Ugandans Celebrate Anti-Homosexuality Act
April 1st, 2014
Uganda’s Inter-Religious Council, a coalition of religious denominations, organized a ceremony of prayer and thanksgiving yesterday at the Kololo Independence Grounds, the nationally-revered site where Uganda’s independence was declared in 1962. Religious and political leaders gathered to honor President Yoweri Museveni for signing the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law despite widespread international condemnation. Buzzfeed’s J. Lester Feder was there and described the carnival atmosphere at Kololo:
Fire jugglers, acrobats, and schoolchildren performed at a five-hour ceremony in the Ugandan capital on Monday called to celebrate the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act.
Speakers paid tribute to President Yoweri Museveni, the official guest of honor, and linked Uganda’s fight against homosexuality with shedding its colonial past in an event that had the feeling of a campaign rally.
“Today, we come here again [to celebrate] sovereignty and freedom … [and] to take charge of our destiny,” said David Bahati, the lawmaker who sponsored the bill, noting that the event was taking place at the Kololo Independence Grounds, the parade grounds where Ugandan independence was granted in 1962. “The citizens of Uganda are with you, Mr. President. The religious and cultural leaders are with you, Mr. President. The members of parliament and the nation is behind you.”
Sheik Shaban Mubajje, Mufti of Uganda, spoke on behalf of the Inter-Religious Council in offering prayers of thanksgiving for the Anti-Homosexuality Act, while complaining that foreign donors have cut US$3.5 million in aid to the group that had been earmarked its HIV/AIDS programs. HIV/AIDS providers and legal experts have warned that the overly broad wording of the Anti-Homosexuality Act’s “aiding and abetting” clause would, at best, have a chilling effect on the delivery HIV/AIDS services to LGBT people, and, at worst, could be interpreted as criminalizing it. Other religious leaders offering thanksgiving prayers included Roman Catholic Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, and evangelical pastor Simon Peter Emiau. Ahead of the celebration, Pastor Martin Ssempa, of “eat-da-poo-poo” fame and staunch supporter of the new law, led a march of supporters from Makarere University to Kololo.
Museveni charged that Western countries were “attacking our culture, which is the bedrock of our survival,” and promised to support a domestic fund to replace lost foreign dollars for HIV/AIDS.
VIDEO: Ssempa, Kyazze Celebrate Anti-Homosexuality Bill
February 25th, 2014
Pastor Michael Kyazze of the Omega Healing Center, a Kampala church, celebrates President Yoweri Museveni’s signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law:
“A law of love, a law of order has been signed, and your future since will be better than what other perpetrators were trying to promote. There is no one who is going to kill homosexuals. No one is going to kill the homosexuals, the law doesn’t say so, but the law says the habit itself is unnatural and the habit itself, if it is promoted by anyone, that person is liable for punishment.
Pastor Martin “Eat Da Poo-Poo” Ssempa also celebrates:
“The biggest problem here is confusion. Homosexuals are boys who think they are girls, and girls who think they are boys. So the issue is they want to confuse us, but Africa said, “No confusion!”
NTV also interviews other Ugandan officials and reviews reactions from retired South African Desmund TuTu and and the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay.
VIDEO: Ugandan Morning TV Devotes Segment to Anti-Homosexuality Bill Debate
February 25th, 2014
In this video, Morning @NTVhost Simon Kasyate dues his best to referee a debate between and Anti-Homosexuality Act support and virulently anti-gay pentecostal pastor Martin “Eat Da Poo-Poo” Ssempa, and virulently anti-gay pentecostal pastor but Anti-Homosexuality Act opponent Solomon Male, who calls it “a populist bill, it is opportunistic, it is based on nepotism, and it is based on lies.” Male’s still as anti-gay as ever though. One of his objection now seems centered on an incorrect reading of Uganda’s gener-neutral law against pedophilia which madates the death penalty for anyone convicted of child sexual abuse. Male contends that with the removal of the death penalty from the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, that homosexual child abusers (as though they are the only kind of homosexuals in existence) will now have a lesser penalty than heterosexual child abusers. In 2012, Solomon voiced his opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, accusing security agencies of covering up for prominent people who were supposedly “luring” children in to homosexuality and calling it “a waste of precious time, financial and other resources that should have been applied more productively elsewhere.”
Ssempa counters that Uganda “has joined the group of superpower nations such as Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, in taking a strong stand against sodomy.” Ssempa has designs to take the bill to the parliament of the East African Community and then to the African Union.
The Secret Plan to Pass Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill by Stealth
December 27th, 2013
Last Friday’s passage of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill by Uganda’s Parliament caught quite a lot of people by surprise including, it would appear, members of President Yoweri Museveni’s government. The bill was nowhere to be found on Parliament’s Order Paper for the day (RTF: 131KB/5 pages), and there is still some question of whether Parliament actually had a proper quorum when Speaker Rebecca Kadaga (who is among the bill’s more vigorous defenders) called for a snap vote. Warren Throckmorton points to this article by Uganda’s Observer which gives us a few clues about the plan to bring the bill up by stealth:
But promoters of the bill were encouraged by the recent passage of similar laws in Russia and Nigeria. Sources said the final onslaught was planned mid last week, and on Thursday evening. The bill’s promoters sent out messages to supportive MPs from both NRM and opposition.
“I went to bed knowing that this bill was coming up, they sent me a message yesterday [Thursday],” Dr Lulume Bayigga (DP, Buikwe South) told The Observer.
At least four MPs: Fox Odoi (West Budama North), Sam Otada (Kibanda), Krispus Ayena (Oyam North) and Abdul Katuntu (Bugweri) were known to be against the bill, having dissented from the position of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, and wrote a minority report against the bill. The minority report was, however, signed only by Odoi and Otada, who were not in the House to defend their position.
“I was not aware that it was coming because it [was] not reflected on the [hard] copy and the electronic copy of the order paper that was sent to my email,” Odoi said when contacted.
As Parliament voted to pass the bill, (M.P. David) Bahati, the promoter, paced the corridors, following proceedings on TV, and only appeared after it was passed to join his colleagues in celebration.
“This is the perfect Christmas gift we could give Ugandans, I want to thank the speaker for her courage that led to the passing of this bill,” Bahati told journalists.
He later told The Observer that it was tactical not to include the bill on the order paper because they feared government would block it.
“We knew that if it were to be included on the order paper, they [government] would scheme against it, it was in our plan that members request for it and the speaker uses her prerogative to have it included on the order paper,” Bahati told us on Friday.
…(Pentecostal pastor Martin) Ssempa was part of the group that planned the final onslaught. He said the plot was hatched on Wednesday, but they agreed to keep it secret.
“If we had let it out, we couldn’t have handled the resistance of gay activists; by this time, this place [Parliament] would be flooded by whites resisting the law,” he said.
Journalist Andrew Mwenda, founder of Uganda’s Independent newspaper, appeared on NTV to give his thoughts on Parliament’s move on what he calls “a very primitive law”:
Uganda’s Parliament Passes Anti-Homosexuality Bill (UPDATED)
December 20th, 2013
— Martin Ssempa (@martinssempa) December 20, 2013
Breaking News : I am officially illegal : Uganda Parliament passes the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009
— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) December 20, 2013
AHB being debated right now in Parliament of Uganda. Motion for 2nd reading. Be very alert. Police raided our workshop just yesterday.
— Kasha Jacqueline (@KashaJacqueline) December 20, 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 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.
Trangender Activist and Pentecostal Pastor Spar On Ugandan TV
December 20th, 2012
Pepe Julian Onziema, a transgender advocate with Sexual Minorities Uganda, appeared on a talk show on Uganda’s NBS television with anti-gay pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa, who has been one of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s most outspoken supporters. I thought it was encouraging to see the host, reacting to Ssempa’s referring to Pepe using a female pronoun, interject strongly, “Mister Onziema!” But as you can see, that hardly deterred Ssempa from producing a banana to “explain” homosexuality.
The language is mostly in English, although they switch to Luganda from time to time. But you can certainly get more than the drift. At one point, Ssempa has gotten himself so riled up that it looks like he was about to leap out of his chair. The host was able to impose a momentary semblance of order so that this exchange could take place.
Host: Pepe, how do you want society to perceive you?
Pepe: “As a human being. As a person who is part of society…
Host: But society has rejected you.
Pepe: It has not rejected me. It is the propaganda of the likes of Ssempa. My family loves me as I am.
Ssempa quickly resumed interrupting and shouting over Onziema every time he tried to speak. But Onziema got a very good dig in at the host: “I cannot believe you put me on the show with a hooligan.”
As you can see, Ssempa remains bizarrely obsessed with gay sex. In January, 2010, he displayed gay S&M porn at a press conference while calling for the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He did the same thing again the following month at a news conference in his church. His antics when viral later that summer with re-mixes of Ssempa’s “Eat Da Poo-Poo” talks.
Ssempa is believed to be linked to the now-defunct Rolling Stone tabloid (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name), which launched an infamous 2010 “Hang Them!” vigilante campaign featuring LGBT advocate David Kato on the front cover. Kato, Onziema, and Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera sued Rolling Stone, and in a landmark ruling won an injunction barring the tabloid from any further outing campaigns. But Kato was brutally murdered just a few weeks later. Last month, was convicted by a Kampala court as part of the conspiracy to accuse a rival pastor of homosexuality.
Uganda President’s Remarks “Split” Anti-Gay Activists
December 18th, 2012
According to this NTV report, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni’s remarks last weekend has stirred some controversy, pitting die-hard anti-gay activists against fanatic anti-gay activists. (Yeah, I can’t tell the two camps apart either.) As you watch this report, it may help to have this dance card handy so you can keep the characters straight:
Pastor Solomon Male: He is against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, not because he thinks gay people shouldn’t be jailed, but because he thinks that the law would actually end up protecting powerful gay people in government and business. In October, Male was convicted by a Uganda court of conspiring to tarnish a rival pastor’s reputation by accusing him of homosexuality.
James Nsaba Buturo: He is the former Ethics and Integrity Minister who was among the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s strongest supporters. One U.S. State Department cable posted to Wikileaks described Buturo as “obsessed” with the bill. In this report, Buturo again claims that the death penalty provision as “a falsehood which has been spread around the world,” despite the bill’s exceptionally plain language spelling out the death penalty specifically. Buturo was among the Ugandan officials who met with American anti-gay extremist Scott Lively in 2009 just as the idea of drafting a new Anti-Homosexuality Bill was taking shape.
Pastor Martin Ssempa: The famous “Eat-Da-Poo-Poo” pastor, believed to be linked to the now-defunct Rolling Stone tabloid (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name), which launched an infamous 2010 “Hang Them!” vigilante campaign which featured LGBT advocate David Kato on the front cover. Kato was brutally murdered just a few months later in January 2011. Ssempa was convicted in October with Male as part of the conspiracy to accuse a rival pastor of homosexuality.
Martin Ssempa Begins Serving Sentence
October 17th, 2012
And he brings the cameras along to turn what was supposed to be punishment for wrongdoing into a canonization of St. Ssempa.
Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, who had been a vigorous supporter and apologist for that country’s proposal to impose the death penalty on gay people, was found guilty two weeks ago with five others of falsely accusing a rival pastor of having sexual relationships with male members of his congregation. The guilty verdict stemmed from a May 2009 incident in which Ssempa and the others engaged in a conspiracy to coerce a male church member at Robert Kayanja’s Rubaga Miracle Center Cathedral to claim that the parishioner had had sex with Kayanja.
The six were sentenced to a fine of one million Shillings each (about US$390) and one hundred hours of community service. Uganda’s NTV caught up with Ssempa — undoubtedly at Ssempa’s invitation — at Mulago Referral Hospital as he started serving his sentence. Ssempa is many things, including a masterful manipulator of mass media, as this clip very clearly illustrates.
Uganda TV Coverage of Martin “Eat Da Poo-Poo” Ssempa’s Conviction
October 4th, 2012
Uganda’s pastor Martin Ssempa yesterday was without his usual strut and bravado as he learned that he and fellow pastors Solomon Male, Robert Kayiira amd Michael Kyazze were found guilty of falsely accusing a rival pastor of having sexual relationships with male members of his congregation. The guilty verdict stems from a May 2009 incident in which Ssempa and the others engaged in a conspiracy to coerce a church member at Robert Kayanja’s Rubaga Miracle Center Cathedral to claim that he had had sex with Kayanja.
The sentence imposed on Ssempa, Male and the others is light, but I suspect that the damage to their reputation may be significant. While Ssempa and Male may receive some support from the West, they have since 2009 seen many prominent Western pastors and organizations cut financial and other ties to them.
This is not the only case in which Ssempa is believed to be involved in launching public accusations against others. There is considerable evidence suggesting that Ssempa had close ties to the now-defunct Rolling Stone tabloid (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name), which launched an infamous 2010 “Hang Them!” vigilante campaign which featured LGBT advocate David Kato on the front cover. Kato was brutally murdered just a few months later in January 2011.
Martin Ssempa (the “Eat Da Poo-poo” Pastor), Five Others Convicted by Ugandan Court Over False Sodomy Charges
October 3rd, 2012
Martin Ssempa and Solomon Male were among four Ugandan pastors, along with a business man and a musician, who were convicted by a Kampala court for conspiring to tarnish a rival pastor’s reputation by accusing him of homosexuality. According to Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper:
Pastors Solomon Male, Martin Ssempa, Michael Kyazze and Robert Kaira, together with Ms Deborah Anita Kyomuhendo, a businesswoman and David Mukalazi, a musician, were convicted by Buganda Road Grade I magistrate, Julius Borore.
Mr Borore sentenced them to a fine of Shs1 million each and community service of 100 hours or serve six months in prison upon failure to pay the fine and performing community service. Community service is where a convict is forced perform manual labour like digging, cleaning public facilities such as schools, collecting garbage among other chores.
The six are still being held in a holding cell at Buganda road court as they make up their minds. Meanhile Kayanja’s supporters are chanting outside court.
The magistrate said the case is sensitive in nature adding that genocides around the world have happened after the propagation of false information.
The fine of Shs1 million is equivalent to US$390.
One of the more immediate fallouts of the infamous March 2009 conference put on by Scott Lively and two other American anti-gay activists in Kampala, besides the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill, was a long and fearsome anti-gay vigilante campaign waged by the tabloids and on television and radio, with the full backing and participation by Ssempa and Male. During the anti-gay hysteria that swept Uganda, Ssempa and Male were among other powerful pastors who took the opportunity to launch wild accusations against rival pastors in a bid to increase their own power base and financial clout.
This particular case revolved around charges that Ssempa, Male and others made against Pastor Robert Kayanja of the Rubaga Miracle Center Cathedral of being a homosexual, along with “a group of other pastors.” Before they made their charges public in the summer of 2009, Kayanja’s personal aide, Chris Muwonge, was allegedly kidnapped and tortured by armed men and held for five days. His captors allegedly wanted him to make a video statement accusing Kayenja of molesting young boys. Kayanja accused his rival, Pastor Michael Kyazze of the Omega Healing Center of being behind the plot. The ensuring investigation ultimately connected Ssempa and Male to the conspiracy.
Ssempa at one time had been a darling of American Evangelicals, boasting of ties to Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren; Peter E. Waldron, a Christian Reconstructionist and close advisor to Rep. Michele Bachman; Las Vegas megachurch Canyon Ridge Community Church; Willow Creek Church; among several others. Most (though not all) American Evangelicals have broken their ties with Ssempa since 2009. When Warren denounced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Ssempa issued a sharp video rebuke against his former friend.
As part of Ssempa’s public campaign to push the Anti-Homosexuality Bill through Parliament, he resorted to showing graphic gay porn in his church and at new conferences. When one of those news conferences was filmed for CurrentTV’s documentary “Missionaries of Hate,” the clips of Ssempa alleging that gay people “eat da poo-poo” became an internet sensation.
Lawsuit Filed Against Scott Lively For Instigating Anti-LGBT Persecution in Uganda
March 14th, 2012
The Center for Constitutional Rights has announced this morning that they are filing a lawsuit on behalf of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) against American anti-gay extremist Scott Lively for his role in “the decade-long campaign he has waged, in coordination with his Ugandan counterparts, to persecute persons on the basis of their gender and/or sexual orientation and gender identity.” CCR announced its action this morning in a conference call with reporters. I was among those participating in the call.
The complaint (PDF: 2.2MB/47 pages) was filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts at Springfield, where Lively currently resides. CCR is bringing the suit under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides federal jurisdiction for “any civil action by an alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” In other words, it allows a foreign national to sue in U.S. courts for violations of U.S. or international law conducted by U.S. citizens overseas. According to CCR, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that ATS is a remedy for serious violations of international law norms that are “widely accepted and clearly defined.”
The crime against humanity in international law that CCR alleges that Lively violated is the crime of persecution, which is defined as the “intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity.” CCR alleges that the defendant plaintif, Sexual Minorities Uganda, as well as individual staff members and member organizations, suffered severe deprivations of fundamental rights as a direct result of a coordinated campaign “largely initiated, instigated and directed” by Scott Lively.
In a conference call with reporters, CCR Senior Staff Attorney Pam Spees said that the Alien Tort Statute act had been applied in other specific cases of human rights violations against individuals. But she acknowledged that if this case prevails, it would establish a precedent for applying it to the crime of persecution, which, as a crime against a group, is different from a general “ordering the killing of people in his custody.” She pointed out U.S. asylum cases have acknowledged sexual orientation and gender identity and expression as legitimate claims for persecution.
Lively is best known for his role, reported first here on BTB, as featured speaker at an anti-gay conference held in Kampala in March 2009. During that conference, Lively touted his book, The Pink Swastika, in which he claimed that gays were responsible for founding the Nazi Party and running the gas chambers in the Holocaust. Lively then went on to blame the Rwandan genocide on gay men and he charged that gay people were flooding into Uganda from the West to recruit children into homosexuality via child sexual molestation.
During that same trip, Lively met with several members of Uganda’s Parliament. Only two weeks later, there were already rumors that Parliament was drafting a new law that “will be tough on homosexuals.” That new law, in its final form, would be introduced into Parliament later in October. Meanwhile, the public panic stoked by the March conference led to follow-up meetings, a march on Parliament, and a massive vigilante campaign waged on radio and the tabloid press. Lively would later boast that his March 2009 talk was a “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.”
In the complaint filed in Federal District Court, CCR provides details of Lively’s activities in Uganda going back to 2002, when Lively began touring Uganda and establishing contacts with leading Ugandan figures, including Stephen Langa (who organized the March 2009 conference) and Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa. While there, he was interviewed for major daily newspapers and appeared on radio and television. In a conference call with reporters, Spees said that Lively’s particular influence on Uganda’s religious leaders was the primary avenue for “telegraphing the sense of terror” through his accusations against the gay community, and that influence picked up significantly following the 2009 conference. The complaint includes several examples where Lively’s rhetoric showed up virtually verbatim in statements from Ugandan religious and political leaders. She also pointed out that the preamble of the bill’s original draft included language that was lifted straight out of conference materials.
Tarso Luís Ramos, Executive Director of Political Research Associates, echoed Spees’s assertion that Lively’s influence played a major role in the growing climate of persecution in Uganda. He described the main avenue of influence as from religious leaders like Lively to prominent Ugandan religious leaders who also wield considerable moral and political influence. Ramons said that during Lively’s 2009 trip to Uganda, he also met with members of the Ugandan Christian Lawyers Association and members of Parliament, and spoke at an assembly of 5,000 college students and at major pentecostal churches. According to the complaint, M.P. David Bahati, author of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, was among those who attended the Kampala conference. Bahati and former Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo were also named as co-conspirators in the complaint.
Ramos and Spees contrasted Lively’s role with that of the secretive U.S. organization known as The Family or The Fellowship. Spees described Lively as the “go-to guy whose rhetoric went into hyperspace to stamp out” LGBT people “in a strategic way.” She alleged that he provided a “tangible, clear plan” in contrast to The Family, which tried to distance itself from the bill. One part of the “clear plan” outlined in the complaint was Lively’s recommendation for the criminalization of LGBT advocacy in Uganda. That recommendation became Clause 13 in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Spees emphasized that while Lively’s “violent anti-gay rhetoric” forms a basis for the evidence of the complaint, the case is not about hate speech but what she described as his systematic efforts to provoke persecution in Uganda and elsewhere. She described Lively as a “key player in persecution” in a concerted effort to deprive and remove rights for LGBT Ugandans.
Speaking via telephone form Uganda, SMUG Executive Director Frank Mugisha welcomed the filing. He said that when the March 2009 Kampala conference was announced, they had no idea how far that conference’s influence would go. Before 2009, he described an atmosphere where people were somewhat freer to live in groups as gay people, but after the conference there were demonstrations, meetings, reports of arrests, people being thrown out of their houses and churches, beatings, and severe curbs on freedom of assembly. Just last month, Ugandan authorities raided a meeting by LGBT leaders at a hotel in Entebbe and tried to arrest Kasha Jacqueline Nabagese, founder of the lesbian rights group Freedom and Roam Uganda.
More information about the lawsuit against Lively can be found at the CCR web site.
Update: The New York Times has this reaction from Lively:
Reached by telephone in Springfield, Mass., where he now runs “Holy Grounds Coffee House,” a storefront mission and coffee shop, Mr. Lively said he had not been served and did not know about the lawsuit. However, he said: “That’s about as ridiculous as it gets. I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue. There’s actually no grounds for litigation on this.”
Ugandan Pastors Face Gay Libel Charges
December 15th, 2011
One of the more immediate fallouts of the infamous March 2009 conference put on by three American anti-gay activists in Kampala, besides the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill, was a long and fearsome anti-gay vigilante campaign waged by the tabloids and on television and radio. During the anti-gay hysteria that swept Uganda, several powerful pastors took the opportunity to launch wild accusations against rival pastors in a bid to increase their own power base and financial clout. Three preeminent Ugandan pastors, Martin Seempa, Solomon Male and Bob Kyazze, were charged with conspiracy to falsely defame a rival pastor by accusing him of sodomy.
Today, the African news blog Behind the Mask reports that a Ugandan magistrate has ruled that Ssempa, Male and Kyazze have “case to answer.” In other words, the magistrate ruled that there is ample evidence that a crime may have taken place and that it is now up to the defendants to put on a defense:
Magistrate John Patrick Wekesa ruled this morning in Kampala that the three Christian preachers, Martin Sempa, Solomon Male and Bob Kyazze should start defending themselves against charges of involvement in conspiracy to damage (Pastor Robert) Kayanja’s name by way of a homophobic smear campaign.
The court has set December 19, as the date for the pastors to defend themselves.
The accused pastors, their lawyers, Henry Ddungu and David Kaggwa, together with David Mukalazi and Deborah Kyomuhendo (agents of the accused) face charges of conspiring to injure Pastor Kayanja’s reputation. The two lawyers were included for allegedly commissioning false affidavits.
The defendants face up to five years imprisonment if convicted. Twenty-one prosecution witnesses have testified in court so far this year. The for earlier sodomy charges that had been filed against Kayanja by the three pastors and their lawyers have been closed for lack of evidence.
Martin Ssempa and Solomon Male have been outspoken supporters of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a wide-ranging piece of legislation which would have imposed the death penalty against gay people under certain circumstances, lifetime imprisonment for the rest, and harsh criminal penalties for virtually anyone else who knew them or provided services to them. Ssempa had enjoyed support from several American Evangelical pastors, churches and organizations, including Saddleback pastor Rick Warren and Las Vegas-based Canyon Ridge Christian Church. Warren finally denounced Ssempa and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2009 after weeks of pressure, and Canyon Ridge reluctantly cut ties with Ssempa after defending him for several months.
UPDATE: Daily Monitor is out with its article, naming four pastors being tried:
The quartet, Solomon Male of Arising for Christ, Martin Sempa of Makerere Christian Centre, Robert Kayiira and Michael Kyazze of Omega Healing Ministries are jointly charged with Ms Dorothy Kyomuhendo, former State House aide, and artiste David Mukalazi.
A Bachmann Staffer’s Dominionist Worldview, Gun-Running Charges, and Ties To Ugandan “Kill-The-Gays” Pastor
August 17th, 2011
A close associate of Rep. Michele Bachmann who believes that the Congresswoman is fighting for the presidency with “the anointing of God upon her,” has come under scrutiny for his 2006 arrest in Uganda on gun-running charges, and for his close relationship with Ugandan pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa, a prominent advocate for that nation’s “Kill the Gays” Bill.
Peter E. Waldron, the staffer for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign responsible for her faith-based outreach in Iowa and South Carolina, had been arrested in Uganda in 2006 on charges of running illegal guns and ammunition. Garance Franke-Ruta’s profile at The Atlantic resurrected the details. He had been arrested for possession of assault rifles and ammunition just days before Uganda’s first nominally multi-party elections in 20 years. The charges were dropped after Waldron spent more than a month in 2006 in the notorious Luriza Prison outside of Kampala. He was freed, he says, after pressure from the Bush administration. Of course, when it comes to Ugandan police work, the charges should be seen with some measure of skepticism, although newspaper reports (via archive.org) in Kampala at the time are quite detailed. Waldron himself isn’t helpful in clearing up matters. On the one hand, he says that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni operates death squads, and then calls Uganda’s leadership born-again Christians and good friends.
Particularly worrying is the company Waldron keeps. Richard Bartholomew had written about the 2006 arrest, and in the process recalled a 2004 story from The New Republic by Andrew Rice in which Rice describes Waldron as speaking at Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa’s church:
The Sunday I attended Ssempa’s church, after he finished his sermon, the pastor told his audience that he had a special guest to introduce, a visitor from the United States. All eyes fixed on a stocky white man with a thick moustache who wore a gray safari suit. He introduced himself as Dr. Peter Waldron of Wyoming. Waldron told the congregation that he had once been a military man and that he used to travel around Africa a lot in the 1960s. He was vague about the nature of his work. (“I’m not at liberty to say,” he later told me.) But he claimed that, on one occasion, it resulted in some good people getting executed by a firing squad. After that, he contemplated suicide, he told the audience. Then he found Jesus. “When you were born again, you became a new person. You left your tribe,” Waldron said. Now, he said, they were all bound together by their common love of God. The audience reacted enthusiastically, warmly welcoming Waldron’s speech. When Waldron launched into a story about how he’d recently been invited to the real White House in the company of religious rapper MC Hammer, the audience was wowed.
Several days later, I met Waldron at a Kampala hotel. He told me more of his story. At different times in his career, he said, he’d been a syndicated talk-radio host, a lobbyist, and a Republican political consultant. More recently, he had run sports programs for underprivileged youths in Tampa, Florida. Now, he was in Uganda, trying to sell computer software to government ministries while preaching on the weekends. “They embrace Americans here,” he said enthusiastically. Indeed, as we sat together, a steady stream of young admirers who had seen Waldron in church came up to greet him. They made complicated handshakes, the way Ugandans do, and Waldron boasted to me that he had met privately with President Museveni and his born-again wife. It struck me that, for many Americans of faith, Uganda–a country where homosexuality and abortion are outlawed, where politicians freely mix church and state, and where outward displays of religious devotion are the norm–represents a kind of haven. The United States may have a born-again president, but it is far too diverse to ever fully be, as conservatives call it, “a Christian nation.” But Uganda is on its way to becoming one.
Ssempa, of course, was the prominent supporter of Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which calls for the death penalty for LGBT people under certain circumstances. While Ssempa’s theology clearly defends such a practice, it is unclear whether Waldron agrees with Ssempa’s position. But an examination of Waldron’s particular theology isn’t encouraging. Richard Bartholomew also pointed to this 36-page document (via archive.org) which had been stored on Waldron’s web site and was dated 2004, explaining the guiding theology of Waldron’s Cities of Faith Ministries. Waldron’s theology mirrors that of the father of Christian Reconstructionism, R.J. Rushdooney, whom Waldron quoted in one passage. In the introduction, Walrdon wrote:
For generations Christians have wrongly divided all the affairs of their lives into secular matters and spiritual matters. Many of those secular-spiritual divisions and classifications are artificial divisions and heretical in its origins based on humanist philosophy rather than the historic Biblical teachings of the Church.
The modern Evangelical Christian is often a person who has made one’s life a huge set of pigeon holes in which every matter is classified as secular or spiritual. This obvious double-mindedness prevents the blessings of God to overtake one’s testimony – in the spirit, the soul, the body, and/or one’s material possessions.
The whole life of a Christian is spiritual, and everything he does which involves conduct, attitude or one’s role in society or, even, relationships has spiritual significance.
Waldron wrote that “the history of liberty is the history of Christian self-government” — and not just self-government in the sense that all individuals govern the course of their lives through the choices they make. No, Waldron’s concept of self-government is much broader:
A totalitarian form of governance arises when the Word of God is compromised, ignored or denied. A person will self-destruct from abuse of spirit, soul and body. A nation will collapse under a “hard” or “soft” form of dictatorship, abuse of public or elected office, and a general denial of human freedom – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – arises. The source of one’s belief system dictates the conduct whether it be personal or national. The same goes for the end result.
The Bible represents the absolute source for the guiding principles and precepts for all governments in man (self-government), of families (family government), churches (church government), and for nations (civil government).
Waldron co-wrote a book with George Grant titled, Rebuilding the Walls: A Biblical Strategy for Restoring America’s Greatness. Grant is well-known in Christian Reconstructionist circles. In 1987, Grant wrote The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action, in which he made his call for a theocratic overthrow explicit. “It is dominion we are after,” Grant wrote. “World conquest. …If Jesus Christ is indeed Lord, as the Bible says, and if our commission is to bring the land into subjection to His Lordship, as the Bible says, then all our activities, all our witnessing, all our preaching, all our craftsmanship, all our stewardship, and all our political action will aim at nothing short of that sacred purpose.”
Waldron is the second close associate to Rep. Bachmann whose theology may at least condone remaining silent against the killing of gay people. Bradlee Dean, of Minnesota-based You Can Run But You Cannot Hide Ministries, commended Muslims who call for the execution of gay people for being more righteous than Christians. “This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws,” Dean explained on a local Christian Radio talk show. “They know homosexuality is an abomination.”
HOW CAN ANYONE STAND ON THE SIDELINE? I am simply amazed that some folks are waiting for Saul-like characters who look everything like a king while Michele fights with the anointing of God upon her. She is fearless, fierce in battle, and focused on winning the nomination and securing the White House. Thinking about running, waiting to throw their hat in the ring – foolishness. The battle rages now and Michele needs an army.
Four minutes later, he added:
JOIN THE BATTLE FOR AMERICA’S FUTURE: I need 300 gallant Christians to stand with me to resist the works of the devil. We must stand like Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae – sheild to shield, shoulder to shoulder – Has not God got an army in the hour of His need? Arise, again I say, Arise lets stand like Christians once again for His glory and praise!
Following Bachmann’s winning of the Iowa Straw Poll, Waltron wrote:
BACHMANN WINS: All the praise and glory goes to the LORD for Michele’s extraordinary win. She was able to do in 5-weeks what other campaigns could not do in 1-year or 4-years. The Hand of the LORD is upon her. Thank you for your prayers. I leave for SC tomorrow. Blessings to all.
In an additional comment on that same thread, Waldron added some more detail. He clearly doesn’t like Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s entry into the race:
I will be in Columbia and travel the entire state extensively. From afar and during prayer I see a Saul and David scenario between Perry and Bachmann. One looks everything like a king while the other is anointed. One has a testimony that is almost 40 years old, walks the talk, and sees through a Biblical World View lens. This will be a true test of “salt” in the nation. I pray that a “Salt Brigade” will arise to affirim God’s blessing on America and to renew the Covenant made by our ancestors with Him in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Hearings Continue In Uganda’s Parliament on Anti-Homosexuality Bill
May 9th, 2011
[Update: Paul Canning alerted me to this 30-minute audio snippet from today's hearing. Beginning at the two-minute mark, the speaker describes how the bill is based upon false premises and is not supported by science:]
Warren Throckmorton has his ear to the ground on the rapidly developing situation in Uganda, where Parliament may be set to pass the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. He reported that the Human Rights Commission, Sexual Minorities Uganda and the Coalition on Human Rights all testified against the bill during hearings today. The Associated Press reports that pastor Martin Ssempa testified again this morning, calling for the death penalty to be removed and replaced with seven year’s imprisonment. This is a remarkable backtracking from supporting lifetime imprisonment previously. Ssempa went on to call for the bill’s passage “because homosexuality is killing our society.”
LGBT Advocate and retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo also testified against the bill. He warned the committee that the bill would not make gay people suddenly disappear, but would instead turn Uganda into a police state. He also warned that the bill would result in an increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS because gay Ugandans would fear seeking treatment.
The AP also reported on the bill’s future:
Stephen Tashobya, the head of the parliament committee, said it is time legislators give the bill priority. He said a report on the bill would be ready by Tuesday and could be presented to parliament by the end of the week.
“Due to public demand the committee has decided to deal with bill,” Tashobya said. “The bill has generated a lot of interest from members of the public and members of parliament and that is why we spared some time deal with before this parliament ends.”
Parliament is due to end on May 11, although Parliament itself doesn’t constitutionally expire until the 18th. It’s not clear whether there is enough time for the bill to make it to the floor before the 11th, but Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda said that if Parliament does take up the bill, it will be almost certainly be passed. Warren Throckmorton, who is constantly updating this thread with new information as he finds it, comments on the bill’s prognosis:
Tashobya is quoted as saying he would have the report completed by tomorrow. However, he just told me a few minutes ago that he cannot promise to complete the report by tomorrow. He did say that he would complete the report before the end of Parliament which is the 18th of May. When I asked him how the Parliament could vote on a bill in this manner, he said that the Speaker (Edward Ssekandi) makes those decisions. Theoretically, the Speaker could call Parliament into session anytime before May 18 for a vote on any left over bills.
According to Tashobya, the Company bill did not pass today, and the Procurement bill was pushed to tomorrow, thus making it even more difficult for any new bills to come to the floor before Speaker Ssekandi’s end of official business date of May 11. The AHB coming to the floor appears to hinge on the completion of the committee report by Mr. Tashobya sometime tomorrow and the Speaker’s willingness to bring it to the floor on Wednesday. If this does not happen, the Speaker would have to call the MPs together sometime during the festivities of the Presidential inauguration and the swearing in of the new Parliament on the 18th.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, if passed in its current form, would impose the death penalty for those who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender,” or whose partner is deemed “disabled” regardless of whether the relationship was consensual. It would also impose a lifetime sentence for other cases. Those provisions may be modified, although that still remains uncertain.
Even with those proposed modifications, the bill would still remain a potent threat to human rights. The bill would lower the bar for conviction, making mere “touching” for the perceived purpose of homosexual relations a criminal offense. It threatens teachers, doctors, friends, and family members with three years imprisonment if they didn’t report anyone they suspected of being gay to police within twenty-four hours. It also would broadly criminalize all advocacy of homosexuality including, conceivably, lawyers defending accused gay people in court or parliamentarians proposing changes to the law. It even threatens landlords under a “brothel” provision if they knowingly rent to gay people.
There is an AllOut petition which is now at about 40,000 signatures with a goal of 100,000 signatures by tomorrow. This will be presented at Parliament by Bishop Senyonjo tomorrow.
Ugandan “Ex-Gay” Recants — Again
April 14th, 2011
Last week, we reported that George Oundo, the off-again, on-again Ugandan “ex-gay” poster boy under Pentecostal Pastor Martin Ssempa’s wing, was on-again, supporting Ssempa’s drive to re-open debate in the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill which is languishing in Uganda’s Parliament. Oundo stood before reporters and claimed that he had been a founding member of a group whose aim was the ““recruitment of the next generation of homosexuals.” He also accused human rights groups, including the London-based Amnesty International, of financing the recruitment of young Ugandans into homosexual lifestyles.
The New York Times finally decided to catch up with this week-old news today, reporting on Ssempa’s demand that Parliament begin debating the bill. But their report adds an interesting addendum to the story: Oundo recanted his story an hour after his public statement:
But an hour later, in a quiet hotel, Mr. Oundo recanted much of what had been said at the meeting.
“David Kato was murdered; it was a plot,” Mr. Oundo said. “I don’t support the bill.”
As for being a “former homosexual,” that, too, was not true.
“I’ve always been gay,” Mr. Oundo said, in a timid but growing voice. “I didn’t choose it.”
“David Kato was the first one who taught me to protect my human right,” Mr. Oundo added.
Mr. Oundo said that his presence alongside Mr. Ssempa at Parliament had been to “protect” himself and that he had been contacted only that morning by Mr. Kagaba about the meeting and offered about $42 to attend. He said Mr. Ssempa had offered him about $2,000 in 2009 to repent and switch sides in the debate, but later reneged. Either way, Mr. Oundo became a poster-child for Mr. Ssempa’s anti-homosexuality movement.
Mr. Ssempa declined to comment on the allegations.
Mr. Oundo admitted that he had picked up boyfriends at high schools and universities, what the antigay movement calls recruiting. But he said Uganda’s gay population was full of “natural-borns,” like himself.
“If I live or die, I am gay, and if I am buried, bury me gay,” he said.
It’s hard to know what to believe when it comes to Oundo. He was a key player in a series of vigilante campaigns in 2009, particularly in the campaigns which immediately followed the infamous March 2009 anti-gay conference put on by American activists Scott Lively, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge. Oundo himself appears to have a great deal of difficulty deciding which side he should be on. This story, which appears to show Oundo playing both sides of the fence on the very same afternoon, only adds to the confusion.
Ssempa, Oyett Press Uganda’s Parliament on Anti-Homosexuality Bill
April 6th, 2011
Lead by Pastor Martin Ssempa, a charismatic and vocal opponent of homosexuality in Uganda, the group asked Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker Edward Kiwanuka to fight the emerging “homo-cracy” in Uganda and enter the bill for debate.
“We as religious leaders and civil society are distressed that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is being deliberately killed largely by the undemocratic threats of western nations,” he said. “These same nations who promote democracy don’t want our representative to discuss laws to protect our children from the human trafficking of recruiting our children into homosexuality.”
Ssempa leads the Inter-Religious Taskforce Against Homosexuality. During the session with Speaker Kiwanuka, the Task Force presented a portion of over 2 million signatures it said were gathered from around Uganda in support of the bill.
The group trotted out Paul Kagaba, an “ex-gay” associate of Martin Ssempa who alleged that he had been “recruited” into homosexuality at the age of seventeen by murdered LGBT advocate David Kato. Kagaba has been implicate in at least two vigilante outing campaigns, the most recent of which is suspected of having been orchestrated by Ssempa himself.
Another putative ex-gay, George Oundo, re-appeared in this latest episode with his own allegations of foreign recruitment. Oundo has also participated in vigilante campaigns as well, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the infamous March 2009 anti-gay conference put on by American activists Scott Lively, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge. Oundo himself appears to have a great deal of difficulty deciding which side he should be on, but for now he appears to have cast his lot with Ssempa once again.
Julius Oyet’s appearance here is notable. Oyet and Ssema were present in the gallery when the Ugandan Parliament first considered the indroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Oyet, who is President of the Ugandan branch of the U.S.-based College of Prayer (which itself is a ministry of Rev. Fred Hartley’s Lilburn Alliance Church in Atlanta), was made a member of M.P. David Bahati’s staff to lobby Parliament for the bill’s passage. While Bahati is the bill’s author and sponsor, Oyet played a crucial role in its drafting. He repordtedly told a documentary filmmaker:
I was there. I have been part of the brains behind it. We worked on it. We planned who should propose it. It is the Ugandan’s bill. It is the culture of Uganda to keep purity. It is everybody’s voice. I worked with Bahati on this.
Two weeks ago, Information Minister Kabakumba Masiko spoke on behalf of President Yoweri Musevini’s government to announce that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would not be voted on by Parliament. Bahati however insists that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, where the bill currently resides, will still hold hearings. The bill will automatically die if it does not come up for a final vote before the current Parliament ends on May 20.
Update: Daily Monitor picks up the story and adds a couple of interesting items. First, Daily Monitor quotes Parliament Speaker Edward Ssekandi:
“The mover of the Bill (David Bahati) is still a member of the 9th Parliament and even if the current Parliament doesn’t debate it, the new Parliament will do it,” Mr Ssekandi said.
This, I believe, indicates that he expects the bill to be reintroduced into the next Parliament after the current one ends.
And finally there’s this: a group of students from Makarere University had earlier met with Steven Tashobya, chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, and told him that ” recruitment of gays was rampant at the university campus“:
The students told Mr Tashobya that each of their colleagues who join homosexuals is paid a monthly salary of Shs800,000.
That’s about US$340, which is more than the average annual per-capita income in Uganda. Where’s my US$340? Nobody told me about this!
Martin Ssempa, 3 Others Plead Not Guilty To Conspiracy Charges
January 4th, 2011
The Ugandan pro-government newspaper New Vision reports that anti-gay pentecostal pastors Martin Ssempa, Solomon Male, Michael David Kyazze, and Robert Kayiira have entered not guilty pleas before Buganda Road Court Grade One Magistrate John Wekesa. According to New Vision, they are being charged with “conspiring to injure the reputation of Pastor Robert Kayanja of Rubaga Miracle Centre.
The four pastors are charged with falsely accusing Kayanja of sodomy. The charges stem from a retaliation campaign the four pastors waged against their rival last year. Such retaliation campaigns are commonplace in Uganda where pastors vie for attention, influence and power. Top megachurch leaders routinely find themselves accused of various crimes by rival pastors in the fierce competition for church members.
In a blog post on December 30, 2010, Ssempa denied that he was involved with a conspiracy to injure Kayanja’s reputation. That same day on the same blog, Ssempa posted an attack on Kayanja, accusing him of sodomy. Which means that on his very own blog, Ssempa commits the very offense that he denies being guilty of.
Ssempa, Other Ugandan Pastors Charged With Conspiracy
December 23rd, 2010
Christmas has come early for the LGBT community in Uganda. The Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, reports that two people are in custody and six others are being sought for conspiracy charges over last year’s pastor wars.
The two in custody include anti-gay pastor Solomon Male, along with lawyer Henry Ddungu. They are being charged in connection with a “conspiracy to injure the reputation of Pastor Robert Kayanja of Rubaga Miracle Centre Cathedral, Kampala,” according to Daily Monitor. Also charged are pastors Bob Robert Kayiira, Michael Kyazze and Martin Sempa, lawyer David Kaggwa, Deborah Kyomuhendo and David Mukalazi.
The eight are being charged with filing false accusations against Kayanja, in a bizarre conspiracy to accuse Kayanja of sodomy. As we reported last year, the conspiracy unfolded this way:
Other pastors are jumping onto the “outing” bandwagon to settle scores as well, and the rivalries are so complex that it takes some diagramming to keep it all straight. Here goes: Pastor Solomon Male of Arise for Christ Ministry accused Pastor Robert Kayanja of the Rubaga Miracle Center Cathedral of being a homosexual, along with “a group of other pastors.” Kayanja’s Rubaga Miracle Center is a very large and prosperous megachurch in Kampala. (Controversial American faith healer Benny Hinn will present a “Fire Conference” at that church on June 5th and 6th.) But an apparent friend of Kayanjka, Pastor Joseph Serwadda of the Victory Christian Centre, another megachurch in the Ndeeba section of Kampala which operates two FM stations, accused Male of of being an impostor, saying that he doesn’t even have a church.
Kayanja’s personal aide, Chris Muwonge, was allegedly kidnapped and tortured by armed men and held for five days. His captors allegedly wanted him to make a video statement accusing Kayenja of molesting young boys. Kayanja accused his rival, Pastor Michael Kyazze of the Omega Healing Center of being behind the plot. Kyazze’s assistant, Pastor Robert Kayiira was arrested earlier for trying to sneak a laptop computer into Kayanja’s Miracle Center. His close friend? Pastor Solomon Male. Kayanja reportedly believes that Martin Ssempa is involved in the allegations against him as well.
Today, Daily Monitor provides more details into Ssempa’s role:
Meanwhile, Pastor Sempa is accused of hiring Robson Matovu to blackmail Pastor Kayanja. Court heard that Pastor Male reportedly gave Mr Matovu a signed and stamped affidavit implicating Pastor Kayanja while Samson Mukisa was reportedly promised necessities on condition that he would speak publicly on how Pastor Kayanja had sodomised him.
A police report indicates that complaints of sodomy against Pastor Kayanja did not reveal any evidence the offences. “In retracting their statements, the complainants said they had been mobilised to make false accusations against Pastor Kayanja in order to tarnish his name,” reads a report.
Male and Ddungu were taken into police custody, but were later released on bond. They were were slated to appear before Buganda Road Magistrate Court to enter a plea today.
Interestingly, the government-owned New Vision is also prominently reporting the arrests as well:
In a letter to the director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), principal state attorney Margaret Nakigudde said pastors Male, Martin Ssempa, Bob Kayira, Michael Kyazze, their lawyers, Henry Ddungu and David Kaggwa, together with David Mukalazi and Deborah Kyomuhendo face charges of conspiring to injure Pastor Kayanja’s reputation.
The two lawyers were included for allegedly commissioning false affidavits.
…Unconfirmed reports indicated that Police had earlier in the day been hunting for Pastor Ssempa, but he reportedly eluded them.
SIU head Grace Akullo said Male was arrested because he had failed to honour several Police summons.
Public charges of sodomy are a common way to settle political and other scores in Uganda. Should the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill become law with its death penalty and other heightened penalties for advocacy on behalf of LGBT people or failure to report gay people to police, such conspiracies will increase and carry far greater dangers. The bill will mean that no one will be safe, including straight people.
Ugandan Tabloid Resumes Anti-Gay Vigilante Campaign
November 1st, 2010
After nearly a month’s hiatus due to its failure to register with government authorities, the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the venerable U.S. magazine by the same name) has resumed its promised anti-gay outing campaign against private LGBT citizens.
In the latest edition, Rolling Stone has apparently gone online to reproduce photos and other information from profiles of LGBT Ugandans posted on dating web sites. On the page two article titled, “More Homos’ Faces Exposed,” the so-called “investigative team” displayed a complete ignorance of default settings on profile pages, the clueless reporter writes, “The homosexuals say they intend to make love to interested men at least below the age if 99. This implies that even 90-year-old pensioners are welcome for sex.”
As amusing as this confusion may be, the real damage for LGBT Ugandans comes from the photos published on a two-and-a-half page spread following the main article. Unlike the previous edition however, there are relatively few names, addresses or places of employment published in this edition.
The so-called “investigative team” also has discovered the discredited American “researcher” Paul Cameron. Writing in their page-two article, the author writes:
According to Dr. Paul Cameron of a Colorado-based medical research institute, homosexuality is more dangerous than smoking as it reduces one’s lifespan by 24 years.”
Cameron has been censured numerous times for professional misconduct, most recently in 2007 by the Eastern Psychological Association when he falsely claimed to have presented a paper before the association’s annual convention. His so-called “Family Research Institute,” which he runs with family members out of his kitchen table, is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of only about a dozen anti-gay hate groups in the U.S.
The paper claims that gays in Uganda have a target “to recruit at least 1 million kids by 2012 — is your kid safe?” The paper also denies that they are seeking mob justice:
In fact we are sternly warning public not to attack homosexuals, though there is no such case on record, but to report them to police for action.
On a page four editorial, managing editor Giles Muhame takes great pride in the dangerous controversy he’s created. He denies that publishing the names, addresses, and photographs of private citizens is an invasion of privacy. Referring of the numerous interviews he gave to foreign news services, Muhame writes:
I explained that the story was in “public interest” since a cross section of homosexuals is seriously recruiting and brainwashing unsuspecting kids into gay circles. “For example if security learnt that one os assembling a bomb at his residence, would they fear to raid the place fearing ‘invasion or privacy?’” I asked a journalist who had come for an interview. In such extreme cases, especially where life is endangered, journalists are bound to forego “privacy” for the good of society.”
Muhame also denies that anyone was harmed as a result of last month’s outing campaign:
On inciting violence, the International Press Institute (IPI) was told lies that some homosexuals and lesbians had been attacked after the story. Amisingly, neither of them had photographs of their houses being pelted with stones or medical reports showing bodily injuries sustained from the attacks.
In fact, there are numerous reports of gays being attacked as a direct result of Rolling Stone’s earlier vigilante installment. This morning, LGBT advocates in Uganda have launched an official complaint against Rolling Stone before High Court in Kampala.
At only twelve pages, this edition of Rolling Stone is about half the size of previous editions. And the almost complete lack of advertising (there are only two ads) continues to raise questions about who is providing financial backing for the paper. In fact, in the page 4 editorial Muhame taunts, “I wish you knew who is behind us!! You would stop barking.” One clue over who is behind the vigilante campaign can be found in some of the rhetoric published in this edition. For example, in the page-two article, we find:
Homosexuality involves “fisting” where one puts a hand in the rectum and may end up destroying it, causing fatal injuries, inflammation and transmission of HIV. No wonder homosexuals usually seal the butts with tiny pillows — to save the shattered buttocks from pain if they were to sit on a wooden chair.
This passage contains striking parallels to the rhetoric of Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, who was famously derided the world over for his “eat da poo-poo” appearance on the Current TV documentary “Missionaries of Hate.” The article also names an unnamed source saying that the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill,, which provides for the death penalty for homosexuality under certain circumstances, will be passed once Uganda becomes “an oil producer.” This, too, echoes the argument that Ssempa put forward on Uganda’s state broadcaster UBC last December.
But the largest clue — large enough to be a virtual smoking gun — is Ssempa’s photo splashed on an article on page 10, titled “Lesbians destroyed my life at age of 16 — Sandra.” The story consists of an interview by Ssempa with a so-called “ex-gay” by the name of Sandra Baggotte, who has been featured on Ssempa’s prior anti-gay rallies and media campaigns earlier this year. The interview also mentions Paul Kagaba, another so-called “ex-gay” associate of Ssempa’s who was behind a vigilante campaign waged by the rival Red Pepper tabloid last December.
Several clues from the October 2 edition of Rolling Stone also point to Ssempa’s active participation in this anti-gay media campaign as well.
[Update: Warren Throckmorton has learned from two independent sources that both both Giles Muhame and advertising manager Cliff Abenaitwe both attend Ssempa’s Makerere Community Church. Together with the other evidence before us, it is impossible to see this as anything other than a Ssempa-driven and directed campaign.]
There are additional reports that a similar outing campaign is currently taking place in at least one other tabloid Onion (also unrelated to the U.S. satirical paper by the same name). We also hear that Red Pepper may also have launched a campaign as well. We’ll post more information on those developments as we receive them.
Last week, Ugandan M.P. David Bahati, the sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, has promised that the bill would become law before Parliament disbands before the 2011 elections. Several otherwise reputable news outlets have falsely reported that the anti-gay bill had been “withdrawn.” But as we’ve been consistently reporting, the bill has instead been sitting quietly in committee where it could be brought before the floor of Parliament at any time. Two weeks ago, Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, another ardent supporter of the bill, promised that the bill would be passed “in due course.” Increasingly, it appears that this renewed media campaign is very likely intended to increase public pressure for the bill’s passage.
Las Vegas Church May Drop Support for Ugandan Anti-Gay Pastor
October 26th, 2010
Conservative Evangelical professor Warren Throckmorton, who has been a stalwart opponent to the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill that continues to linger in Uganda’s Parliament, received a message from Las Vegas-based Canyon Ridge Christian Church indicating that after several months’ delay and excuse-making, are considering dropping their financial support for Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, one of that country’s most ardent supporters of the proposed bill. The statement has also been posted on Canyon Ridge’s web site with a prominent link on the front page:
Because of the current controversy in Uganda over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and because of Pastor Ssempa’s involvement in the support of the bill, we have been in regular communication with him to clarify his positions and opinions. While we have come to understand that Pastor Ssempa advocates for an amended version of the Anti-Homosexuality bill that removes the death penalty and reduces other severe penalties, he is still supports passage of this bill.
We, however, do not support him in this effort.
We are in the process of determining how we can redirect our support in Uganda to activities specifically related to addressing HIV/AIDS issues.
It is still unclear exactly what this statement means. Will they continue to provide financial assistance for Ssempa’s work in “HIV/AIDS issues” while condemning the passage of the anti-gay bill? As I read it, that scenario could conceivably fit within the parameters of this statement. But it’s also worth noting that while Ssempa’s profile on Canyon Ridge’s web site is still accessible, the link to it from the Global Partners page has been removed and replaced with a link to the statement.