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Posts for April, 2014

Ugandans Celebrate Anti-Homosexuality Act

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2014
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Uganda’s Inter-Religious Council, a coalition of religious denominations, organized a ceremony of prayer and thanksgiving yesterday at the Kololo Independence Grounds, the nationally-revered site where Uganda’s independence was declared in 1962. Religious and political leaders gathered to honor President Yoweri Museveni for signing the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law despite widespread international condemnation. Buzzfeed’s J. Lester Feder was there and described the carnival atmosphere at Kololo:

Fire jugglers, acrobats, and schoolchildren performed at a five-hour ceremony in the Ugandan capital on Monday called to celebrate the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Speakers paid tribute to President Yoweri Museveni, the official guest of honor, and linked Uganda’s fight against homosexuality with shedding its colonial past in an event that had the feeling of a campaign rally.

“Today, we come here again [to celebrate] sovereignty and freedom … [and] to take charge of our destiny,” said David Bahati, the lawmaker who sponsored the bill, noting that the event was taking place at the Kololo Independence Grounds, the parade grounds where Ugandan independence was granted in 1962. “The citizens of Uganda are with you, Mr. President. The religious and cultural leaders are with you, Mr. President. The members of parliament and the nation is behind you.”

Sheik Shaban Mubajje, Mufti of Uganda, spoke on behalf of the Inter-Religious Council in offering prayers of thanksgiving for the Anti-Homosexuality Act, while complaining that foreign donors have cut US$3.5 million in aid to the group that had been earmarked its HIV/AIDS programs. HIV/AIDS providers and legal experts have warned that the overly broad wording of the Anti-Homosexuality Act’s “aiding and abetting” clause would, at best, have a chilling effect on the delivery HIV/AIDS services to LGBT people, and, at worst, could be interpreted as criminalizing it. Other religious leaders offering thanksgiving prayers included Roman Catholic Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, and evangelical pastor Simon Peter Emiau. Ahead of the celebration, Pastor Martin Ssempa, of “eat-da-poo-poo” fame and staunch supporter of the new law, led a march of supporters from Makarere University to Kololo.

Museveni charged that Western countries were “attacking our culture, which is the bedrock of our survival,” and promised to support a domestic fund to replace lost foreign dollars for HIV/AIDS.

Uganda’s Anglican Archbishop “Ready To Break Away”

Jim Burroway

March 3rd, 2014

Uganda’s Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali made the threat during a sermon yesterday:

The Archbishop of Church of Uganda (CoU) has responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, saying Uganda is ready to break away from the Church of England if its views on homosexuality are not respected.

Addressing Christians at St Andrews Church, Bukoto yesterday, Archbishop Stanley Ntangali [sic] said the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York John Sentamu recently wrote to him, saying the Church of England was concerned about the CoU’s anti-homosexuality stand.

“I have written back to Archbishop Sentamu. I told him it does not matter even if we do not work with them because the Church of England is a product of repentance and USA is founded on Christian values but they seem to have become spiritually blind,” Bishop Ntangali [sic] said.

Shortly after Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Ntagali thanked Parliament during a Christmas message.

Ugandan Religious Leaders “Thank God” for Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Christmas Messages

Jim Burroway

December 27th, 2013

Uganda’s Daily Monitor provides a round-up of religious leaders Christmas messages. The draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which was hurriedly passed by Parliament last Friday, received special mention by these three Anglican bishops:

“In Uganda, there are so many injustices like child sacrifice, domestic violence, drug abuse which are now a big issue in our schools… I want to thank Parliament for passing the Anti-homosexuality Bill. I want the world to understand what we are saying,” the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev Stanley Ntagali, said.

…“Can you imagine your son brings another man at home for introduction?… The church preaches forgiveness, reconciliation and transformation. I do not want people to look at us and say the church is against the homosexuals. We love everybody. The homosexuals, and lesbians are all children of God but we want them to repent and have eternal life,” Archbishop Ntagali said.

At St Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe, Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira commended MPs for passing the anti-gays Bill but asked them to object the proposed law to legalise abortion describing it as murder.

The Bishop of Mbale, the Rt Rev Patrick Gidudu, asked Ugandans and political leaders who are against the Bill to seek God, repent and renew fellowship to save the country from God’s wrath.

The round-up also includes comments from a Pentecostal pastor in Mbale who praised House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga for calling for the snap vote on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Uganda LGBT Advocate Arrested for “Recruiting Into Homosexuality”

Jim Burroway

January 1st, 2013

According to information provided in a couple of Facebook postings and confirmed by Ugandan LGBT advocates, Kaweesi Joseph, a founding member of the Ugandan LGBT advocacy and support group Youth on Rock Foundation was arrested on December 30 for what is described as “acts of homosexuality and recruiting juveniles.” The circumstances behind his arrest remain unclear. Kenyan activist Denis Nzioka has confirmed that Kaweesi has been arrested by police and is in custody at Kawempe police station in a suburb north of Kampala.

The charges against Kaweesi remain unclear. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, with punishment ranging from twenty years to life, depending on how prosecutors chose to apply the law. Because other reports appear to allude to “unnatural offences,” it appears that police are looking to charge Kaweesi under Section 145 of Uganda’s Penal Code, which reads:

Any person who— (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life.

But as legal observers point out, there is no law barring “recruiting,” although the term has two distinct but often conflated meanings in the Ugandan context. Anti-gay rhetoric in Uganda has it that the only way people become gay is that they are “recruited” into homosexuality, either through “defilement” or by otherwise providing support for LGBT youth and adults. “Defilement,” which refers to rape or sexual abuse, is obviously against the law. But the fact that the term “defilement” is not being used here seems to indicate that police are using the term “recruiting” to mean providing support or services for gay people. Aside from the sheer impossibility of “recruiting” anyone into being gay, Ugandan law currently does not prohibit advocacy or providing support services for LGBT people, although the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill would outlaw all such support.

According to Deniz Nzioka at Identity Kenya:

Local activists confirmed the incident and were looking into ways to secure the release of Kaweesi. Additionally, TRF updated on their Facebook page on the same and urged members to be exercise caution.

A lawyer was in touch with Kaweesi and it was expected that he would post bail to ensure he is released.

In a more recent Facebook posting, it is reported that Kaweesi is still in police custody and will be spending his third night in jail. Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Executive Director Frank Mugisha confirms via Facebook:

Today at Police they pulled up one of the ugandan gay facebook pages as evidence,against a ugandan gay guy who has been arrested,please be careful with what you post on fb esp people in the closet.

Last week, the offices of Sexual Minorities Uganda were broken into, and several computers with their hard drives were stolen. It is not known what information was contained in those hard drives or whether that theft has led to this arrest.

Uganda’s Parliament is currently on break for the Christmas holidays. It may take up debate on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it resumes in February. Several prominent pastors, including the new Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, have called for the bill’s passage in their New Year’s addresses earlier today “to avert the recruitment of youngsters to adopt the same-sex behaviour.”

Homosexuality Again A Topic As Uganda Gets New Anglican Archbishop

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2012

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali

Rt. Rev. Stanley Ntagali was installed as Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda this weekend, and the topic that seems to be on everybody’s mind there continues to be the debate over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In this clip from NTV, Uganda’s largest independent television network, we hear President Yoweri Museveni addressing the crowd at Namirembe Cathedral:

(@1:47) We’re not going to kill them. (unintelligible) because we didn’t kill them in the past. We are not going to persecute them. We are not going to marginalize them. But there should be no promotion, and sex here is confidential.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill which is currently before Parliament however would, in its current form, bring the death penalty or life imprisonment for gay people, and would endanger everyone else with lengthy prison terms for either knowing, providing services, or defending them.

The new Archbishop also addressed homosexuality and corruption as two areas that he would address as the Church’s new leader. And speaking of corruption, Ntagali accepted a brand new Toyota SUV from the President. Museveni routinely furnishes them to select religious leaders who he favors.

According to the anti-gay web site Anglican Mainstream,  Rev. Robert W. Duncan, who heads an American breakaway Anglican movement which recognizes the Archbishop of Uganda as its spiritual leader (he is incorrectly identified as “Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America”), was in attendance and spoke at the ceremony. It is not clear however whether he addressed either directly or indirectly the controversy over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Ntagali succeeds retired Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, who as recently as last June called for the Parliament to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. When asked whether the Anglican Communion has reached a point of full schism during the 2010 All Africa Bishops Conference (which Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams attended as head of the worldwide Anglican Communion), Orombi announced that “there is already a break.” Orombi has published invitations to American parishes to break from their own bishops to seek “spiritual guidance” from Orombi instead of the established Episcopal Church.