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Posts for September, 2010

Australia’s SBS Television Focuses on Uganda

Jim Burroway

September 8th, 2010

Australia’s SBS network, which fills a role similar to that of PBS in the United States, delved into Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill last Sunday in a segment of the documentary program Dateline by Canadian journalist Aaron Lewis. The non-embeddable video is available online at the Dateline web site, along with a full transcript.

This documentary explores similar ground covered in other documentaries on Uganda that have appeared in the U.S. and Britain. Regular readers of BTB are unlikely to learn many new facts, but this documentary does a wonderful job of re-telling the story in different contexts. As with the other documentaries, Lewis obtained interviews with M.P. David Bahati, chief sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, one of the bill’s most ardent supporters in Uganda’s Cabinet. It also features brief appearances from pastors Martin Ssempa and Solomon Male, who both have been involved with hurling accusations of homosexuality toward rival pastors during last year’s vigilante campaign.

Among the things this documentary covers that we’ve seen before is Bahati’s assertion that many American evangelical leaders privately tell him that they support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill bill:

We have friends who are evangelicals in the US and they are being supportive. Some confidentially supporting this, others, very few openly, in support of this because of the fear to be blamed back home and we truly accept that.

Frank Mugisha, head of Sexual Minorities Uganda

But where this documentary truly excels is in covering the impact the debate over the the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has had on Uganda’s LGBT community. Frank Mugisha, head of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said that since the bill has been introduced, life has become much more difficult:

Many Ugandans have taken the law into their own hands and started attacking homosexuals, beating them up. Landlords have thrown people out of their houses because they are saying “If this legislation is passed and I have a homosexual who is a tenant, then I become a criminal, so it is better I throw you out now before the law is passed”.

Pepe, a transgender advocate for SMUg, agrees:

Kampala is one of the places that is known for mob injustice – anything can happen. You can move on the street and someone can say “Look, the homosexual is doing something” – just that word alone is going to draw attention and something can happen so that we live in fear of all the time.

SheilaMore compelling is this recounting of a case of “curative rape,” a common threat against lesbians throughout Africa.

SHEILA MUGISHA: At the age of 12 I had a friend at home – and actually these things are done by friends. I had always told him my stories, my secrets, my encounters in bed. So, he would tell me, “You know what? I want to teach you how to play with boys, not with girls.” He put his leg here, and here, and then he got into my body, into my vagina, and I screamed because I’d never had any sex, I’d never known, you know, any of those practices. “So, from now, you are going to learn how to play with boys.”

As a result of the rape, Sheila became pregnant at the age of 12. Her family took her to have the child aborted but the effects of the rape continued.

SHEILA MUGISHA: I went to a certain AIDS information centre in Mengo with a friend – I took a test – and it was positive.

Minister for Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba ButuroSheila has been living with HIV for almost twenty years. When the reporter told Minister for Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba Buturo about Shiela, the cabinet minister who has been one of the anti-gay bill’s staunchest supporters said that the entire story is a lie:

I have never heard of that, actually. But they lie a lot. Lies. They use that as a major tool because you see that’s the only way they garner sympathy from all over the world. Now the idea that in Uganda we have plans to kill gays you know, that the bill of Honourable Bahati is intended to kill homosexuals – that is the view that the entire world has got, yet it is not the case.

Stanley NdualaBut what has to be the most interesting element of the documentary for me is that for the first time we get to hear from Stanley Nduala, who writes for the notorious tabloid Red Pepper. He has been in the forefront of that tabloid’s outing campaigns. Apparently, making life miserable for LGBT people pays very well in Uganda; we see Nduala driving around Kampala in a late model Mercedes. Incredibly, he claimed that he, too, would fall under the bill’s provisions against “promoting” homosexuality:

STANLEY NDUALA, JOURNALIST ‘RED PEPPER’: For them, they believe that anything you write about homosexuality is promotion. So they think that I’m working with the activists to promote homosexuality in Uganda. So it is quite strict.

Far from promoting homosexuality, ‘The Red Pepper’ goes so far as to out homosexuals in its most popular section. No-one is spared.

FRANK MUGISHA: I know very many people who were outed in that tabloid who lost their jobs, who lost their families, who lost friends. I know people who were even bashed, I know people who were beaten. I know people who were harassed because they were outed in ‘The Red Pepper’.

REPORTER: Do you feel that you are persecuting a minority?

STANLEY NDUALA: I don’t know why they believe like that. We are just being journalists – True journalists.

Stanley tells me that the reason for such interest is that no crime is as hated as homosexuality here.

STANLEY NDUALA: When you commit homosexuality, they think all these other things, like rape, what, are just minor. If you have done that one, you could do everything.

REPORTER: So here in Uganda, being a rapist is minor compared to being a homosexual?

STANLEY NDUALA: Yes, to the public eye

Lawyer Lad Rekefuzi confirms that rapists and murderers fare better in Uganda’s courts than do gay people.

Also making a brief appearance is retired Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, a brave man who I had the distinct pleasure of meeting last May in Southern California. This documentary is a great addition to the body of work being done all over the world to call attention to the deplorable treatment of LGBT people in Uganda.

Engle Offers Tactical Support For Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

May 4th, 2010

Lou Engle on stage with other supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill at a TheCall rally in Kampala (Michael Wilkerson / Religion Dispatches)

Religious Dispatches as a very detailed eyewitness account by Michael Wilkerson of Lou Engle’s participating at an anti-gay rally in Kampala last Sunday. Wilkerson points out that Engle didn’t mention the the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill directly, but given the context of the entire all-day rally he didn’t need to.

Preceding Engle’s performance at the rally, Julius Oyet called on Parliament “not to debate heaven. We call on them to pass the bill and say no to homosexuality.” Oyet, you may recall, is the self-styled “apostle” who is vice-president of the Born Again Federation, an umbrella group of some 10,000 Ugandan Pentecostal churches.

Oyet was in the Parliament’s visitors gallery and was commended by Parliament’s speaker when the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced last October. He is also an 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.” Oyet is also the head of the College of Prayer International’s Uganda branch. MP David Bahati, the credited author and sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is one of eight MP’s serving on COPI’s “servant leadership team” in Parliament.

According to Religion Dispatches, Oyet spent considerable time at the rally pushing for the passage of the draconian bill:

Oyet also brought up the common Ugandan perception that homosexuality is an import of the West which “recruits” new members primarily by bribing children. “Father, our children today are being deceived by the West. To buy them, to give them school fees so that they can be homosexuals. We say no to that,” Oyet said with a rolling voice as a live band played smooth jazz in the background.

Engle took the stage right after Oyet, and almost immediately launched into a defense of the anti-gay bill. According to Wilkerson, Elgle repeated what he said in his statement last week when he claimed that he didn’t know about the bill. He also claimed that he almost canceled his trip over the controversy. But at no point did he contest Oyet’s support for the bill. In fact, he picked up on the homosexuality-as-Western-import theme and ran with it:

We know that Uganda has been under tremendous pressure—the church. We felt that same pressure. But I felt like The Call was to come and join with the church of Uganda to encourage you that in the nation who are showing courage to take a stand for righteousness in the earth,” Engle said.

Since arriving, Engle went on, he had consulted with Uganda’s pastors, who are “dealing with a controversy they never wanted.” He then pivoted to the blame-the-West assertion so popular among the bill’s Ugandan supporters. “What I found out was that NGOs, the UN, and UNICEF were coming in and promoting an agenda that the church of Uganda did not want to be in this nation.”

Engle was careful never to explicitly call for the passage of the bill itself, and to avoid being accused of inciting violence. “We are not standing with violence or hatred to people with homosexual lifestyles,” he preached. Still, as he does in the United States, he insisted that homosexuality harms society: “We are trying to restrain an agenda that is going to hurt the nation and hurt families.”

Engle is trying to have it both ways. When he took the stage, at no time did he distance himself or criticize the draconian bill. Instead, he pivoted and repeated the oft-cited propaganda, with no apparent attempt to verify the “facts” themselves, that homosexuality is a Western imperialist import. But in private, while speaking to reporters on his way back to the car, Engle sought to distance himself from the bill again. Ugandan LGBT advocates noted the tightrope act:

“They tried to avoid the issue of inciting violence but they did not come out and condemn the bill, which was in their [press] statement,” said Dennis Wamala, who works with a group called Icebreakers Uganda. “They did not come out in any way to say this bill is wrong.”

Engle likes to portray himself as a courageous, fearless and bold trumpet of righteousness. When he issued his statement addressing concerns about his then-upcoming rally, we noted then that he tried to weave some sort of middle ground and we were left wondering what message he would deliver in Kampala. We now know the answer.

The problem all along is that the way the bill has been framed by its supporters, there is no room for middle ground. You are either in support of the bill or you are against it. Either you want to legislate LGBT people into oblivion or you don’t. Engle’s actions now leaves him squarely in the supporting camp. He had the opportunity to “[reflect] compassion for those struggling with same-sex attraction and equal justice for criminal offenses committed by heterosexuals or homosexuals,” but he blew it.

Instead, he demonstrated public solidarity with the people who want to kill LGBT Ugandans, and repeated their propaganda to do it. He stood beside those who want to kill LGBT people, including Oyet, Bahati, and Ethics and Integrity Minister James, Nsaba Buturo, among others. Nobody heard an ounce of caution or criticism from him. Instead, Engle affirmed the “righteousness” of the people who want to kill you. He’s an articulate man. Words never fail him. Which means that when he left only one conceivable take-away message for everyone in that crowd, that they are on the right track in trying to legally kill gay people, he did this with deliberate intent. And really, that is all you need to know about him.

American Joins Kampala Rally Pushing For Passage of Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

May 3rd, 2010

Lou Engle addressing a rally in Kampala, Uganda.(Marc Hofer/New York Times)

American anti-gay extremist Lou Engle joined several Ugandan pastors and political leaders in calling upon that nation’s government to enact the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. As we already noted late last night, the New York Times quoted Lou Engle of TheCall this way:

“NGOs, the U.N., UNICEF, they are all coming in here and promoting an agenda,” Mr. Engle said, referring to nongovernmental organizations. “Today, America is losing its religious freedom. We are trying to restrain an agenda that is sweeping through the education system. Uganda has become ground zero.”

Engle also reportedly commended the Ugandan’s “courage” and “righteousness” in formulating the bill, which imposes the death sentence on gays under certain circumstances, criminalizes all speech and advocacy on behalf of gay people, and mandates that friends and family members report gay relatives and acquaintances to police.

The Moses Mulidwa of the Gay Activist Alliance Africa has more details about that rally. Mulidwa reports that Engle told the crowd, “We warned the youth against the act, when America allowed homosexuals freedom, it was the end of their Nation.”

Mulidwa also has some further information about other speakers at the rally:

Reports state that Pastor Mulinde of Trumpet Church called on other pastors present to come to the floor and pray for the nation of Uganda and in his prayer he condemned ‘evils in society’, committed by both homosexuals and heterosexuals.

He further emphasized that homosexuality is invading schools, families and the entire community and that it should be stopped.

Pastor John Mulinde is the founder of Kampala-based World Trumpet Mission, which is headed by founder John Mulinde. World Trumpet Mission also has extensive staff in Orlando, Florida under International Director Mark Daniel.

Another speaker at the rally was Pastor Julius Oyet. He was also present in the Ugandan Parliament on October 14 when the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced. We have extensive information about Oyet’s role in this bill here. He also spoke at the rally:

Pastor Oyet Julius [sic] pointed out that Uganda is not for sale and that western civilization should not be allowed to take over the country.

“Members of parliament should not waste time by debating the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, they should quickly make it a law”, Oyet reportedly said.

He also called upon the cabinet, media, and business community to take a firm stand against homosexuality, also accusing homosexuals of paying school fees for young children while recruiting them to ‘the act’.

“Uganda cannot be intimidated by the Western World, we cannot put our dignity for sale” He said.

Mulidwa confirms that Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo spoke at hte rally and declared that Parliament would be passing the bill “soon.” MP David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, also attended the rally.

Lou Engle Praised Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

May 2nd, 2010

Lou Engle addressing a rally in Kampala, Uganda.(Marc Hofer/New York Times)

In an apparent contradiction to a statement Lou Engle released earlier last week, the New York Times reports that Engle praised Uganda for its “courage” and “righteousness” in promoting the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

In a rally held Sunday on the sports grounds of Makerere University in Kampala, Engle told the crowd of about 1,300 people:

“NGOs, the U.N., Unicef, they are all coming in here and promoting an agenda,” Mr. Engle said, referring to nongovernmental organizations. “Today, America is losing its religious freedom. We are trying to restrain an agenda that is sweeping through the education system. Uganda has become ground zero.”

The Times reports that Engle was followed by Uganda’s Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba Buturo, who addressed the crowd, “These are desperate times, but we will not accept intimidation. It is our business to do what God wants. Pray for Bahati, and pray for the bill.” MP David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, also attended the rally. Bahati called the rally’s turnout “a good sign” for the bill’s passage, which he said he expected to occur soon.

Ugandan Cabinet Committee Recommends Passing Anti-Gay Bill On the Down Low

Jim Burroway

April 24th, 2010

The Sunday Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, has apparently gotten a copy of the report by the Ugandan Cabinet committee tasked with reviewing the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to the Monitor, the committee recommends deflecting attention to the bill by changing its title and/or combining it with the Sexual Offences Act. According to the Monitor:

In their recommendations, the committee argued that the title of the Bill; Anti-Homosexuality, is stigmatising and appears to be targeting a particular group of people. They therefore want the “useful provisions of the proposed law” incorporated into the Sexual Offences Act.

The Committee, however, agreed that promotion of homosexuality should be criminalised. “The law should provide that all the parties: publishers, printers, distributors of any materials that promote homosexuality should all be liable to have committed an offence,” the minutes read in part.

The existence of the committee’s report was first disclosed last Wednesday but details were not available at that time. That report made it appear that the bill might be headed toward a rather quiet end. The latest details appear to led support to the suspicion that Uganda’s leadership may instead try to quietly pass the bill through the kind of stealth and misdirection commonly used by circus magicians.

But it appears that there is considerable disagreement over the committee’s recommendations. The committee report appears to be the work of just three cabinet members out of seven members overall who were tasked by President Yoweri Museveni to review the bill and come up with recommendations. Among those who failed to attend the review meeting in February was Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, who has been a consistent and ardent supporter of the bill as written. The Monitor reports that Buturo vigorously opposes the committee’s recommendations and insists that the bill should be passed in its current form. He also criticizes the committee for not meeting with MP David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor. Buturo is calling for another meeting of the committee before the report is released to the full Cabinet.

The committee’s observation that the bills title is “stigmatizing and appears to be targeting a particular group of people” is perplexing. The reason the bill appears to be targeting a particular group of people is precisely because it is targeting a particular group of people — as you can see when you read the text of the bill yourself (PDF: 847KB/16 pages). Changing the title and moving its provisions into another bill without the word “homosexuality” will look for all the world like a shell game by carnival con men.

Ugandan Ethics Minister to Obama: “Ouch!!! Stop That!”

Jim Burroway

February 4th, 2010

With unprecidented speed, Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo quickly lashed out at President Barack Obama’s denunciation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Uganda’s Parliament. President Obama called the bill “odious” earlier today during an address at the National Prayer Breakfast. Buturo very quickly shot back that Obama’s statement was “unacceptable” interference:

“Somebody should tell President Obama that the parliament is doing its legislative duty in the interest of the people of Uganda,” James Nsaba Buturo, Ugandan minister of ethics and integrity, told AFP.

…”Members of parliament have a constitutional duty to choose between what the people of Uganda want and what others want, and I am sure they will choose what the people of Uganda want,” he said.”

President Obama finished his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast at 9:25 am, Washington, D.C. locak time. Kampala is eight hours ahead, which would be about 5:25 pm local time there. The AFP’s report came out “seven hours ago” as I write this, which would put this report at about ten-ish am Washington time, or six-ish pm Kampala time, perhaps 7:00 pm at the very latest. That’s not much time for Buturo to hear Obama’s remarks, react to it to a reporter, and have the reporter file his story with AFP. That kind of quick reaction is extremely rare, which can only mean one thing: Obama’s statement landed a solid blow. It may not be a fatal hit, but Uganda’s political leadership definitely felt it.

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

Uganda’s Cabinet Debates Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

January 20th, 2010

Uganda’s state-owned New Vision reports that a “heated” Cabinet meeting took place yesterday to discuss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The discussions don’t look good:

Sources said the Cabinet was divided on the clause spelling out the death penalty. After failing to agree on a position, works minister John Nasasira reportedly proposed that the Bill be delayed. His position was rejected, sources disclosed.

This suggests that there are people in the cabinet who don’t even want the death penalty removed, let alone any of the other draconian and wide-ranging provisions of the proposed legislation. The independent Daily Monitor reports that MP David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor, said that he is willing to amend the proposed law in a way “without putting the values of the country at risk. He was tight-lipped about the Cabinet meeting itself.

The cabinet decided to form a sub-committee headed by Attorney General Khidu Makubuya to suggest amendments to the bill. Other members of the sub-committee include Regional Affairs State Minister Isaac Musumba, Education Minister Namirembe Bitamazire, Gender Minister Gabriel Opiyo, and Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo. Buturo has been one of the bill’s strongest proponents.

It looks like any hope that the bill would be withdrawn is diminishing. Merely “amending” the bill would still leave a bill that would represent a staggering setback for human rights in Uganda. As the bill is currently written, it would:

  • Expand 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.”
  • Affirm Uganda’s lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality.
  • Define 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.
  • Require anyone arrested on suspicion of homosexuality to undergo HIV testing to determine the individual’s qualification for prosecution of “aggravated homosexuality.”
  • Criminalize “attempted homosexuality” with imprisonment for seven years.
  • Criminalize “promoting” homosexuality with fines and imprisonment for between five and seven years. This overly-broad provision would criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda . It would also criminalize any attempt to repeal or modify the law in the future, as those moves could also be seen as “promoting” homosexuality.
  • Criminalize “aiding and abetting homosexuality” with seven years imprisonment. This provision could be used against anyone extending counseling, medical care, or otherwise providing aide gay people.
  • Criminalize the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
  • Add 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 for up to three years.
  • Penalize people who run “brothels” with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people. However, it defines a brothel as “a house, room, set of rooms or place of any kind for the purposes of homosexuality” instead of the more normal definition of a place where commercial sex work takes place. Anyone’s bedroom would be a “brothel” under this definition, placing landlords and hotel owners in jeopardy for renting to LGBT people.
  • Add an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
  • Void all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill.

It’s impossible to imagine any amendments short of a “strike-all” amendment that would represent a material improvement to the bill.

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

Uganda’s “Kill-The-Gays” Bill Author Coming to National Prayer Breakfast

Jim Burroway

January 16th, 2010
Washington HIlton, site of the National Prayer Breakfast

Washington Hilton, site of the National Prayer Breakfast on February 4, 2010.

That’s according to a feature story in Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, The Sunday Monitor:

In February, David Bahati, the mover of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill is expected to attend a prayer breakfast in the American capital of DC.

Mr Bahati, according to reports, may speak at the event where President Barack Obama – a gays-tolerant liberal president, is also expected to attend. On Friday, Mr Bahati said he would attend. The event is organised by The Fellowship- a conservative Christian organisation, which has deep political connections and counts several high-ranking conservative politicians in its membership.

“I intend to attend the prayer breakfast,” said Mr Bahati – himself a part organiser of the Ugandan equivalent of the national prayer breakfast. This week, citing international pressure, President Yoweri Museveni advised his party’s National Executive Committee, his cabinet and the NRM parliamentary caucus to “go slow” on the Bill.

MP David Bahati

MP David Bahati

MP David Bahati is the sponsor of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Uganda’s Parliament. He is also a member of the secretive American evangelical group known as the Family, which founded and organizes the National Prayer Breakfast held on the first Thursday in February, typically at the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue N.W. The Monitor reports that the Family has invited Bahati to the prayer breakfast.

Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, another  is also said to be planning on attending the National Prayer Breakfast as well.

I find it absolutely incredible that secretive Family would risk this kind of attention at their premiere event. Did the Family actually extend an invitation to Bahati, as he has told The Monitor? If they did, will they honor that invitation or will they publicly repudiate their connections with Bahati and Buturo as had been suggested?

Also, every U.S. President since Eisenhower has attended and spoken at the breakfast. Will President Obama agree to share the same room with these two would-be murderers?

I think it’s a good time to convene a special session of the rainbow welcoming committee.

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

Voice Of America on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

January 13th, 2010

The Voice of America’s hour-long Straight Talk Africa television program today was devoted to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Today’s program featured Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power; Ugandan MP David Bahati, sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill; Matt Kavanagh of the Health Gap Coalition; and Olara A. Otunnu, Former Ambassador of Uganda to the U.N. (1980-1985).

Some background on Otunno is warrented. He was ambassador for the government of Milton Obote, who was overthrown by Uganda’s current President Yoweri Museveni in a civil war. Otunnu is a member of the Obote’s Ugandan People’s Congress, and he is actively courting the divided party’s nomination for the 2011 presidential elections.

The program is available this week for download.

David Bahati continues to assert that “homosexuality is learned and can be unlearned” (wonder where he got that idea?), and characterized gays as being predators who “recruit” children in schools (wonder where he got that idea?), and that is why, he says, the bill is essential. Bahati insisted that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni “has common ground” with Bahati on the need for the bill.

Bahati was asked if he was a member of The Family. He acknowledged having “friends” in Washington and having attended the National Prayer Breakfast which is organized by the Family. However, he denied that the Family had any input to the bill.

Matt Kavanagh pointed out that the provisions in the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill would criminalize efforts to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS in the LGBT community, since providing such aide could be seen as “aiding and abetting” homosexuality with prison sentences of five to seven years. “Driving people underground is a horrible public health policy. It means only that you are going to increase the spread of HIV.”

Jeff Sharlet talked about the tremendous influence people like Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who “adopted” Uganda and has a close personal relationship with President Museveni. He said that Museveni, and Bahati are members of the Family, but that the Family is now shedding its secretive image in order to “throw Mr. Bahati under the bus” in order to protect their relationship with Museveni, which the Family considers their more valuable asset.

Sharlet confirmed that Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo plans to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on February 4th. Buturo has been a heavy promoter of the draconian anti-gay bill throughout the year, having responded to the anti-gay conference put on in Kampala by three American anti-gay extremists with promises to “strengthen” Uganda’s law against homosexuality. Uganda’s laws against “crimes against nature” already provide for lifetime imprisonment. Buturo’s very office was created at the suggestion by the Family.

Ambassador Otunnu denounced the death penalty aspects of the bill and said that all Ugandans deserve equal human rights, but called for sensitivity to the “deeply held traditions and cultures of particular societies. …When a society  sees suddenly a practice that was not (known to be) so widespread, it begins to ask questions, it goes into shock, it begins to panic, and you see reaction which can be irrational.” He went on:

I am very sad that it has taken the issue of homosexuals for key western leaders and key western governments to discover the human rights disaster in Uganda. We’ve had genocide in Northern Uganda for fifteen years, no comments from any high officials in the West.  We had thirty people massacred in the streets of Kampala on the tenth of September the last. No high level comments. We have torture chambers in Kampala as we speak. WE have widespread corruption, fraud in elections. So I’m very disappointed that is has taken this issue to have any comment on human rights, and even then the comments are not about human rights in general in Uganda, but specific to the fate of homosexuals.

Much of the rest of the program was devoted preparations for the 2011 elections, which international observers fear will not be free and fair.

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

Ugandan MP Refuses To Withdraw Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2010

Late last night, we noticed an item in Uganda’s largest independent newspaper reporting that the Ugandan Minister of State for Investment Aston Kajara said that the government would ask MP David Bahati to withdraw the Anti-Homosexuality Bill due to backlash from foreign investors. Now the Associated Press reports that MP David Bahati, the lawmaker who introduced the private member’s bill, will not back down:

“I stand by the bill,” Bahati said. “I will not withdraw it. We have our children in schools to protect against being recruited into (homosexuality). The process of legislating a law to protect our children against homosexuality and defending our family values must go on.”

Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo also insists that debate on the bill will take place in about three weeks, claiming that “there is no way government can withdraw that bill.” He also warns that any elected politician who opposed the legislation would be comitting “political suicide.” Parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for 2011.

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

Buturo targets Gay Uganda blogger

Timothy Kincaid

December 23rd, 2009

An article in the independent Daily Monitor discusses the possibility that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni may veto the “Kill Gays” bill. In the final paragraph, they wrote something which concerns us:

Mr Bahati has claimed that the Bill is supported by the majority of Ugandans, while Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo yesterday named three civil society organisations allegedly promoting homosexuality activities in Uganda. He said Sexual Minorities Uganda, Integrity Uganda and Gay Uganda had been given $20m to promote the practice.

The assertion is, of course, ludicrous. With $20 million, gay supportive organizations could have tremendous impact in a country in which per capita income is $420.

But even more distressing is that Buturo has singled out the sole blogger at Gay Uganda, identified him as being a tool of Westerners being paid a tremendous amount of money, and accused him of “promoting homosexual activities”. This is, I believe, not an inconsequential accusation in a country which is being whipped into a fury of anti-gay hatred.

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

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.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO #1: Ugandan News Broadcast of Anti-Gay Rally

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 Solomon Male and Michael Kyazza.

RallyNBSThis clip of a Platinum News broadcast by the independent NBS television on Dec 22 begins with an update on a veritable circular firing squad among rival Pentecostal pastors we first reported in May. In this update, Male and Kyazza are shown outside a court house discussing a case in which the two pastors accused another rival pastor, Robert Kayanja, of homosexuality. Male and Kyazza, in turn, were accused of plotting to trespass Kayanja’s Omega Healing Center and being behind the alleged kidnapping and beating Kayanja’s personal aide in an attempt at extracting an accusation against Kayanja.

The court house appears to have served as the location for an anti-gay rally, which set the stage for a quick report on the current status of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, who had earlier promised to remain silent for the remainder of the debate, went back on his vow and strongly defended the bill while hinting that the death penalty might be dropped. In denouncing the international pressure against the bill’s passage, Buturo said:

ButuroNBSI’ve lived in those countries, and I know how important that issue of aid is. They give, most people there, give in the belief they are helping the poor. Now, you dont help the poor by teaching them about homosexuality, do you?

Buturo was also irritated at the government-owned New Vision, among other media outlets. New Vision had recently published an op-ed by a senior adviser to President Museveni calling on Parliament to drop the bill.

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We will have more video clips posted through throughout the day.

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

Click here to read a transcript of the NBS News Broadcast.

Ugandan Parliament to Debate “Kill Gays” Bill Dec. 18

Jim Burroway

December 17th, 2009

The Times of London reports that the Ugandan Parliament will debate the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill tomorrow, Dec 18. If I understand Uganda’s Parliamentary procedures correctly, I believe this would constitute a second reading and debate. A vote comes after the third reading. If it passes (and it is expected to pass with a near-unanimous vote), it then goes to President Yoweri Museveni to be signed into law.

In unrelated news, the government-owned New Vision reports that Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, who had been an outspoken supporter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, spoke at a fundraiser for the construction of a Catholic Church. This time, he spoke about the need people could live together despite tribal and religious differences. “If we are to have everlasting peace, the need for tolerating each other cannot be over-emphasised,” he said. “People living together in peace is the foundation for developing this country.”

New Vision doesn’t say so specifically, but I assume Buturo said this with a straight face.

Update: This debate will not be part of a second reading. It now appears the second reading won’t take place until February.

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

Uganda’s Slow U-Turn? Leading Minister Supported “Kill Gays” Bill; Now Vows Silence

Jim Burroway

December 16th, 2009

It’s very difficult to read the tea leaves from halfway around the world, but it seems that if one looks closely, one can detect signs that leading Ugandan officials are looking for a way out of the controversey surrounding the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament. Today’s Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, has an article that reviews worldwide condemnation of Uganda’s attempt to legislate LGBT people out of existence. Significantly, it leads off with these paragraphs:

International opposition against Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s proposed anti-gay law continued to grow steadily, drawing support from such unlikely quarters as the White House.

The growing list now includes US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Anglican leader Rowan Williams, some US senators, and several newspapers.

This marks the first time the White House’s condemnation of Uganda’s proposed legislation has been reported in Uganda’s major media. The Monitor is Uganda’s second largest newspaper, behid the government owned New Vision. This particlular article mentioning the White House statement is especially important because President Barack Obama is revered throughout East Africa, which is where his father is from.

The article also summarizes statements from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Senators Russ Feingold and John Kerry, and the prime ministers of Canada and Britain. Sweden has threatened to reduce its aid to Uganda, and the United Nations and World Health Organization announced that they would cancel plans to relocate a major HIV/AIDS research center to Entebbe.  The Monitor now indicates that critical leaders in Uganda’s government are starting to get the message:

Buturo’s U-turn
The pressure from these and other sources was being felt in Kampala, with Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo now saying he would remain silent about the proposed law until it has been passed or defeated.

The Monitor also reports, “By yesterday, however, the official stance was that the government had not yet reached a position on the proposed law.”

Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo has been an outspoken supporter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Last month, he held a press conference at the Uganda Media Centre castigating donor nations and others who have denounced the bill and pledged that the bill would go foward. A little more than a week later Buturo bragged, “It is with joy we see that everyone is interested in what Uganda is doing, and it is an opportunity for Uganda to provide leadership where it matters most.” This is the latest evidence that the Ugandan government may be reconsidering its support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Last week, we noticed that the Uganda Media Centre, which acts as a “centralized location where all official government correspondence and information can be easily accessed, published a column questioning Parliament’s decision to take up the bill with so many other more important pressing matters. That was followed a few days later with an op-ed written by a senior advisor to President Museveni that appeared in the government-owned New Vision, which is Uganda’s largest paper. That op-ed said flatly, “Parliament should not pass this bill.”

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

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