News / Africa

Religious Groups Demand Debate on Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Pastor Martin Ssempa (pointing) and Julius Oyet arrive at the Ugandan Parliament to discuss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, April 6, 2011
Pastor Martin Ssempa (pointing) and Julius Oyet arrive at the Ugandan Parliament to discuss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, April 6, 2011
Michael Onyiego

Religious leaders in Uganda are calling for a renewed debate of the country's  "anti-homosexuality" bill which they argue is essential to protect Ugandan children from homosexual recruitment.

On Wednesday, religious leaders and anti-homosexual activists from around Uganda gathered in parliament to urge debate on the country’s much-maligned “anti-homosexuality” bill.

The bill - also known as the Bahati Bill for the Member of Parliament who introduced it - has garnered worldwide attention for a provision which set the death penalty as punishment for certain homosexual acts. While the death penalty has since been removed from the bill, advocates continue to call for its passage as a means of protecting Uganda’s children.

Lead by Pastor Martin Ssempa, a charismatic and vocal opponent of homosexuality in Uganda, the group asked Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker Edward Kiwanuka to fight the emerging “homo-cracy” in Uganda and enter the bill for debate.

“We as religious leaders and civil society are distressed that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is being deliberately killed largely by the undemocratic threats of western nations," he said. "These same nations who promote democracy don’t want our representative to discuss laws to protect our children from the human trafficking of recruiting our children into homosexuality.”

Ssempa leads the Inter-Religious Taskforce Against Homosexuality. During the session with Speaker Kiwanuka, the Task Force presented a portion of over 2 million signatures it said were gathered from around Uganda in support of the bill.

Ssempa and his counterpart Pastor Julius Oyet warned that homosexual advocacy groups were attempting to recruit Uganda’s youth to not only support gay rights but also engage in homosexual acts.

To strengthen their message, Ssempa also brought former homosexuals to recount their conversion to homosexuality. One of these witnesses, Paul Kagaba, told the Speaker of being seduced by prominent Ugandan gay activist David Kato at the age of 17.

“He bought two Guinness. It was my first time to take a drink. I was 17 years old. I was very, very weak. I heard him raping me. I can’t fight because I was so drunk. In the morning he started telling me: don’t fear, don’t tell parents. He gave me $130,” said Kagaba.

Kato, who was a frequent target of Ugandan tabloid media for his work, was beaten to death in front of his home in Kampala in January. While many activists attributed the killing to his advocacy for gay rights in Uganda, Uganda’s Police attributed his death to a dispute with a former lover.

The other witness was George Owundu, who told the audience of his former life as “Georgina, Queen Mother and Lady of the City.” Owundu said he was a founding member of Queer Youth Uganda, whose alleged mission was the “recruitment of the next generation of homosexuals.” Owundu accused a litany of human rights groups, including the London-based Amnesty International of financing the recruitment of young Ugandans into homosexual lifestyles.

Godfrey Odongo, a Uganda Researcher for Amnesty International dismissed the accusations as more of the same from the Task Force and its allies.

For his part, Speaker Kiwanuka appeared uncomfortable throughout the half-hour presentation of Pastor Ssempa and his Task Force. Despite the group’s claims of popular support, Kiwanuka set out to temper their enthusiasm when asked to speak.

“In this one I really don't know what will happen," he said. "But I wish to tell you that there are other people arguing that 'no, the bill is not necessary because there are other laws in our penal code that can cater for the situations that you have stated here.'  And you know people are saying that this is a violation of human rights."

The bill is currently before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee in the Ugandan Parliament. The bill cannot be debated until approved and released by the committee.It appears, for now, that international pressure surrounding the controversial law has extinguished any serious support for its approval

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More