Uganda's religious and civil leaders continue calls for debate on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

In sharp contradiction to Christianity Today columnist Timothy Shah’s statement that Uganda’s religious and political leaders were “repelled” by David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, various such leaders spoke out in support for the bill in the waning days of the 8th Parliament.

Today, UG Pulse reported:

Religious leaders, as well as the civil society organisations have today petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Ssekandi, calling for the debate and passing of the controversial Anti Homosexuality bill.

This comes a day after the activists were thrown out of the Parliament, shortly after meeting the chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, Stephen Tashobya on the same matter.

The Inter Religious Taskforce against Homosexuality, led by Pastor Martin Ssempa and Bishop Julius Oyet, presented over 2000 signatures collected from across the country, calling for the passing of the bill, which they say will protect the children.

They also revealed that a lot of money had been injected into a recruitment drive and if the legal committee was delaying, the bill should be moved to a different committee instead.

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Ssekandi told the taskforce that Parliament will receive all views from different stakeholders before it is either passed or rejected.

He however promised to consult with the relevant committee to discuss the bill as soon as possible.

Yesterday, a Voice of America report said the signatures numbered 2 million.

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 [Ssekandi] 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.

In fact, Julius Oyet was deputized by David Bahati to gather these signatures.

Then, this report was filed late yesterday in the Daily Monitor. The Speaker of the Parliament gave an encouraging word to the religious leaders:

“The mover of the Bill (David Bahati) is still a member of the 9th Parliament and even if the current Parliament doesn’t debate it, the new Parliament will do it,” Mr Ssekandi said.

He added: “Since the Bill was tabled, I have received numerous calls from the international community to throw it out but I always tell them that I don’t have those powers.”

Mr Ssekandi also told the team that their petition would be considered by the committee.

Chances are that time will run out on the bill. However, Ssekandi seemed to say that the new Parliament might take it up. With the government spokeswoman recently saying that the bill’s provisions will be added to another bill — the Sexual Offences Bill — the issue is far from over.

  • Pingback: Uganda’s Parliament confirms news reports of support for antigay bill — Warren Throckmorton

  • Richard Willmer

    Since Ssempa is very much at the forefront of this campaign of mass hatred, I do wonder if the time has now come to take a ‘closer look’ at his personal circumstances, both past and present. (Obviously, ‘personalsing’ things is always in some sense regrettable, but if it is the case that he [Ssempa] is indulging in any kind of dishonesty or hypocrisy, it may now be time to expose this in the interests of ‘justice’.)

  • Ann

    I do wonder if the time has now come to take a ‘closer look’ at his personal circumstances, both past and present. (Obviously, ‘personalsing’ things is always in some sense regrettable, but if it is the case that he [Ssempa] is indulging in any kind of dishonesty or hypocrisy, it may now be time to expose this in the interests of ‘justice’.)

    Richard,

    I am glad you brought this up. I thought the same thing a couple of months ago and wrote a personal note to Dr. Throckmorton about it. It seems as though Sempra has a personal vendetta against all gay people that cannot be satiated. I cannot help but wonder if, and how, and when, he has been personally affected by this issue and how it manifested into the mindset he now holds.

  • Maazi NCO

    Since Ssempa is very much at the forefront of this campaign of mass hatred, I do wonder if the time has now come to take a ‘closer look’ at his personal circumstances, both past and present. (Obviously, ‘personalsing’ things is always in some sense regrettable, but if it is the case that he [Ssempa] is indulging in any kind of dishonesty or hypocrisy, it may now be time to expose this in the interests of ‘justice’.)

    So your solution to the problem is to commission a conspiracy to character-assasinate Ssempa? And this is the solution to “gay sex advocacy” problems in Uganda? Pathetic !! More confirmation that your understanding of Uganda is very superficial.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Maazi : I find truth interesting, as it happens! Thanks for the insult, by the way, darling – it confirms that there may be something to look at here!

  • Maazi NCO

    @ Maazi : I find truth interesting, as it happens!…. – it confirms that there may be something to look at here!

    Whatever rocks your boat. Good luck.

  • Richard Willmer

    To ‘open up’ with on a little reflection on the life and times of Martin Ssempa …

    Like others, I’ve heard ‘rumours’ from both Ugandan and other sources, but I’m not going to go into those, because I have seen (as yet) no clear evidence of their veracity.

    Let’s look very briefly at some items that are (already) in the public domain:-

    1. The infamous PPPorn show

    When I watched Ssempa’s presentation, I was left with an abiding sense of a man who was finding what he was talking about deeply exciting and satisfying. Others, including in UG, felt the same way as I did.

    2. The Kagaba-Oundo follies

    This whole business is really quite extraordinary, and, I submit, very complex. Kagaba is clearly deeply attached to the Ssempa agenda, but, it is rumoured, is not averse to having nights out in gay hotspots. Kagaba also spent many years in David Kato’s close company, before ‘defecting’ to Ssempa. Oundo fronted up the March 2009 ‘recruitment’ presentation, having himself been ‘recruited’ by Ssempa, before going on record as having lied about the ‘recruitment’ stuff and ending up on Muhame’s ‘Hang Them’ list (hell hath no fury as that of a pastor scorned?). He has now reappeared at Ssempa’s side, although he is giving out very ‘mixed messages’, according to the New York Times. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/world/africa/14uganda.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1)

    The sense I get is that Ssempa has a very ‘personal attachment’ to these two troubled men, and feels a deep need for their visible support, even though both of them may be something of a ‘liability’ when it comes to advancing his (Ssempa’s) cause. (In a way, I view this apparent ‘attachment’ as oddly ‘honourable’ – although I think that it is almost certainly harmful to both Kagaba and Oundo.)

    3. Ssempa’s own past

    By his own admission, Martin Ssempa was once very promiscuous. He has not, as far as I am aware, specified the precise nature of his many sexual encounters, and it might be reasonable to conclude that, in the eyes of people like ‘Maazi’, some of his activities might have constituted a criminal offence under current ‘discriminatory’ UG laws, although I hasten to add that I have absolutely no ‘proof’ of this.

    4. The Canyon Ridge connection

    Readers of this blog are familiar with the story. What is clear is that pastors at Canyon Ridge went to great efforts to get Ssempa to ‘calm down’, and effectively drop his support for Bahati, before reluctantly dropping him; what is perhaps less well-known is that Ssempa has family connections with that church, as well as the former financial ones. I spoke with some folk at CR, and it was very clear to me that they did (and, I assume, do) have a ‘pastoral’ concern for Ssempa; it may be that they are aware of things that might justify such concern.

    Another matter of interest is of course the Kayanja libel case (I won’t comment on this, as it is sub judice at the moment).

    Just some thoughts … no firm conclusions, of course – that would not be appropriate.

  • Richard Willmer

    P.S. Martin Ssempa must, like anyone else, understand that, in adopting the position he has chosen to take, he is making himself ‘fair game’ for such scrutiny as his opponents deem appropriate. Of course, I wish him no substantive harm; quite the contrary: I have tried to communicate directly with him the past (with limited success), but this, and the entreaties of others, have not seemed to cause his to review his aggression, so maybe ‘sterner measures’ are now needed.


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