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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]



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of a person charged under that law, and if anyone is ever charged, it is also highly likely that the law will be repealed in the constitutional court (seeing as it violates several already existing constitutionally guaranteed rights).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]

Related podcast:

I am the host of the morning show at 88.2 Sanyu FM here in Kampala… and on radio I am known as ‘Fatboy’. fbup (1)

I also produce a personal weekly podcast called Fatboy Unplugged, and in the most recent episode I evaluate – or rather, eviscerate – the common arguments put forward by those who support discriminatory laws against, and attitudes towards, homosexuals in Uganda.

Born Again in the United States of Uganda is the name of a documentary being produced and directed by Samantha Asumadu, who describes herself as a “documentary filmmaker, campaigner & sometime DJ”:

There is a web of entanglement between U.S. evangelicals, fundamentalists, conservatives and African clergy that exists to maintain a power structure and a severe homophobic agenda that serves the hard-core religious groups. This documentary will be the definitive film that shows that the American evangelical right invests heavily in financial and advocacy effort in influencing religious Africans to shun gay rights and that the Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill was an import from the West. Uganda is the test bed for Texas.

In the documentary, Samantha follows the religious fervor surrounding the push to get the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 passed:

She also captures a debate about the bill by members of Freethought Kampala, who believe that people should not be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. This was taped almost 2 years ago:

She hopes to complete the documentary soon. Looks interesting so far!

Samantha Asumadu’s e-mail:

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David Kato

Ugandan LGBT activist, David Kato, was found dead in his house on Wednesday 26th January 2011.

From the Daily Monitor:

Mr David Kisule Kato, 46, died after he was hit on the head by unknown assailants at his home in Mukono District on Wednesday. He died on his way to Mulago Hospital.

Detectives and scene of crime officers spent the day picking fingerprints on the furniture and interviewing neighbours of Kato.

Police said his attackers hit him with a hammer on the head at around noon on Wednesday before locking him in the house.

Deputy Police Spokesman Vincent Ssekate said they are taking the case seriously but asked the public to who have any information that may lead to the arrest of the suspects to contact them.

“Since the act happened during day, there may be people who saw the suspects entering the house. They should come and give us information,” he said.

Kato was listed among the 100 people suspected to be homosexuals in the country by the local tabloid Rolling Stone.

Asked whether they were taking it as an attack on minorities in the country, he said it is too early to reach that conclusion.

Residents told police that they saw a man who entered Kato’s house but he moved out dressed in victim’s shoes and a jacket that covered part of his face.

Their suspicions aroused, they told the police, and went to check on him in his house but found the door locked.

“They forced their way in and found Kato lying unconscious,” he said.

He later died as he was being transported to Mulago Hospital.

CNN has a report on this story, which includes a recent interview with the late Kato, who at the time of filming was already expressing fears about his safety:


Although most around the world see this as a hate crime, with many believing that exposure by the Rolling Stone (and its calls for Kato and 99 other homosexuals to be hanged) is what triggered the killing, it is still not yet clear what the motive behind the killing was. It could have been a hate crime, but it could also have been a theft/robbery gone bad, etc… We just don’t have all the facts for now. I do, however, condemn this murder in the strongest terms – regardless of why it was committed.

As the country grapples with the horror of this brutal killing, the death of David Kato will most likely to pave the way for more open discussions about homosexuals, whose rights Kato was a relentless advocate of. In fact, this is already happening. The Daily Monitor newspaper, the county’s second most widely circulated daily, today published an editorial piece called  ‘Can we talk honestly about homosexuality?’ In it, the editor writes:

Holding puritanical and extreme views on the matter, whether liberal or conservative, will divide us, rather than help us find a mutually acceptable compromise.

People like David Kato and others who might be gay are Ugandans and enjoy the same rights and protections of the law as heterosexuals. We cannot send them into exile neither, lock them away, or hang them.

We need to have an honest discussion about how to ensure that their rights are upheld without violating the rights of other Ugandans.

Peaceful and stable societies only emerge when we understand and try to accommodate those who are different from us, or who disagree with us – not by ostracising or killing them.

Well said, editor.

In the meantime we at Freethought Kampala offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and compatriots of David Kato.

He was a brave man – with the courage to stand up for his rights, and the rights of others, in face of the horrendous homophobia that has consumed Ugandan society in recent years. Many Ugandan gays and lesbians choose to remain anonymous out of concern for personal safety, so by bringing himself into the limelight, he risked it all… But he and others who have come forward have helped to put a human face to a hitherto invisible and faceless minority.

David Kato will not be forgotten, and those of us who, like him, recognise the importance of defending the fundamental human rights of others, should continue spreading the message of tolerance.

As Freethought Kampala we also consider it our obligation and mandate to publicly challenge the misinformation being disseminated, and lies being told, about gays and lesbians by local religious leaders. The widely discredited views of quacks like Scott Lively, Richard Cohen and David Cameron whose literature form the talking points of many a homophobic Ugandan politician, such as David Bahati or Nsaba Buturo, shall be exposed as such.

We will not stop.

The hatred must end.

Related Posts:

For a while now, a certain homophobe from Uganda called Maazi NCO (an alias) has been trolling the blog of an American psychologist called Warren Throckmorton, spewing nonsense and hateful garbage. I am a frequent visitor of Throckmorton’s blog because it usually has nice updates on the status of the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 – a bill I am 100% opposed to.

I had observed this particular Ugandan internet troll at work on Throckmorton’s blog for some time but last week I decided to engage him, after I reading one of his recent rants that annoyed me greatly.

For a test case in lack of logic and rationality as you’d expect from a homophobic person who thinks he’s smart, I invite you to take a look at our exchange. In this exchange, I logically, and step-by-step, decimate all of the frequent excuses for bigotry that are put forward by homophobic Ugandans.

The exchange occurs in the comments section of this post.

At, Jim Burroway discusses the story of the two Ugandan pastors (Ssempa & Male) who have been charged with conspiracy to injure the reputation of Pastor Robert Kayanja.

In the comments section, one of the readers (called BlackDog) posted a comment that I thought very accurately described the primary motivation behind the virulent homophobia being stoked by mainly Pentecostal pastors in Uganda. He wrote:

“If so, it makes them even more cynical and devious that I had previously thought. It’s one thing to support a draconian law because it supports your own misguided sense of morality. It is quite another to support and use that law in order to exploit public anti-gay animus to increase your own religious and political influence by eliminating rivals. That is truly despicable.”

It never was really about the gays, if you ask me. Oh, sure, lots of people in Africa hate gay people…this is something that mostly can be laid at the feet of American missionaries, too. But when it really comes down to it, it’s like this:

A lot of these pastors are Pentecostal. Pentecostals are often manipulative. For example, It was not uncommon to spend 58 minutes out of an hour arguing with my Pentecostal ex-wife, only to find out in the last two minutes what she really wanted…which was often only slightly related to the subject of the argument.

They tell you it’s about the gays, but it’s apparently about having a weapon they can use against their enemies (real and perceived) in their Pastor Wars. What it’s actually about is money and power. Among highly religious or uneducated people, Pentecostal pastors can live…and rule…like kings.

In a country where there’s a lot of Pentecostals and where the elite (See Janet Museveni for example) is receptive to Pentecostalism…to be the Last Man Standing in the Pastor Wars…would be like being a god walking on the Earth.

A false god, yes, but for all intents and purposes what does it matter if the masses can’t tell the difference?

That’s a prize guys like Martin Ssempa would do a lot of things to get, or even come close to. I don’t think it matters to them what the body count might be.

Talk about being spot on.

He added:

Also, certainly I would agree this is just another expression of the inquisition mentality.

Why is it, that people who want to do that sort of thing never seem to remember that it never works out for them in the long run? The medieval inquisitions led to the Reformation, and the Catholic Church lost a lot of power as a result. Witch-hunts in England led to at least one “Witchfinder General” falling victim to his own methods, the “Final Solution” while not a direct cause of the fall of Germany in WWII didn’t help matters in the end, and led to a whole new list of problems in the middle east later and the world is still dealing with that.

Why can’t people see that actions always have consequences? Are they that ignorant, or do they just not care?

If you ask me, I’d say they are ignorant, and short-sighted.

What these pastors don’t realise is that what they are doing will be the very undoing of the Pentecostal movement in Uganda. All indications are that the anti-homosexuality bill will not be passed. The Pentecostal pastors and other social conservatives behind this hateful anti-homosexuality campaign will have thereby proven themselves to be completely incapable of being the engine for ‘social change’ they had deluded themselves into thinking they’d be in this country.

Eventually, Ugandans will realise they have much better things to do than be bothered about what grown men/women do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

And in a few years, everyone will be wondering what the fuss was all about.

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According to Capital FM, Kenya:

Mr Odinga on Sunday said that police should arrest anyone found engaging in such behaviours and take appropriate legal action against them.

“We will not tolerate such behaviours in the country. The constitution is very clear on this issue and men or women found engaging in homosexuality will not be spared,” Mr Odinga said.

“Any man found engaging in sexual activities with another man should be arrested. Even women found engaging in sexual activities will be arrested,” the premier warned.

Speaking at a public rally at the Kamukunji grounds in his Nairobi’s Kibera constituency on Sunday afternoon, the Prime Minister cited the recent population census results which put the ratio of men to women equal and wondered why people should engage in homosexuality.

“This [homosexual] kind of behaviours will not be tolerated in this country. Men or women found engaging in those acts deserve to be arrested and will be arrested,” he told a hilarious crowd.

Sad, very sad. African countries should be moving towards repealing the archaic colonial laws that criminalise consensual sexual relationships between people of the same sex – not reinforcing the irrational cultural and religious prejudices that sustain them. In light of this, one can’t help but appreciate the way such matters have been handled in Rwanda, whose Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, said recently:

"the government I serve and speak for on certain issues cannot and will not in any way criminalize homosexuality; sexual orientation is a private matter and each individual has his or her own orientation – this is not a State matter at all."

..and indeed, it should never be. As long as what any two consenting adults do in private does not violate, or threaten to violate, the fundamental human rights of others, what they do should be nobody’s business, but their own.

Africa – stop the hate.

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It now comes as no surprise.

Evangelical pastors are often among the most homophobic, anti-gay public figures one might ever encounter, but in the end, its always the same result. For the more prominent ones, at some point, their dirty little secrets come pouring out and the world gets to see them for who they really are.


Here are examples:

  • Ted Haggard, who was pastor of New Life Church and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals was found, in 2006, to have been secretly visiting a male prostitute over a period of 3 years. In 2009 he admitted to a second homosexual relationship with a male church member, and has since declined to discuss his other homosexual relationships. Haggard is married, and has five children.
  • George Rekers, a far-right Christian leader, Baptist minister and member of the board of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), was in early 2010 photographed at Miami International Airport returning from an extended overseas trip with a twenty-year-old gay male prostitute.

The latest entrant in the string of scandals among anti-gay Evangelical pastors is one featuring Bishop Eddie Long.

The New York Times reports:

Two young men in Georgia said Tuesday that the pastor of a 33,000-person Baptist mega-church, Bishop Eddie L. Long, had repeatedly coerced them into having sex with him.

… and what do we know about Bishop Eddie Long? The New York times article continues:

Bishop Long is an outspoken critic of homosexuality and has been called by the Southern Poverty Law Center “one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement.” 

Long currently denies the charges against him.

Bishop Eddie Long

Bishop Eddie Long

This continuing trend of anti-gay pastors getting exposed proves one thing about them when it comes to homosexuality… he who preaches loudest, and judges harshest, is so very often the greatest offender of the thing he preaches so heavily against.

It would have been one thing for it to just be about these hypocrites. If it were, we would simply laugh them off as the clowns they are and paid no further attention. Sadly, its not just about them. Millions of LGBT people have suffered indescribable misery as a result of the vilification that homophobic preachers like Eddie Long and people like him in Uganda and elsewhere around the world have caused through their sustained public advocacy of bigotry.

Related posts:

George Rekers, a far-right Christian leader, Baptist minister and member of the board of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), was recently photographed at Miami International Airport returning from an extended overseas trip with a twenty-year-old gay male prostitute. (Get the full story here, and more commentary here).

The list keeps just getting longer doesn’t it? Every other day one of these prominent hateful religious bigots gets caught doing the very things they spend their lives vilifying others for.

Considering Uganda has more than its fair share of prominent hateful religious bigots isn’t it only fair for us to speculate about how many of them actually might be secretly..

You might want to read this.


The Daily Monitor reports:

A committee of Cabinet has made recommendations that could end Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s proposal to have a separate law punishing homosexuality in Uganda. The recommendations, which Saturday Monitor has seen, come close to dismissing Mr Bahati’s draft legislation.

Dr. James Nsaba Buturo isn’t very happy:

Dr Nsaba Buturo, the junior ethics minister, who has spoken fiercely against homosexuality, never attended this meeting. He has since complained to Local Government Minister Adolf Mwesigye, who chaired the committee, that the report did not reflect his views.

The article ends on an interesting note:

It was hoped, at least according to Dr Buturo, that the Cabinet committee would make certain amendments to the draft law. As it turned out, the committee critiqued Mr Bahati’s work so deeply that no amendments were proposed. Mr Mwesigye said on Thursday that he had no comment to make. Cabinet is yet to discuss the committee’s recommendations.

Things aren’t looking good for proponents of this egregious bill, are they?

Dr. Nsaba Buturo

Hate never wins.

Freethought Kampala

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