Martin Ssempa, the proponent of the Ugandan "kill the gays" bill, recently wrote the prominent pro-gay blog Pam's House Blend claiming that he has been misunderstood:
Dear Maura and Pams House friends,
I thank you for discussing my blog and the news that I am available online. It turns out we have just got connected to fiberoptic internet..for the first time in History ..and the good news is that we can now talk. I regret that I have been misrepresented but I do hope we can learn more from each other.
First Maura I did respond to your posting on my blog. I hope you got it..The negative birth rates in Western nations shoud concern all of us. For us in Africa, dying without giving birth to a child when it was in your power to produce is a curse. It is a betrayal of the ancestors because we the living are the link to the descendants. That in a sense why homosexuality is deemed as a curse and an abomination. Even before Christianity, our culture abhors anything that does not produce life.
Secondly, the anti homosexuality bill is a Ugandan effort, by Ugandans for Ugandans. A lot has been spoken about the death penalty creating hysteria among some of you that we propose to run around and round up anyone who practices sodomy. No such thing..The death penalty is specifically proposed in cases of aggravated defilement which is the equivalent of statutory rape of minor or a handicapped person against their wish. I do not support or will not support any bill which seeks the death penalty for homosexuals. On the other hand we will not be deterred from making the bill which is intended to protect our children from recruitment and propaganda. Hey now with internet we can talk more on this.
Finally kindly tell your fellow blogger to mind their manners when they are discussing. Continue to challenge their racial bigotry which makes it look like an African cant have a PhD or be able to blog! Some of these comments are vulgar, obscene and totally lacking objectivity with which constructive debate can be engaged in.
Hope you don't mind me joining this great debate.
Martin Ssempa PhD
What Ssempa does here is the equivalent of offering a plate of cow manure covered with icing and trying to pass it off as cake.
* 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.
Oh yeah - that claim about gays recruiting children? It's not true.
I also noticed that Ssempa didn't comment about his penchant for showing pornography in church as a way of stigmatizing the gay community.
But he does take care to "explain" the death penalty. However, his explanation contradicts what is actually said. Plus, it gives me pause and it's something that's been on my mind for a while.
Taking into account Uganda's already oppressive environment towards the gay community, just what would prevent the Ugandan government (if this bill passes) from rounding up a group of gays and lesbians and executing them on the pretense of "aggravated homosexuality?"
Things like this have happened before. History unfortunately is filled with stories of genocide committed on the pretenses of "best intentions" and laws created for the "common good" have been exploited to eliminate those whom the powers that be consider as "undesirable."
I have a fear that the Ugandan bill will be yet another step in this direction, with Ssempa leading the way.
Before Ssempa feels the need to again "defend himself," maybe he should be made aware of the old proverb "it's better to be thought of as a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."
But in this case, maybe the word "fool" should be replaced with "maniac."
Follow Alvin McEwen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/holybullies