Friday, September 21, 2007

Why is the gay debate so explosive in Uganda?

Sasha, from Kenya, asked a question that has been troubling me. Why is the debate on homosexuality so explosive in Uganda? Why not in Kenya? Why is it that in Uganda it has continued for so long, and so hot?

After a little thought, I just could not take the credit. It is not because of us Kuchus in Uganda that the debate has been so hot. And it has not always been us. See, only one person of note actually came out at the press conference. She then went ahead on a blitzkrieg of the fm stations. Others of us applauded from the sidelines. We were happy, but too cautious.

The anti-homosexual lobby. It is these guys who reacted like they had seen a huge poisonous snake. And they have been working on hitting it on the head, with whatever means possible. And they are powerful people.

Pastor Martin Ssempa is the vocal leader. He has been leading a crusade against homosexuality for years in Uganda. Even when no Ugandan kuchu was out. Before he was battling a faceless enemy. It is understandable he was ecstatic when the enemy got a face. Matter of fact, he is not a very clever person, but he postures, and shouts, and cries. He puts his foot many times into his own mouth. Why? That is a question I am burning with curiosity about. Why is he so rabid in his opposition? I don’t know, but some reasons I can guess.

My partner says he sets off his gaydar. And there have been persistent rumours that he is, or was gay. I have no substance to that, except that my gaydar is not that sensitive, but it gets a blip when I see him. Never met him personally. Wonder why a gay man would hurt other gay people? Ask Senators Craig and McCarthy. Internalised homophobia and self hate is one of the crosses we have to bear.

Another reason is the fact that he ponders to the American right. The Republicans who are so into ‘homo-bashing’, and ‘sex is bad thing’. He preaches abstinence. Preaches as in Sex is bad, condoms are burnt, and Virginity pledges and rallies. All in the name of god. I don’t know why Ssempa’s god came to hate me so much.

Anyway, Ssempa has organised the opposition, (funded from out?) been the focal point, generated airtime and many quotes, each more reprehensible than the other. He is a charismatic leader, and powerful in HIV prevention. Oh yes, and he has the ear of the First Lady. (We have only one, officially, and you are Kenyan, you understand!)

James Nsaba Buturo, PhD is the other reason. He is a minister in the current government. A minister for Ethics and Integrity. He is soft on corruption, (Sasha, Kenyan, you understand. So many things similar!), but very hard on homosexuality. He is a ‘born-again’ Christian, or a Pentecostal. But his hate for me and mine seems to be also exceptional. I have been angered by the fact that he belittles us, and thinks we are so bad that he wants us out of the country. For him it is the politics, and a hint of a personal agenda that I don’t get as yet. He believes that for the ‘fight against homosexuality’ it is like the 'war on terror'. Anything and everything is justifiable. Us being outed, losing our jobs, anyone being tainted as gay is risking, and if the police cannot act, why doesnt the populace take it into their hands? A very unchristian Christian, I must say.

But those are only two people. The other major factor is the religious bodies. First there are the Pentecostals. Uganda has had a major ‘revival’ since the end of the troubles in 1986. Churches sprung up everywhere. They were first made of papyrus reed walls. Now they are cathedrals of stone and glass. Where I live, I am surrounded by at least 5 pentecostal churches within a 2 km radius. They are many, and politically strong. The First Lady, is a very good source of that strength. The president is a very politically savy person. When Clinton yielded to G.W Bush, the man saw where the winds were blowing. He jumped onto that ship. And that has meant ridiculous statements like there are no homosexuals in Uganda. The twinning with the American right is just impossible to ignore. And of course it has been impossible to start an HIV prevention programme. I know it is happening in Kenya.

The Church of Uganda has also generated a ground swell. Many Ugandans cared naught about homosexuality. But the Church of Uganda cares, and very much. Together with the Nigerian Anglican Church, they are leading the current schism in the Anglican Church. Yes, they have their own reasons. Simply put, they could not say nothing when the ‘evil’ of homosexuality suddenly acquired a face in Uganda. They are not politically strong, but the Sunday after the press conference, all their churches preached about it.

The others have been mainly opportunistic. The Tabliqs are a fundamentalist moslem religious group that wanted to be seen as saying something. Otherwise, it has been a moot point with the Moslems. The Red rug has simply been opportunistic, and I suspect, a tool in the hands of more powerful forces.

A result of this very powerful, very vocal opposition has been that they have done many things which were seen as ridiculous. At the press conference, people narrated ordeals of being beaten up, abused, arrested. We just asked for one thing. To be left alone. To be left in peace. I was there. I saw the journalists there. They were affected, and I bet you, none of them would have thought that it was going to be such a big deal. But Nsaba Buturo wondered how come the press conference was possible, asked the police about it, and went on rampage. The New Vision is a government paper. They have been confused in their coverage. They just did not seem to know what to say. That has been hilarious. The Monitor was fair. I know 27th will say that’s not true, but it is. They have tried to present our point of view, as they let the 95% release their hate too. So, I think they have been fair, in a way.

The ‘opposition’ has done some ridiculous things. Gaetano being suspended was one of them. It was ridiculous, so much so that people were shocked. And the media railed. The attack on the Monitor reporter was another. She was being as careful as she could, but not being Ugandan, and not having lived through the Nsaba Buturo era (he was Minister of Information) she did not understand the vehemence of his opposition. And of course was surprised to find herself the object of attack for factual reporting!

Anyway, there we are. Very interesting that I have argued so strenuously for the opposition. But I do like to think without blinders. And it is simply true to say that the opposition has been playing to their own agenda. Which is very interesting. Why has this been so? I would like to understand Nsaba Buturo and Ssempa’s motivation. Interesting.



The 27th Comrade said...

Well, we have some kind of fanatic breed here. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. Imagine if you had a no-compromise freak like Ssempa and Buturo on your side. You'd ... have only me left to fight. :o)

Plus, I already told you I actually believe it is the people in denial who usually rail a lot against something. (Like that Black guy in The Bondoocks who ... hates Blacks. (o: Claims he was White and got sick ...)
So, you may be right about the whole thing of your friend's gaydar. :oD

Now, on the BHH thing. Well ... I am the only one who carries a gun. The revolutionary, you know ...
But still. It would be kind of good, because you know ... you will have to show up one day. In this here UG Blogger community, you may find allies. You also need them, you know. We have voices. Collective big voice.

Anonymous said...

gug... just a simple question, are you happy? it seems like you spend a lot of time defending who you are, mindful of what people say about you, displaying a lot of hate, ok not really hate... more of antagonism?...

ssempa's God, who is the same God i serve does not hate you. sometimes as christians we take things a bit too radical, making ourselves so self righteous forgetting that we have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory. we had such issues at school and tis was not funny but back to the point... God will always love you. He does not approve of what you do, but He does not hate you.

i got this one liner joke and just thought of you...Why is it so hard to find men who are caring, kind, and good looking?
Because those men already have boyfriends.

gayuganda said...

Hi Cindy,

Am I happy? Fact is, I am. This morning I stayed in bed, just to hold my lover in my hands. I realised that I needed nothing more. The world outside me is hostile. But the world inside me is calm, a flowing stream of life.

I spend a lot of time defending myself, because of the simple reason that I have to. Can you imagine living in that kind of world? Imagine a jungle, where it is hostile, and you have to watch each step you take, each word you utter. As a defense, you have to become defensive, paranoid in a way. If you do not, you cannot survive. It is as simple as that.

In my world, in the gay world in Uganda, the church and mosque are always condemning me. The govt is condemning me. I cannot tell the people closest to me what I am because I fear their condemnation and rejection. It is on the news, on the fm stations, jokes in the bars, everywhere.

Is it any wonder that I live defensively? And think of it, where can I so effectively defend myself? Here in cyber, I can. And I do. Out in the world, I would out myself, and get the consequences to that.

Of Ssempa's god, you know, my lover is a Christian. And I respect his faith. But it is a fact that in Uganda we are seeing the radicals speaking for all you Christians. Ssempa speaks for you Cindy, if you dont come out and say that he does not. At the moment he has allied the Pentecostals, the COU, the moslems against us. What do we have to fight that 'moral' force that he seems to array against us?

I am gay. And not a Christian. It is you who is a Christian who shows me who your god is. And from what I see, Cindy, very few Christians have stood up and said that the god they serve is different from the one full of anger and hatred that Ssempa talks about.

Check out the poem; What a god you serve.
Cindy, I cannot defend that god. My partner understands that I cannot, and will not defend a god that Ssempa so portrays. I have no obligation, nor will I assume it.

Come to think of it, that is too much anger displayed. But the fact is, if I bottle it up, I will over boil into something nasty. Have to stay normal and sane, despite the raging insanity outside of me.

As for the one liner, thanks!

Comrade 27th, keep your gun at home. I may be there. But I will keep the element of uncertainty. I may not!

Anonymous said...


It's me again. I was present at that last demonstration at Kyadondo and (you won't like this) truth is: I heard Martin Ssempa and get this: he inspires me.

I've also listened to all his talkshows and I must object to the fact that he represents God to be a God of hate. He has never, I have never heard him say that God hates homosexuals; but he actually stresses the FACT that God hates homosexuality - just in the same way that God completely abhors all other forms of SIN: murder, rape even lying. SIN remains SIN in the eyes of a holy God and that is why He had to pay the price for us - so he could redeem us from our sin; all of us - even you if you accept it. God loves me, God loves Martin Ssempa and God also loves you with this same measure of love but He will never be TOLERANT. It is not in his nature.

As for his motive, when I listen to him, I really doubt if it is these pre-supposed "American dollars" driving him. I believe that, as we all should be, it is "For God and My Country" that he fights for. God's stand in this country.

And I must laugh off the fact that he sets off your gaydar. Heheheee!! Ssempa, GAY, I would give my right arm.

Anyway, this is mainly to just confirm that this God that Ssempa continues to stand for is the same God that even us silent quiet Christians serve and worship. Only that, sadly, we may not be as hungry for his holiness and his righteousness and his kingdom as Ssempa is. This is why he inspires me.

With love.


Juan L. Iglesias said...

We going to be with you. The LGBT worldwide organization with headquarters in most nations, that is. Thank you for blogging. I'll be reading more than often.

gayuganda said...

Hi Tovi,


He inspires you? Of course he does. Ssempa has a charisma and pulling power that few have. He seems to speak with a power and logic that you find irresistible. He is charismatic. In the true sense of the word.

Yet there are pitfalls to that. Kibwetere was an inspirational pentecostal leader. Oh yes, he inspired people. As did the Son of Sam. And Hitler was.

For the gaydar. I am gay. You know, this sixth sense is not explainable. And of course I cannot defend it. But remember Senators Craig, and McCarthy, and Pastor Ted Haggard? Of course they were not gay.

But of all things I want to assure you Tovi, I have no quarrel with you. I am gay, I am Ugandan. I am not a Christian. And I do not want to be a Christian, not for the god that Ssempa serves. Who inspires you.

But I dont want to go to prison for loving my lover. It is as simple as that. I dont want to believe, to be forced to believe, to be told that I am bad. I know what I am. And if serving my country by Ssempa means that he condemns me, that means that your inspirer is simply illogical. I have no fight with him, except the one that he chooses.


And if you do not see that your god has clay feet, it is not my duty to point it out.

My apologies to 27th, Cathy, Sasha, and all those who are gay and Christian. You seem to serve a different god, who I exclude from the one that inspires Ssempa and Tovi

gayuganda said...

Hi Juan,

welcome. We welcome all members of the LGBT international!!!!

We are debating with some people who want us to go in prison for our good. I dont see much logic in that, but well. Maybe they will convince me.

(though I heard that in prison, it is worse!!!!!!!)

Anyway, I lost it long time ago, since I was a child and people would cane me and tell me -it is for your own good. How I dont like it!

Dennis Matanda said...

There is something I think we tend to forget. When people are getting poorer and lonelier and more desperate, the two things they turn to are: some kind of deity and some kind of enemy.

With a religious society like Uganda, people are bound to get deeper into Christianity or Islam - and the ones who are there will look for an enemy.

Homosexuality is the enemy in this case [unfortunately] and then some.

The reason people do not necessarily fight homosexuality in Kenya is because the number of poor people is not increasing ... at least, not as fast as the ones in Uganda.

That is my two cents.

Interestingly, I had my first chat with a gay man. It was excellent. He was cultured and spoke like he was the most normal person. I so envied him. I think he also tries to make this world a better place.

I then went to and saw what a little photography, marketing and PR can do. I was embarrassed that I was his show producer about 10 years ago!

gayuganda said...

I have just woken up from a good night's sleep. And sleeping and tossing thinking about Tovi and his inspirational leader, then I realised I have not realy heard Tovi's viewpoint.

Why are you persecuting me?

At the press conference, people talked about police brutality, took out dentures to show where they were broken, talked of rape and the pain of being gay in Uganda. After that came the demonstration of course. In support of the continuation of the status quo. Tovi was there. Why were you there? Why did you find it imperative to go there and demonstrate against me, a Ugandan who was complaining of deprival of my rights as a human being?

You want tougher laws against us. Current laws mandate a maximum of life in prison for me making love to my lover. You think that is not enough.

From my weak logic I assume that since life imprisonment is not enough, you want me to have the ultimate, the death penalty for making love with my lover.

Tovi, I ask again, why are you persecuting me? Why is it so important that you persecute me? Why?

gayuganda said...

Hi Dennis,

I had not said welcome. You are!


Anonymous said...

Homosexuals activists who come to Uganda must know that it is a crime and hence an injury to the state.As citizens of the pearl of Africa Uganda we shall help our Government resist this imperialism.This addiction is very unacceptable. Ugandans are not that selfish, they enjoy giving births and multply so we will deal with you according to our ways of life and the love for Uganda.who are you to change our Good culture.

Anonymous said...

Homosexuality is an addiction that is difficult to resist.However many have gotten delivered from it.Visit a bible teaching church and you can be helped.Pastor Ssempa's church which l know loves all lesbians and homosexuals can offer excellent free services of is obvious that marijuana is bad, so is penetrating a used for discharging a very unhealthy waste.A friend of mine is now in pain over damaged rectum.He needs an anal operation.l hope you will procreate and not be the antichrist who does the opposite of the creator.RETURN TO GOD.

gayuganda said...

Hi Christine,

Welcome to the gayuganda blog.

Thanks for your comment. Now, there is one problem. I am a Ugandan. I was born in Mulago hospital. I grew up in Kampala, and I studied in some of the best schools in the country. There is no way that you can claim that I am not Ugandan.

I am a Ugandan.

My dad used to impress that on me by reciting names of more than 10 'jajjas' and where they came from.

Anyway, I am and still are a Ugandan.
Where did you think I came from?

gayuganda said...

Dear Manuel,

Welcome to my gayuganda blog.

Now, one of the things that I would not like is for you to tell some lies about gay people.

the inspirational Ssempa goes around saying that gay people put on nappies. Now, I do have a lot of sex. A lot of sex. Infact, as I write this, I have just been having sex with my lover.

Yet, I have never put on a nappy. Nor has my lover. Nor past lover that I know of. Where are the homos who you know who put on nappies?

And Pastor Ssempa offering services of transformation? Do you know that it is like saying that your good pastor is a witchdoctor?
Medical doctors say it is not possible to 'trasnform' us. But you say that you can. And you have no proof by the way. Oh, dont look at the people who are in Ssempa's church. You do not know what they do. There are a lot of studies about this thing. Dont think that there is no literature.

Anyway, about your 'Dr' Ssempa, who can 'heal' homosexuals, I also hear that there are witchdoctors who can heal AIDS.

I hear they can. I am not sure that they do, but you know, so many people talk of these miracle cures.

Maybe I should try them?

gayuganda said...

And to all you guys who are Ssempa's dedicated followers. I dont doubt that you are members of his congregation. You are welcome here.

I am ready to have a conversation with you. As long as you are ready to debate.

I am a homosexual.

I am a Ugandan.

I have lived as a gay Ugandan and realy read up on what my 'condition' is.

Although I am ready to talk with you, I am not ready to hear lies told about me. So, please, when you write something about homos, remember that I am a homo. I know these things, even more than you do because I AM A HOMO!


I dont want to be converted. Not when you represent that kind of god. he is too intolerant, as Tovi said. Please, do not try to convert me to your religion. it is a curse.

But I would like to hear all the things that you object about me. I would like you to tell me all the things that you think I should be. I want to have us discuss things. Like mature human beings.

Oh, yes. I am a human being.

I am no space cadet. But I am a gay Ugandan.

Welcome, to a healthy debate!

Anonymous said...

Hi gug,
I can see Ssempa's fanatics have raffled your morning feathers. Sorry...But don't loose your style. If you do, then they will win by default. Remember it is our duty to educate them so that may be, just may be, they will see through some of the lies that have been for years drummed into their heads. And hopefully then, they will re-think their hate (to borrow 27th's phrase).

gayuganda said...

Hi Tetue,

welcome again.

I will not lose my cool. I must not, as you remind me!

I am thinking of doing what I did not want to do before. Of putting up a post on why the god that they show is un-appetizing.

I do not preach. But I am getting angry with people who show me mud and then tell me, step in it in the name of god. Why should I step in it?

Anonymous said...

Being ugandan and Homosexual is most likely a victim of imperialism,financial desperacy,desire to revenge after being molested while still young. Do you know that some African chiefs collaborated with foreign colonialists to invade their innocent neighbours in exchange of clothes?
please stop recruiting our children we are so angry but we still love you.There is still hope for change just like my mother stoped smoking at an older stage of life

gayuganda said...

Dear Manuel,

I love you. You seem so determined to show that I am correct.

So, since I have a good job, earn good money, was never molested when I was young, it must be the first reason. Manuel has concluded that I am a victim of imperialism.

What does that mean, exactly?

Where did you read these things?

It is true that we as Africans are as much to blame for colonialism and the slave trade as the so called 'colonialists'

But Manuel, you my countrymate want to send me to prison, or kill me for being what I am. You accuse me of things that I am not. What do you want me to do? Why should I love my country that much more than you do? It is because of you that we embrace our allies. You guys hate us too much.

Anonymous said...

Okay, been reading this whole blog site. Now here's my review......
Homosexuality is an insult to human knowledge / understanding. guys, its so disgusting and is abominable! maybe you are just insane, sorry to say! sincerely speaking, You need Jesus! God loves you and came to save us all!! so, just receive him and be healed, in Jesus' name.

Anonymous said...

If every human abandoned man to woman sex, this world where man and woman were sent to procreate other humans will be populated with animals and plants (who still know the right order of things).No humans after a century or so will be living on earth because by the look of things you guys will never have offsprings unless you play sex the way your parents did it.

gayuganda said...

[shake, shake, shake of the head]

Hi Anon,

Sincerely, I dont know how to answer you. I can start by saying gay people dont make straight people gay. That, we dont 'take over' that we dont aim at becoming the majority.

But all those things seem to be clear and visible things. Simple common sense.

I know many Ugandans believe them. But, that doesnt stop you from thinking, does it???

[shake, shake, shake of the head!

Anonymous said...

Shake your head indeed, so you admit that ur not straight "gay people dont make straight people gay " Why vehemently defend something ur u know is crooked and makes you look and sound crooked? At least get a woman, procreate, or ..... but stop it! It sucks !

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