Gug, a Gay Ugandan who writes anonymously, has agreed to update Changing Attitude with regular reports on the progress and effects of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He begins in understandably angry mode, about the Christian Church's responsibility for fuelling ant-gay prejudice:
The Church is at war against all Ugandans who are gay. They want to kill us, to jail us.
Ok, that is melodramatic. But, sadly, it is not nonsense. Yet how can I, a gay Ugandan characterize the events of the last couple of years, when the Church in Uganda has come out to spearhead a genocidal bill?
By the Church, I mean Christians in Uganda. Not even the Catholics, with their ‘more enlightened’ theory of homosexuality have come out to defend gay Ugandans. No, they are all willing to have gay Ugandans put in prison for life. Or be put to death.
It started long before I was even aware or assertive of my sexuality. The Pentecostal Pastor called Martin Ssempa had a bee in his bonnet. He was all out against homosexuals. But, at that time, there were no gay Ugandans. I assure you there were none. Even the President of the country affirmed that, at one time.
Pastor Ssempa regularly shouted and preached of the evil of homosexuality. But, there were no gay Ugandans to point the finger at. He was pointing at air. Then came the Anglican schism, and you know the prominent role the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda (Anglican) has been playing in that saga. But again, at that time, there seemed to be no gay Ugandans. Of course, Bishop Ssenyonjo had the guts to speak out against the official Church of Uganda (Anglican) position. The results then? He was persecuted. Far as I know now, he is no longer officially a bishop in the church. And he is not allowed to perform any services. And, this is the once Emeritus Bishop of Western Buganda, a PhD. And his only sin was to champion gay Ugandans.
With the years of the Anglican debate, it seemed funny that officially we didn’t exist. I mean, the Bishops were fighting against this invisible enemy, who they were always telling their flock to beware of.
Then came August 2007: we decided to come out. We wore masks and held a press conference at Speke Hotel, in the middle of Kampala.
Pastor Ssempa was overjoyed. The enemy had shown their face, at long last. He went on a brisk organizing spree in all the churches, Pentecostal and Church of Uganda. There was to be a demonstration Against homosexuality in Uganda. He formed the ‘Inter-faith Rainbow Coalition against Homosexuality in Uganda’. The demonstration was announced all over the Christian radio stations. There are quite a number here. The debate flames were fanned. Those of us who had been in masks were unmasked. And the good pastors were mentioning our names on the airwaves, and asking good Christians to shame us at our workplaces and residences. There was panic. We feared for our lives. But, it seemed as if the fire was not really there. It cooled.
2008 was relatively dull.
True! We didn’t have much to fight about, except for the small problem of some of our activists being arrested and charged for demanding an HIV treatment programme at an International HIV Conference in Kampala. It all made us a bit wary. Because, we thought we as human beings deserved an HIV prevention programme. And we didn’t do much but hold up placards for five minutes.
Three of use were arrested, jailed for the maximum 48 hours, brought to court, and the case dragged on until international pressure so embarrassed the government at the Mexico AIDS Conference 2008 that it was deemed unworthy of the mighty government to pursue.
2009 started with a bang.
First, Pastor Ssempa and friends organized an ‘Anti-Gay Conference’. The first in Africa. And, it was three days of revelation. The good teachers from America had lots of theories of what we homosexuals are. They taught our country mates that we ‘recruit’, and that we are ‘stubborn’ and that we follow a ‘homosexual agenda’ and we’re being given lots of money from the ‘evil west’ and that we were determined to take over the country. Yes, to date, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity quotes our desire to ‘take over the country’ as one of the things that the Bill must address.
After the conference, there followed the worst three months for gay Ugandans.
I tell you, because I was in the country at that time. Crusades and demonstrations were held against homosexuality. Churches went ahead to preach against the evil. Suddenly, a few of our number were declared healed in the name of Jesus. And they started confirming all that the preachers had been saying. That we ‘recruit’ school children and in the universities. That we are having lots of money. That we were fighting for the homosexual agenda under the guise of human rights.
The conference was in Feb-March. April through June, the air waves were saturated with the badness of homosexuals. A virtual witch hunt was started. Alleged homos were published in the papers. People were accused, and counter accused. And we all feared.
More ugliness was to come. A charismatic Catholic priest, Father Musaala was accused of being a homosexual. That took over a week, before the brouhaha went down. Poor man, he couldn’t say anything but that he was not.
After that, a group of Pentecostal Pastors accused another Pastor, one of the leaders of the Pentecostal movement in Uganda, Pastor Robert Kayanja.
Pastor Kayanja is a prominent man. He was not taking the allegations seated down. He came out swinging. And, for over two months, allegations and counter allegations were on the airwaves. Thankfully for us, we were spared the unwelcome spotlight. The church was fighting itself and what could we do, us poor sinners? We breathed a sigh of relief.
But it was premature. The Minister of Ethics and Integrity had made it his life ambition to introduce a tough law against homosexuality.
For a long time, he was talking about it. We thought it was not going to come. He threatened and promised, and threatened again. The minister is a ‘born again’ Christian. And his strict moralization is very well known. He believes that women should not be allowed to put on ‘mini-skirts’. And he believes that we homosexuals have no rights. Period.
The bill was coming. We learnt that the first draft by Bahati had actually been made in April 2009. Almost immediately after the Anti-gay Conference. The final bill was duly tabled in Parliament in October 2009. It was as bad as promised.
For us homosexuals, if we are ever caught, there are only two punishments. Imprisonment for life, or death. No quarter given. No negotiations about that.
For those who promote homosexuality, including those who ministered to us, custodial sentences and huge fines were promised. And, immediately, members of the Church in Uganda came out to tell everyone why they should support the bill - on television, in parliament, in the church.
So, the gay Ugandan is the worst of sinners. The church is behind the most horrible bill, that is determined to ‘wipe out homosexuality’ from Uganda. Did I mention that all the players on the anti-gay side have solid Christian credentials? They do. It is all being done in the name of God, for the purity of the Church. And Uganda is showing leadership.
I wish I was joking. I wish I couldn’t support all the outrageous statements above with solid quotes from prominent Church leaders. I can, and I know that the Church in Uganda is out to kill and jail all homosexuals.
It is particularly galling. I though Christianity was different. Earlier, the Mufti, the leader of all Muslims in Uganda on three occasions stated that all gays in Uganda should be marooned on an island in Lake Victoria. We would die out that way, since we cant reproduce.
I thought that my Moslem brothers were extreme, as always. But I would rather be on a desert island as proposed by the Mufti than be in prison for life, or death, as proposed by the more merciful Christians of Uganda.
The church in Uganda is out to get the gay Ugandan.
Can you show me otherwise?