AfroGay Blog first called this to our attention. The latest chapter in the steady wave of state-sanctioned, anti-gay hysteria in Uganda is truly bizarre and potentially deadly. "Exposing the Truth Behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda" is a three-day seminar in Kampala that features several anti-gay American "experts" who believe in homosexuality can be "cured." Panelists suggest the rabidly anti-gay government should force suspected gays and lesbians—even students—"to therapy rather than imprisoning them."
The keynote speaker is Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, the same cabinet minister who warned gays to leave the country and previously announced a major anti-gay offensive. Uganda already has some of the most draconian anti-gay legislation on the planet—sodomy is punishable by life imprisonment—but Buturo will submit more restrictive bills on homosexuality to parliament.
[Buturo] says pornography is partly a cause of homosexuality since it negatively affects the morals of the victims of pornography and makes them easily susceptible to the vice of homosexuality. He says the provision in the penal code on homosexuality is too small to cover all concerns in homosexuality. [...]
The President of Defend the Family International, Scott Lively says it is good for the government of Uganda to criminalize homosexuality but the government should subject the criminals of homosexuality to a therapy rather than imprisoning them.
Lively says this is aimed at the criminals recovering from homosexuality which is the main objective of those fighting homosexuality and not to punish homosexuals through imprisonment. He says even schools should borrow this idea of therapy in dealing with gay students.
Victor Juliet Mukasa is a transgender lesbian and one of the few LGBT activists in Uganda willing to publicly speak out. Mukasa is attending the conference and blogging for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). Some of his report from Day One:
[Conference Organizer] Stephen Langa said that homosexuality is a big problem and the existing laws that criminalize gay people are not good enough. He kept referring to the recent victory in the case Victor Mukasa and Yvonne Oyo vs. Attorney General as one that gay activists are going to keep using to promote their agenda.
[Ugandan lesbian activist] 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: "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."
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 upbringin" 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.
Uganda's leading anti-gay evangelist, Dr. Martin Ssempa, will speak at the conference over the weekend. Ssempa's church is the focal point of fundamentalist anti-gay activity in Uganda and partially funded by the Bush Administration's faith-based grants. "The American religious right is finally showing its hand and revealing the depth of its support for homophobia in Africa," says IGLHRC’s Executive Director Cary Alan Johnson. "This seminar will increase violence and other human rights abuses against LGBT people, women and anyone who doesn’t conform to gender norms."
Some Background ...
Rare Court Victory for Uganda Gays [R20]
Uganda Launches Major Anti-Gay Offensive [R20]
Uganda' Muslim Cleric: Exile Gays [R20]
Uganda Ethics Minister Advises Gays to Leave [R20]
Report: "Abstinence Only" Policy Spreads HIV, Death [R20]
Bush Admin Funding Anti-Gay Groups in Uganda [R20]
UG Minister Receives Award for Anti-Gay Crusade [R20]