Church of Uganda complicit in renewed campaign for Anti-Homosexuality bill

Pastor Martin Ssempa

Gug, the gay Ugandan blogger, was visited by an Anglican friend of his on Sunday morning with a curious tale. There had been a visitor in church and he was given 30 minutes to give a message to the congregation, the message being that the Bahati Anti-Homosexuality bill should become law in Uganda.

After 5 minutes, when the subject of his address became clear, the speaker was cut off. But he was not stopped from handing out badges and fliers demanding that the Anti-Homosexuality bill is debated in parliament.

Gug reports that he is just one of a network of speakers being sent out across the country to schools, FM and TV stations campaigning for the bill and spreading the usual false information about LGBT people.

The Uganda Daily Monitor reports that Anti-homosexuality activists led by Pastor Martin Ssempa presented a petition in Parliament last week calling for the anti-gay Bill to be passed. The petition, signed by two million people countrywide, was presented to the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Ssekandi on Wednesday 6 April.

Pastor Ssempa said they were “not there to hang the gays as people have speculated but to protect young men and girls being recruited into the practice.” They listed 19 organisations which they claimed are promoting homosexuality in Uganda.

Mr Ssekandi promised that the Bill would be debated. He said even if the current Parliament doesn’t debate it, the new Parliament will. 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 Pastor Ssempa’s group that their petition would be considered by the committee. The Bill is apparently still before the parliamentary Committee on Legal and Parliament Affairs although the committee chair, Mr Steven Tashobya, has said government Bills before the committee will take precedence.

Makerere University student leaders said in a meeting with Mr Tashobya that recruitment of gays was rampant at the university campus. The students told him that each of their colleagues who join the homosexuals is paid a monthly salary of Shs800, 000.

Where is the money coming from for Martin Ssempa and others to puruse their campaign for the bill, asks gug? The effect is to stir up more anti-gay feeling.

International reaction against the bill was strong and led to the government withdrawing its support. Gug says that now elections for the new parliament have taken place, if the bill lapses in the present parliament which has until May to conclude its business, Bahati would have to present the bill again in the next parliament. So Bahati is putting pressure on the outgoing parliament to make the bill law.

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