Who knew Uganda's main proponent of the "Kill the Gays" bill read our blog?
Pastor Martin Ssempa, who I have written about extensively, left this comment on my post "Uganda's Porn Peddling Pastor Ssempa Responds to Critics" (note- I'm assuming Wayne is Waymon):
Dear Wayne and friends,
Thank you for posting my press statement on website.I would like to make sure that we fight HOMOPHOBIA all over the world by giving people accurate information on homosexuality. I agree we must never make any legislation based on people, rather we must legislate actions. It is actions which constitute social deviance, a social and spirtual debt and harm society.
My question is this, is there any part of the listed sexual acts which are not true? I agree with you unnatural acts whether homo or hetero are still unnatural and must be equally treated as deviant. Having worked as a case worker with people with HIV/AIDS both in the US and Africa for more than 23 years you could imagine I have a little information.
Much, much more after the jump...
Ssempa's Comment continued:
Finally we are scheduling an international conference on a post Copenhagen"Global Sexual Climate Change and its implications on population sustainability" at Makerere University Kampala Uganda November 2010. We are looking for papers and scholars. Anyone interested please shoot me an email with your credentials at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are interested why homosexuals in Afica have 10 times more HIV/AIDS than normal people? Why are nations such as European Union which have legalised homosexuality having a crisis in population sustainability? What are the implications of the global culture clash between western views of Sodomy as a human right, and the African view of Sodomy as a human vice. Does globalisation mean Sodomisation!
This and much more..coming up for Nov 2010
And later, as I was waiting for verification that this was indeed Martin Ssempa and not an internet impostor (which we are still waiting for although all signs and various sources point to this being Ssempa and his new blog. On a side note: I have started an email dialogue with him and will write more about that later):
I thought you would be okay with a dialogue without fear of posting my comment. Otherwise your monologue borders on Redneck talk who are afraid of serious intellectual debate on the issue of culture clash, globalization, and human rights.
While my personal feelings about Ssempa have been made clear in my previous posts, let's look at the dance he does around the real issue of what he is proposing in Uganda and how he appears to be watering down his usual message to be more "reasonable" when speaking directly to an LGBT audience. Let's break down Ssempa's claims of "intellectual debate"- something his own dishonest and deflecting comment skirts around.
Breaking Down Martin Ssempa's Response
First how can Ssempa claim to be "fighting HOMOPHOBIA all over the world by giving people accurate information on homosexuality" when in the next paragraph he admits that the extreme, fringe acts he has been showing in his porn presentations happen in heterosexual relationships as well. He admits that to this audience, yet it's not the focus of the legislation, which is "anti-homosexual" alone. If he is looking to legislate actions (something I don't agree with either), then why prescribe those actions to just one group of people like gay men when he freely admit the actions he finds objectionable aren't bound by sexual orientation?
It is a dishonest and hypocritical stance.
This legislation isn't about HIV/AIDS either. The HIV pandemic reaches across sexual orientations. In fact, the vast majority of those living with HIV/AIDS around the world are heterosexual and contracted the virus through heterosexual sex practices. Claiming this legislation impacts HIV/AIDS in Uganda or is to "protect" gay men from contracting the disease is a complete red herring and dishonest.
If Ssempa is going to talk about this bill or about gay people in general, at least be honest about what we are discussing and his motivations. And he needs to be honest about his tactics. Ssempa isn't showing porn to "educate", he is doing it to paint an untrue portrait of gay men as deviants (when he himself admits that these "acts" have nothing to do with sexual orientation at all).
He is using homophobia, fear, and selective shock tactics to attack and endanger gays in his country (and those beyond with the extradition language in the Ugandan Bill) and to quash anyone that supports gay rights or disagrees with him by criminalizing pro-LGBT groups or speech.
He can't claim the moral high ground just by saying it and making it so. What Ssempa is doing and supporting is nothing less than a tool for the mass murder and imprisonment of gays and lesbians in his country.
What the "Kill the Gays" Bill Really Says
Here's what the bill really does (thanks to Alvin McEwen & Box Turtle Bulletin for the concise list):
* Expand the definitions for homosexual acts, making conviction easier. Current law requires evidence of penetration. The new law would expand the definition of homosexual activity to"touch(ing) another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality." Touching itself is defined as "touching--(a) with any part of the body; (b) with anything else; (c) through anything; and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ. anus or mouth."
* Affirm Uganda's lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality.
* Define a new crime of "aggravated homosexuality" for those who engage in sex with someone under the age of 18, who are HIV-positive, who is a "repeat offender" (so broadly defined as to include anyone who has had a relationship with more than one person, or who had sex with the same person more than once), or who had sex with a disabled person (consensual or not). The penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" is death by hanging.
* Require anyone arrested on suspicion of homosexuality to undergo HIV testing to determine the individual's qualification for prosecution of "aggravated homosexuality."
* Criminalize "attempted homosexuality" with imprisonment for seven years.
* Criminalize "promoting" homosexuality with fines and imprisonment for between five and seven years. This overly-broad provision would criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda . It would also criminalize any attempt to repeal or modify the law in the future, as those moves could also be seen as "promoting" homosexuality.
* Criminalize "aiding and abetting homosexuality" with seven years imprisonment. This provision could be used against anyone extending counseling, medical care, or otherwise providing aide gay people.
* Criminalize the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
* Add a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual's homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment for up to three years.
* Penalize people who run "brothels" with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people. However, it defines a brothel as "a house, room, set of rooms or place of any kind for the purposes of homosexuality" instead of the more normal definition of a place where commercial sex work takes place. Anyone's bedroom would be a "brothel" under this definition, placing landlords and hotel owners in jeopardy for renting to LGBT people.
* Add an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad. (Editor's note - this means a Ugandan gay or lesbian living in America can be "called back" to Uganda for prosecution.)
Void all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill.
If you want to have a conversation about these points and not use misleading, fringe porn presentations to try to paint a swath of people, then let's do it. This bill isn't about HIV/AIDS. It isn't about education. It isn't about Westernization or globalization. It isn't about the most fringe sex acts you can find video of.
It's about death, imprisonment, and harm. It's about fear and hate. It's about human rights and human dignity.
Ssempa can claim many things, but the moral high ground is not one of them.
Author's Note: Remember this is being read by an international audience from both sides of this issue. Any racist, violent, or otherwise inappropriate comments from either side of this issue will be removed.