We have noticed you are using an ad blocker
To continue providing news and award winning journalism, we rely on advertising revenue.
To continue reading, please turn off your ad blocker or whitelist us.
American Christian evangelical organisations have actively lobbied for the re-introduction of the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda, which was presented in the parliament Tuesday, according to local activists.
The Uganda-based Family Life Network (FLN), founded by Stephen Langa, is the main organisation behind the efforts to revive the bill, according to Kikonyogo Kivumbi, executive director of civil rights organisation Uhspa-Uganda.
"Many people in Uganda subscribe to the FLN ideology," he said. "We tried to engage with them, but they turned down the dialogue. They are part of a foreign, illiterate agenda that has all the intentions to make the bill pass through."
According to experts, there are close links between many American anti-gay preachers and their Ugandan counterparts. David Bahati, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill's sponsor, is the secretary of the Ugandan branch of The Family, a secretive American evangelical organisation, according to Kivumbi. Langa himself is an affiliate of the Phoenix-based group Disciple Nations Alliance.
He formed in 2009 the Anti-Gat Task Force intended "to fight against the spread of homosexuality and lesbianism in the country". The pressure groups followed a two-day conference of religious leaders, teachers and social workers in the capital Kampala.
Plans made during the conference, which were leaked to the media soon afterwards, included collecting "signatures from Ugandans door-to-door to request parliament to tighten the law on homosexuality" and lobbying the government to "note gay funders, and scrutinize the funding or stop the funding for gay movement in Uganda".
The organisation also launched the "Pass the Bill Now Campaign", which featured lobbying and acts towards MPs to push forward the law. "Call your MP and ask them to debate and pass the bill. Write to them and send them emails demanding that the anti-homosexuality bill must be passed," reads a passage from the Family Life Network conclusive document.
Other anti-gay campaigners that contributed to the revival of the bill, according to Kivumbi, are preeminent Uganda pastors Martin Seempa, Solomon Male and Bob Kyazze, who were recently charged to falsely defame a rival pastor by accusing him of sodomy.
Ssempa champions the anti-homosexuality bill by showing gay pornography in his church and at conferences. He was a protégé of Rick Warren and, during the Bush administration, a recipient of at least $90,000 of American aid earmarked for abstinence promotion, according to the Daily Beast's Michelle Goldberg
The bill, which in was originally introduced by David Bahati in 2009, carried the death penalty for some homosexuality acts but has never come before the full legislative body for a vote. It was temporary dropped during 2011, after an international outcry that followed the brutal murder of gay activist David Kato. If enhanced, the bill would force doctors, teachers, lawyers and other professionals to report someone who was homosexual within 24 hours of face arrest.
The bill, which was read for the first time in parliament on Tuesday, will have to pass numerous parliamentary committees before its approval. Local reports suggest that the death penalty could be scrapped and replaced by life in prison. "Unlike last time, I think it will pass," said KivumbiKivumbi believes the only way to stop the law is the active engagement and lobbying within the parliament. "We will continue to engage in the parliamentary process. It's our right to talk to our leaders and to the people," he said. "We will present a new petition through activists and MPs that are sitting in the parliament, but before we need to look at the definitive text as approved by all committees."
The bill was strongly opposed by murdered activist David Kato, who was the figurehead of Sexual Minitorities Uganda (SMUG), an advocacy group that campaigned for LGBT rights in the African country.
He was murdered after Ugandan weekly Rolling Stone pictured his face and that of another man on its cover under the headline "Hang them!" The subhead read: "We shall recruit 100,000 innocent kids by 2012: Homos" and "Parents now face heart-breaks as homos raid schools."
The paper pledged to expose 100 gay people and printed the photographs, names and in some cases home areas, of people it claimed were gay.
Kato took the publishers to court and won but was murdered in his home few months later, after declaring that he feared for his life.
Kato's death was condemned by the international and local LGBT community. President Barack Obama and the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton urged the Ugandan government to investigate the death and speak out against homophobia. But the police tried to cover up the events leading to Kato's killing, activists said.