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Posts for March, 2009

Ugandan Gov’t Poised to Take “Stern Action” Against Gays

Jim Burroway

March 26th, 2009

This morning’s Uganda Pulse reports this worrying development:

The government has threatened to take stern “action” against promoters of homosexuality and lesbianism in Uganda.

The State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo said today that the government is working on stern modalities to fight homosexuality especially in schools.

This follows a petition by parents under the Family Life Network NGO claiming that homosexual promoters are very active in Uganda and are luring students into the practice with cash gifts and promises to needy students from unstable or poor families.

The Executive Director of Family Life Network, Stephen Langa told journalists in Kampala that many children had been psychologically tortured and traumatized by experiences of homosexuality which the group described as unnatural and anti Christian.

Dr. Buturo says the government is going to act swiftly to stop what he calls “moral corruption” of vulnerable Ugandans, especially children into homosexuality.

He says the practice of same sex relationships is illegal in Uganda and unacceptable to the people of Uganda. The minister did not however specify which stern action was to be taken, given that the High Court ruled last year that all Ugandans, including homosexuals and lesbians are accorded the same rights and freedoms by Uganda’s constitution.

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

The “Ex-Gay” Star of the Uganda Anti-Gay Campaign

Jim Burroway

March 26th, 2009

I reported yesterday afternoon on the Uganda media circus surrounding the anti-gay activists who held a press conference, where an ex-gay by the name of George Oundo claimed to have spent a lifetime recruiting schoolchildren into homosexuality. The widespread media coverage of that press conference, along with Oundo’s fanciful statements, may well set the stage for yet another orgy of anti-gay violence and public vigilantism.

Timothy Kincaid followed that up with a report on a meeting held in Kampala on March 22, which featured more outlandish claims by George Oundo. That meeting set the stage for yesterday’s press conference.

Who is George Oundo?

I asked around among contacts in Uganda who wish to remain anonymous. The picture that emerges is both strange and disturbing.

George Oundo was known in Uganda’s tight-knit gay community as Georgina, a “flamboyant, no holds barred homosexual activist.” She had spoken at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2007, and she was known for being very outgoing and confident.  But because of her “flamboyance” she drew considerable attention and was arrested by police numerous times.

There are reports that she also had some personal difficulties and, some say, was emotionally unstable.  Whether it was because of her arrests, or whether she had problems beforehand, it’s unclear. Given what we know about police brutality and torture of LGBT citizens, the former is certainly plausible. She had a difficult time holding down a job, and was dependent on handouts from friends.

She was arrested again on September 10, 2008 along with Brenda Kiiza outside of Kampala for “recruiting homosexuals” — which is not a crime under Uganda’s criminal code. The Uganda constitution provides that suspects cannot be held for more than 48 hours, but she and Brenda were held for eight days and released only after their lawyer threatened to take the police to court. During their detention, they were reportedly beaten and denied food, and Oundo was denied treatment for her diabetes.

And that’s where the story gets really strange. On September 8, just two days before her arrest,Oundo appeared on the pages of the Uganda tabloid The Red Pepper. In this article, she appears with Kiiza talking about a previous arrest that they had experienced and the trouble they were encountering since then. In the article headlined “Stranded Gay Couple Pondering Suicide,” Ounda complains of being shunned by Ugandan LGBT activists, a charge that was denied by Victor Juliet Mukasa of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).

Red Pepper article featuring Georgina Oundo (Click to enlarge)

Red Pepper article featuring Georgina Oundo (Click to enlarge)

<em>Red Pepper</em> article from the 2006 vigilante campaign. (Click to enlarge)

Red Pepper article from the 2006 vigilante campaign. (Click to enlarge)

What makes this appearance in the Red Pepper strange is that this was the very paper which had earlier been the instigator of previous anti-gay vigilante campaigns. The Red Pepper was notorious for publishing names and identifying details of gay Ugandans, calling on citizens to take action and for the police to round them up. Many gays in Uganda went into hiding or left the country to avoid getting caught up in the violence. Others saw their lives shattered as their identities were splashed across the pages of the Red Pepper. The paper’s reputation as the prime instigator of hatred and violence was firmly established in the gay community, both in Uganda and abroad.

So why did Georgina go to that particular paper to tell her story? It’s not as if the Red Pepper decided to turn over a new leaf in its coverage of LGBT issues. Look at this article from March 5, 2009, just as the anti-gay conference was getting underway:

MPs To Discuss Bum Shafting
Members of Parliament are set to discuss the rate at which bumshafters are slowly but surely entrenching themselves in Uganda, Red Pepper can exclusively reveal. The meeting which is to take place on March 5 at the parliamentary conference hall will be officiated over by the first lady Janet Kataha Museveni.

Snoops have seen an open invitation to all MPs in which the organizers of the meeting want the legislators to among other things understand the Gay movement’s agenda which is bent on destabilizing society. The MPs will also have to understand in detail the Gay blueprint for transforming this nation and also how Uganda can respond to the bumshafters’ secret agenda.

“This is an executive sensitization meeting themed ‘Exposing the truth about bum shafting and the homosexual agenda” part of an invitation seen by RP reads. Recently, State Minister for ethics and integrity Nsaba Buturo informed MPs at Imperial Royale hotel that a group of bum shafting leaning donor countries had approached him seeking for his nod to start funding and campaigning for bum shafting in Uganda, but he refused.

This vice of homosexuality has been reported in several institutions including churches, schools and high institutions of learning.

We don’t know why she chose to be interviewed and photographed by the Red Pepper, despite its well-earned enmity in the gay community. Did she finally break under repeated police torture and mistreatment? Or were other factors also in play? There are rumors — some pretty wild ones of jealousies, betrayals, recriminations and more — which need confirmation before we can repeat them. And that confirmation will undoubtedly be difficult to obtain, if not impossible. But it does appear that whatever Georgina’s motivations may have been, her appearance in the hated Red Pepper gave the the gay community reasons to became suspicious of her, and she became seen as being too dangerous for the besieged gay community.

George Oundo at yesterday's press conference

George Oundo at yesterday’s news conference

And now, barely five months later, those suspicions are confirmed in the minds of many who knew her or knew of her. Georgina — now George — is a confirmed danger to the community. Oundo knows many people in Uganda’s gay community — who they are, where they live and where they work. This newest development threatens to inflame an already tense situation in a country that has witnessed repeated campaigns of public vigilante acts and widespread extrajudicial detentions, beatings and torture of LGBT people.

Oundo is back in the spotlight again, completing a journey that began on the pages of the Red Pepper last October. And his statements to the media are particularly inflammatory, claiming that he had been trained and paid by foreign gay activists to recruit Ugandan schoolchildren into homosexuality. With statements like that receiving wide media attention, the ground is now well laid for a fresh round of violence against Uganda’s beleaguered gay community.

Exodus board member Don Schmierer (left) and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively (right)

Exodus board member Don Schmierer (left) and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively (right)

And all of this began when three Americans — Exodus board president Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, and Richard Cohen Protege Caleb Lee Brundidge — spoke at a conference in Kampala in early March and endorsed proposals to strengthen Uganda’s criminal code which bans homosexual acts with a lifetime sentence, with the penalty of compelling gays and lesbians into forced therapy.

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

Exodus Board Member Participates In Uganda Conference Calling For Forcing Gays Into Conversion Therapy

Jim Burroway

March 6th, 2009

Nazi Revisionist Scott Lively has talked Ugandan anti-gay activist Stephen Langa and a Ugandan parliamentarian into proposing a law forcing people convicted of homosexuality into ex-gay therapy:

The Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo has today told a conference organized to discuss the ways to fight Homosexuality that he will soon submit a bill on pornography and homosexuality for discussion in Parliament. …

Buturo says the government will not only end at making laws against homosexuality but will also engage in sensitizing schools and churches in the fight against this vice.

The President of Defend the Family International, Scott Lively says it is good for the government of Uganda to criminalize homosexuality but the government should subject the criminals of homosexuality to a therapy rather than imprisoning them.

Lively says this is aimed at the criminals recovering from homosexuality which is the main objective of those fighting homosexuality and not to punish homosexuals through imprisonment. He says even schools should borrow this idea of therapy in dealing with gay students.

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer

Exodus International boasts that it is “the largest Christian referral and information network dealing with homosexual issues in the world.” As Exodus Internationals board member, Don Scmhmierer, who is speaking at that conference, carries the most credibility — such as it is — of the three to speak out on ex-gay issues. He is certainly the only one who can credibly speak to ex-gay policy, and specifically the policy of Exodus International. He spoke yesterday at the conference, but so far reports show him as silent on this proposal.

Exodus International now has the moral imperative to to state unequivocally its position on both the criminalization of homosexuality, as well as its position on bills which would force unproven, unsanctioned, and unregulated ex-gay “conversion” therapies on gays and lesbians.

And Exodus International also has the moral imperative to publicly face its own responsibilities in participating in a conference with those who excuse violence against gay people, and who actively promote a style of “therapy” which Exodus at one time had publicly condemned. It was just one year ago in which Exodus appeared to signal an intention to move to a more responsible position in its policies. Exodus’ official policy is to denounce the “extremes” of those “who respond to homosexuals with ignorance and fear.”

If there is any meaning whatsoever behind Exodus’s words, then Exodus International’s leadership and board have no choice but to clarify its positions on the legal aspects of homosexuality and forced conversions, especially now that a recognized Exodus board member is actively participating in a conference which has publicly advocated such draconian measures. Exodus must now, both here and in Uganda, forcefully, loudly, unequivocally and unambiguously condemn this proposal.

It is time for Exodus President Alan Chambers and board chairman Bob Ragan exercise leadership by acting boldly and swiftly. Anything less will be seen as silent assent, carrying the board’s stamp of approval.

Update: Warren Throckmorton calls on Alan Chambers and Richard Cohen to have their representatives make public statements distancing themselves from this latest proposal. “And they should come early,” he warns. David Roberts at Ex-Gay Watch warns that Exodus has a “very short window in which to soundly renounce the entire conference, the idea of forced therapy and, as we suggested earlier, call for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Uganda and the rest of the world.”

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

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