UGANDA has become a major battleground on homosexuality, with both warring parties receiving funds from Europe and the US.
The war that started in 1999, when two gay couples tested the waters in Kampala by staging wedding parties in Wandegeya and Nakivubo. President Yoweri Museveni issued a statement saying they should be arrested because homosexuality was illegal.
However, the homosexuality campaign gained momentum, reaching a near climax in 2007 when masked homosexuals held a press conference in Kampala, demanding to be legally recognised.
The anti-gay seminar
Soon family life campaigners, looking at homosexuality as a threat to procreation, started holding seminars to campaign against the practice. In one seminar at Hotel Triangle in Kampala, one of the speakers said the battle against homosexuality would not be won easily.
Scott Lively, an expert on homosexuality for over 20 years, said the gay movement worldwide was well-organised with targets and strategies to achieve their goals. He said one of the means used by the gay movement to perpetuate itself is by sponsoring their organisations worldwide.
Stephen Langa, the executive director Family Life Network, the organisers of this seminar, said: â€œThe well-funded and organised homosexual machinery is taking one country after another by decriminalising homosexuality in those countries.â€
He added that Uganda is under pressure from the gay movement to de-criminalise homosexuality. He added that these groups have â€œwell-trained activists, who have a vision, an agenda and are determined to accomplish their objectives.â€
At the seminar, UNICEF was criticised for disseminating in Uganda a teenagersâ€™ guidebook that states homosexuality is normal and that a peer educator can help them tell whether their orientation is gay or straight. Later, the minister for ethics Nsaba Buturo joined the protest, calling the book a disaster.
In that seminar, former gays, who abandoned the practice, were paraded. Notable among these was George Oundo, who confessed to having used money to recruit secondary school boys into the gay movement. Other speakers were Don Schmierer, a board member of the American ex-gay organisation and Caleb Lee Brundidge, a former gay.
These events, however, attracted protests from gay activists in Uganda and beyond. They accused the family life campaigners of acting on the interests of American gay haters who have lost the battle in their country. They cited Langa and Makerere Community Church pastor, Martin Ssempa as beneficiaries of this sponsorship.
One Ugandan homosexual called Richard wrote in his blog: â€œSsempa, funded by the extremely rich, Denver-based, Wait Training ministry, is on a roll. Not satisfied with playing underdog at his flashy but demographically limited Makerere University Community Church, Ssempa is riding high in his holier than thou horse pontificating against homosexuality.â€
Richard also accuses Wait Training and Abiding Truth Ministries, through Langa and Ssempa, of luring their disgruntled members like Oundo with money because â€œthese guys were broke and their prospects bleak.â€
Abiding Truth Ministries was founded by Scott Lively and it was after his departure from Uganda that Oundo declared he had abandoned homosexuality. Several gay websites condemned the speakers at the homosexual seminar, the first of its kind in Africa.
Richard accused anti-gay activists of knowing little about human sexuality. â€œDo you think someone like Oundo can change his sexuality just because he says so? We cannot help how we feel and when we marry and try to be something we are not, eventually our feelings overwhelm us.â€
The Bush connection
On a separate note, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission claims to have unearthed evidence that the Bush administration had used anti-AIDS funds to subsidise groups in Uganda that promote violence and discrimination against lesbians and gay men. It claims that according to US Government records, Makerere University Community Church was one of the beneficiaries.
â€œThe churchâ€™s leader, Pastor Martin Ssempa, was a leading organiser of anti-gay rallies in Kampala,â€ the commission asserts.
However, Ssempa dismisses the allegations as false, saying he has been fighting homosexuality for the last 20 years without external funding. â€œWe never get any funding; not even a cent,â€ he said. The church administrator, James Okurut said all church activities are funded by the collections made by church members and the pastorâ€™s friends within the country.
Minister Buturo doubts if Langa and Ssempa were receiving any donor funds in their fight against homosexuality, but hastened to add that even if they were to get funding, there would be nothing wrong with it.
â€œHomosexuality is illegal in Uganda and if people are getting funding to strengthen the fight against an illegal activity, that is okay,â€ Buturo said.
Ex-homosexual, George Oundo, revealed that several international human rights fund gay activities in Uganda. He names some of them as: Amnesty International, the Ford Foundation, Human Rights Watch and Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Oundo says the group he used to belong (Queer Youth Uganda) was receiving funding from a Dutch humanist agency, HIVOS that would channel it through Isis WICCE.
Gay and lesbian groups in Uganda, through their umbrella group Sexual Minorities Uganda, recently also acknowledged receiving funds from donors. Speaking during a press conference, Jacqueline Kasha, David Kisule, and Victor Mukasa claimed they â€œreceive money from funders for their advocacy work not for recruiting.â€
What is not clear, however, is whether those fighting against homosexuality are not equally sponsored. But in a country where people are conservative and their attitude hostile toward homosexuality, nobody needs money to reject this immoral practice.
Is money fuelling the gay war?