Pope Blesses Anti-Gay Uganda Leader
Earlier this month, Pope Benedict XVI blessed the speaker of the Uganda Parliament after she lobbied for the country's anti-gay bill, which originally called for the death penalty for some gay acts and has received widespread international criticism.
As Pink News and others reported, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who vowed to pass the controversial measure as a "Christmas gift," was at the Vatican on Dec. 13 to meet the Pope and to attend, of all things, a human rights conference. Kadaga also received a blessing during a mass.
"I think it is something that I will remember all my life. It's a very great moment and I thank God for this opportunity," Kadaga said soon after she met the pope.
The measure is currently before Uganda's parliament. The Associated Press reported that Kadaga is one of its biggest champions.
She has said that the country's citizens "are demanding it" and that gay men and women pose a "serious threat" to Uganda's children. Gay activists fired back at the politician in a petition in which they wrote, "Speaker, we cannot sit back while such (a) destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation. We therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring this matter to your attention as the leader of Parliament ... so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation."
Pepe Julian Onziema, a leading Ugandan gay activist, told AP that the support for the anti-gay bill was frustrating. "It's disappointing, but we are also going to seek a meeting with the speaker," Onziema said, adding that it was highly unlikely she would agree to such a gathering.
U.S. President Barack Obama has called the bill "odious."
Uganda's penal code currently bans homosexuality but in 2009 the country's ruling party said there needed to be stricter laws in order to "protect" Uganda's children from the LGBT community.
U.S. Christian Involvement in Bill
One of the biggest supporters of the anti-gay bill is American pastor Scott Lively, who has visited Uganda several times in order to promote the measure. Many observers believe he co-wrote it and was the impetus behind it.
Despite his controversial past MassLive.com, a Western Massachusetts news site, reports that Lively is considering running for governor of Massachusetts. Lively said in early November that he most likely will launch a campaign for the 2014 election.
"I'm probably 90 percent sure that I'm going to do it, but I'm holding back that 10 percent," Lively said. He went on to say that he is not sure, however, if he will run as an independent Republican, or Democrat. "The third option is probably the least likely," and added that he is "greatly dismayed at the breakdown of family and morality" in Massachusetts.
"A lot of people were really happy with the idea," Lively said. "Really, the first step is determining whether the conservative activists will get involved. Because if they don't, you really have no base and no chance."
The Christian evangelist is in the middle of a federal court lawsuit which claims that he committed crimes against humanity in Uganda. The Sexual Minorities Uganda, a gay rights group, is suing Lively. It claims the pastor's ministry "stirred up anti-gay hysteria in the conservative, violence-riddled African nation by speaking there since 2002 on ways to sway gays 'back' to heterosexuality," MassLive notes.
The lawsuit also says Lively conjured up violence against gay activists in the African country but the pastor is confident and says the plaintiffs cannot win.
"I've always said I wouldn't run for public office because I wouldn't want to take the abuse. But I've already taken the abuse," Lively said. "I had a much thinner skin when this all started."
One things' for sure: Lively has been very vocal in his support for Uganda's anti-gay bill. Once the measure was revised and the death penalty was dropped, he wrote a piece for the ultra-conservative website World Net Daily, in which he said that he believes "there may be room for tentative support in the Christian community in the West, even though it retains jail terms for offenders."
He goes on to list reasons why Christians should support the measure and cites the Bible because it "has always defined homosexuality as a crime." He goes on, "the fact is, Ugandan law is typical of most African law in that it tends to be very harsh in the letter, but very lenient in the application. I doubt very much that anyone arrested under the new law (if it passes) will receive anything close to the jail terms allowed for in the bill."
Gay activists in Uganda aren't the only people who oppose Lively. Earlier this month straight blogger Al Stefanelli named him "douchebag of the year," and wrote, "Lively and Co. have been working for years for this award, and is one of the few United States citizens that have successfully lobbied for some of the most hate-filled, bigoted and despicable pieces of legislation against the LGBT community in a foreign country"
Ugandan Views of Homosexuality
In related news, Martin Ssempa, a Uganda pastor who has been a strong supporter of the country's gay death penalty, responded to a local teen on Twitter. "I need help with diapers for many sodomy victims who are no longer continent," was Ssempa's words of help for the confused teen. "Please consider a Xmas donation. Get biggest size."
Ssempa has also infamously told national audiences that one of the common sex acts among gay men is eating human feces.