Ugandan Pastor Leads Campaign Against Gay Rights
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Aug 25, 2007 at 03:39:00 AM EST
In Uganda, a powerful pastor toasted by American conservatives for his "abstinence only" efforts against AIDS has begun a new crusade. Martin Ssempa - who has been a keynote speaker at a Rick Warren conference and who has received US global AIDS prevention funds - wants to ensure that homosexuality remains illegal and that gays and lesbians are identified in the public mind as sexual abusers. To this end, he wants media censorship against opposing views and the dismissal of dissenting academics. The demands were featured in a recent rally; The Monitor reports:
CHRISTIANS opposed to homosexuality will hold a rally today, just days after gays addressed a news conference for the first time demanding respect for their rights.

...Pastor Martin Sempa, a key organiser of the event, told reporters yesterday that the rally is a direct reaction to the gay community's quest for equal rights.

...The rally theme is, A Call for Action on Behalf of the Victims of Homosexuality. "It is a crisis before us because people are suffering, seeking for justice and are confused of their gender; they do not know what to do after being sodomized and molested," Pastor Sempa said.

The protestors - who call themselves the "Interfaith Rainbow Coalition", and include Muslims and Baha'is - have one particular target for their hate, a 22-year-old American journalist working as intern on the Daily Monitor named Katherine Roubos:

"We people of Uganda have values. If this lady cannot respect them then she had better be deported," said Eddie Semakula, a member of the coalition. "She is advocating for the rights of homosexuals in a paper that is read by children even. We must protect our children."

Roubos' dire threat to children can be seen here. Highlights:

LESBIAN, gay, bisexual, and transgender Ugandans held their first-ever press conference at Speke Hotel yesterday to launch a media campaign to advocate for their rights.

A rainbow banner declaring "God created us like this, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI), Let Us Live In Peace" hung above the row of seven panelists, some of whom wore elaborate masks to hide their identity.

...A man wearing a mask, and a name card with the alias "Douglas," condemned the brutality and corruption of police treatment of LGBTI people. "The goal of the police is to protect all people within the borders of Uganda," he said. "It is not legal for the police to beat or bribe people."

However, LGBTI people report that police have repeatedly demanded sexual favours or personal bribes in exchange for release from custody. "This is not protecting Ugandans, it is threatening people for profit. That is certainly not within the law," exclaimed Douglas.

Ssempa made his case on a webpage attached to the official website of the Kobs Rugby team (their stadium was the location for the rally), under a banner which appears to have been inspired by Fred Phelps's infamous anti-homosexual logo. According to Ssempa:

...The Monitor Publication has in the recent past run many stories, which are well intended to promote homosexuality. Some of the recent stories include  "Lesbians demand their rights", "Why police is not arresting homosexuals" which ran 11th August, 07 and "Homosexuals demand their place in society" 17th of August.

These propaganda stories, which have mostly worked in the service of homosexuality, have been written by two writers. Katherine Roubos an American who is listed on the internet as a president of a homosexual organization based in the United States called Querillas. She is helped by Val Kalende who is also listed as a Lesbian leader for two homosexual propaganda groups, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) as listed on the homosexual internet site (OutRage).

It is terrible that this newspaper is being used by two people to promote a criminal behavior in the country. It is important that government takes appropriate action to ensure that the issue of homosexuality is not covered by homosexuals who are bent on giving Ugandans one side of the story.  This is not journalism, rather it is criminal propaganda.

A call for media censorship followed, along with a denunciation of "Sylvia Tamale of Makerere University whose teachings on gender in faculty of Law and public statement have been used as propaganda for homosexuality, abortion and prostitution."

Also supporting the demonstration was Nsaba Buturo, the evangelical Minister for Ethic and Integrity, who backed the call for censorship:

Addressing the rally, ethics and integrity minister Nsaba Buturo said the Government would not change its anti-gay stand.

"God created Adam and Eve and urged them to go and reproduce. He did not command Paul to wed John or Maria to live with Esther and have children," he said, drawing applause.

The Government, Buturo added, will not tolerate anyone who lures others into lesbianism and homosexuality.

"They should not be allowed to pursue an agenda of indoctrinating our children to homosexuality," he said.

He cautioned the media against promoting gay interests. "Must press freedom be used to undermine one of the cardinal provisions of the laws?"

He said the Government was investigating reports that homosexuals had spread their influence to schools and that some victims had died.

Back in July, Buturo responded to a constitutional challenge to a police raid on two lesbians by opining that

...the plaintiffs "suffered under the false notion that homosexuality can be a human rights issue" and cautioned that "next time, they will say bestiality should be a human right."

His previous efforts to protect Uganda have included banning The Vagina Monologues on the grounds that "the idea was to promote lesbianism and glorify the vagina - even elevating it to god-like status."

Although it was the press conference by gay and lesbian Ugandans which triggered the protest, there is also a wider religious context: the Ugandan evangelical scene is currently going through a series of scandals which have caught the public imagination in much the same way as occured in the USA in 1987. Some of the revelations have been humourous - such as pastor who allegedly gave his congregants electric shocks and told them it was the holy spirit - but others have been much more serious. In particular, a young man has claimed that he was severely sexually abused by a male pastor for several years, and that one of the country's most high-profile preachers, Imelda Kula, had tried to cover it up. With so much turmoil, Ssempa is ideally placed to emerge as the most powerful evangelical figure in the country.


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