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Posts for March, 2009

EU Group Condemns Ugandan Conference

Jim Burroway

March 9th, 2009

A European Parliament intergroup has issued a press release condemning the Ugandan anti-gay conference, and called out the three Americans by name:

European Parliament’s Intergroup condemns Ugandan parliamentarians for meeting anti-human rights militants.
European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights strongly condemns the meeting of 5 March between several Ugandan parliamentarians and Scott Lively, Don Schmierer, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Stephen Langa of the USA and Uganda-based groups working to diminish human rights of LGBT persons.

“It is very sad that representatives of Ugandan parliament who should work for the rights of every Ugandan citizen, gravely discredit themselves by meeting people who work to spread hate and diminish rights of other human beings”, said Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup. “It would never be acceptable for any member of the European Parliament to meet for example representatives of Ku Klux Klan thus I do not understand the rational of those Ugandan parliamentarians who agreed to the meeting with anti-gay militants.”

Raúl Romeva, Vice-President of the Intergroup for the GREENS/EFA added, “If these Ugandan parliamentarians are serious about respecting the constitution of their country and in particular Chapter 4 on Protection and promotion of fundamental and other human rights and freedoms, they should instead be working towards abolishing those discriminatory laws of Uganda which still deny full human rights to gay and lesbian citizens.”

Don Schmierer is a board member of Exodus International. This is the first time that I’m aware of that an activity by an Exodus board member has earned the condemnation of an official governmental committee. Today marks the tenth day since we made Exodus president Alan Chambers aware of the actions of a board member. We still hear nothing but silence from Exodus.

[Hat tip: Andy at UK Gay News]

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

Anti-Gay Conference Kicks Off In Kampala

Jim Burroway

March 5th, 2009

The IGLHRC blog has someone at the conference, and Victor Mukasa has the goods:

The workshop began at 8:30 a.m. after a meeting between Stephen Langa, leader of Family Life Network (the Ugandan organization hosting the workshop), his American guest speakers and Ugandan members of parliament.

…Kasha Jacqueline told me that Stephen Langa was telling immense lies, claiming that gay rights activists recruit young people into homosexuality. Langa testified that he knows 2 girls at a particular boarding school who were given a lot of money by gay activists in Uganda to recruit their colleagues into lesbianism. He claimed that by the end of the year, they had managed to recruit 13 friends, all of whom were given money to recruit others.

Kasha was incensed by these claims: “To be sincere, I have spent a long time as a leader in the gay struggle in Uganda and sometimes we cannot afford to do our advocacy work because of lack of funds,” she said. “How then can we give out money for recruitment. That’s not logical and it is a huge lie he was telling to Ugandans.”

Langa began his talk by saying that Uganda law, which provides a life sentence for those convicted of homosexual acts, isn’t strong enough. This is also a country that has had three successive years of public witch hunts to root out LGBT people from among ordinary citizens — witch hunts which have included arrests, beatings, torture, and public humiliation. But Langa thinks that’s not enough.

The rest of the day’s conference appears to have been devoted to Don Schmierer’s talk, which centers on the blame-the-parents view of homosexualty that dominates the American ex-gay movement:

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer

The rest of the workshop was dominated by Don Schmierer, a member of the board of the American “ex-gay” organization, Exodus International. His presentation was focused around his understanding of family morals and values. He told participants that one of the biggest causes of homosexuality is the lack of “good upbringing” in families—children should be brought up in proper Christian ways.

He said that 56% of homosexuals experience abuse and violence in their families during their childhood. The abuse leads to pain, anger and hatred in the life of a child and this turns them into homosexuals. He emphasized that “good” family values play a big role in preventing homosexuality in children and encouraged parents to ensure that these values are observed in their families.

Got that? Children from families with “bad upbringing” become homosexuals. I guess children from good families grow up to be Don Schmierer. I’ll take my family any day.

Caleb Lee Brundidge of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation and the Phoenix-based Extreme Prophetic ministries will be on tap for tomorrow. That will likely be a very entertaining, if not necessarily enlightening talk. Between beating pillows and the cuddle cure, and attempts to raise the dead — thus far, all attempts to do so have been unsuccessful — it’s hard to predict what will happen.

Nazi revisionist and Watchmen On the Walls co-founder Scott Lively will be on tap to speak on Saturday. He is also the author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, in which he writes that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” If past behavior is any guide, that talk will be the highlight of the conference. We already know he agrees with Langa on one thing: Lively too, believes that all “homosexual advocacy” should be criminalized.

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

Anonymous Ugandan Blogger Wants Answers From American Anti-Gay Activists

Jim Burroway

March 2nd, 2009

Hello, Exodus? Someone in Uganda has some questions for you. And so do I.

An anonymous Ugandan gay blogger — gay bloggers are well advised to remain anonymous in Uganda — provides a fairly comprehensive backdrop against which three American anti-gay activists will be stepping. Nazi revisionist and Watchmen On the Walls co-founder Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and Caleb Lee Brundidge of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation will be conducting a seminar on homosexuality in Kampala next weekend. The conference is being organized by Stephen Langa, Director of Kampala-based Family Life Network.

GayUganda examines a new release by Langa announcing the conference, and he takes issue with Langa’s so-called “facts”:

[Quoting Stephen Langa, Conference organizer] ‘Uganda is under extreme pressure to dicriminalise homosexuality’, Uhhh? A stupid un-truth. Who is putting Uganda under pressure to decriminalize homosexuality? Why should a citizen’s sexual orientation and act of love be criminal, subject to the state’s intervention, criminal law and censorship? Why is it so important to be threatened with life in prison for making love to my lover? Too many questions, ..!

Ugandan newspaper headlines in 2007. Click to enlarge

Ugandan newspaper headlines. Click to enlarge

Today in Uganda, a conviction of homosexual activity can bring a life sentence. That law is a legacy of British colonial law, which originally only provided for a maximum term of fourteen years in prison. Ugandan lawmakers strengthened the law in 1990 to raise the penalty to life imprisonment.

But beyond the threat of life imprisonment, simply trying to live and get along can bring many hardships and dangers to gay Ugandans. Max Blumenthal wrote of a very recent reign of terror conducted by Ugandan evangelical pastor Martin Ssemp in 2007:

In August 2007, Ssempa led hundreds of his followers through the streets of Kampala to demand that the government mete out harsh punishments against gays. “Arrest all homos,” read placards. And: “A man cannot marry a man.” Ssempa continued his crusade online, publishing the names of Ugandan gay rights activists on a website he created, along with photos and home addresses. “Homosexual promoters,” he called them, suggesting they intended to seduce Uganda’s children into their lifestyle. Soon afterwards, two of President Yoweri Museveni’s top officials demanded the arrest of the gay activists named by Ssempa. Terrified, the activists immediately [went] into hiding.

Ugandan newspaper calling for arrest of a suspected gay man. Click to enlarge.

Ugandan newspaper calling for arrest of a suspected gay man. Click to enlarge.

According to Doug Ireland, one newspaper sported the bold headline, “HOMO TERROR! We Name and Shame Top Gays in the City,” and provided details “so precise — physical descriptions, residences, places of employment, and the kind of cars they drive — that those targeted, almost all from the capital city of Kampala or its environs, were easily identifiable to their neighbors and co-workers. The newspaper’s list includes doctors, businessmen, clerics, broadcasters, lawyers, bankers, actors, musicians, and non-profit group staffers.”

Newspaper article from the 2006 campaign. Click to enlarge

Newpaper article from the 2006 campaign. Click to enlarge

That 2007 public reign of terror was a backlash against a press conference held on August 16 by a coalition of LGBT groups in Uganda to launch the “Let Us Live in Peace” campaign. Clearly, that call for peace didn’t get very far. That press conference, in turn, was in reaction to a similar media-led crackdown in 2006, urged on by the same daily newspaper which trumpeted the 2007 campaign. That newspaper, the Red Pepper, is owned by a government minister. Another government owned newspaper led an earlier crackdown in 2005 which led to several high-profile arrests.

Ssempa regularly conducts a poolside fellowship known as “Prime Time” at the Makerere University Swimming Pool. This Saturday, that venue will host the Americans in a special event for university students.

GayUganda continues:

And, something I find really pathetic. And part of what set me off on this rant. The case that he [conference organizer Stephen Langa] mentions. “Langa says that Uganda is now under extreme pressure from the same group to de-criminalize homosexuality. This group recently scored a landmark victory in a court case against the state in December 2008.”

The case he cites is a pure civil rights issue. A Ugandan was hauled to police, house broken into, undressed to prove his sex. And he challenged the state. The issue was, you don’t do this to any Ugandan. Period. And, the excuse that you did it because the Ugandan is a homosexual is not good enough.

…Langa, showing his true colours, uses this case to illustrate his point. Anything is okay against homosexuals.

So these are the dangerous waters that the American activists are stepping into. GayUganda is understandably upset about this latest foreign import into Uganda, especially considering that Uganda already has a very healthy domestic industry:

Ok, my friends from over the seas. Now, I can actually say there is proof that you do export homophobia. First it was the British with the law. Now, it is the Americans in a more insidious state. Bet you it will not be the last time. So, Africa, here comes our own involvement in the ‘Culture Wars’

Returning his attention to the Americans in his more recent post, GayUganda adds:

I kind of pity the Americans who are coming to preach. Imagine, in their country, being gay is not criminal. But they are coming to impress on poor Ugandans why some Ugandans should be imprisoned for life. Just because they are gay. If there was any justice, these guys should be asked some interesting questions.

GayUganda never gets around to actually posing any questions for the three Americans. He instead challenges us to demand answers. So yes, I do have some interesting questions myself, but only for one of the three Americans.

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer

Scott Lively, who describes the Nazi Party as having been “entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history,” is capable of saying pretty much anything. So I have no questions for him. And since Caleb Lee Brundidge, in addition to being a member of Richard Cohen’s discredited ex-gay ministry, is also active in a Phoenix ministry that goes around to various mortuaries trying to raise the dead, I don’t have much to ask him either. (Yeah, I know, that’s probably worth a whole post by itself.) I don’t think trying to engage either of them would be worth my breath.

But Don Schmierer, as an Exodus International board member, will use his credentials to speak out against gays in a country where LGBT people have very recently been literally hunted in the streets and in the media. And he will be speaking alongside and lending legitimacy to some of the more infamous American and Ugandan anti-gay firebrands.

So as I reflected on this, there are literally dozens of questions which popped into my mind — beginning with, “What on earth are you thinking?”

But in the end, it all comes down to this: given what gay Ugandans have been through the past few years, isn’t it about time Exodus let them live in peace?

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

Exodus Board Member Joins Nazi Revisionist At Uganda Conference

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2009

A Uganda-based anti-gay group has announced that American Nazi revisionist and anti-gay extremist Scott Lively will appear at a three day conference in Kampala, Uganda beginning on March 5th.

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer

Exodus Board member Don Schmierer

Joining him will be Exodus International board member Don Schmierer. He heads a group called His Servants, and is the author of five books related to ex-gay counseling. He’s been quite a globe-trotter lately, having traveled to Seoul, South Korea, in March of last year, as well as to the Ukraine last summer.

Also joining them will Caleb Lee Brundidge, a staff member at Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation, which advocates the controversial “holding” or “touch” therapy to cure homosexuality.

Scott Lively is co-founder of the international anti-gay extremist group, Watchmen On the Walls, which has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. He is also the author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, in which he writes that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” In other words, it was gay people who brought World War II to Europe, built the gas chambers, and sent as many as twelve million people to their deaths.

Scott Lively speaking at a Watchmen conference in Riga, Latvia

Scott Lively speaking at a Watchmen conference in Riga, Latvia

Lively’s brand of rhetoric is unusually vitriolic, even by some of the more ardent anti-gay standards. He regularly describes gays as being sick and “followers of the Father of Lies.” When the Watchmen On the Walls held a rally in Novosibirsk, Russia, Lively excused Satander Singh’s murder in Sacramento. Lively contends that “civilization and homosexuals” are engaged in a full-blown war, which is part of the Devil’s design to destroy civilizations:

There is a war that is going on in the world. There is a war that is waging across the entire face of the globe. It’s been waging in the United States for decades, and it’s been waging in Europe for decades. It’s a war between Christians and homosexuals. … Now, the homosexual movement has been winning this war in the United States, and it has been winning this war in Europe. And we’re looking at the future collapse of Western civilization.

This sort of extremist, paranoid rhetoric will probably go down well at in Kampala. Stephen Langa, Director of Kampala-based Family Life Network which is organizing the event, sees gay people posing the familiar sinister threats to children:

[Langa] says homosexuals in the country were boosted by a December 2008 Court victory which declared that it is unconstitutional to discriminate against homosexuals and that they should enjoy the same rights as enjoyed by other Ugandans.

Langa in a statement today said several homosexual groups are active in Uganda and are busy recruiting school boys and girls at an alarming rate using a variety of methods.

Lively struck up a friendship with Langa (PDF: 1.7MB/22 pages) during a tour of the African content Lively undertook in 2002. Like Lively, Langa is not immune to spreading demonstrably false conspiracy theories on this so-called recruitment drive (PDF: 8 pages):

In most cases, porn is a tool used by the homosexuals as the first step toward introducing homosexuality (sex between people of the same sex) to a conservative society like Uganda. They know that if they come directly, they will not be accepted, So what they do is introduce pornography first to that society. The porn then corrupts the minds and morals of that society. After that goal has been achieved, they then introduce homosexuality as an acceptable alternative to heterosexual (sex between a man and a woman) sex. This is because it is much easier to introduce homosexuality to a porn addict than a non-consumer of porn. For example, the founder of Playboy Magazine, was a self-professed homosexual.

In 2004, Langa spoke out more specifically on what he sees as the threat to schoolchildren:

“FLN has also found out that homosexuality and lesbianism are spreading like wild fire in schools,” Langa said.  “There is rape inside schools and sex among students themselves. We have also found incest and cases of teachers molesting children and a lot of abortions,” he added.  Much of the promiscuity is germinating from viewing pornography in the media and the Internet and blue movies.  “If nothing is done to address the present state of affairs, the present generation of parents will find themselves having to bury their children instead of their children burying them,” Langa stressed.

This conference will be taking place on very dangerous ground for LGBT citizens and residents of Uganda. Martin Ssempa, the influential evangelical pastor at Makerere Community Church, has called for open season on LGBT people:

August 2007, Ssempa led hundreds of his followers through the streets of Kampala to demand that the government mete out harsh punishments against gays. “Arrest all homos,” read placards. And: “A man cannot marry a man.” Ssempa continued his crusade online, publishing the names of Ugandan gay rights activists on a website he created, along with photos and home addresses. “Homosexual promoters,” he called them, suggesting they intended to seduce Uganda’s children into their lifestyle. Soon afterwards, two of President Yoweri Museveni’s top officials demanded the arrest of the gay activists named by Ssempa. Terrified, the activists immediately into hiding.

This is no idle threat. Homosexuality is officially illegal in Uganda. Conviction can lead to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, while sodomy carries a penalty of fourteen years to life.

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

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