Dispatch from Uganda: Family Life Network identified as backing effort

Coming this morning is a report from Ultimate Media of the recent call from human rights groups for Uganda’s politicians to reject the proposed anti-gay law there. Note who this article points to as being in the lead on the public push for political action – Family Life Network.

Human Rights organisations have written to the government of Uganda urging for the withdrawal of a bill that seeks to heavily punish those involved in homosexuality.

This follows the presentation of a draft “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” introduced by Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati on October 14, 2009 providing for a death penalty for those engaging in homosexuality.

A group of 17 human rights organisations led by Human Rights Watch say the bill is unnecessary and will suppress many Ugandan gays and anyone who is suspected of engaging in homosexuality.

In the letter released today, the orgnaisations said the draft bill’s proposals will result in gross human rights abuses and hamper the fight against HIV/AIDS as gay people will fear to come forth for HIV testing, counseling and treatment if they are found HIV positive.

Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda, but the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo has been complaining that the law is inadequate to curb homosexuality that is reported to be on the increase in Uganda.

He says the current law requires the state to prove that a person is indeed engaging in same sex relations, which has been difficult for the police to establish.

Apart from occasional arrests, torture and harassment, no one has been convicted of homosexuality since the law was introduced in Uganda’s Penal code (Section 140) by British colonialists.

The High Court ruled in favour of gays in a landmark case last December that was filed by gay Rights activists, contending that all Ugandans are entitled to the same rights and freedoms, including from torture and discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, ethnicity or other grouping.

The proposed law now seeks to criminalize those who promote homosexuality, including publishing information or providing funds, premises for any activities by gays or giving them any other resources.

The bill also seeks to punish by up to three year imprisonment anyone including heterosexual people, who fail to report within 24 hours the identities of everyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

But how all these crimes will be proved and prosecuted is not clear in the draft bill.

Many religious leaders in Uganda and the Family Life Network have been fighting against what they call a proliferation of homosexuality in the country and accuse some individuals and organization of recruiting homosexuals in schools and luring students with money and gifts.

The Gays in Uganda have refuted these accusations arguing that they are aimed at presenting homosexuals as predators taking advantage of innocent children.

Additional links:

Uganda’s strange ex-gay conference

More on the Ugandan ex-gay conference

Ugandan ex-gay conference goes political: Presenter suggests law to force gays into therapy

Reparative therapy takes center stage at Ugandan homosexuality conference

Gay Ugandan man seeks asylum in UK: EU group condemns Ugandan ex-gay conference

Open forum: Report from the Ugandan conference on homosexuality

Christian Post article on the Ugandan ex-gay conference

Scott Lively on criminalization and forced therapy of homosexuality

Christianity, homosexuality and the law

Uganda anti-gay group holds first meeting

Follow the money: Pro-family Charitable Trust

NARTH removes references to Scott Lively from their website

Aftermath of the Ugandan conference on homosexuality

Uganda: The other shoe drops

Ugandan travelogue from Caleb Brundidge and the International Healing Foundation

28 thoughts on “Dispatch from Uganda: Family Life Network identified as backing effort”

  1. Hey we gays, SSA’s and ex-gays gotta stick together. It goes beyond labels. It’s about our shared humanity.

  2. From Pursue God:

    While the Ugandan government may not listen to gay rights organizations due to their high level of hostility toward LGBT people, they might listen to conservative American Christians and gay Christians who are not affirming.

    One of the reasons a statement from Exodus was so important and so appreciated.

  3. Here is Pastor Rick Warren’s email at Saddleback Community Church:

    [email protected]

    I have emailed SSempa and Pastor Warren. What’s the contact info for Family Life Network?

  4. Wouldn’t it be better to be painted as “gay affirming” than as a Christian who stood by and did nothing? Never let “how the gay activists might paint you” keep you from doing what Christ commands. Thanks Debbie for speaking out. We are all Ugandans.

    Yep. I am people-affirming, as we all are meant to be. I cannot affirm all ideologies, but I can affirm my “neighbors” as people of worth before God.

  5. I am reminded of the Kevin Cline movie where, one by one, every kid at the assembly and eventually every adult stands and announces, “I am gay, too!” as a stand against the prejudice their gay teacher (Cline) was unduring.

  6. Thanks for your blog posting, Debbie. I especially appreciated this:

    We don’t get a pass here. We can’t turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the plight of Ugandans. “‘To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me,” Christ reminds us in Matthew 25.

    Then you made a predicition:

    I predict that some gay rights activists will seize upon this unique moment in history — where conservative Christians like me are closely aligned with them in condemning Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 — to attempt to drive a wedge between us and the Church as a whole and paint us as more gay-affirming.

    As I have said before, that is the risk you take when you take a stand. People accused Jesus of being a sinner because he hung out with them.

    Wouldn’t it be better to be painted as “gay affirming” than as a Christian who stood by and did nothing? Never let “how the gay activists might paint you” keep you from doing what Christ commands. Thanks Debbie for speaking out. We are all Ugandans.

  7. I also just posted on Pastor’s Ssempa’s wall. Please join Warren and Debbie and do likewise. Thanks.

  8. Interesting take on bigotry expressed toward practicing Christians:

    Abstinence Stigma is a negative, biased, hostile attitude that has permeated the culture toward those who choose abstinence as their protective measure against STDs and pregnancy.

    Rather than celebrating their strength of conviction and self-protection, Abstinence Stigma makes young people making healthy choices feel ostracized, embarrassed, isolated, rejected and shamed. It is an absurd, yet dominant mindset in today’s sexualized society. For change to occur, we must break the shame of Abstinence Stigma.

  9. I agree with Warren, applying similar energy toward IHF and FLN (direct involvers) as has been applied to Exodus (indirect involvers), seems much more appropriate.

  10. @ Michael,

    Applying moral values with the power of the state is usually non-specific or exclusively to homosexual acts.

    Enforcement, in addition to the written law, is another way to understand the intensity of persecution.

    If enforcement is weak, or differential from other legally prohibited sexual behaviors, it is easy to expose the ridiculousness or hypocracy of the law.

    Illegal immigration may be a good example.

    Gun laws may be another.

  11. Still looking for more contact info for Stephen Langa and Family Life Network. Meantime, I have learned that Kampala Pentecostal Church — Langa is supposedly affiliated with it — changed its name to Watoto Church. FWIW, their e-mail address is [email protected]. It’s a cell-based church, meaning many small groups meet in homes.

    Also found this interesting tidbit from a GayUganda blog post for March 6, just before the infamous Kampala conference began:

    Hey, the Kampala Pentecostal Church Auditorium was full yesterday. Also today…! And Pastor Martin Ssempa is the main speaker now, this evening. Guess the topic.

    You know, playing fly on the wall, I realize a major difference between the American Right speakers, and the likes of the flames of Ssempa and Langa. The former want to kill us with kindness. The latter are very convinced and they want to kill us with, something much less than kindness, more like an unreasonable hatred


    Lively, Schmierer and Brundidge all spoke there, too, from what I can gather.

    Comments on that post showed that gay and Christian attendees “heard” things differently, each apparently confirming their own prejudices, as is typical. That’s why it’s hard to know what really happened and how culpable Don Schmierer may have been in contributing to the confusion, his intentions notwithstanding. Cultural barriers are hard to overcome.

    Also, Martin Ssempa has a Facebook group, Abstinence Pride – Break the Shame with over 600 members. I am sympathetic with Ssempa’s abstinence and marital fidelity campaign, but not at the expense of totally eliminating the C part of ABC – condoms, properly used.

    Trying to get a handle on the tone and substance of the conference back in March requires filtering out both anti-gay and pro-gay sentiment in various reports. The mere fact that Scott Lively was reportedly selling copies of The Pink Swastika there is troubling, as are the reports that Family Life Network, Ssempa, et al repeatedly claim that children are recruited into homosexuality with bribes or are raped in boarding schools (which I have no doubt happens, but has to be perpetrated by heterosexuals as well as some homosexuals). The whole “forced therapy” thing is ominous, too.

  12. @ Michael,

    I believe early colonialists in America had strong prohibitions against homosexual behavior, but that there is no record of enforcement.

    What possible difference does that make? Is that lame excuse #9? I am losing track.

  13. And yet Schmierer says differently:

    From Randy Thomas on the Exodus Blog [http://blog.exodusinternational.org/2009/10/19/ugandan-government-poised-to-harshly-prosecute-homosexuals/comment-page-1/#comment-1024]: I asked Don… about his thoughts on what is happening now in Uganda. He responded:

    What this David Bahati is introducing does not reflect the Ugandans that I have ministered too. The only place where I have run into this thinking is from some former Russian hardliners and that was only a very small percentage of the participants attending my seminars. After some challenges from me (except for one person) they softened up and came around to a more redemptive position.

    Steven Langa and the Family Life Network was chief among the people that Schmierer met in Uganda. And yet he did not “soften up” Langa nor get him to “come around.”

  14. OK, so Exodus made a big error in judgement in sending (or not sending but applauding or whatever) Don’s participation. I know Exodus wants to distance itself by saying it approved of Don’s going but did not send him. I still think that’s lame.

    Next is IHF. I called them today. No response of course. Has Exodus called them? Would be cool if all the reps at the conference spoke up, not just Exodus. Perhaps Exodus might have some influence with IHF?

  15. The group who has really gotten a pass on this thing is Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. Lively was scrutinized closely as Exodus has been. IHF trumpets it in their newsletter.

  16. @ Michael,

    Exodus played a part

    They knew he was going, but didn’t buy the plane ticket.

    What “part” did Exodus plan, precisely?

    Board members are often board members of a variety of organizations. They, at times, speak with the authority of the organizations they participate in…in such cases they say, “I am speaking as a Board Member.”

    You cannot split me from Warren, we agree that Exodus should distance themselves, and to do it publicly, to avoid any confusion.

    Warren may or may not agree with this, but I think I was one of the first to draw his attention to Lively’s credibility problem.

  17. Exodus never formally arranged the visit.

    This simply will not fly. Exodus knew in advance and approved of its Board member going — both before and after. It does not matter one tinker’s dam that Don bought his own plane ticket. Why do you keep defending Exodus on this, David? Do you disagree with Warren?

    Exodus played a part. That’s a FACT. Exodus needs to make it right. Give me one good reason why they should not — and I mean a GOOD reason — not one of the 6 lame excuses below.

    (1) It wouldn’t do any good.

    (2) Uganda wouldn’t change anyway.

    (3) It might make it look like Exodus goofed.

    (4) It might make it look like Exodus was somehow to blame for Uganda.

    (5) It might make it look like Exodus caved in to the gays.

    (6) Jennings should do it first.

  18. It seems like FLN is actually the point of this problem…

    Exodus never formally arranged the visit.

    Anger should be focused much stronger at FLN.

    @ Michael,

    I believe early colonialists in America had strong prohibitions against homosexual behavior, but that there is no record of enforcement.

    Am I right on this or do you have other information?

  19. Apart from occasional arrests, torture and harassment, no one has been convicted of homosexuality since the law was introduced in Uganda’s Penal code (Section 140) by British colonialists.

    Whew! What a relief! So far, only occasional arrests, torture and harassment. Perhaps Exodus doesn’t need to speak out after all.

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