without disclosing his HIV seropositive status. The American Family Association still sells “It’s Not Gay,” desipte Johnston’s very public downfall. There are very few ex-gay films, and I can’t think of any others which fit this description off hand. I’m trying to find out more about it, and will pass along what I’ve learned.
[Update: Another, perhaps more likely possibility for the film is the 2006 "Homosexuality 101," which was produced by NARTH president Julie Harren. It features Alan Chambers, Julie Harren, Mike Ensley (recently laid off as Exodus Youth Analyst), Christine Sneeringer (head of Exodus-affiliated New Creations Ministry), and Jack Harren (Director of West Palm Beach, Florida's Family Ties ministry and, at that time, head of a local PFOX chapter). Of the three films, "Homoseuxality 101" is the only one being sold by Exodus.]
The conference’s afternoon session was given over to Caleb Lee Brundidge, of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation and the Phoenix-based Extreme Prophetic ministries, where he goes around to area mortuaries trying to raise the dead. So far, he reports no successes, which no doubt approximates his success rate as a counselor for Cohen’s hug-and-cuddle cures for homosexuality. His presentation at Kampala appears to have been similarly unimpressive:
An LGBTI activist told me that Caleb was contradicting himself. “First he testified that he didn’t have a good relationship with his father. Later, when a participant noted that there are a lot of homosexuals that she knows that come from great families and have good relationships with their parents, Caleb interjected and said that he had a great relationship with his father. That was contradictory!”
GayUganda sums up the mode of the conference:
[Stephen] Langa was the first to take the floor. A harangue. Uganda is going into total moral collapse. It is worse and more serious than economic collapse. Soon, the world will turn inside out and upside down, and homosexuals will be presidents….! You get the gist, hey? Rallying up the troops. Making sure that people get the message.
Don [Schmierer] handles prevention of homosexuality. Lee [Brundidge] is the ex-gay, and Scot [Lively] is the guy who handles advocacy. And Langa rallies everyone up. In apocalyptic, fire and brimstone terms. Question- it gets old when I am blamed for the worlds ills. So, thanks, but no thanks. And by the way, volunteers wanted for the formation of Homosexual Prevention Clubs in Uganda. Any takers?
…And he [Brundidge] then went ahead and described the steps to take in the Reparative Therapy. Much counseling, touching, listening, backsliding and some casting out of spirits.
Scott Lively takes the stage tomorrow. That’s where the real fun begins.
Anti-Gay Conference Kicks Off In Kampala
March 5th, 2009
The IGLHRC blog has someone at the conference, and Victor Mukasa has the goods:
The workshop began at 8:30 a.m. after a meeting between Stephen Langa, leader of Family Life Network (the Ugandan organization hosting the workshop), his American guest speakers and Ugandan members of parliament.
…Kasha Jacqueline told me that Stephen Langa was telling immense lies, claiming that gay rights activists recruit young people into homosexuality. Langa testified that he knows 2 girls at a particular boarding school who were given a lot of money by gay activists in Uganda to recruit their colleagues into lesbianism. He claimed that by the end of the year, they had managed to recruit 13 friends, all of whom were given money to recruit others.
Kasha was incensed by these claims: “To be sincere, I have spent a long time as a leader in the gay struggle in Uganda and sometimes we cannot afford to do our advocacy work because of lack of funds,” she said. “How then can we give out money for recruitment. That’s not logical and it is a huge lie he was telling to Ugandans.”
Langa began his talk by saying that Uganda law, which provides a life sentence for those convicted of homosexual acts, isn’t strong enough. This is also a country that has had three successive years of public witch hunts to root out LGBT people from among ordinary citizens — witch hunts which have included arrests, beatings, torture, and public humiliation. But Langa thinks that’s not enough.
The rest of the day’s conference appears to have been devoted to Don Schmierer’s talk, which centers on the blame-the-parents view of homosexualty that dominates the American ex-gay movement:
The rest of the workshop was dominated by Don Schmierer, a member of the board of the American “ex-gay” organization, Exodus International. His presentation was focused around his understanding of family morals and values. He told participants 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.
He said that 56% of homosexuals experience abuse and violence in their families during their childhood. The abuse leads to pain, anger and hatred in the life of a child and this turns them into homosexuals. He emphasized that “good” family values play a big role in preventing homosexuality in children and encouraged parents to ensure that these values are observed in their families.
Got that? Children from families with “bad upbringing” become homosexuals. I guess children from good families grow up to be Don Schmierer. I’ll take my family any day.
Caleb Lee Brundidge of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation and the Phoenix-based Extreme Prophetic ministries will be on tap for tomorrow. That will likely be a very entertaining, if not necessarily enlightening talk. Between beating pillows and the cuddle cure, and attempts to raise the dead — thus far, all attempts to do so have been unsuccessful — it’s hard to predict what will happen.
Nazi revisionist and Watchmen On the Walls co-founder Scott Lively will be on tap to speak on Saturday. He is also the author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, in which he writes that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” If past behavior is any guide, that talk will be the highlight of the conference. We already know he agrees with Langa on one thing: Lively too, believes that all “homosexual advocacy” should be criminalized.