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Posts for March, 2010

Martin Ssempa Lies Again, This Time On BTB

Jim Burroway

March 8th, 2010

We sometimes make mistakes — nobody’s perfect — but for the most part, they are rare, relatively minor, and corrected when we become aware of them. That was the basis for this post this morning.

But what we will not do is knowingly commit fraud. Unlike Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, one of the main supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill — and yes, we do call it the “Kill the Gays Bill” for a very good reason — who left this bald-faced lie in a comment on our web site this afternoon:

This is one of the many errors that have been made concerning this whole issue of the anti homosexuality bill.

There is too much panic reporting and little double checking of the facts. One hour back I just asked facebook to shut down a false Martin Ssempa who was linked with photos of murders.

You have called this the “kill the gays bill” but it is really about capital punishment for “paedophiles and rapists”. The more we have states this, the more you dont want to hear us.

There’s some debate in the comments whether this particular comment is genuine, but the record shows that this comment is entirely consistent with similar lies that we know Ssempa has repeatedly told elsewhere. I believe the comment is genuine, and it’s that lie which has been repeated numerous times that I want to address.

There is a reason we don’t take the word of liars like Martin Ssempa at face value. The man of “the Word” willfully misrepresents the very words of the “Kill the Gays Bill” — yes, I said it again — and what they really mean. That’s why we have the full text of the bill posted here (PDF: 847KB/16 pages), straight from the official governmental Uganda Gazette in which all bills are published before being voted on. We posted the full text of the bill for a very simple reason — so that you can see for yourself exactly what the bill says.

Ssempa, on the other hand, is too cowardly to post the text of the bill on any of his web sites. And the truth is he can’t, because if he did those very words would show Ssempa’s followers exactly what a compulsive liar he really is. He cannot post the bill, and he desperately hopes that nobody else reads it to learn what it actually says.

But the truth sets you free, and that’s why, with the truth firmly on my side, I enjoy the total freedom of posting the plain and unadulterated text of the bill on this web site to point out Ssempa’s prevarications. Unlike Ssempa, I have nothing to hide and the real truth leaves me free as a bird. And so here are the death penalty provisions, in the plainest of English:

3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the

(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;

(b) offender is a person living with HIV;

(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;

(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;

(f) offender is a serial offender, or

(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by  enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,

(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

True enough, parts 1a and 1c deal with child molestation, as Ssempa says. And whatever Ssempa or anyone else would want to with child molesters is of little concern to me. Sections 1d and 1g deal with rape. Again, while the death  penalty is harsh (and I’m against the death penalty on general principles), I have no quarrel here.

However, I would expect that these four provisions apply to everyone, and not just gay people. But they don’t, do they? They only provide the death sentence when it involves people of the same gender. Where are the death sentences for the same crimes when they are committed by people of the opposite gender? Rape and molestation are equal-opportunity offenses. Why are these provisions in an Anti-Homosexuality bill when neither provision has anything specifically to do with homosexuality? Why aren’t these provisions part of anti-rape or anti-child exploitation bills instead?

I’ll tell you why. They are there to serve as a red herring, and to allow liars like Ssempa to divert attention from the rest of the bill. Sections 1b, 1e and 1f have nothing to do with rape or child abuse (and neither do sections 2 through 19, which you can see here). As Ssempa knows very well but is too cowardly to reveal, there is only one target for these other “aggravated homosexuality” provisions: gay people. Anyone with the smallest smidgen of comprehension of the English language can see that as plain as day. It takes a fraud like Ssempa to claim that the words somehow say something other than what they actually say. So much for a man of “the Word” when he won’t read the very words in front of him.

Of one couple that I know, one man has perfect hearing but the other man is profoundly deaf — “a person with disability” as section 1e puts it. They have been happily together for I don’t know how many years, but one would die (the hearing one) and one would live (the deaf man) under this bill. While Ssempa claims that this is only about rape or exploitation, there is no mention of consent in this provision where one has a disability and the other does not.

Closer to home, my partner is HIV-positive; I’m HIV-negative. If we were in Uganda living under this law, I would be imprisoned for life, but my partner would be sentenced to death by hanging. Disclosure, consent — none of that matters. My partner is hanged and I’m imprisoned. Aren’t I the lucky one? Well, knowing the conditions of Ugandan prisons, a man or woman sentenced to a life sentence for homosexuality would be, for all practical purposes, not particularly “lucky.” A lifetime sentence under these circumstances is merely a more torturous and drawn-out death than the one Ssempa would demand for my partner under this law.

But wait! It turns out I’m not exactly saved from the gallows anyway. It’s that “serial offender” provision that would still get me. The “Kill The Gays Bill” — because now we know that this is exactly what this bill does — defines a serial offender this way:

“serial offender” means a person who has previous convictions of the offence of homosexuality or related offences;

Get that? Homosexuality or related offenses. I have violated — and it is my solemn promise to you that I will continue to violate — the following related offenses:

  • Section 7 — “Aiding and abetting homosexuality” through my private and public efforts to help gay people who are being persecuted, wherever they may be.
  • Section 12 — procuring a same-sex marriage, when it become available.
  • Section 13 — “promoting homosexuality,” because that is what this blog would be accused of doing under this bill, and I won’t stop defending gay people wherever they are in the world.
  • Section 14 — “failure to disclose the offense,” because I absolutely refuse to turn in other people for the so-called crime of merely loving one another.

So there you have it; upon a second conviction I will have committed “aggravated homosexuality,” and I too can join my partner at the gallows.

So I have one message for Ssempa:  I will not stand by while you post a lie on this web site, and use that lie to accuse me of lying. I publicly dare you to post the text of the bill on your own web site, and refer to it when you try to explain your lies. Failure to take this dare reveals your cowardice and guile. Your acceptance of this dare exposes your guilt as a liar and a fool. What do you choose? Either way, with the entire world and your God as my witness, I call you out.

Ssempa’s lies are no mere “mistake” like the one I corrected yesterday. His are deliberate attempts to deceive, deceits by a unrepentant serial liar. Ssempa claims to be a man of God, but he is a fraud and a serial falsifier. He claims to bring light and truth, but he instead spreads darkness and hatred borne by blatant and clearly demonstrable distortions in order to turn neighbor against neighbor and wreck havoc on God’s creation. Whatever Ssempa accomplishes or fails to accomplish in this life, we can be assured that there will be a very special place in hell set aside for him in the next.

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

Martin Ssempa Has A Blog

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2010

The Ugandan pastor and kill-the-gays advocate is not only blogging, but he’s also Facebooking and commenting on BTB.

Will Gay Porn Becomes Christianity’s New Recruiting Tool?

Jim Burroway

February 26th, 2010
Martin Ssempa showing gay porn (Photo via Warren Throckmorton)

Martin Ssempa showing gay porn (Photo via Warren Throckmorton)

We reported last week that Ugandan pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa has been showing gay porn as part of his anti-gay campaign in support of that country’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. A columnist identified as “The Analyst” for Uganda’s independent Observer took that premise and ran with it with tongue firmly planted in cheek, claiming that gay porn is responsible for increasing attendance at his church.

This makes Makerere Community Church the only place in Uganda where watching pornography is “legal”. According to Uganda’s laws, even mere possession of pornographic material is a crime. It would appear that Makerere Community Church has got a special license to show porn. Moreover, perhaps following Jesus Christ’s example of welcoming children, even kids can watch porn at Makerere Community Church.

The, er, money shot is here:

“I can’t wait to get home and try it out. The men in the movie really seemed to be enjoying themselves,” one member of the congregation told The Analyst.

We’ve seen megachurches reinvent themselves into coffee houses, rave clubs and concert halls, all in an attempt to incorporate elements of popular culture to make themselves appear hip and relevant. Why not porn? Even the worst of it beats the treacly karaoke singers that have become so popular over the past couple of decades.

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

Ugandan Pastor Wars Reignite, Benny Hinn Accused of Sodomy

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2010

Red Pepper's article on Benny HinnThe headline in the online edition of Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper screams, “Pastors Name Benny Hinn Sodomy Bonkmate.” That headline appears to be in reaction to the news that American pentecostal prosperity evangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn is unable to heal his own marriage and is seeking a divorce.

Schadenfreudesters should be cautious however. The Red Pepper is notorious for publishing false accusations, especially when those accusations stoke the fires of homophobia. Last year, the tabloid conducted a virulently anti-gay campaign of public outings. The tabloild was also in the very thick of a wide-ranging “pastor wars,” in which several prominent pastors including pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa, an ardent supporter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, accused rival pastors of sodomy in order to try to boost their own standing. Sports figures have also gotten into the act.

In this latest flare-up, the Red Pepper published a banner headline accusing Benny Hinn of sodomizing a well-known pastor. The pastor, however, appears not to have been named in the Red Pepper piece, but that didn’t prevent Solomon Male and Simon Kyazze from naming their accused rival which appears to be Robert Kayanja. Pastor Benny Hinn held a large “Fire Conference” revivial at Kayanja’s Rubaga Miracle Centre last June. Kayanja was accused last May of homosexuality by several rival pastors, including Solomon Male and Martin Ssempa. Kayanja retaliated by barring Ssempa, Male and others from Hinn’s revival. BTB readers in Uganda tell us that Hinn is wildly popular there (his program is on Lighthouse TV every weekday evening at 9:00), which makes the snub all the more pointed.

Kayanja was cleared of all accusations by police, and they have charged Ssempa and Male for filing a false report. This may explain the Red Pepper’s reticence in naming the accused pastor in this round. But Ssempa is suspected of being behind the Red Pepper’s numerous anti-gay vigilante campaigns over the past several years. These latest allegations can be seen as just another battle in the ongoing war among Ugandan pastors for supremacy.

If the Anti-Homosexuality Bill should be come law, you can expect such campaigns to increase in frequency and consequence. One provision of the proposed law would significantly lower the bar for conviction. Current law requires evidence of penetration. The new law would expand the definition of homosexual activity to”touch(ing) another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” Touching itself is defined as “touching—(a) with any part of the body; (b) with anything else; (c) through anything; and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ, anus or mouth.”

The phrase “with any body part” leaves a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.  Or a rival pastor.

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

When All Else Fails, Reach for the Porn

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2010

Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa only has one note in his repertoire, and he plays it loudly. Now that his planned march through Kampala in support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been banned by authorities, he takes comfort in his old reliable standby:

“The major argument homosexuals have is that what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms is nobody’s business but do you know what they do in their bedrooms?” the pastor asked. Ssempa then displayed a slide show of gay pornographic pictures.

MP David Bahati, the anti-gay bill’s author, was among the reported 300 who attended. Ssempa is pushing hard for the bill’s passage before April 4, as an “Easter present” to the nation. The bill was expected to be high on Parliament’s agenda when it returned from recess February 2, but there have been no reports of further action on the bill.

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

Ugandan Police Block Kampala Anti-Gay Demo

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2010

The anonymous blogger GayUganda discovered an e-paper only version of the Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, which said, “Police yesterday blocked antihomosexuality activists who had planned a demonstration in Kampala in support of the antigays Bill.” The rest of the article reported on Monday’s Jinja demonstration.

It appears in the Monitor’s report that when police yesterday “blocked” the Kampala demonstration, they are probably referring to an announced meeting that was to have taken place Tuesday with Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa, an ardent supporter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. That proposed bill would impose the death penalty on LGBT people under certain circumstances, and mandate life imprisonment for the rest.

Gay Uganda reconstructs a timeline and suspects that this means that Ssempa is “going rogue.” The real question is whether Ssempa will run afoul with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, who controls more than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament and is accustomed to breaking up opposition rallies, barring political figures from the airwaves, and shutting down radio stations he doesn’t like. Is Ssempa really going rogue, or is he simply acting out his part in a larger play of political gamesmanship? That’s the riddle we’re all trying to figure out.

Update: AFP reports that the Jinja rally took place after Ssempa obtained police authorization. And another tea leaf sinks to the bottom of the cup.

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

Despite Protest Ban, Hundreds of Ugandans Call For Killing Gays

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 2010

Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa defied a police ban against his planned “million man march” in support of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill scheduled for Wednesday by holding a quickly organized march in the city of Jinja yesterday.

Update: A reader in Uganda had provided us with a video clip of a news broadcast covering that march. But now, NTV’s Kenyan branch has posted the same report on their YouTube channel.

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That Ssempa chose to defy the ban is interesting. Clearly, the ban on his planned demonstration for Kampala was ordered by the highest levels of government — one can rarely lose a bet on assuming such orders come directly from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. He has acknowledged coming under intense international pressure to shelve the bill and may be looking for ways to turn down the pressure.

But Ssempa has been the bill’s strongest supporter, even going so far as to defend its proposed death penalty for gays and lesbians under certain circumstances. So Ssempa responded to the demonstration ban by moving his planned march from Kampala to Jinja, Uganda’s second largest city about 50 miles to the east. Was this an act of defiance to try to make it politically impossible for Museveni to block or moderate the draconian legislation? Or was this the result of an unspoken compromise which allows the government to appear democratic (even though it routinely outlaws opposition rallies at will throughout the country) while keeping its fingerprints off its bill?

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

Martin Ssempa’s Pornographic Demons

Jim Burroway

January 25th, 2010

Ugandan Pastor and staunch “kill-the-gays” supporter has recently gotten a lot of attention over the disgust he generated when he held a porn-laced presentation that did more to turn his audience against his message than it did against LGBT people. According to Uganda’s independent Monitor, the presentation was a “flop.”

Ssempa appeared to be puzzled by the reaction, and I doubt that he will be fazed by it. A week earlier, he had appeared on Ugandan state-owned UBC television to talk up the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and he took that time to try to stigmatize gay people with a similarly lurid description of what gay people supposedly do.

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(The video is closed-captioned. The video was captured by an anonymous BTB reader in Uganda using his mobile phone at great personal risk.)

As you can see, Charles Musana, host of the UBC program “Hot Seat,” was pretty skeptical throughout the program, leading the over-excited Ssempa to close the show with trying to cast out the demon of homosexuality from his host.

The Monitor reported:

Pastor Martin Ssempa on Tuesday plumbed the depths of notoriety when he offered graphic images of gay sex as proof of the need for tough penalties against homosexuals.

In the immediate aftermath of the presentation, which ended prematurely, Pastor Ssempa said he did not regret his actions. The press conference, the latest in a series of events he is holding in support of the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, had been called to unveil two Ugandans, a man and a woman, who say their homosexuality has been rehabilitated.

One man, who was part of a group of American students invited to the press conference by Rubaga North MP Beti Kamya, was seen crying, his colleagues consoling him as the group left the National Theatre.

But midway through his presentation, saved on a computer, most of his audience walked out, some visibly disturbed, leaving him to wonder if he had done anything wrong. The cleric seemed genuinely rattled when he asked: “Why should I be traumatised?”

It looks like Ssempa is trying to become the “Porno Pete” of East Africa.

[Video courtesy of an anonynmous BTB reader in Uganda]

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

Ugandan Boycott Called

Jim Burroway

January 19th, 2010

The controversy surrounding Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill has resulted in at least one call for a boycott:

[Ugandan pastor Martin] Sempa said, “Most Ugandans do not support homosexuality. We are to launch a campaign against consumption of US, UK, and Canada products in Uganda if those countries continue to threaten our country because of the anti gay bill. We will make people stop buying Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola and other products from USA.”

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

Ugandan Anti-Gay Rally Announced for February 17

Jim Burroway

January 15th, 2010

Last December, we reported that Ugandan Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa had announced a nationwide anti-gay rally for January 19. A few days later, two more religious leaders joined that call for a rally to support for the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Now Reuters is reporting that Ssempa, who has close ties to several American evangelical groups as well as Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni, has announced a”million-man” march for February 17. It’s unclear whether this is a re-scheduling of the January 19 rally or an additional one.

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

Ugandan Pastor Issues Video Response To Rick Warren

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2009

Martin Ssempa

Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa issued a video response to Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren’s vigorous condemnation of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  And boy is Ssempa upset with Warren. It took Warren just six and a half minute to concisely and clearly condemn the bill as “unjust, extreme and un-Christian.” It took Ssempa two videos and nearly eighteen minutes to respond.

In the first video posted to YouTube on December 28, Ssempa continues to misrepresent what the text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would provide.

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In this segment, Ssempa discusses one of the misconceptions about AIDS that some hold in Africa, where some people believe that having sex with a virgin will cure someone of HIV/AIDS. Ssempa then argues that the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” is an absolute necessity in order to criminalize raping of children, which Ssempa incredibly claims is not against the law in Uganda.

The problem with that, of course, is there is no such gaping loophole in Ugandan law. Here’s Section 129(3) and (4) of the Penal Code, as amended in 2007 (Act No. 8 of 2007):

129(3)
Any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen years in any of the circumstances specified in subsection (4) commits a felony called aggravated defilement and is, on conviction by the High Court, liable to suffer death.

129(4)
The circumstances referred to in subsection (3) are as follows-

(a) where the person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of fourteen years;

(b) where the offender is infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV);

(c) Where the offender is a parent or guardian of or a person in authority over, the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) where the victim of the offence is a person with a disability; or,

(e) where the offender is a serial offender.

In other words, Ugandan law already covers what is commonly called “defilement” in a very gender-neutral way. What’s more, Ssempa’s contention that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is intended only to cover “defilement” is blatantly false. Again, we go to the text of the bill for its definition of “aggravated homosexuality:”

3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the

(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;

(b) offender is a person living with HIV;

(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;

(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;

(f) offender is a serial offender, or

(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by  enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,

(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

The text is very plain. The bill goes beyond criminalizing sex with underage minors — which Ugandan law already does. It penalizes any gay person who is HIV-positive with death by hanging, the method of legal execution in Uganda, whether that person had sex with a minor or a consenting adult.

Part 2 continues with Ssempa’s misrepresentation of “aggravated homosexuality.”

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Both parts of this video response taken together follow roughly the letter that Ssempa sent to Warren demanding that Warren apologize for his condemnation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He repeats that demand in the second part of his video.

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

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Ssempa and Bahati Discuss Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

December 27th, 2009

Our anonymous reader in Uganda has sent us some more fascinating video from state-run UBC television. In these series of clips, taken from the program Matters of Policy broadcast on December 23, 2009, Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa and member of Parliament David Bahati discuss the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament.

In the first part, Ssempa announces a nationwide rally for January 19, 2010 in support of the bill. Bahati says the bill is necessary to fight a “creepng evil in our society,” alleging that wealthy gays are recruiting children in schools. This is a recurring theme in Uganda’s stereotypes about gay people, a stereotype that was vigorously reinforced by the March 5-7 conference put on by three American anti-gay activists.

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In the second part of the video, Martin Ssempa rails against Barack Obama and other foreign leaders for denouncing the Anti-gay bill. He also completely misrepresents the “aggravated homosexuality” clause of the proposed bill, which provides the death penalty for LGBT people under certain circumstances. Ssempa claims that those circumstances are limited to rape or child sexual abuse. In fact, the proposed bill (the full text of which we’ve posted online) defines “aggravated homosxuality” this way:

3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the

(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;

(b) offender is a person living with HIV;

(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;

(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;

(f) offender is a serial offender, or

(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by  enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,

(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

In other words, the bill also includes anyone who is HIV-positive (and mandates testing of anyone suspected of homosexuality to determine their eligibility for the death sentence) or anyone who is a “serial offender” — which could include anyone who has had more than one partner in his or her lifetime. Ssempa (and Bahati) are clearly lying when they claim that “aggravated homosexuality” is limited to rape or molestation. The text of Bahati’s own bill proves the lie.

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In the third part, Bahati insists that the bill will not be dropped. He says that it is now before the Parliamentary Committee of Legal Affairs and also the Presidential Affairs Committee. He believes the bill will pass when Parliament returns from recess in February. He and Ssempa also claim to have been under death threats since the bill was introduced. In a recent story by the independent Daily Monitor, Bahati claims that a cousin is missing and blames the controversy over the anti-gay bill, but he doesn’t repeat that claim here. (That story has now gone missing from the Monitor’s web site.)

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

Click here to read a transcript of the Ssempa and Bahati interview.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO #3: Barack Obama “Preaches A Gospel of Sodomy!”

Jim Burroway

December 23rd, 2009

Thanks to an anonymous reader in Uganda, BTB has been able to obtain cell-phone video of a Ugandan news broadcast showing Tuesday’s anti-gay demonstration in Kampala by pastors Martin Ssempa, and David Kadaga in support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament.

Martin SsempaThis clip begins with Seempa, Kadaga, and others entering the Parliament Building from a rally at Makerere University (Ssempa’s home turf). At one point in the clip, Ssempa is shown (either at Parliament or at the rally) saying “We also express support for our president Museveni, the minister of foreign affiars, the people of Uganda for stainding strong against this evil.” He later condemned the White House for its statement against measure which would provide the death penalty for LGBT people. Speaking on behalf of the National Task Force Against Homosexuality, Ssempa said:

They (the task force) have condemned the efforts of the American president, Barrack Obama, and Hilary Clinton, for using the pulpit of the white house to preach a gospel of sodomy. We have said No!

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

Click here to read a transcript of the UBC Tonight Broadcast.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO #2: Ugandan Minister Considers Forced Counseling to “Rehabilitate” Gays

Jim Burroway

December 23rd, 2009

Thanks to an anonymous reader in Uganda, BTB has been able to obtain cell-phone video of a Ugandan news broadcast showing Tuesday’s anti-gay demonstration in Kampala by pastors Martin Ssempa, Solomon Male and Michael Kyazza.

This clip of a NTV News broadcast by the independent NBS television on Dec 22 begins with a short description of “aggravated homosexuality,” as “when one subjects a minor to gay acts or deliberately infects them with HIV.” This repeats the persistent mischaracterization of the actual text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament. The bill would actually include anyone who is HIV-positive (whether they “deliberately infect” someone or not), and it also includes anyone who is a “serial offender,” which could conceivably ensnare anyone who has had more than one lover, or who had sex with the same lover more than once. In recent days, MP David Bahati, the prime sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, has mischaracterized the true of the bill numerous times, as has Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa. These lies are now being repeated in Uganda’s media.

RallyNTVThe clip shows scenes of an anti-gay rally organized by Ssempa, Male and Kyazza. I don’t know if this is the same rally shown in the Platinum News clip uploaded earlier today. It then cuts to a video of Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo defending the bill, while raising the possibility of adding a forced conversion clause to the measure. This forced conversion idea was first brought up during an anti-gay conference put on last March by three American anti-gay activists.

Deputy SpeakerFrom there, the report shows a “pressure group” (one of whom is Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa) meeting with the Deputy Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to urge swift passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The reporter observes that Kadaga “appears to back the bill,” but the Deputy Speaker then read a passage from the existing law against homosexuality which already provides for a life sentence.

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

Click here to read a transcript of the NTV Tonight Broadcast.

Ugandan Pastors Demand Apology from Rick Warren

Jim Burroway

December 21st, 2009

A Martin Ssempa and three other Ugandan pastors have written to Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren demanding an apology for his statement opposing Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

In a letter sent sent to Warren, with copies provided to Christianity Today and Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton, the four pastors write on behalf of a task force which met in the offices of the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, who has been an ardent supporter of the bill. The pastors say that the bill has been “greatly misrepresented” and describes Warren’s opposition to the bill as “unwarrented abuse.”

This bill has been greatly misrepresented by some homosexual activists causing hysteria and we take this opportunity to give you the background, facts and response to the concerns you raised. A special meeting of 20 denominational heads met on Thursday 17th Dec in the offices of the minister of Ethics and Integrity, examined your letter and formed a joint task force to respond to you as well as help support the parliament in the passage of this bill.  We are further distressed by your unwarranted abuse of our duly elected officials who are in the process of making laws in the fulfillment of their mission and make demand that you biblically issue an apology for having wronged us as demonstrated by the facts of this letter. [Emphasis in the original]

The letter is very similar to a separate letter sent to Christianity Today, complete with wholesale misrepresentations of what the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would actually provide. We have posted the full text of the bill online where you can see its provisions for yourself. They include:

  • Expanding the definitions for homosexual acts, making conviction easier. Current law requires evidence of penetration. The new law would expand the definition of homosexual activity to “touch(ing) another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” Touching itself is defined as “touching—(a) with any part of the body; (b) with anything else; (c) through anything; and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ. anus or mouth.
  • Affirming Uganda’s lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality.
  • Defining a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality” for those who engage in sex with someone under the age of 18, who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender” (so broadly defined as to include anyone who has had a relationship with more than one person, or who had sex with the same person more than once), or who had sex with a disabled person (consensual or not). The penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is death by hanging.
  • Requiring anyone arrested on suspicion of homosexuality to undergo HIV testing to determine the individual’s qualification for prosecution of “aggravated homosexuality.”
  • Criminalizing “attempted homosexuality” with imprisonment of seven years.
  • Criminalizing all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years.
  • Criminalizing the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
  • Addding a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
  • Penalizing landlords and hotel owners with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people.
  • Adding an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
  • Voiding all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill.

There is an additional ominous note in this letter that is not found in the previous letter published by Christianity Today. In describing the developments in Uganda which they say justify the draconian measure specified in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, they single out an individual Ugandan blogger, GayUganda:

d) creation of organizations whose sole purpose is to promote homosexuality in Uganda; (e.g. (Sexual Minorities Uganda); (Gay Uganda); (Integrity Uganda).

This latest letter, which is reproduced on Warren Throckmorton’s web site, demands that Warren issues an apology and sets a deadline:

Your letter has caused great distress and the pastors are demanding that you issue a formal apology for insulting the people of Africa by your very inapropriate bully use of your church and purpose driven pulpits to coerse us into the “evil” of Sodomy and Gaymorrah. This is expected within seven days from this date.

The letter, at least as it is reproduced on Throckmorton’s web site, does not appear to be dated.

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

Ugandan Pastor Responds To Rick Warren’s Statement; Revives “Forced Therapy” Option

Jim Burroway

December 17th, 2009
Martin Ssempa

Martin Ssempa

Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, who had met several times with Saddleback pastor Rick Warren, is positively livid over Warren’s statement calling on Ugandan pastors to oppose the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In a letter addressed to Warren (PDF: 88KB/4 pages) and obtained by Christianity Today, Ssempa acknowledges receiving a letter from Warren asking Ugandan pastors to speak out against the bill, and counters with a deliberately misleading and convoluted defense of it.

After nearly three pages of ranting, Ssempa says that two amendments will be proposed for the bill:

At a special sitting of the Uganda Joint Christian Council taskforce sat and reviewed the bill to make comments. We resolved to support the bill with some amendments which included the following:

a. We suggested a less harsher sentence of 20 years instead of the death penalty for pedophilia or aggravated homosexuality.

b. We suggested the inclusion of counseling and rehabilitation being offered to offenders and victims. The churches are willing to provide the necessary help for those who are willing to undergo counseling and rehabilitation.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

This revives the forced therapy proposal brought up last March during a three-day anti-gay conference in Kampala. That conference, organized by Stephen Langa of Kampala-based Family Life Network featured Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Brundidge.

The Ugandan Parliament will reportedly bring the Anti-Homosexuality Bill up for a second reading debate on Friday. It’s unknown whether these proposals will be brought up during that debate.

Ssempa also recounts Warren’s 2008 trip to Uganda in support of the Anglican Church of Uganda’s boycott of the Lambeth Conference over the U.S. church’s ordination of Rev. Gene Robinson as the denomination’s first openly gay bishop. Ssempa lectured Warren:

When you came to Uganda on Thursday, 27 March 2008, and expressed support to the Church of Uganda’s boycott of the pro-homosexual church of England, you stated; “The Church of England is wrong, and I support the Church of Uganda”. You are further remembered to say, “homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus (its) not a human right. We shall not tolerate this aspect at all.”

Ssempa later returns to this subject at the end of his letter with a reference to Warren’s PEACE plan for Africa:

We note with sadness the increasing levels of accepting of the evil of homosexuality. The ordination of Mary Glasspool a Lesbian as a bishop in Los Angeles without any condemnation from you, has increased the widening gap between the global south church in Africa and the global north church in Europe and America. In these increasingly dark days, we encourage you not to give into the temptation to water down what the bible says so as not to offend people. Jesus’s gospel is a stumbling block, and a rock of offfense. Rick you are our friend, we have bought many of your books and have been blessed by them. Do not let the pressure of bloggers and popular media intimidate you into becoming a negotiator for homosexual pedophilia rights in Africa. As you yourself say about evil, — “the Bible says evil has to be opposed. Evil has to be stopped. The Bible does not say negotiate with evil. It says stop it. Stop evil.” Since the bible says that the giant of homosexuality is an “abomination” or a great evil, you cannot achieve the peace plan without a purpose driven confrontation with evil.

Ssempa has been a leading promoter of harsher treatment for that country’s LGBT citizens. He has also accused rival pastors of homosexuality. These allegations were found to be false, and Ssempa found himself under investigation for filing false reports. That investigation was apparently halted when President Yoweri Museveni intervened.

Rick Warren recently distanced himself from Ssempa:

Martin Ssempa does not represent me, my wife Kay, Saddleback Church, nor the Global PEACE Plan strategy. In 2007, we completely severed contact with Mr. Ssempa when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own. Our role, and the role of the PEACE Plan, whether in Uganda or any other country, is always pastoral and never political. We vigorously oppose anything that hinders the goals of the PEACE Plan: Promoting reconciliation, Equipping ethical leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation.

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

Seven Mountains Theology At the Heart of Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill

Jim Burroway

December 4th, 2009

Yesterday, Warren Throckmorton began delving into the “Seven Mountains” theology that has surfaced in investigations into American Evangelical ties to the current Anti-Homosexuality Act which has been put before Uganda’s Parliament. Today, Bruce Wilson, of the New Apostolic Reformation Research Group, has published a major exposé on extensive ties between those behind Uganda’s latest draconian proposal and American Evangelicals. Again, “Seven Mountains” theology appears to be at the core.

According to news reports, the Anti-Homosexuality Act was tabled before Parliament on October 14, but that wasn’t the first time discussions surrounding the proposal occurred in the chamber. A transcript of Parliamentary proceedings from April 29, have come to light which show MP David Bahati first introducing the bill before Parliament. This is likely to have been similar to the draft dated April 20, 2009 that we obtained in September. (The current bill is dated September 25.) According to the Parliamentary transcript, the Speaker noted several distinguished visitors in the gallery before turning the floor over to MP Bahati:

Let us hear from hon. Bahati. In connection with the motion he is moving, we have in the gallery Apostle Julius Peter Oyet, Vice-President of the Born Again Federation; Pastor Dr Martin Sempa of the Family Policy Centre; Stephen Langa, Family Life Network; hon. Godfrey Nyakaana; the Mayor of Kampala City Council; Julius, a young boy who was sodomised, and his mother. His story has been in the press. They are all here in the gallery. Please, let us deal with them so that they can leave. There is also George Oundo who came out to speak against homosexuality. Please, let us balance the public good and our good since all of them are important. We shall do them all very quickly. Hon. Bahati.

For longtime BTB readers, many of these names are familiar. Stephen Langa organized the anti-gay conference in Kampala in March featuring three American Anti-Gay activists which ultimately kicked off this latest round of anti-gay vigilantism and, eventually, this bill. Martin Ssempa has enjoyed close ties with many American Evangelicals, most notably Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren. Ssempa has used the latest anti-gay furor to exact revenge against rival pastors by accusing them of homosexuality. Those accusations were unfounded, and Ssempa himself is the subject of a police investigation for filing false reports. George Oundo is the unstable so-called “ex-gay” who participated in several acts of vigilantism in the media.

"Apostle" Julius Oyet

"Apostle" Julius Oyet

But one name we haven’t paid much attention to — and should — is that of the self-designated “Apostle” Julius Peter Oyet. He’s vice-president of the Born Again Federation, and umbrella group of some 10,000 Ugandan Pentecostal churches. He is also head of Lifeline Ministries. According to Throckmorton and Wilson, Oyet has gained favor and influence with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni for going to Northern Uganda and praying over territory once controlled by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army. His prayers reportedly resulted in the “miraculous” return of hundreds of child soldiers abducted by the LRA, as well as other fantastic stories of miraculous healings, cleansing of poisoned rivers, casting out demons, and the like.

Oyet is an adherent to “Seven Mountains” theology, a Dominionist theology that calls upon Christians to “establish the Kingdom of God on earth” by claiming possession to “the Seven Mountains of Culture namely: Business, Government, Religion, Family, Media, Education and Entertainment.”  Warren Throckmorton explains:

This viewpoint seems to be quite popular among those who follow C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation. Wagner is the Presiding Apostle for the International Council of Apostles, a subsidiary of Global Harvest Ministries which admits new apostles by invitation only.

Wagner’s 2008 book Dominion: How Kingdom Action Can Change the World, is described by the publisher as an exploration of “the biblical roots of dominion theology.” According to Wagner, the task of the church is less about individual salvation and more about taking dominion over the culture by reclaiming seven domains: family, business, arts & entertainment, government, media, education, and religion.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Caleb Lee Brundidge, one of the speakers at that anti-gay conference at Kampala last march, is a member of a group called Extreme Prophetic, which also adheres to Seven Mountains theology.

Bruce Wilson’s report at Talk to Action takes up the thread from there:

Some observers have wondered if Purpose Driven Life author and mega-evangelist Rick Warren has had a role in the globally controversial bill, especially because of Warren’s close association with Ugandan anti-gay activist Martin Ssempa and, more broadly, because Warren has refused to denounce the anti-gay bill.

To little notice, a charismatic network overseen by Warren’s doctoral dissertation advisor, C. Peter Wagner, has played a major role in politically organizing and inspiring the Ugandan legislators who have spearheaded the anti-gay bill.

Wagner is the Convening Apostle in a movement of charismatic networks which has extended its reach from the United States to Uganda, and worldwide. Under its umbrella of authority are virulently anti-gay apostles in the United States and Uganda including Lou Engle of TheCall, who led thousands of young people in a twelve hour November 1, 2008 stadium rally in support of California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition Eight.

The San Diego event closed with Engle, a member of Wagner’s inner circle of “prophets,” calling for Christian martyrs. Peter Wagner heads the New Apostolic Reformation, which he openly touts as an effort to take Christian dominion over the globe by putting “born again” believers around the world under the authority of these apostles and prophets.

Both C. Peter Wagner and Rick Warren want to transform the world, and both have proclaimed the advent of a second Reformation. Wagner calls it the New Apostolic Reformation, while for Rick Warren this is a “purpose driven” effort powered by Warren’s global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. In Uganda both visions for societal transformation appear to include the categorical elimination of homosexuality – by any means.

The word “transform” is key. Wilson identifies Julius Oyet as a one of Wagner’s Apostles, and is featured in one of the movement’s Transformations series of video documentaries. Wilson says these videos “depict cities and even whole nations transformed to earthly utopias when charismatic Christians take control of societal structures and government.” The “Transformations” ideas promoted these videos have spawned Transformation organizations around the world, including the International Transformation Network

Oyet is also identified as being the head of the Uganda division of the College of Prayer International. BTB readers may recall from last month that MP David Bahati, who introduced the Anti-Homosexualty Act into Parliament, and MP Benson Obua-Ogwa, identified as one of the bill’s cosponsors, are core members of the College of Prayer International’s Uganda branch. They were appointed as two of eight MP’s to serve on the Christian “servant leadership team” in Parliament for three years.

Some parts of Wilson’s report covers some of the same ground that we’ve reported, but his well-researched report goes much deeper than anyone has been able to accomplish so far. He does an excellent job of not only tying it all together, but demonstrating how Seven Mountains theology works, as adherents seek to infiltrate the seven spheres of cultural influence — particularly the governmental sphere. He also documents the close ties that these groups have with the President and First Lady of Uganda. For example:

A March 8th, 2007 news release, hosted on the official web site of Republic of Uganda State House, reveals the extent to which the Transformations model is being integrated into Ugandan government policy:

“President Yoweri Museveni and his wife Mrs. Janet Museveni today hosted at State House, Nakasero 2 officials of California based Harvest Evangelism. Founder and President of Harvest Evangelism Mr. Ed Silvoso was accompanied by Mr. Graham Power.” According to the release, the Musevenis discussed with Silvoso and Power “issues pertaining to investment opportunities in the country particularly road construction and the development of infrastructure.”

Ed Silvoso is an apostle in C. Peter Wagner’s International Coalition of Apostles and is CEO of the International Transformation Network (ITN). Janet Museveni has spoken at several Transformation conferences around the world including one hosted by Silvoso’s Argentina-based ministry.

So now we see how Peter Wagner’s “Seven Mountain” theology is having a very real impact in Uganda. And with Rick Warren as Wagner’s protegé, Warren’s refusal to take a stand on the impending disaster in Uganda is starting to make sense. One would think that denouncing such a draconian attempt at criminalization would be easy to denounce, but Warren can’t find it in his heart to do so.

The more we look at the ties between American Evangelicals and Uganda’s political leadership, the more we see the true nature of what the American Evangelical movement has in store for LGBT people if they get their way. One Uganda pastor called the proposal “genocide.” That’s an extreme word describing an extreme situation. But the more we learn, the more it looks like it’s not hyperbole after all. This is real.

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

Rick Warren refuses to oppose Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill

Timothy Kincaid

November 29th, 2009

rick warrenRick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, has a unique way of viewing a global ministry. Warren sees his mission as being of a scope that does not stop at national borders. He seeks Purpose Driven Nations to comprise his Purpose Driven World.

And Warren is not hesitant to interfere in international religious divisions or schisms. Though not Anglican, he has been a major player in providing American support to African Anglicans who are seeking to oust any affiliates from the Anglican Communion that make any accommodation for gay Christians.

Warren also likes to rub shoulders with the politically powerful. He is friends with presidents and the powerful around the globe. And one of the five steps in his Plan is “Equipping ethical leaders”, i.e. those who agree with Warren’s religious views.

And he’s no stranger to activism on behalf of legislation. Though he was not highly visible in supporting Proposition 8, he did not hesitate to instruct his flock – which does not stop at the walls of his church – to vote to take away the civil rights of their gay neighbors.

But Warren has now found the one exception to his political involvement. And that exception is the proposed Ugandan “Kill Gays” bill. Unlike virtually anything else that flickers across his attention, this piece of legislation just doesn’t rise to the level of requiring his involvement. That would be “interfering in the political process of other nations.”

Or maybe Rick Warren just doesn’t find it unethical on the part of leadership in Uganda to execute HIV positive gay people, incarcerate the rest for life, ban any form of activism that might object, and jail those family, friends, or acquaintances who fail to report their gay loved ones to the government.

On Meet the Press this morning he spoke a good game of loving gay people (while fighting against their rights). But though he declared that his “role is to love everybody” (which presumably would include gay Ugandans), this love seems not to stretch quite enough to oppose their execution and life-long incarceration.

And Newsweek’s Kate Dailey is noting Warren’s failure to respond to the situation in Uganda:

But Warren won’t go so far as to condemn the legislation itself. A request for a broader reaction to the proposed Ugandan anti-homosexual laws generated this response: “The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.” On Meet the Press this morning, he reiterated this neutral stance in a different context: “As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides.” Warren did say he believed that abortion was “a holocaust.” He knows as well as anyone that in a case of great wrong, taking sides is an important thing to do.

I would go further.

When you build the platform, put out the chairs, advertise the event, set up the audio system, introduce the speaker, and hand him the mic, it’s disingenuous to claim that you are not taking sides. Rick Warren was significantly responsible for building Martin Ssempa’s influence in Uganda, and releasing a statement that he had “severed contact with Mr. Ssempa” two years ago is not an adequate reaction to Ssempa’s efforts to incarcerate and kill gay people.

The truth is that while Rick Warren speaks of loving gay people, he doesn’t care if they are executed in Uganda for being gay. Or, at least, he doesn’t care enough to make the slightest effort to stop it.

I guess his life is “driven” by some other “purpose”.

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

Anglican Communion’s Tangled Connections To Uganda’s Anti-Gay Pogrom

Jim Burroway

November 14th, 2009

There has been considerable consternation over the worldwide Anglican Communion’s silence on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Uganda’s Parliament. That bill would reaffirm a penalty of life imprisonment for anyone convicted of being gay and impose the death penalty under certain circumstances. It would also criminalize all advocacy on behalf of LGBT citizens, and impose criminal penalties on family, friends, teachers, counselors and ministers who fail to report LGBT persons to the police.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the number two man in the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the number two man in the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Church is the second largest Christian denomination in Uganda, making its voice an exceptionally important one as the bill is debated. One would think that with the draconian nature of this proposed legislation, a denunciation would be easy. But so far it hasn’t been forthcoming, save for some reservations about the death penalty. Other than that, the Anglican Church’s official spokesperson in Uganda has been largely supportive of the bill, while the worldwide Anglican Communion has remained silent. This despite public calls for a statement against the bill directed toward Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Union, as well as the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who is the number two man in the Anglican Communion. Sentamu, who was born and raised in Uganda, has already vowed to remain silent on the Ugandan proposals now before Parliament.

Why stay silent in the face of such obvious evil? Good question, and it turns out the answer looks like a tale that one would only expect to find in the most outrageous soap operas.

Uganda megachurch pastor Robert Kayanja, younger brother of the Archbishop of York.

Uganda megachurch pastor Robert Kayanja, younger brother of the Archbishop of York.

It turns out that Archbishop Semtamu is the older brother of a megachurch pastor by the name of Robert Kayanja. If that name rings a bell, it may be because we reported last May that Kayanja, a wealthy and powerful pastor of the Rubaga Miracle Center in Kampala, was accused of being gay by rival pastors led Solomon Male. Kayanja’s personal aide was allegedly kidnapped and tortured by armed men and held for five days, as his captors demanded that he make a video accusing Kayanja of sodomy. Kayanja accused another rival, Pastor Michael Kyazze of the Omega Healing Center of being behind the plot.

Pastor Martin Ssempa, who has been the recipient of US HIV/AIDS prevention funding and has past ties to American megachurch pastor Rick Warren, also played a prominent role in the accusations against Kayanja, as well as other well-known pastors in Uganda.

Police investigated Kayanja and found the charges baseless, although its unclear what role his donations for refurbishing police barracks or his close ties with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni may have played in the investigation. But at any rate, it appears that Kayanja is now officially in the clear, while Ssempa, Male and others were investigated for providing false accusations to police. A police report released last August called for Ssempa and the other false accusers to be brought up on criminal charges.

So does Kayanja’s brush with deadly-serious accusations of homosexuality explain the silence of the Archbishop of York, Kayanja’s brother, on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill? Or is it merely the same blatant hatred of LGBT people that infects much of Uganda’s religious community that is holding Archbishop Semantu’s tongue? And how does the silence of the Communion’s second in command affect the Archbishop of Canterbury’s refusal to address these life-and-death developments in one of the Church’s most active countries?

We can expect more false accusations and score settling should the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act become law, with its requirement that anyone who knows someone is gay report that individual to local police. We can also expect the Act to fuel further public vigilante campaigns against private Ugandan citizens similar to the one waged by the tabloid Red Pepper last April.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

Meanwhile, the largest components of worldwide Christianity remain silent, while others actively stoke the hatred and antagonisms fueling this year’s anti-gay pogrom. Active American participants in this current campaign have included Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, Holocaust Revisionist Scott Lively, and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Brundidge, who kicked off the latest spasm with a three-day anti-gay conference held in Kampala last March. The College of Prayer’s Fred Hartly has direct ties to the two Members of Parliament who are cosponsoring the proposed bill. And the U.S based shadow Christian group known as “The Family” or “The Fellowship” has identified Uganda President Museveni as “their man in Uganda.” I’m not one for wild conspiracy theories, but watching all of this unfold is simply breathtaking. And with the Anglican Communion’s continued silence on the issue, they are becoming complicit in this bloody web as well.

[Hat tip: GayUganda]

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

Uganda Parliament, Religious Leaders Weigh Death Penalty for LGBT People

Jim Burroway

November 2nd, 2009

As we reported last week, several Ugandan Christian leaders have spoken out on the Anti-Homosexuality Act which has been introduced in that nation’s Parliament, but their statements have largely been in full support with the bill – with a few reservations about the proposed death penalty for “serial offenders” and those who are HIV-positive. Those comments were made during discussions in a Parliament committee.

We’ve learned more details of those committee discussions held on October 28. Participants included members of Parliament David Bahati and Benson Obua Ogwal who are co-sponsors of the bill, and Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba-Buturo.  Invited speakers included:

  • The Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, provincial secretary of the Anglican Church of Uganda;
  • John Kakembo, of the Seventh Day Adventist Church;
  • Dr. Joseph Sserwadda, representing the nation’s Pentecostal churches;
  • Prof. Peter Matoyu, a university professor representing the Metropolitan Orthodox Church of Kampala.
  • Sheikh Mohammad Ali, representing the Muslim Mufti of Uganda;

MP David Bahati, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, insisted that homosexuality was not a human right but “a bad habit.” He also repeated much of the false “science” promulgated by American anti-gay extremists, including the false charge that the life expectancy of gays are twenty-years shorter than that of non-gays. MP Bahati’s repeated most of his points in support of his bill in a column that appeared in yesterday’s Observer, in which he called the bill “a nice piece of legislation“:

Uganda is not a copycat of other countries. We can’t do what other countries are doing—especially when such countries are doing the wrong things. The fact that the moral fabric in America and Europe has been put under siege by the supporters of this creeping evil of homosexuality should not suggest that we should follow suit.

And I think supporting the cause of this Bill will provide Uganda as a country an opportunity to provide leadership in this area of safeguarding the traditional family. I must also point out that this Bill is not about hate or discrimination. We are not involved in a hate campaign.

…But ever since we tabled this Bill, we have come under attack. People have argued that we are promoting a hate campaign against homosexuals. And these attacks are coming mostly from civil society members who claim that homosexuality is a human right.

These same groups have persistently continued to place this evil in the category of human rights. They have rallied people to resist the Bill. They argue that we are targeting homosexuals, we hate them. But some of the people behind these messages are mothers and respectable people in our country.

…On top of this are the NGOs that are hugely involved in recruiting and giving money to our young children with the intention of swaying them into this evil practice.

But Uganda will never exchange her dignity for money. While we are poor in terms of finances, we are extremely rich in dignity. And we will never accept homosexuality for the sake of appeasing other countries or as an incentive for their money.

MP Bahati reviewed what his draconian bill would do. If passed, it would:

  • Reaffirm the lifetime sentence currently provided upon conviction of homosexuality, and extends the definition from sexual activity to merely “touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
  • Create a new category of “aggravated homosexuality” which provides for the death penalty for “repeat offenders” and for cases where the individual is HIV-positive.
  • Provides compensation for “victims” of homosexuality. This provision would encourage an accused’s consensual partner to claim that he or she was a “victim,” not only to escape criminal penalties, but also to demand compensation from his or her partner.
  • Expand the definition of homosexuality to include “touching.” Current law requires proof of penetration. The proposed law would dramatically lower the burden of proof for penalties involving lifetime sentences or even death.
  • Criminalizes all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years.
  • Criminalizes the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
  • Adds a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
  • Adds an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.

Death Sentence Provisions Questioned
The Parliamentary committee heard from several of Uganda’s religious leaders, beginning with Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, provincial secretary of the Anglican Church of Uganda. As has been widely reported, he spoke out against only one provision of the bill, the section which provides the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”. The  pro-government newspaper New Vision quoted Mwesigye this way:

“Can death as a form of punishment help one to reform? Some people are convicted of murder but after they have been killed, it’s proved they were innocent. What would be done in such circumstances? We should emphasize life imprisonment.”

Mwesigye also questioned the wisdom of the extra-territorial provisions in the bill, saying that those provisions might not be practical. Otherwise, he was complementary of the bill overall, but suggested that some portions of the bill didn’t go far enough. For example, on the section providing compensation for “victims,” he suggested that secondary victims — spouses, parents, and children of those who claim to have been seduced — also deserve compensation.

“Predatory homosexuals”
John Kakembo, of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, also questioned the death sentence, but otherwise praised the bill. He also repeated Mwesigye’s suggestion that the definition of victims be expanded for compensation. He justified this by calling all gay people predatory, claiming that he was targeted by foreigners when he was younger.

Themes of rampant criminality and wild predatory practices are extremely common in portrayals of LGBT people in Uganda. Prof. Peter Matoyu, who was representing the Metropolitan Orthodox Church of Kampala made some very incendiary and fanciful charges along those lines. He claimed that while a student in the U.S., a professor forced him to pretend that he and other Ugandan students were gay as part of their studies, and that they were in danger of being murdered by American gays if their ruse were discovered. This rhetoric only feeds the anti-gay frenzy that frequently grips the nation.

Government support for proposed legislation
Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba-Buturo also spoke before the committee, and said that while the proposed act was highly controversial, he assured the panel that its passage would give Uganda a place of honor among civilized nations.

This is significant, as Nsaba-Buturo appears to have the full backing of President Yoweri Museveni, who, in Uganda’s paper-thin trappings of democratic functioning, is the real power in the country after having overthrown his predecessor in a civil war in 1986. In a statement released on the official web site of the Office of the President, Nsaba-Buturo has already warned Uganda’s media against “promoting homosexuality,” reminding them that a new law was being proposed to make all advocacy or positive portrayal of homosexuality tantamount to pornography and become subject to criminal penalties. This is no idle threat; Uganda’s press is not entirely free and the government has very recently shut down several broadcasters that have been critical of government policies.

“Total support” for the death penalty
While some Ugandan Christian leaders have expressed reservations about the death penalty provisions – while being perfectly happy with lifetime imprisonment for being gay, at least one prominent Uganda preacher has given the new law his total support. Martin Ssempa of Makerere Community Church was not at the parliamentary meeting, but he did send a statement to Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton in which he offered his “total support of the bill and would be most grateful if it did pass.”

Ssempa enjoys close ties to Uganda’s First Lady, Janet Museveni, and as been tied to US pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. In 2005, Warren described Ssempa as “his indispensable sidekick,” but now he appears to be reeling back his support for the Ugandan megachurch pastor. In a statement released to Warren Throckmorton, Rick Warren wrote:

Martin Ssempa does not represent me, my wife Kay, Saddleback Church, nor the Global PEACE Plan strategy. In 2007, we completely severed contact with Mr. Ssempa  when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own.

Rev. Warren also enjoys close ties with Uganda’s First Lady and he had recently named Uganda a “Purpose Driven Nation.”

We do not know the Uganda President’s position on this bill. While his very prominent Minister of Ethics and Integrity had taken a very personal interest in this bill almost immediately following an anti-gay conference in Kampala by three American anti-gay activists, there has been no official statement from the President’s office. Almost all important bills are introduced by the President directly, but this proposed legislation is what’s called a “private member” bill. This has led some to suspect that President Museveni may be hedging his bets to gauge international reaction.

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

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