Ugandan preacher’s testimony against fellow pastors in homophobic smear case

Uganda’s long running homophobic smear trial against three leading anti-gay Christian evangelical preachers got underway again with the testimony of principal state witness, Pastor Robert Kayanja.

Kayanja, himself an influential evangelical Christian preacher and founder of the Miracle Centre Cathedral in Kampala testified before a Ugandan magistrate on 9 October. Kayanja told the court in Kampala that he was saddened that his fellow pastors had conspired to tarnish his name by saying that he sodomises believers in his church.

Kayanja was testifying against Martin Sempa, Bob Kyazze and Solomon Male in the landmark case. He said it was said that his rival clerics had used the radio, their churches and the television to claim he had sodomised believers. He said the allegations were fanned in the US and Britain and blown out of proportion to damage his name and reputation.

Sempa, Kyazze and Male are accused along with their lawyers, Henry Ddungu and David Kaggwa and together with David Mukalazi and Deborah Kyomuhendo (agents of the accused) and face charges of conspiring to injure Pastor Kayanja’s reputation with a homophobic smear campaign. The two lawyers were included for allegedly commissioning false affidavits.

The three accused pastors, with strong links to The Family, a US based anti-gay Christian group widely believed to have sponsored the authoring and tabling of Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009, face five years in jail if convicted.

When police investigated the initial accusations of sodomy against Kayanja made by Sempa, Kyazze and Male, they found that the three pastors had conspired to injure Kayanja’s reputation by paying young people money to record complaints with the police claiming that Mr Kayanja sodomised them. Subsequently, the police did not charge them.

Several prosecution witnesses have told court that the accused pastors paid them money to claim that Kayanja sodomised them. One of the witnesses, Ivan Kansiima told court that he made the false allegations against Kayanja because he was told Uganda’s First Lady, Janet Museveni, an influential born again Christian herself, supported the move.

Kayanja is expected back in court on Monday November 14, to be cross examined by defence lawyers.

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