Our stomachs have been churning over the last few weeks over Uganda’s absolutely revolting proposed anti-homosexuality bill. If you still haven’t heard of it, you must be living in a cave somewhere. Under the new bill, anyone convicted of having gay sex will be subject to the minimum punishment of life imprisonment. If the accused is HIV positive, or a “person of authority” over the other partner, or if the “victim” is under 18, a conviction will result in the death penalty. Not only that, members of the public will be obliged to report any “homosexual activity” to police within 24 hours or risk three years in jail! And as if that were not enough, any Ugandan breaking the new law abroad will be subject to extradition requests!
If the law comes to pass, the list of people that follows will have blood on their hands. This Hall of Shame that we have put together is by no means exhaustive and if you think there’s anyone else that deserves to be on this list, we want to hear from you.
David Bahati, the Ugandan Member of Parliament (belonging to the ruling National Resistance Movement) who introduced the kill-the-gays bill, tops our list. He is a “born-again Christian” (here in italics because we believe him to be anything but Christian) who is said to have ties to The Family — a shadowy, secretive fundamentalist Christian organisation consisting of high ranking U.S. government officials, corporate executives, heads of religious and humanitarian aid organisations, as well as non-U.S. leaders and ambassadors. Bahati has gone on record in the Ugandan press describing his bill as a “nice piece of legislation” which “aims at holding the integrity of Ugandans high in the sky”. Homosexuality, according to him, is not a human right, but a “creeping evil” that threatens to undermine the moral fabric of Uganda.
Yoweri Museveni, the dictator president of Uganda who has been in power since 1986, has backed the proposed bill, warning youths in Kampala that he had heard that “European homosexuals are recruiting in Africa”. “We used to have very few homosexuals traditionally. They were not persecuted but were not encouraged either because it was clear that is not how God arranged things to be,” says Museveni. As much as Museveni would like us to think of him as Christian, the truth is that he is a vicious blood-thirsty warmonger, whose decision to invade and occupy Congo in the Second Congo War has resulted in an estimated 5.4 million deaths since 1998. And oh, did we forget to mention? Museveni has been described as The Family’s “key man in Africa”.
James Buturo, Minister of Ethics and Integrity (yes that’s a real title), is yet another “born-again Christian” associated with The Family (boy, are you beginning to see the pattern yet?) in the top echelons of power in Uganda, who oversees everything related to morality in the nation. Buturo has said he views the bill with “joy” because it will “provide leadership around the world”. Apart from promising to “find out which foreign organizations are funding the homosexuals in the country”, Buturo has also vowed to publish the names of sex workers in newspapers, on the internet and on television and to ban women aged 60 years and under from wearing miniskirts because, you know, the “mini-skirt can cause an accident when you are sitting with a woman in a car. Men while driving gaze out when they see these women and this causes accidents”. We wonder if that means women above 60 can start putting on their miniskirts in Uganda?
Martin Ssempa (screenshot above taken from his website) is the pastor of the Makerere Community Church in Kampala who claims to be on the frontline of Uganda’s battle against AIDS. His message? Abstinence is the only way to fight the disease. Ssempa has close ties to the First Lady of Uganda, Janet Museveni, and some of his public stunts have included a 2007 rally against “homosexual agents and activists” who he said were “infiltrating Uganda”, burning condoms in the name of Jesus and listing the names of Ugandan LGBT activists, contact details and addresses on a website, denouncing them as “homosexual promoters”. Martin Ssempa has close ties to conservative Christian leaders in the US and has been invited several times to Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church to speak on the AIDS issue. Rick Warren has now severed all ties as controversy over Ssempa grew.
Red Pepper is a daily tabloid in Uganda that is known for its sensationalist reporting of scandals and frequent nudity. In April this year, the paper published a list of Uganda’s “top homosexuals”, giving details of their names, where they live and their physical appearance (click above image to enlarge). It described the article as “a killer dossier … that largely exposes Uganda’s shameless men and unabashed women that have deliberately exported the western evils to our dear and sacred society.” This would not be the first time the tabloid has done something like this. In August 2006, it published its infamous “Homo Terror” article which sought to ‘name and shame’ 45 homosexual men in the country. The next month, it published a list of 13 “notorious lesbians”. The Red Pepper’s reporting has led to increasingly vigilante campaigns which have resulted in people being arrested, tortured, fired, and driven into hiding and exile. Ben Byarabaha, editor of the tabloid, has shown no regret for the paper’s stories and has vowed to continue on its campaign to expose homosexuals.
Stephen Langa is the director of the conservative Family Life Network which put together an anti-gay conference in March which featured three American ex-gay / anti-gay activists: Exodus board member Don Schmierer, Scott Lively, author of the ridiculous book The Pink Swastika, and Caleb Lee Brundidge, the right-hand man of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation which claims to be able to turn gay people straight. Backed by the American ex-gay “experts”, Langa was able to influence Ugandan parlamentarians to strengthen Uganda’s draconian anti-homosexuality law, culminating in the introduction of the latest bill. The above video shows the fearmongering of gay people that goes on in Langa’s conferences. In it, he reads A Gay Revolutionary, a 1987 satire written by “Michael Swift” (a pseudonym), as though it were a real manifesto of gay activists. This essay has been regularly taken out of context by anti-gay activists as proof that there is a “hidden gay agenda”.
Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi wields great power in Uganda as the leader of the 8.8 million strong Anglican church which accounts for almost a third of the population. While the Anglican Church in Uganda opposes the death penalty, Orombi has “not taken a position on this bill” and so if the bill does come to pass, he will be complicit in the murder of Ugandan gays and lesbians. This is no surprise as Orombi has a track record of being one of the most anti-gay archbishops on the African continent. He has boycotted Lambeth conferences over the issue of homosexuality and made the ludicrous claims that he fears for his life and can’t wear his collar out on the streets because gays want to kill him. Enough said.
Scott Lively tops our list of non-Ugandans who will have blood on their hands if Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill comes to pass. He is the author of the book The Pink Swastika, a book based on the idea that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history”, a claim which has been thrown out of the window by professional historians. The Nazi revisionist today heads the anti-gay extremist group Defend the Family International. On his website, he writes that it’s no surprise that “modern Ugandans are very unhappy that homosexual political activists from Europe and the United States are working aggressively to re-homosexualize their nation”. While admitting that the new anti-homosexuality bill is “unacceptably harsh”, Lively has refused to condemn the bill, adding that it would “represent an encouraging step in the right direction” if sufficiently modified.
Don Schmierer is a board member of Exodus, the world’s largest Christian ex-gay ministry committed to spreading the lie that it is possible to “pray the gay away”. By his own admission, he has been to Uganda “many times” to speak about his book An Ounce of Prevention: Preventing the Homosexual Condition in Today’s Youth (including at Stephen Langa’s aforementioned conference). David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced on 13 October and it was not until 16 November when Exodus sent a letter to President Museveni opposing the bill. Don Schmierer’s name was starkly absent from that letter and it took another two weeks for his name to be added to that letter. Now Schmierer pleads ignorance, saying he had no idea where things were heading throughout his many visits until he read of the anti-homosexuality bill in the news a few months later. His excuse, of course does not hold water. Countless people have been traumatised, depressed and even led to suicide by joining Exodus’ programmes and some are now stepping out to tell their story. If this bill comes to pass, Schmierer will no doubt have blood on his hands, and his organisation too, for sending him there. Oh, did we mention that Exodus once linked to Scott Lively’s Nazi revisionist views on their website?
Caleb Lee Brundidge is a “sexual reorientation coach” at the International Healing Foundation (IHF), a group founded by the controversial Richard Cohen (more on him later). Like Don Schmierer, Brundidge believes that nobody is born gay and that therapy can help you become heterosexual. The IHF, however, has some of the most controversial therapeutic technics, even among the ex-gay movement, to help people turn straight. Some of these techniques include touch therapy and hitting a pillow with a tennis racquet (you can see Brundidge work his tennis racquet here). Brundidge also works with a Christian ministry called Extreme Prophetic which has some odd practises you don’t see in other Christian groups (like visiting mortuaries to raise the dead). He also DJ’s at so-called “Extasis Worship” events (hear his creepy talk about the “ecstasy of God” here). Professor Warren Throckmorton, who has reported extensively on the Ugandan ex-gay conference, has a report from an unidentified person who attended the event that indicates that Brundidge supports the continued criminalisation of homosexuality. While the IHF has issued a press release denouncing Uganda’s anti-gay bill (two months after its introduction), Brundidge himself has been all but silent since the saga exploded in his face.
The following people are not included in our Hall of Shame but we thought it was important to highlight them here.
Richard Cohen is the controversial founder of the aforementioned group International Healing Foundation, and an unlicensed therapist who developed such ridiculous techniques as touch therapy and hitting a pillow with a tennis racquet to make gay people straight. Stephen Langa has been taking some of the appalling ideas espoused in Cohen’s books as science and promoting them to his audience. And what are some of these ideas? In his book Coming Out Straight, Cohen has a bold claim, “Homosexuals are at least 12 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals; homosexual teachers are at least 7 times more likely to molest a pupil; homosexual teachers are estimated to have committed at least 25 percent of pupil molestation; 40 percent of molestation assaults are made by those who engage in homosexuality.” In an interview with Rachel Maddow, Cohen has backtracked from this statement, saying he will take this line out in the new edition of his book. In another book Gay Children, Straight Parents, Cohen identifies several factors which he says lead to homosexual desires: divorce, death of a parent, adoption — and listen to this — religion, or race. When questioned by Maddow, Cohen appeared surprised this was in his own book! Watch the interview here.
Rick Warren, the megachurch pastor who shot to fame when he was chosen to deliver President Obama’s inaugural prayer, has also been mired in this controversy. While Cohen provided some of the pseudo-psychology that suited the needs of Uganda’s anti-gay politicians, Warren has provided some of the theological foundation that Ugandan pastors found convenient. In March 2008, when Uganda’s Anglican bishops threatened to leave the Church of England for a perceived tolerance of homosexuals, Warren flew straight to Kampala and proclaimed, “The Church of England is wrong and I support the Church of Uganda on the boycott.” Declaring homosexuality to be unnatural, Warren added, “We shall not tolerate this aspect [homosexuality in the church] at all.” Two whole months after shit hit the ceiling, Warren has finally issued a message to the pastors of Uganda urging them to oppose the bill. He has also stepped out to say, “I oppose the criminalization of homosexuality” — better late than never, we guess. Now if only he would repeat that everywhere he went.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is another latecomer among religious leaders to make a statement and we say this is a huge shame considering that one in every three Ugandans identifiy as Anglican (there are 8.8 million Ugandan Anglicans, four times as many Anglicans in the US). Only two months after the anti-gay bill was proposed did Williams step out of the woodwork to say “the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades… Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible – it seeks to turn pastors into informers.” In stark contrast, when the diocese of Los Angeles elected its first lesbian bishop, Williams’ condemnation was swift and warned of “very important implications” if Episcopal church leaders did not block her appointment. We say, shame on you, Williams.
Tell us what you think of this list in the comment section below, and please join this group: Say No to Uganda’s Kill-the-Gays Bill!