Rev Jide Interviewed In New York

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

UGANDA: When Christians condemn God’s children during the Easter season

When Christians condemn God’s children during the Easter season

It is Holy Saturday, today, the final day of Holy Week and of Lent – “a period of spiritual preparation for Easter which typically involves fasting, penance and prayer”.
Besides fasting, penance and prayer, the Lent period in Uganda this year has been characterised by something else: virulent gay-bashing.

This is a project that has been, and is still being, championed by “serious” Christians such as Mr Stephen “Heterosexual” Langa of the Family Life Network and Pastor Martin “Heterosexual” Ssempa of Makerere Community Church. And yet we are all, in our ‘sinning’ difference, God’s children! What happened to tolerance and understanding as cherished values in Christ’s church and civilised society in general?

Well, homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. That much, even if nonsensical, is clear. What is not clear is Mr Langa’s bigoted behaviour and how he goes about displaying it. He seems to have unilaterally declared 2009 the Year of Homophobia in Uganda. He spent much of March parading several men (and why no women?) who claimed they are reformed homosexuals. Good for them.

But here are some questions. Where did Mr Langa find these eight-plus men, led by George “Georgina” Oundo? What attracted these men to Mr Langa and not Archbishop Luke Orombi, for example? Had he all along known them to be gay? Or had he planted them in the local gay community in the first place as part of a plan to undermine gays and lesbians in Uganda? Do the police have any reason to not look closely into the activities of the Family Life Network?
More disturbing are the allegations that the men, especially Georgina Oundo and Emma Matovu, are making. They say they were engaged in “recruiting” school children into homosexuality using money from the immoral Western world. Fine.

But enticing minors into sexual activity, any sexual activity, is illegal as well. So why are the Georginas not reporting this matter to the police? Why do they report to Mr Langa’s little outfit? If they do not know about the rights of children, surely, Mr Langa knows. Why does he then not encourage them to report these things to the police?

In fact, the police should swing into action and arrest anyone, straight or gay, who has lured children to sexual activity. Otherwise they will stand accused of going along with Mr Langa’s posturing as the guarantor of morality in Uganda.

Indeed, the main point that has come out of Mr Langa’s shrill anti-gay crusade is that adults are messing with our children. This, though, begs the question: what has recruitment of children into homosexuality got to do with two consenting adults having a sexual relationship? In his zeal, Mr Langa appears over his head here. He needs to straighten his priorities not gays and lesbians.
Another significant aspect out of the confessions is that money is pouring in from the West to promote homosexuality. The real message is that if there was no money from outside, no Ugandan would be lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender.

How fanciful! Let us grant for a moment, however, that the argument is correct. How then to explain “former homosexual” Charles Asiimwe’s statement that “many business moguls are involved” in homosexuality? If being gay is about making money, why would business moguls be gay? How much more money can a mogul possibly make from Western handouts by being gay? Or did these moguls become wealthy because they are gay?

“We shall expose those who refuse to abandon the practice and we shall not be intimidated because we are protected by Jesus,” Georgina thundered at one of many recent Langa-organised public spectacles.

There is something potentially dangerous in what Mr Langa is doing in inveighing against fellow Ugandans just because they are not heterosexual. It will come as no surprise if individuals falsely name others as gay or lesbian to settle personal scores.

A Catholic priest, Fr Anthony Musaala, has already been named. He has strongly denied that he is gay saying he ministers to all irrespective of sexual preference – as it should be – and his parish of St. Matia Mulumba in Old Kampala has defended him. Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, however, appears unimpressed and is going ahead with an investigation.
Worse could happen. On Tuesday, The New York Times published a story out of Iraq. The first two paragraphs read thus: “The relative freedom of a newly democratic Iraq and the recent improvement in security have allowed a gay subculture to flourish ... The response has been swift and deadly.

“In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word “pervert” in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said.”

I hope fasting, penance and prayer truly mean something to Mr Langa, Pastor Ssempa and Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo. Happy Easter to you all. Irrespective of sexual orientation.

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