Tonight, Nightline is covering Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The preview is an article on the ABC News website, extensively quoting Martin Ssempa and Scott Lively.
First a catchy way to begin a news story:
Standing onstage in black velvet robes, despite the stifling heat in the open-air church, Pastor Martin Ssempa’s face is a mask of disgust.
“Anal licking!,” he shouts, directing the crowd’s attention to the images of hardcore gay pornography that he’s projecting via his laptop. “That is what they are doing in the privacy of their bedrooms.”
“Everything having to do with eating of poop…heterosexuals do not eat poop,” Ssempa said. “And if they do, they are misguided, they are not real heterosexuals. We don’t practice, that’s an abomination. It’s like sex with a dog, sex with a cow; it’s evil.”
Wow, where do you go from there? The story then weaves material from Ssempa, Scott Lively and Val Kalende, a Uganda lesbian.
The bill was introduced several months after a visit by several American evangelicals, who spoke at a conference called the “Seminar on Exposing the Homosexual Agenda.”
One of them was Scott Lively, a pastor from Temecula, Calif., who believes that countries like Uganda can still protect themselves from what he sees as the scourge of the gay agenda.
“These are good Christians; better Christians than there are here in the states,” says Lively. “They care about each other. And I think the reason they’re pushing so hard on this law is that they don’t want to see what happened to our country happen over there.”
He told the conference’s audience, made up of teachers, social workers, and politicians that “even though the majority of homosexuals are not oriented towards young people, there’s a significant number who are. And when they see a child from a broken home, it’s like they have a flashing neon sign over their head.”
Lively, who is the president of Defend the Family, is also the author of a book called “The Pink Swastika”, which argues that the Nazi Party was a homosexual movement.
Then David Bahati tries the same line he has used before: the bill doesn’t say what it says.
The bill also calls for seven years in prison for “attempt to commit homosexuality,” five years for landlords who knowingly house gays, three years for anyone, including parents, who fail to hand gay children over to the police within 24 hours and the extradition of gay Ugandans living abroad.
The bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, now insists the death penalty only applies to homosexual pedophiles.
“The whole thing has been distorted, ” he said. “And we know that some copies of the bill have been circulated on the Internet, which are incorrect.”
Bahati defends the bill’s stringency. “Well it can sound tough to some people but it’s acceptable to our community here. Remember that here in Uganda, 95 percent of our population does not support homosexuality.”
If anyone from ABC News is reading, please put the Uganda Gazette copy of the bill on your website. Here it is. This is the official copy. I asked Parliamentary research service staffer Charles Tuhaise if I had the official copy and he confirmed that I do. Tuhaise also confirmed that the bill is about more than punishing pedophiles when he said to me:
…you have read the Bill and know that its object is to outlaw all same-sex sexual conduct. The question of “consenting adults” therefore does not arise. All same-sex sexual conduct is proscribed under the Bill.
Can’t get much clearer than that.
Where is the situation now? ABC News is reporting that the bill will be debated later this month.
But the outrage in the West may mean the bill gets watered down or even killed. The Ugandan parliament will hold hearings on it later this month.
As for Lively, he says if they drop the death penalty, he’ll actually endorse it. Whether the bill passes or not, the culture wars – both at home and abroad – promise to continue raging on.
According to a source in the Parliament, the bill has not been reviewed by committees and is not scheduled for any action at this point. That could change of course, but clearly the bill has been slowed down.