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Posts for April, 2011

Ssempa, Oyett Press Uganda’s Parliament on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

April 6th, 2011

Pastor Martin Ssempa (pointing) and Julius Oyet at Uganda's Parliament House (VOA / M. Onyiego)

The Voice of American is reporting that Ugandan pastors Martin Ssempa and Julius Oyet led a group of anti-gay activists to demand that Parliament pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to VOA:

Lead by Pastor Martin Ssempa, a charismatic and vocal opponent of homosexuality in Uganda, the group asked Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker Edward Kiwanuka to fight the emerging “homo-cracy” in Uganda and enter the bill for debate.

“We as religious leaders and civil society are distressed that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is being deliberately killed largely by the undemocratic threats of western nations,” he said. “These same nations who promote democracy don’t want our representative to discuss laws to protect our children from the human trafficking of recruiting our children into homosexuality.”

Ssempa leads the Inter-Religious Taskforce Against Homosexuality. During the session with Speaker Kiwanuka, the Task Force presented a portion of over 2 million signatures it said were gathered from around Uganda in support of the bill.

The group trotted out Paul Kagaba, an “ex-gay” associate of Martin Ssempa who alleged that he had been “recruited” into homosexuality at the age of seventeen by murdered LGBT advocate David Kato. Kagaba has been implicate in at least two vigilante outing campaigns, the most recent of which is suspected of having been orchestrated by Ssempa himself.

George Oundo

Another putative ex-gay, George Oundo, re-appeared in this latest episode with his own allegations of foreign recruitment. Oundo has also participated in vigilante campaigns as well, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the infamous March 2009 anti-gay conference put on by American activists Scott Lively, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge. Oundo himself appears to have a great deal of difficulty deciding which side he should be on, but for now he appears to have cast his lot with Ssempa once again.

Julius Oyet’s appearance here is notable. Oyet and Ssema were present in the gallery when the Ugandan Parliament first considered the indroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Oyet, who is President of the Ugandan branch of the U.S.-based College of Prayer (which itself is a ministry of Rev. Fred Hartley’s Lilburn Alliance Church in Atlanta), was made a member of M.P. David Bahati’s staff to lobby Parliament for the bill’s passage. While Bahati is the bill’s author and sponsor, Oyet played a crucial role in its drafting. He repordtedly told a documentary filmmaker:

I was there. I have been part of the brains behind it. We worked on it. We planned who should propose it. It is the Ugandan’s bill. It is the culture of Uganda to keep purity. It is everybody’s voice. I worked with Bahati on this.

Two weeks ago, Information Minister Kabakumba Masiko spoke on behalf of President Yoweri Musevini’s government to announce that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would not be voted on by Parliament. Bahati however insists that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, where the bill currently resides, will still hold hearings. The bill will automatically die if it does not come up for a final vote before the current Parliament ends on May 20.

Update: Daily Monitor picks up the story and adds a couple of interesting items. First, Daily Monitor quotes Parliament Speaker Edward Ssekandi:

“The mover of the Bill (David Bahati) is still a member of the 9th Parliament and even if the current Parliament doesn’t debate it, the new Parliament will do it,” Mr Ssekandi said.

This, I believe, indicates that he expects the bill to be reintroduced into the next Parliament after the current one ends.

And finally there’s this: a group of students from Makarere University had earlier met with Steven Tashobya, chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, and told him that ” recruitment of gays was rampant at the university campus“:

The students told Mr Tashobya that each of their colleagues who join homosexuals is paid a monthly salary of Shs800,000.

That’s about US$340, which is more than the average annual per-capita income in Uganda. Where’s my US$340? Nobody told me about this!

Ugandan Tabloid Resumes Anti-Gay Vigilante Campaign

Jim Burroway

November 1st, 2010
November 1, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid

November 1, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid "Rolling Stone." (Click to enlarge. Photo obscured by BTB.)

After nearly a month’s hiatus due to its failure to register with government authorities, the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the venerable U.S. magazine by the same name) has resumed its promised anti-gay outing campaign against private LGBT citizens.

In the latest edition, Rolling Stone has apparently gone online to reproduce photos and other information from profiles of LGBT Ugandans posted on dating web sites. On the page two article titled, “More Homos’ Faces Exposed,” the so-called “investigative team” displayed a complete ignorance of default settings on profile pages, the clueless reporter writes, “The homosexuals say they intend to make love to interested men at least below the age if 99. This implies that even 90-year-old pensioners are welcome for sex.”

Page 2 of the November 1, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid "Rolling Stone." (Click to enlarge. Names and photo obscured by BTB.)

As amusing as this confusion may be, the real damage for LGBT Ugandans comes from the photos published on a two-and-a-half page spread following the main article. Unlike the previous edition however, there are relatively few names, addresses or places of employment published in this edition.

The so-called “investigative team” also has discovered the discredited American “researcher” Paul Cameron. Writing in their page-two article, the author writes:

According to Dr. Paul Cameron of a Colorado-based medical research institute, homosexuality is more dangerous than smoking as it reduces one’s lifespan by 24 years.”

Cameron has been censured numerous times for professional misconduct, most recently in 2007 by the Eastern Psychological Association when he falsely claimed to have presented a paper before the association’s annual convention. His so-called “Family Research Institute,” which he runs with family members out of his kitchen table, is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of only about a dozen anti-gay hate groups in the U.S.

The paper claims that gays in Uganda have a target “to recruit at least 1 million kids by 2012 — is your kid safe?” The paper also denies that they are seeking mob justice:

In fact we are sternly warning public not to attack homosexuals, though there is no such case on record, but to report them to police for action.

Editorial and photos from Page 4 of the November 1 edition of

Editorial and photos from Page 4 of the November 1 edition of "Rolling Stone." (Click to enlarge. Names and photos obscured by BTB.)

On a page four editorial, managing editor Giles Muhame takes great pride in the dangerous controversy he’s created. He denies that publishing the names, addresses, and photographs of private citizens is an invasion of privacy. Referring of the numerous interviews he gave to foreign news services, Muhame writes:

I explained that the story was in “public interest” since a cross section of homosexuals is seriously recruiting and brainwashing unsuspecting kids into gay circles. “For example if security learnt that one os assembling a bomb at his residence, would they fear to raid the place fearing ‘invasion or privacy?’” I asked a journalist who had come for an interview. In such extreme cases, especially where life is endangered, journalists are bound to forego “privacy” for the good of society.”

Muhame also denies that anyone was harmed as a result of last month’s outing campaign:

On inciting violence, the International Press Institute (IPI) was told lies that some homosexuals and lesbians had been attacked after the story. Amisingly, neither of them had photographs of their houses being pelted with stones or medical reports showing bodily injuries sustained from the attacks.

In fact, there are numerous reports of gays being attacked as a direct result of Rolling Stone’s earlier vigilante installment. This morning, LGBT advocates in Uganda have launched an official complaint against Rolling Stone before High Court in Kampala.

Pages 3 and 5 of the November 1 edition of

Pages 3 and 5 of the November 1 edition of "Rolling Stone." (Click to enlarge. Names and photos obscured by BTB.)

At only twelve pages, this edition of Rolling Stone is about half the size of previous editions. And the almost complete lack of advertising (there are only two ads) continues to raise questions about who is providing financial backing for the paper. In fact, in the page 4 editorial Muhame taunts, “I wish you knew who is behind us!! You would stop barking.” One clue over who is behind the vigilante campaign can be found in some of the rhetoric published in this edition. For example, in the page-two article, we find:

Homosexuality involves “fisting” where one puts a hand in the rectum and may end up destroying it, causing fatal injuries, inflammation and transmission of HIV. No wonder homosexuals usually seal the butts with tiny pillows — to save the shattered buttocks from pain if they were to sit on a wooden chair.

This passage contains striking parallels to the rhetoric of Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, who was famously derided the world over for his “eat da poo-poo” appearance on the Current TV documentary “Missionaries of Hate.” The article also names an unnamed source saying that the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill,, which provides for the death penalty for homosexuality under certain circumstances, will be passed once Uganda becomes “an oil producer.” This, too, echoes the argument that Ssempa put forward on Uganda’s state broadcaster UBC last December.

Page 10 of the November 1, 2010 edition of "Rolling Stone." (Click to enlarge.)

But the largest clue — large enough to be a virtual smoking gun — is Ssempa’s photo splashed on an article on page 10, titled “Lesbians destroyed my life at age of 16 — Sandra.” The story consists of an interview by Ssempa with a so-called “ex-gay” by the name of Sandra Baggotte, who has been featured on Ssempa’s prior anti-gay rallies and media campaigns earlier this year. The interview also mentions Paul Kagaba, another so-called “ex-gay” associate of Ssempa’s who was behind a vigilante campaign waged by the rival Red Pepper tabloid last December.

Several clues from the October 2 edition of Rolling Stone also point to Ssempa’s active participation in this anti-gay media campaign as well.

[Update: Warren Throckmorton has learned from two independent sources that both both Giles Muhame and advertising manager Cliff Abenaitwe both attend Ssempa’s Makerere Community Church. Together with the other evidence before us, it is impossible to see this as anything other than a Ssempa-driven and directed campaign.]

There are additional reports that a similar outing campaign is currently taking place in at least one other tabloid Onion (also unrelated to the U.S. satirical paper by the same name). We also hear that Red Pepper may also have launched a campaign as well. We’ll post more information on those developments as we receive them.

Last week, Ugandan M.P. David Bahati, the sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, has promised that the bill would become law before Parliament disbands before the 2011 elections. Several otherwise reputable news outlets have falsely reported that the anti-gay bill had been “withdrawn.” But as we’ve been consistently reporting, the bill has instead been sitting quietly in committee where it could be brought before the floor of Parliament at any time. Two weeks ago, Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, another ardent supporter of the bill, promised that the bill would be passed “in due course.” Increasingly, it appears that this renewed media campaign is very likely intended to increase public pressure for the bill’s passage.