NBC News Brings Scott Lively to Mainstream America
September 18th, 2013
We’ve been following Scott Lively for six years now, through his activities in Novosibirsk, Riga, and Kampala. When Russia passed a so-called “anti-propaganda” law which effectively prohibits all advocacy and positive portrayals of gay people, Lively rushed to take credit for it. But with the exception for a brief period in 2009 after Uganda’s parliament proposed a law which would include the death penalty for gay people, Lively hasn’t made much of an impression in the mainstream media. Today, NBC News published a significant profile which gets the rest of America caught up to date with the impact that Lively has had around the world:
Lively has reason to be a bit cocky. America may have “fallen to the gays,” he says, but much of the world still fears them and Lively is working to keep it that way.
In Moldova in 2011, according to Human Rights Watch, he helped several cities declare themselves “gay-free zones” and organized an “emergency” campaign to block a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and Belarus he met with politicians and pastors, fostering talk of new curbs on gay rights. Every place he goes, Lively says, his goal is to block the open expression of homosexuality, keep discrimination legal and make pro-gay advocacy a crime.
To whip up support for such policies, Lively simply shares his beliefs about gay people: They’re dangerous predators, even killers. And they caught this gay “disorder” through “an evil game of tag,” a chain of abuse in which gays recruit kids into sodomy just as they were once recruited. In this way homosexuality spreads like “a social cancer,” he claims, until nothing remains of the Christian world.
NBC has re-posed portions of video from Lively’s talks in Novosibirsk and Riga, videos which are no longer available at their original locations. Tony Dokoupil’s report provides more information about the extent of Lively’s 2007 tour, which turns out to be more extensive than I had originally thought. Dokoupil also draws a line from Lively’s virulent rhetoric to some of the violence which often follows:
In Oregon in 1992, a same-sex couple died when their house was firebombed during OCA’s campaign to declare homosexuality “abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse.” In Sacramento in 2007, a gay man was called a “faggot” and punched to death by a stranger in a park. In Uganda in 2011, the country’s first openly gay man had his skull caved in. And right now in Russia and in the former Soviet states, there’s been a surge in homophobic vigilantism, including a torrent of shaming videos, some depicting gay teens being tortured by skinheads. Lively has not been linked to any of these crimes but we asked: Couldn’t his talk of predatory gays, “good and evil,” and “war” have played a role?
“Wow, that’s a leap,” said Lively, who sees his work as advocacy in the public interest, no different from campaigning against drunk drivers.
Lively is probably best known within the gay community for his 2009 conference in Uganda. Lively would later brag that the conference was his “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda,” and he immodestly dubbed himself the father of the anti-homosexuality movement in Uganda. Ugandan activists are currently suing Lively in U.S. Federal District Court, alleging that Lively engaged in a conspiracy to deny the LGBT community of their rights and safety under International Law, and that conspiracy resulted in harm to the LGBT community. Lively is being sued under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides federal jurisdiction for “any civil action by an alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” Dokoupil adds this concerning the lawsuit:
Pamela Spees, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, the group pursuing Lively for alleged “crimes against humanity” in Uganda, said she is prepared to file a second lawsuit related to his work in Russia and the surrounding countries, assuming there’s evidence that Lively was “an architect of the persecutory program” there.
And that’s why the case against Lively is so important, gay-rights activists say. As the Olympics draw nearer and the boycotts and homophobic backlash continue, Putin will be the guy paraded down the world’s front pages and social media feeds. But Lively may be the secret agent to watch.
If he loses his lawsuit he could be prohibited from spreading his message abroad, a terrible precedent for other anti-gay crusaders. However if he wins, he emerges stronger than ever, the self-described “hero” of an expanding fight to restore “godliness to society,” as he puts it – or else “pull as many people as possible into the lifeboat before the ship goes down.”
We’ve been following Scott Lively for several years, ever since he first popped up on our radar in 2007 when he was in Riga, Latvia in a stop on a far-flung tour of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union sponsored by a new international anti-gay organization, Watchmen On the Walls. (That organization now appears to be inactive.) Soon, video appeared of a talk Lively gave earlier in March in Riga. I was then alerted to video of a talk that Lively gave in Novosibirsk in August, where he warned:
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. …And this is the design of the Devil to destroy civilization, because civilization is based on the natural family.
Then in November, Lively was back in Riga for a multi-day Watchmen conference. On the first day, Lively complained that the United States was under the iron grip of the homosexual agenda, which he called the product of Satan, “the father of lies“:
You have to understand how this battle works. We follow the God of truth. The Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of Truth, lives inside of us. But our adversaries follow the father of lies. Scripture calls him the “father of lies.” They can’t tell the truth, and they won’t tell the truth because they don’t want people to listen to what we have to say. But we can’t say anything that would give them proof that what they teach is right… So we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. We won’t stop telling the truth, and they won’t stop telling the lies. But this is a war.
In a later talk at the same conference, Lively disclosed what he called secrets that “homosexuality community doesn’t want you to know”: that homosexuality is a disorder, that homosexuality is like an addiction but also that homosexuality is voluntary, that homosexuals really don’t want to be homosexual, and that the only reason we remain homosexual is because the leaders of the homosexual movement have made us afraid of Christians. He also read aloud an open letter to the Russian people, in which he advocated:
…[C]riminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality. My philosophy is to leave homosexuals alone if they keep their lifestyle private, and not to force them into therapy if they don’t want it. However, homosexuality is destructive to individuals and to society and it should never publicly promoted. The easiest way to discourage “gay pride” parades and other homosexual advocacy is to make such activity illegal in the interest of public health and morality.
Russia has effectively done that, after President Vladimir Putin signed the so-called “anti-propaganda” into law last June.
Retired Ugandan Bishop Renews Call for Anti-Homosexuality Bill
September 7th, 2013
From Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, Sunday Monitor:
Bishop Emeritus for Bukedi Diocese Nicodemus Okile, who retired last year after 28 years of services on Friday accused Members of Parliament of debating issues of less serious consequences at the expense of matters with moral implications on the citizens. “The issue of homosexuality has been shelved. Members of Parliament should learn to deal with one issue at a time instead of haphazardly debating on matters,” Bishop Okile said. …“What about the Bill on homosexuality. Why has it gone silent?” Bishop Okile asked.
Okile made those remarks during the funeral for a fellow Anglican bishop. In 2008, Okile announced that he would no longer recognize Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as head of the church because of his stance on homosexuality.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill does appear to have gone dormant. The last time its passage appeared imminent was in late 2012 as Parliament was debating a controversial clause in a proposed Petroleum Bill which granted a presidential appointee exclusive powers to negotiate, approve, and/or revoke lucrative oil exploration and drilling contracts, all with virtually no oversight from Parliament. That measure squeeked through in a last-minute maneuver. Parliament also passed a controversial Public Order Management Bill, which gives the President and police broad powers to break up unapproved opposition meetings, including small gatherings in private homes. While those bills were being considered, the AHB was kept in reserve on Parliament’s official agenda, apparently to serve either as a distraction or as a politically necessary unifying vote. Since the Petroleum Bill’s passage, AHB slowly drifted down from its number one spot under Parliament’s “Business to Follow,” only to disappear altogether at the end of June, 2013.
The AHB remains a part of official business however, and can be brought back at any time. This Sunday Monitor report erroneously suggests that the death penalty has been removed, but Parliament has not actually taken the required vote to do so. You can see our clause-by-clause examination of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill beginning here.
Federal Judge Allows Uganda Lawsuit Against Scott Lively to Go Forward
August 15th, 2013
It’s on. U.S. district Judge Michael Ponsor has ruled that a lawsuit against Scott Lively filed by Sexual Minorities Uganda can continue. The ruling went against a motion to dismiss filed by Lively’s attorneys, on which arguments were heard in court last January. Parties were notified of the ruling late Wednesday.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is suing Lively on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda, alleging that Lively engaged in a conspiracy to deny the LGBT community of their rights under International Law and which resulted in harm to the LGBT community. Lively is being sued under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides federal jurisdiction for “any civil action by an alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”
The lawsuit stems from several actions that CCR says Lively performed, including the infamous March 2009 anti-gay conference in Kampala and meetings with Ugandan lawmakers. Two weeks later, rumors emerged that Parliament was drafting a new law that “will be tough on homosexuals.” That new law, in its final form, would be introduced into Parliament later in October, and included the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” Meanwhile, the public panic stoked by the March conference led to follow-up meetings, a march on Parliament, and a massive vigilante campaign waged on radio and the tabloid press. Lively would later boast that his March 2009 talk was a “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.”
When Judge Ponsor heard arguements in January on the motion to dismiss, he expressed doubts about the validity of the lawsuit under First Amendment freedom of speech grounds. “I’m frankly struggling to see what behavior beyond expressive behavior” which was against federal law. He warned that plaintiffs “needed to show a more concrete example of misbehavior to justify continuation of the lawsuit.” With yesterday’s ruling, he has ruled that the lawsuit can continue. In yesterday’s ruling, Judge Ponsor wrote (PDF: 208KB/79 pages):
…aiding and abetting a crime against humanity is a well-established offense under customary international law, and actions for redress of this crime have frequently been recognized by American courts as part of the subclass of lawsuits for which the ATS furnishes jurisdiction. Given this, the allegations set forth in the Amended Complaint are more than adequate at this stage to require denial of Defendant’s motion to dismiss. (page 4)
Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms. A review of applicable authorities makes the answer to the second question easily discernible as well. Aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime against humanity is one of the limited group of international law violations for which the ATS furnishes jurisdiction. (page 20)
Addressing First Amendment concerns, Judge Ponsor wrote:
Defendant has vigorously argued that all his actions are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Discovery may, or may not, reveal that the argument is correct, and this issue will almost certainly be front and center at the summary judgment stage of this case. What is quite clear now, however, is that the Amended Complaint adequately alleges that Defendant’s actions have fallen well outside the protections of the First Amendment.
Defendant is correct that the First Amendment places limits on the imposition of tort liability linked to offensive speech, and that the protection of free expression, including the protection of “thought we hate,” is a centerpiece of our democracy.
For example, intentional infliction of emotional distress claims — which ask a jury to consider whether speech was “outrageous” — are too subjective to meet the requirements of the First Amendment when applied to public figures or topics of public concern. …In the criminal context, even if speech advocates for the use of force or for violations of law, it receives First Amendment protection “except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
On the other hand, when noxious words become part of a criminal enterprise, the First Amendment provides limited protection. As Justice Black, an unsurpassed supporter of the First Amendment, wrote:
It rarely has been suggested that the constitutional freedom for speech and press extends its immunity to speech or writing used as an integral part of conduct in violation of a valid criminal statute. We reject the contention now. . . .
. . . [I]t has never been deemed an abridgment of freedom of speech or press to make a course of conduct illegal merely because the conduct was in part initiated, evidenced, or carried out by means of language, either spoken, written or printed. Such an expansive interpretation of the constitutional guaranties of speech and press would make it practically impossible ever to enforce laws against agreements in restraint of trade as well as many other agreements and conspiracies deemed injurious to society.
It is well-established that speech that constitutes criminal aiding and abetting is not protected by the First Amendment. …It is equally well supported that the same logic extends to civil actions for aiding and abetting.
In determining whether speech that is related to political advocacy receives First Amendment protection, the Supreme Court has distinguished between “theoretical advocacy,” meaning advocacy of “principles divorced from action,” and speech that is meant to induce or precipitate illegal activity. As the court in Brandenburg recognized, “[T]he mere abstract teaching . . . of the moral propriety or even moral necessity for a resort to force and violence, is not the same as preparing a group for violent action and steeling it to such action.” Merely advocating for reform is quite different constitutionally from preparing for criminal activity. (page 57-61)
…In making this decision, the court is mindful of the chilling effect that can occur when potential tort liability is extended to unpopular opinions that are expressed as part of a public debate on policy. However, at this stage, the Amended Complaint sets out plausible claims to hold Defendant liable for his role in systematic persecution, rather than merely for opinions that Plaintiff finds abhorrent. The complexion of the case at this stage entitles Plaintiff to discovery and requires the court to deny Defendant’s motion to dismiss. (page 64-65)
Today, in a first-of-its kind case brought by a Ugandan LGBTI advocacy organization against a prominent U.S. anti-gay extremist, a federal judge ruled that persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a crime against humanity and that the fundamental human rights of LGBTI people are protected under international law. The ruling means that the case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG), a Uganda-based coalition of LGBTI rights and advocacy groups, can move forward over defendant Scott Lively’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.
Keep in mind, the Judge has not ruled that Lively’s actions are not protected under the First Amendment, nor has he ruled that Lively’s actions do not constitute the commission of a crime under international law. He has ruled simply that the complaint brought to the court by CCR on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda is sufficient for the case to continue, based on the proper understanding of international law, the First Amendment, and various other issues (standing, etc.) addressed in the ruling. I think you can also read the ruling as a set of ground rules, establishing the kind of activities that CCR will need to prove Lively committed during trial in order to prevail.
The trial now moves to discovery phase.
Ugandans Hold Second Pride Celebration
August 5th, 2013
Advance notice was limited somewhat, mostly to unsharable private Facebook pages, but last Saturday, over a hundred people gathered at a beach on Lake Victoria in Entebbe for the nations second gay pride parade and celebration. Last year’s celebration was broken up by police as it was winding down, but as Voice of America reports, the fact that they were able to get together at all gave the community “newfound confidence“:
“That success gave us confidence that we can do it,” [LGBT advocate Kelly] Mukwano said. “We are getting more confident as time goes by.”
Saturday’s march was sheltered in the leafy recesses of a botanical garden about 20 miles from Kampala. But this year, police were informed in advance and the authorities did not intervene. Some revelers felt it was only a matter of time before they are able to march through the streets of the capital.
“Guys, it’s baby steps,” said one marcher. “Today, we are here, miles away from Kampala. Baby steps. Soon we shall be on Kampala Road.”
The fact that police were notified ahead of time and decided not to intervene is especially remarkable. Mukwano told Voice of America that it is one of many signs that the situation in Uganda is improving:
“People are dying in Ethiopia,” Mukwano said. “People are dying elsewhere in the world. In Jamaica, people are being beaten all the time because they are gay. So I think that was over-exaggerating that Uganda is the worst place to be gay.”
One brightly dressed transsexual, who goes by the name Beyondy, says that Saturday’s event just made her feel free.
“Last year, I was one of the people who were beaten up by the police,” Beyondy said. “So today I’m happy that we are free. No one is staring and stopping our marching.”
On the political front, threats from Parliament to pass the Anti-Homosexualty Bill have largely disappeared. The last time its passage appeared imminent, Parliament was in the middle of debating a controversial clause in the proposed Petroleum Bill which granted a presidential appointee exclusive powers to negotiate, approve, and/or revoke lucrative oil exploration and drilling contracts with virtually no oversight from Parliament. That measure squeeked through in a last-minute maneuver in December 2012, which effectively legalized the wholesale theft of the country’s untapped oil wealth. Hovering in the wings, to serve either as a distraction or as a politically necessary unifying vote was the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which had risen to the top of Parliament’s Order Papers under “Business to Follow.” The only calculus in the decision would be whether the cost of losing millions of Dollars and Euros in foreign aid would outweigh the political necessity of passing the bill.
But the political establishment apparently decided that the costly vote wasn’t needed. In the six months since following passage of the contentious Petroleum Bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill slowly drifted down from its number one spot under “Business to Follow,” only to disappear altogether at the end of June, 2013. It still remains a part of official business however, and can be brought back at any time. You can see our clause-by-clause examination of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill beginning here.
BTB reader MatNYC tips us to this report from NPR which covers the Pride celebration and provides background. It also notes the improved climate for LGBT people. The program includes LGBT-advocate who goes by the nickname of “Long John.” He has been featured in several documentaries about the LGBT community in Uganda, including Call Me Kuchu and Current TV’s Missionaries of Hate. He is now running a tour company offering safaris for gay tourists, with the full knowledge of Uganda’s tourism board.
Uganda MP’s Seek To Avoid Public Debate On Anti-Homosexuality Bill
April 2nd, 2013
Uganda’s Parliament returns today following an extended Easter break, when MP’s heard several earfuls from their constituents over the controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill. I’m not up on the bill’s provisions, but Ugandan media reports seem to indicate that the bill, part of a four-year effort to modernize Uganda’s marriage and divorce laws, has run into a buzz saw of controversy from several quarters. Religious leaders have come out against it, as have traditional community leaders. In Karamoja, a subregion in northeast Uganda along the border with Kenya and South Sudan, local elders have threatened to visit their traditional spiritual sites to place a curse on politicians supporting the bill. “We are going to slaughter several bulls and eat blood for seven days in the Atekerin Mountain to fail that Bill and curse those MPs pushing for it,” said one resident. President Yoweri Museveni is now backtracking from the bill, and Daily Monitor reports that other MP’ have “asked Parliament to abandon the Bill and address other issues crucial to the population.”
What does this have to do with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill? Well, according to the most recent Orders Paper (Word: 41KB/2 pages) posted by Parliament from last month, one of those “other issues crucial to the population” is the kill-the-gays bill, which was number 3 under “Notice of Business to Follow.” It has been hovering in the top half of that on-deck list since last November, waiting in the wings as Parliament tears itself apart over other divisive and contentious issues. The thing about the AHB to remember is that it is in no way contentious or controversial, at least not inside Uganda where it enjoys overwhelming support, death penalty and all. But controversy outside of Uganda has made the bill an enormous headache for the country’s political leaders. Already, several European countries made good on their threats to cut direct aid over rampant corruption. When Germany joined five other nations in cutting aid, it added the pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill to its list of concerns.
This places Ugandan politicians in a bind. On the one hand, the AHB is hugely popular with their constituents, and there is no political advantage whatsoever in opposing the bill. On the other hand, being linked to the bill threatens to make those same politicians pariahs outside of Uganda. As the opposition Observer reports, this has led many politicians to call for debating the bill in private:
However, The Observer understands that some lawmakers have toyed with the idea of lobbying Speaker Rebecca Kadaga for a closed-door session when debate on the bill starts. National Youth MP, Monica Amoding, told The Observer that some MPs on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee proposed the move because of the sensitive nature of the bill.
“This subject is very sensitive and some of us fear that if it is discussed in public view, we will be persecuted for holding particular views,” Amoding said. Not surprisingly, she refused to state whether she supports the bill.
Another MP, who requested anonymity, explained that supporting the bill publically could lead to being blacklisted. He cited David Bahati, the main promoter of the bill, saying the MP has been ostracised by some elements in the West because of his views.
“We have some projects that are funded by donors and at the same time we don’t want to be misunderstood by voters. So, it is better to remain silent to avoid being blacklisted,” he said.
The Observer goes on to list the names of 34 MP’s who publicly support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. It might be prudent to retain this list for future reference.
Yahaya Gudoi (Bungokho North,NRM)
Isabirye Idi (Bunya South,NRM)
Lyndah Timbigamba (Kyenjojo Woman, NRM)
Jovah Kamateka (Mitooma Woman,NRM)
Cyrus Amodoi (Toroma, Indep)
Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West, NRM)
Chris Baryomusi (Kinkizi East, NRM),
Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers, NRM)
Hellen Asamo (PWD Eastern, NRM)
Martin Drito (Madi Okollo, NRM)
Amos Mandera ( Kooki, NRM)
George Ekuma (Bukedea, NRM)
Rose Akol (Bukedea Woman, NRM),
Michael Ayepa (Labwor, NRM),
Remigio Achia (Pian, NRM)
Elizabeth Karungi (Kalungu, NRM),
Hatwib Katoto (Katerera, NRM)
Hanifah Kawooya (Sembabule Woman, NRM)
Twa Twa Mutwalante (Iki Iki,NRM)
Geofrey Ekanya (Tororo,FDC)
Olivia Kabala Kwagala (Iganga, NRM)
Benard Atiku (Ayivu,FDC)
Bakaluba Mukasa (Mukono North, NRM)
Stephen Birahwa (Buliisa, NRM)
James Kakooza (Kabula, NRM)
Kaps Fungaroo (Ubongi, FDC)
Tophace Kaahwa (Hoima Woman, NRM)
Mary Turyahikayo (Rubabo, NRM)
Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri, FDC)
Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality, Indep)
Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West, DP)
Vincent Ssempija (Kalungu East, Indep)
Mariam Nalubega (Butambala Woman, Indep)
Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala, DP)
Jesca Ababiku (Adjumani Woman, Indep).
Uganda’s President Denies Anti-LGBT Persecution
March 20th, 2013
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni reportedly told a visiting delegation from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights that there was no marginalization or killing of LGBT people in Uganda. Both the government-owned New Vision and the independent Daily Monitor reported on Museveni’s remarks yesterday According to New Vision:
President Yoweri Museveni has said the issue of homosexuality and lesbianism has been totally distorted leading to wrong public debate.
“In our society, there were a few homosexuals. There was no persecution, no killings and no marginalization of these people but they were regarded as deviants. Sex among Africans including heterosexuals is confidential,” Museveni said.
“If am to kiss my wife in public, I would lose an election in Uganda. Western people exhibit sexual acts in public which we don’t do here,” he said, adding that, Africans do even punish heterosexuals who publically expose their sexual acts.
The president said what is new is the way Europeans and other Western people handle the issue of sexuality in general, including public flaunting which is a problem and luring young people into acts of homosexuality for money.
He said attempts to promote homosexuality as an alternative way of life has led to engagements in running battles with the church.
“You have a lot of room in your house, why don’t you go there. Sex is a bilateral issue, not a multilateral one,” he said.
Among the delegation was Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy. In 2011, the Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights honored Sexual Minorities Uganda executive director Frank Mugisha with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. According to Daily Monitor:
Ms Kennedy, who was accompanied by several lawyers, actors and religious leaders, expressed concern over the pending Anti-Homosexuality bill, reports of harassment of the Gay and Lesbian Community in Uganda and over the exposure of the identities of sexual minority groups. She also said the pending bill on homosexuality works against the international law treaties that Uganda has signed. Ms Kennedy cautioned against the misconceptions that equate paedophiles with homosexuals.
New Vision reported that Kennedy also told Museveni that ”it is a violation of people’s rights to put pictures of sexual minority groups in the [news] papers.” Museveni reportedly promised to investigate:
Reacting to various issues raised by the team, Museveni said he would investigate claims of violence against homosexuals, adding that for a viable solution, activists must respect the confidentiality of sex in our traditions and culture. He reiterated that in Uganda, “there is no discrimination, no killings, no marginalization, no luring of young people using money into homosexual acts”.
Museveni did not directly address the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which still incudes the death penalty for what it defines as “aggravated homosexuality.” Some observers believe that in these statements he was distancing himself from the proposed legislation. I don’t see it that way at all. Besides, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been an exceptionally useful tool for Museveni’s government as it pursues other political agendas.
The bill still remains on Parliament’s agenda, under the heading of “Business to follow,” where it has occupied various spots since November. Parliament is currently on break until April as it wrangles over the highly controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill, which is wrapped up in highly emotional arguments over women in society and, in addition, pits government policy against entrenched and longstanding tribal practices. In fact, it was a walk out by women MP’s in a dispute over the Marriage and Divorce Bill in the closing days of the Eighth Parliament in 2011 which prevented the Anti-Homosexuality Bill from coming to a vote. With the Marriage and Divorce Bill back on the agenda, it appears that the AHB is again playing its normal role, having been placed on stand-by in case a unifying vote is needed to heal fractures in Parliament, or if a popular vote is needed to salve outraged sectors of the general public.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill Rises To Top of Parliament’s “Business to Follow”
February 19th, 2013
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the draconian legislation that would seek to wipe LGBT people out of existence, has risen to the top of the Uganda Parliament’s “Business to Follow” list on today’s Order Paper (Word: 43KB/2 pages). The bill’s rising profile occurs as Parliament is set to consider two other contentious bills: a second Petroleum Bill to regulate gas processing and conversion, transportation, and storage; and a Public Order and Management Bill, which comes in the wake of widespread protests by opposition leaders and ongoing police crackdowns on freedom of assembly on behalf of the government. It also follows a highly controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill, which, like the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, has been in the works since 2009. In fact, it was a walkout over the Marriage and Divorce Bill which denied the previous Parliament its working quorum and led to that Parliament’s expiration before it was able to vote on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
All three bills ahead of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill are allocated sixty minutes on the agenda, but it may, in fact, take weeks for Parliament to make their way through these bills. The Petroleum Bill first appeared on Parliament’s Order Paper last Wednesday (Word: 36/2 pages) with its allocated sixty minutes of fame. Nearly a week later, and it’s still there awaiting action. That same day, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was at number four under “Business to Follow”, and the Marriage and Divorce Bill was placed at number five. The next day (Word: 41KB/2 pages), the Anti-Homosexuality Bill rose to the number three spot under “Business to Follow,” but the Marriage and Divorce Bill leapfrogged to number two, just behind the Public Order and Management Bill.
The last time the Anti-Homosexuality Bill made it to the top of Parliament’s “Business to Follow,” the house was wrangling over a highly controversial Petroleum Bill which would grant vast powers to the Energy Minister, a presidential appointee, giving the minister sole discretion in negotiating, signing and revoking lucrative oil exploration and drilling contracts. Uganda is already rated as one of the more corrupt nations of East Africa, and critics charged that the first Petroleum Bill would amount to legalizing the theft of the country’s newly-discovered oil wealth. That bill was finally passed in a deft, last-minute move when there just happened to be the precise number of people on hand in Parliament to form a bare quorum. Soon after, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill quickly fell to number seven in Parliament’s “Business to Follow.” The bill’s recent rise on the on-deck list follows a familiar pattern of being retained close at hand in case it is needed as either a carrot, a unifying reward or a distraction if one of the other more contentious bills results in turmoil in the House.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 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. A complete clause-by-clause examination f of the bill’s nineteen clauses begins here, and our examination of the numerous false reports that the death penalty has been removed is here. A description of the Parliamentary process is here; with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill now at step “C.” If the bill is passed by Parliament, the Uganda Constitution spells out these options before the bill becomes law.
Uganda Considers Deporting British Pro-Gay Play Producer
February 8th, 2013
The Guardian has confirmed that David Cecil, the British National who had been arrested for staging a pro-gay play in the Kampala, Uganda, suburbs, is back in police detention and facing possible deportation.
Cecil was arrested last September after successfully staging the play, “The River and the Mountain” in a couple of small Kampala-area theaters. The play, about a gay businessman and his mother who tries various schemes to make him straight, was staged after the Uganda Media Council banned the play’s performance at the National Theatre. Cecil was subsequently arrested for staging the play “against lawful orders,” but Ugandan court dismissed those charges in January.
In the latest developments, The Guardian reports:
Immigration officers took Cecil from his home in the outskirts of the capital, Kampala, on Thursday to Jinja Road police station, where he is being held. Fridah Mutesi, a human rights lawyer in Uganda, said the government did not disclose the grounds on which Cecil was being deported, but that it had the power to deport individuals deemed “undesirable”.
…Cecil, who has a partner and young family in Kampala, said he would appeal against the deportation order, either from Uganda or from the UK. He said the arrest was “political, not legal”.
Uganda’s Parliament Resumes With Anti-Homosexuality Bill Waiting In the Wings
February 6th, 2013
Uganda’s Parliament has returned after a nearly two month break, with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill listed as number eight under “Business to Follow” in yesterday’s order paper (Word: 37KB/2 pages), as well as today’s ( Word: 42KB/2 pages). There are at least a couple of ways to read this. First, this is the lowest position the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has occupied on the Parliament’s agenda since the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee announced that it had completed its report on the bill. That announcement included unverified claims that the death penalty would be removed from the bill, claims that we had seen before and were proven to have been falsely made. So for those looking for signs of encouragement, the bill’s low placement on the agenda — after a report on the African Space Research Program – may be taken as something of a positive sign.
But there is also another way to look at it, and it is consistent with what I’ve observed before: the Anti-Homosexuality Bill always seems to be hanging around whenever any other divisive issue is consuming the public’s or politicians’ attention. You may recall that when Parliament was fighting over the highly controversial Petroleum Bill last December, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was waiting in the wings at number one under “Business to Follow,” and there it remained until after the Petroleum Bill passed in a hurriedly-called session. That Petroleum Bill was extremely controversial because it gave sweeping powers to a presidential appointee to sign and cancel oil drilling licenses, opening the way to massive corruption in the oil sector. Within a week of that bill’s passage — in a very hurriedly-called session when, coincidentally, there just happened to be a bare minimum of MP’s on hand to form quorum — the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was shoved down to number six, then to number seven, under “Business to Follow,” where it more or less remains today.
So look at where the bill is today. Placed above the Anti-Homosexuality Bill under “Business to Follow” are various reports investigating payouts for road construction and a cement company (both of which are mired in allegations of financial irregularities), a report on an investigation on irregularitites in the Electrical Subsector of a Petroleum Bill (a different Petroleum Bill from last December’s), and the Public order and Management Bill. That last one is likely to be particularly contentious, as it would grant the President and his cabinet unilateral powers to quash the freedom of peaceful assembly and dissent. And none of those issues even hint at a massive controversy taking place outside Parliament over the sudden death of a popular young Member of Parliament and the government’s ham-handed attempts to repress an independent investigation of the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death.
And so once again, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill placement on the agenda follows a fairly well-established pattern, and is consistent with my earlier speculation that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s true role in Parliament is to remain close at hand as a potent distraction (if needed) or as a unifying rallying point after a controversial vote (again, if needed).
For our clause-by-clause of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s provisions, start here. For a quick view of how a bill becomes law in Uganda, click here. The bill’s place in that process is little changed since that post was written, as it has not yet gone to the plenary stage. For a review of what happens if Parliament does pass the bill, click here. And if someone tries to tell you that the death penalty has already been removed from the bill, refer them here.
Ugandan Official Says Anti-Homosexuality Bill Already Hurting Economy
January 10th, 2013
I should note first that The Observer is an opposition publication in Uganda, so it’s hard to know how influential this debate might be, which David Tash Lumu describes as taking place “on the steps of Parliament” between several members of Parliament and a Deputy Secretary to the Treasury:
So at a time when the University of Buckingham in the UK has reportedly severed ties with Victoria University over the bill, which the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, promised to pass last year as a “Christmas gift”, a rare debate happened at the steps of the august House. The MPs who were part of this debate included James Kakooza (Kabula), Fox Odoi (West Budama North) and Geoffrey Ekanya (Tororo).
This reporter was also part of the debate that sucked in (Deputy Secretary to the Treasury) Keith Muhakanizi. While Kakooza suggested the bill would protect the morals of the country, Fox Odoi, a member of Parliament’s committee on Legal Affairs that scrutinised it, argued that it is illogical to legislate on morality. Odoi, who has written a minority report bashing the bill, added that if lawmakers ignore his report and pass the bill, they will have set a wrong precedent—that government can enter or legislate what happens in your bedroom.
Ekanya, the shadow Finance minister, however expressed worry about the economy, arguing that the aid cuts have happened not because of corruption but largely because of this bill. Ekanya added that the bill is the best ammunition President Museveni has right now—because he uses it to scare donors.
“He must be saying that if you don’t give us the money, I am going to tell MPs to pass this bill,” Ekanya said.
But Muhakanizi dismissed this and accused MPs of not being sensitive about the economy. He said by bringing up such a bill, the MPs are hurting the economy because they have failed to look at the far-reaching financial consequences of passing it.
“I have never seen a country like this where politicians hurt the economy instead of building it,” he said.
Again, it’s hard to understand what level of importance to place in this. Kakooza is a member of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), which holds a dominating super-majority of seats in Parliament. Odio is Independent member, and Ekanya is a member of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the main opposition party in Uganda.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was reintroduced into Parliament in February, 2012, and spent the next several months languishing quietly in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. Later last summer, Parliament leaders began hinting that the bill would be voted on by the end of the year. In November, Speaker Kadaga promised to pass the Anti-Homosexuality bill as a “Christmas gift to Ugandans.” The bill looked as though it would re-emerge on the House floor as Parlaiment began debating a highly controversial Petrolium Bill, which granted the presidentially-appointed Energy Minister with sweeping power to sign and cancel lucrative oil contracts with no oversight from Parliament.
As tensions mounted over the Petroleum Bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill rose to the top of Parliament’s list of “Business to follow,” potentially as a unifying incentive to ease the passage of the Petroleum Bill. Parliament nevertheless broke down in chaos over the Petroleum bill, only to regroup and pass it. It was thought that by getting the Petroleum Bill out of the way, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would be the next item for discussion, but instead it was immediately lowered in priority on the Parliament’s list of business to follow. Parliament went on Christmas break on December 14, and will resume on February 4.
Meanwhile, a massive corruption scandal exploded in the Prime Minister’s office when it was discovered that foreign aid funds from several European countries were diverted to private bank accounts of more than a dozen Ugandan officials. Britain, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden announced aid cuts due to the scandal. Germany’s announcement also cited the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a reason. Earlier this week, Britain’s University of Buckingham announced that it was ending its relationship with Victoria University in Kampala over the pending legislation.
British University Cuts Ties With Uganda Affiliate Over Anti-Gay Bill (UPDATED)
January 8th, 2013
According to a statement posted on the University of Buckingham web site, the university has suspended the validation of some of the courses offered at Victoria University in Kampala:
Over the last few months, the University of Buckingham has been in discussions with our partners, Edulink, who own Victoria University in Kampala, Uganda, about our continued validation of some of Victoria University’s courses. We have both become increasingly concerned about the proposed legislation in Uganda on homosexuality and in particular the constraints on freedom of speech in this area. In the light of this we have agreed to suspend our validation on the assurance that Edulink would produce viable arrangements for existing students on our validated courses to complete their studies. We will of course assist Edulink with any validation support needed to achieve this.
In February 2011, University of Buckingham announced that they were entering an agreement with Victoria University to provide courses produced by Buckingham, with the goal over time of embarking on joint research and providing educational programs which would meed the British standards for East African students.
Update: BTB commenter Bose in St. Peter MN found this statement from Victoria University which provides further context (PDF: 1 page/283KB):
Under both UK and Ugandan law discrimination on a variety of grounds is prohibited; however there are fundamental differences between the two nations’ respective laws regarding equality and diversity, which cannot be reconciled. After seeking legal guidance from both UK and Ugandan lawyers, Victoria University and University of Buckingham have concluded that as the laws of Uganda and UK presently stand, Victoria University cannot comply with both sets of laws.
Therefore, the collaboration between Victoria University and the University of Buckingham has been suspended because it cannot operate in a status of legal uncertainty and/or non-compliance.
Federal Judge Expresses Doubt About Lawsuit Against Scott Lively
January 7th, 2013
A hearing was held today at a Federal Court in Springfield, Massachusetts on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against American anti-gay extremist Scott Lively. The Center for Constitutional Rights is suing Lively on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda, alleging that Lively engaged in a conspiracy to deny the LGBT community of their rights under International Law and which resulted in harm to the LGBT community. Lively is being sued under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides federal jurisdiction for “any civil action by an alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” In today’s hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Ponsor expressed doubts about the case:
During a 90-minute hearing in U.S. District Court, Ponsor said the lawsuit filed by Sexual Minorities Uganda against the Springfield minister poses a test of Lively’s free-speech protection and the rights of sexual minorities to equal protection under the law.
But the judge said the plaintiffs needed to show a connection between Lively’s anti-gay advocacy in Uganda and illegal acts committed against gays in the country.
“I’m frankly struggling to see what behavior beyond expressive behavior” of Lively violated federal law, the judge said during the hearing attended by about 150 people, including a prominent Ugandan activist.
The plaintiffs, the judge added, “needed to show a more concrete example of misbehavior to justify continuation of the lawsuit.”
As I wrote last March soon after the case was filed, this is the very challenge CCR faces in this case. CCR’s case cannot simply be a recitation of what Lively said. If it is, then the case becomes solely about Lively’s speech and beliefs which, as odious as they are, are nevertheless protected under the First Amendment. What CCR would need to do is provide proof that Lively actually engaged in actions which constitute a plan or conspiracy with the desired outcome being the infringement of the rights of LGBT people under International Law, and that LGBT people in Uganda, as a result of that conspiracy or action, suffered as a result. Hence the judge’s emphasis on “misbehavior.”
While Judge Ponsor expressed his skepticism about the case, he also cast doubt on Lively’s motion to dismiss. According to the Springfield Republican, the judge didn’t indicate when he would rule on the motion to dismiss.
Lively is being defended in the lawsuit by Liberty Counsel.
British Pro-Gay Gay Producer’s Charges Dismissed By Uganda Court
January 2nd, 2013
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Executive Director Frank Mugisha tweets the happy news. David Cecil was arrested in September after successfully staging the play, “The River and the Mountain” in a couple of small Kampala-area theaters. He staged the play, about a gay businessman and his mother who tries various schemes to make him straight, after the Uganda Media Council banned the play’s performance at the National Theatre. He was subsequently arrested for staging the play “against lawful orders,” but Ugandan court today has dismissed those charges.
David Cecil shared the following statement on his Facebook page from his lawyer:
A win for freedom in Uganda! A case against a British script producer, David Cecil (accused of staging a “homosexual play”-The Mountain and the River and disobeying “lawful” orders) has been dismissed for lack of evidence by the Magistrates Court at Makindye. We can now sue the State for the malicious prosecution. This is the type of work I’m willing to do for the rest of my life. No man should be arrested, detained, charged and imprisoned arbitrarily for expressing himself. Rights and Freedoms are inherent and not granted by cultural and religious beliefs/institutions, families, parents, the Government or the State.
This win is only the latest court victory for LGBT people and their allies in Uganda. In 2011, the High Court ruled in favor of LGBT advocate David Kato and two other LGBT advocates who had sued the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) after its notorious outing campaigns. (Three weeks later, Kato was found murdered in his home.) Ugandan LGBT advocates are currently suing Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo, a defrocked former Catholic priest, who led raids against two conferences on human rights for LGBT people.
Uganda LGBT Advocate Arrested for “Recruiting Into Homosexuality”
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.”
Ugandan Seventh-Day Adventist leader disputes support for Anti-Homosexuality Bill
December 23rd, 2012
Earlier this week the Ugandan government owned newspaper, New Vision, reported that Pastor Blasious Ruguri, the Seventh-day Adventist church president in East and Central Africa, said the church supports the Anti-Homosexuality “Kill the Gays” Bill. Ruguri is now disputing that report. (Adventist News)
The newspaper article suggests that Pastor Blasius Ruguri fully supports proposed legislation before the Ugandan Parliament that may include incarcerating and even executing people for same sex intimate contact.
In response to those reports, pastor Ruguri today said, “It is unfortunate that the media took the liberty to extend my statements to suggest what I did not say or imply. I have never seen that bill. Mine was a general statement to disapprove of homosexual practice and behavior. Our church is a ministry of mercy, and as a minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church I cannot condemn homosexuals to death or to hell.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Church subscribes to the biblical teaching that the practice of homosexuality is condemned by God and is forbidden, church officials said. At the same time, the church is strongly opposed to acts of violence, hatred or discrimination against a person because of his or her sexual orientation.
Trangender Activist and Pentecostal Pastor Spar On Ugandan TV
December 20th, 2012
Pepe Julian Onziema, a transgender advocate with Sexual Minorities Uganda, appeared on a talk show on Uganda’s NBS television with anti-gay pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa, who has been one of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s most outspoken supporters. I thought it was encouraging to see the host, reacting to Ssempa’s referring to Pepe using a female pronoun, interject strongly, “Mister Onziema!” But as you can see, that hardly deterred Ssempa from producing a banana to “explain” homosexuality.
The language is mostly in English, although they switch to Luganda from time to time. But you can certainly get more than the drift. At one point, Ssempa has gotten himself so riled up that it looks like he was about to leap out of his chair. The host was able to impose a momentary semblance of order so that this exchange could take place.
Host: Pepe, how do you want society to perceive you?
Pepe: “As a human being. As a person who is part of society…
Host: But society has rejected you.
Pepe: It has not rejected me. It is the propaganda of the likes of Ssempa. My family loves me as I am.
Ssempa quickly resumed interrupting and shouting over Onziema every time he tried to speak. But Onziema got a very good dig in at the host: “I cannot believe you put me on the show with a hooligan.”
As you can see, Ssempa remains bizarrely obsessed with gay sex. In January, 2010, he displayed gay S&M porn at a press conference while calling for the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He did the same thing again the following month at a news conference in his church. His antics when viral later that summer with re-mixes of Ssempa’s “Eat Da Poo-Poo” talks.
Ssempa is believed to be linked to the now-defunct Rolling Stone tabloid (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name), which launched an infamous 2010 “Hang Them!” vigilante campaign featuring LGBT advocate David Kato on the front cover. Kato, Onziema, and Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera sued Rolling Stone, and in a landmark ruling won an injunction barring the tabloid from any further outing campaigns. But Kato was brutally murdered just a few weeks later. Last month, was convicted by a Kampala court as part of the conspiracy to accuse a rival pastor of homosexuality.
Uganda President’s Remarks “Split” Anti-Gay Activists
December 18th, 2012
According to this NTV report, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni’s remarks last weekend has stirred some controversy, pitting die-hard anti-gay activists against fanatic anti-gay activists. (Yeah, I can’t tell the two camps apart either.) As you watch this report, it may help to have this dance card handy so you can keep the characters straight:
Pastor Solomon Male: He is against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, not because he thinks gay people shouldn’t be jailed, but because he thinks that the law would actually end up protecting powerful gay people in government and business. In October, Male was convicted by a Uganda court of conspiring to tarnish a rival pastor’s reputation by accusing him of homosexuality.
James Nsaba Buturo: He is the former Ethics and Integrity Minister who was among the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s strongest supporters. One U.S. State Department cable posted to Wikileaks described Buturo as “obsessed” with the bill. In this report, Buturo again claims that the death penalty provision as “a falsehood which has been spread around the world,” despite the bill’s exceptionally plain language spelling out the death penalty specifically. Buturo was among the Ugandan officials who met with American anti-gay extremist Scott Lively in 2009 just as the idea of drafting a new Anti-Homosexuality Bill was taking shape.
Pastor Martin Ssempa: The famous “Eat-Da-Poo-Poo” pastor, believed to be linked to the now-defunct Rolling Stone tabloid (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name), which launched an infamous 2010 “Hang Them!” vigilante campaign which featured LGBT advocate David Kato on the front cover. Kato was brutally murdered just a few months later in January 2011. Ssempa was convicted in October with Male as part of the conspiracy to accuse a rival pastor of homosexuality.
Texas Pastor Addresses Controversy Over Uganda Remarks
December 18th, 2012
Southern Baptist pastor David Dykes, who spoke on Uganda’s largest independent television station and denounced the U.S. State Department’s attempts to persuade Uganda from passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is now telling a local television station in Texas that he he doesn’t support the bill, but is angry the U.S. is getting involved. He told Tyler, Texas’s KYTX television:
“I’ve never read the bill. I don’t know what the bill says. My whole point was that I think it’s not right for our government to put pressure on any government about their moral decisions,” Dykes said.
This is about as disingenuous as it gets. I feel pretty confident that if Uganda was making a moral decision about rounding up Christians to throw them in jail for the rest of their lives, Dykes would be singing a very different tune.
Dykes claims not to know anything about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is pretty incredible to say the least. We’ve been following the situation in Uganda now for almost four years, three of them since the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first introduced into Parliament. (Our coverage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill begins here.) In order to follow events there, I have automated Google alerts set up which sends me virtually every news story there is about Uganda and Homosexuality. I can assure you that for news items originating both outside and inside of Uganda, there is virtually never a mention of homosexuality without also a description of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill for foreign readers or a mention of it in domestic reports (Ugandans know very well the bill’s major provisions). Consequently it has become impossible to talk about homosexuality inside of Uganda without reference to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. It has been the singular point of reference with which all discussion about homosexuality takes place in Uganda for the past three years.
This is important, and I can’t emphasise it enough: Every statement, every discussion, every op-ed and news item about homosexuailty in Uganda is written with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill both as a point of reference and as a backdrop to whatever else may be happening with regard to homosexuality.
For Dykes to now say that he knew nothing about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is simply beyond belief. This isn’t just some aw-shucks preacher from Texas. He has made missionary work one of the pillars of his church. He was recongized by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2008 for raising nearly $13 million for foreign missions, and his church sponsors at least one missionary group which has its particular focus on Uganda. For him to say, after all of the debate about the so-called “kill the gays” bill, that he never heard of it and knows nothing about it, is simply staggering.
But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Dykes has never read a newspaper article about Uganda, has never seen a television report about Uganda, and has never heard anyone else mention the debate that has taken place in Uganda for the past three years. And let’s say, for the sake of argument, that he has recently awoken from a three year slumber to discover that he is now at a major pastor’s conference in Uganda and the number one subject touching on homosexuality somehow never came up — despite the incredible coverage the Anti-Homosexuality Bil had had there for three years running. And let’s say for the sake of argument that when he woke up, he just happened to be standing in front of a television crew from Uganda’s largest independent network and he said, apropos of nothing…
I’m extremely upset that our state department is putting pressure on Uganda to recognize homosexual behavior. And I’m praying that Uganda will say, “We don’t want your money, America. It is blood money. It is sin money.” I hope that you will continue to stand strong on what the Bible defines as the definition of a real marriage.
…which just happens to be several of many standard lines given by Ugandan pastors who want the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed. (By the way, Clause 12 doesn’t just outlaw same-sex marriage, it throws everyone in jail for being in one or witnessing one or conducting one.)
Let’s just put aside all disbelief for the sake of argument and pretend that all of that is true.
Well, if Dykes doesn’t believe that gay people should be hanged, if he doesn’t believe that gay people should be thrown in jail for the rest of their lives, if he doesn’t believe that their families should be jailed because they didn’t report their loved ones to police, then he has a responsibility to say so.
And not to a TV station in Tyler, Texas. To Ugandans. Over there.
Because I bet not many Ugandans get CBS19 on basic cable. And right now, they think he supports killing gay people. Not only that, but they heard him say that American Christians will ride to their rescue if they pass the bill and lose their aid. And I will believe that too until I see him taking serious steps to tell them otherwise. Because we’ve seen this kind of double-talking behavior before. The only way for this to not be another example of double-speak is for Dykes to speak clearly and loudly with just one voice.
Homosexuality Again A Topic As Uganda Gets New Anglican Archbishop
December 18th, 2012
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.
Uganda’s Seventh Day Adventist President Wants To Kill Gay People
December 17th, 2012
From the Ugandan government-owned New Vision:
The Seventh -day Adventist (S.D.A) church has commended President Yoweri Museveni and Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of parliament for their strong stand against homosexuality and corruption in the country.
Pastor Blasious Ruguri, the Seventh-day Adventist church president in East and Central Africa, said the church supports the government in the fight against homosexuality and corruption.
“Our stand is “zero tolerance” to this vice and to western influence on this crucial issue because God says no to it. We are together with the President and the Speaker and we fully support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I call upon all religious ministers, all Ugandans, and all Africans to say no to Homosexuality. Let us stand for our sovereignty as Ugandans and as God fearing people even the heavens fall.”
Ruguri made the statements at a Mbarara SDA church at the inauguration of the Southwestern Uganda Field, which New Vision describes as similar to a doicese. The article also states that the church also installed a field president, identified as Bishop Bernard Kakuru Bampata, at the ceremony. President Yoweri Museveni sent Rose Namayanja, the State Minister for Luwero Triangle, to represent him as the guest of honor. Namayanja read a statement from Museveni which reportedly reassured the gathering “that the government will not tolerate homosexuality and corruption vices.”
In 2010, the church’s Uganda president John Kakembo gave his support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The Church responded with a tepid statement, saying simply, “These views do not reflect the values of the Church as expressed in published statements on same sex conduct.” It did not however call for a retraction of Kakembo’s support for the bill.