On Wednesday January 2nd 2013, I and Andrew Mwenda participated in a debate on Pastor Martin Ssempa’s radio talk show on Kingdom FM to discuss the effects of the publicity homosexuality was receiving in Ugandan media by those who laboured to demonise it.

[Link to the mp3 of the debate at the bottom of the article]

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Background:

On December 18th 2012, I posted a status update on Facebook in which I argued that the antics of Martin Ssempa and his fellow anti-gay activists were creating a climate of tolerance for homosexuals due to the increased exposure they were giving the subject:

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, the likes of Martin Ssempa have become top ‘promoters’ of homosexuality in Uganda – in other words, they have become the very things they despise. The way he goes on and on about it, the ridiculous stunts he pulls in public (e.g. screening hardcore gay porn in church), making a fool of himself on TV today, etc. His efforts have done nothing but ‘advertise’ homosexuality. Even my mother was like "can’t he just STFU already, because now all the kids are curious about homosexuality!" Many people have told me the same thing (and the people telling me this are staunchly anti-gay, mind you).

Thanks to all this anti-gay crusading and hysteria by Ssempa, Bahati, et al.. homosexuality is now everywhere. Its featuring prominently in our newspapers, on our TVs, and is the number one subject highlighted by politicians and clergymen alike, at public functions. It is one thing that literally everybody is talking about now, and YET before all this bullshit drama was started by the anti-gay activists, it was a taboo subject that remained outside the realm of public discourse.

Let’s talk about the anti-homosexuality bill.

The bill, even if it does get passed, will be ineffective (at best) and unenforceable (at worst) in curtailing homosexuality activity. There will simply never be a successful prosecution of a person charged under that law, and if anyone is ever charged, it is also highly likely that the law will be repealed in the constitutional court (seeing as it violates several already existing constitutionally guaranteed rights).

So guess what… I actually now WANT this bill to pass. You know why? Because I can’t wait to see the confused looks on people’s faces as they realise that not a damn thing has changed. Meanwhile, gay activists like Pepe and Frank Mugisha are going to be swimming in gay rights activism money from overseas thanks to all the sympathy that has been generated by the actions of local hate mobs here. Pretty soon people will stop caring (and many already have), and this will become a long-forgotten issue. People will eventually just get on with their lives to focus on more important things. Gay people will simply continue to exist, as they always have since time immemorial. Nothing will have changed, except that now homosexuality will have been completely demystified, thanks to all the free ‘promotion’ the anti-gay crusaders gave it.

If ever there was a worse case of people shooting themselves in the foot, I am yet to hear of it.

At the end of the day, what two consenting adults do in their privacy should be no one’s business but theirs. In case you didn’t know, the Penal Code Act was amended in 2007 to make defilement gender neutral offense. Girls and Boys in Uganda are protected equally under the law, from defilement. Of course, that’s something these anti-gay bigots never tell you, because they believe you are ignorant (and for the most part most of you have proven them right, I’m sorry to say).
If homosexuality is against the wishes of ‘God’, then let ‘God’ deal with them on judgement day. You have your own shit to worry about – after all, no one is "without sin", according to your very own bibles. Remember the story of Jesus and the adulterer in John’s Gospel? Try and remember what Jesus told the angry mob that wanted the woman stoned to death in that story.

Right now, YOU are that angry mob.

Stop the hate. Hate never wins.

[Full post, with comments, here.]

A few days later Andrew Mwenda wrote in the Independent, echoing my views with regards to the unintended consequences of the continuous exposure that homosexuality was receiving in the media, courtesy of those that worked incessantly to publicly vilify homosexuals:

As Red Pepper continued its publication of Mubiru’s pornographic pictures, the anti gay lobby was ridding unprecedented momentum. With a tidal wave of public anger on their side, the bill may now sail through parliament easily. Pastor Martin Ssempa took the initiative to launch his foray against gays – again making no distinction between sex acts between two consenting adults and those of adults with minors. To many inside and outside Uganda, the cause for gay rights seemed lost as the pictures incite the worst homophobia in years. Yet I think the best thing to have happened to the cause of gay rights in Uganda was Red Pepper publication of Mubiru pictures.

The best way to fight bigotry and prejudice is to generate public debate about the issue under contention. Constant conversation and debate about a contentious issue promotes the spread of knowledge which in turn fosters tolerance leading to acceptance. When any new idea is suggested, it is initially rejected, then debated, later accommodated and, sometimes, finally accepted.

This is what we learn from Galileo, when he first suggested that the world is round; or from Charles Darwin, when he published his theory of evolution. In both cases, their findings produced condemnation with the church leading the attack. After heated debate, people began to listen more, learn and understand. Today, most enlightened people believe the world is round.

It is for this reason that although the subjective motivation for MP David Bahati to introduce his anti-gays bill was bad for the gays, the objective outcome of his action will be good for gay rights in Uganda. The Bahati bill has generated the most debate on gay rights. With time, it will lead to tolerance and acceptance.

[Full article here.]

Martin Ssempa got wind of my widely circulated Facebook status update and also read Mwenda’s article. He then invited both of us to participate in a debate with him on Kingdom FM (where he hosts a regular talk show) to challenge us on our contention that the efforts of anti-gay activists like himself, rather than ‘curb’ homosexuality, were instead serving to promote tolerance of it.

I was in the studio with Ssempa during the debate. Andrew Mwenda participated via Skype (he was in Kigali at the time).

Download: Pastor Ssempa, James Onen & Andrew Mwenda Debate Homosexuality on Kingdom Radio – Jan 2nd 2013 (21.6mb)

[Duration: 1:34:44]


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