A prominent board member of the “ex-gay” group Exodus International spoke at a conference in Uganda last week, where activists vowed to “wipe out” homosexuality through police action, forced re-education, life imprisonment, and vigilantism.
Exodus President Alan Chambers (pictured) enabled the hate by doing nothing to stop the conference. The following is a timeline of the call for human rights abuses that took place on Chambers’ watch.
Prior to the conference, organizer Stephen Langa met with Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, Holocaust revisionist and European hate-group co-founder Scott Lively, and Ugandan members of parliament, to coordinate their political statements in and surrounding the conference.
As the conference began, according to human-rights observer Victor Mukasa:
Stephen Langa said that homosexuality is a big problem and the existing laws that criminalize gay people [with a sentence of life in prison] are not good enough. He kept referring to the recent victory in the case Victor Mukasa and Yvonne Oyo vs. Attorney General as one that gay activists are going to keep using to promote their agenda.
Kasha Jacqueline told me that Stephen Langa was telling immense lies, claiming that gay rights activists recruit young people into homosexuality. Langa testified that he knows 2 girls at a particular boarding school who were given a lot of money by gay activists in Uganda to recruit their colleagues into lesbianism. He claimed that by the end of the year, they had managed to recruit 13 friends, all of whom were given money to recruit others.
According to Mukasa, Schmierer told his audience:
one of the biggest causes of homosexuality is the lack of “good upbringing” in families‚Äîchildren should be brought up in proper Christian ways.
Schmierer blamed families for homosexuality, parroting the disproven Exodus claim that:
56% of homosexuals experience abuse and violence in their families during their childhood. The abuse leads to pain, anger and hatred in the life of a child and this turns them into homosexuals. He emphasized that “good” family values play a big role in preventing homosexuality in children and encouraged parents to ensure that these values are observed in their families.
Exodus International affirmed the conference’s political policies on March 6 when Exodus board member Don Schmierer referred attendees’ questions about homosexuality to his co-presenters and implied to attendees that Exodus was in concurrence with his co-presenters’ antigay policies. According to Mukasa:
The workshop started with a recap of the first day of the conference. Participants were asked to share what they had learned or what captured their attention. Kasha Jacqueline told me that the first participant had nothing else to say except, “Homosexuals are sick and dangerous.” In response, she raised her hand and asked, “What disease was discovered yesterday that you claim they are suffering from?”
After someone claimed that homosexuality is unnatural, Kasha asked, “Who decides what is natural?” Schmierer responded directly to the second question saying that his role at the workshop involves teaching about family values; other facilitators would answer questions about homosexuality being unnatural later in the conference.
Qui tacet consentit — silence implies consent.
While he abdicated his responsibility to defend human rights and to express Exodus’ opposition to any policies with which it disagreed, Schmierer eagerly responded to audience questions about the causes of sexual orientation by blaming parents for their children’s sexual orientation. He accused them of bad parenting.
The conference aired blame-shifting, anti-parent testimonies of Exodus ex-gay activists in the United States as a means to substantiate the conference’s claim that homosexuals can be cured through forcible religious and ideological re-education and, if that fails, then life imprisonment, Uganda-style:
A film was shown during the session before lunch featuring “ex-gay” Americans testifying about how they were “cured” of homosexuality. All described abuse and violence in their families during childhood and poor relationships with one of their parents. All were “born again Christians” who had “healed” from homosexuality.
Attendees were left confused by Exodus’ effort at parent-bashing and especially by the U.S. ex-gays’ blame games against their families; Exodus’ propaganda about bad parenting fueled the notion that gay people are incestuous:
One of the “ex-homosexuals” on the film testified that he had a poor relationship with his father. This led him to wanting to be with men looking for a father’ love. After the film one participant asked, “If he was looking for a father’ love from men, how did those relationships turn sexual? Would he have become sexual with his own father had they had a good relationship?”
No one in attendance seemed to ask an obvious question: If parents are to blame for sexual orientation, then shouldn’t they be subject to Ugandan life imprisonment and forcible “therapy” (re-education) along with their gay family members?
Unfortunately, as the conference proceeded, organizers increasingly prevented gay attendees and their supporters from questioning presenters’ self-contradictions and from alleviating other attendees’ confusion.
Caleb Lee Brundidge, of Richard Cohen’s evangelical ex-gay International Healing Foundation, spent the afternoon of March 6 contradicting himself while avoiding discussion of his use of pseudo-Christian magic rituals and cemetery seances to exorcise homosexuals and raise the dead out of their graves.
An LGBTI activist told me that Caleb was contradicting himself. “First he testified that he didn’t have a good relationship with his father. Later, when a participant noted that there are a lot of homosexuals that she knows that come from great families and have good relationships with their parents, Caleb interjected and said that he had a great relationship with his father. That was contradictory!”
During the question and answer time after Caleb’ story, LGBTI activists were not picked to speak. Denis, an LGBTI activist from Ice Breakers Uganda said, “It looks like they have identified the homosexuals in the workshop. We raised our hands but they did not pick us again. Kasha was openly asked to “give other people a chance to participate.’ That was strange because some of the people that were being picked to pose questions or comment had been picked many more times than Kasha or the rest of us had been picked. I feel annoyed because I had a lot to say that was based on facts and not lies.”
Bishop Dr. Christopher Ssenyonjo shared the same sentiments. He said to me, “These people do not want to hear that there are other causes of homosexuality beyond “poor family values.’ They don’t want to hear about genetic causes of homosexuality. I feel that they are destroying the family further as there is going to be more misery for a homosexual child in a family because their teaching refers to it as a disease, a sin and a loss of morals. As a student of human sexuality, I cannot throw away the genetic factor. I walked up to one of them and asked them about genetic causes of homosexuality. He told me that “studies are not conclusive.’ Especially if they are not conclusive, then there is another side.”
On March 7, Lively aired his notorious Holocaust revisionism and attempted to sell copies of his neo-Nazi book The Pink Swastika to Ugandan attendees. Lively’s book has been scrutinized by Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin. Lively’s book implicitly exonerates Germany’s anti-Semitic Christian majority (including Joseph Ratzinger, then an unenthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth movement and now Pope Benedict XVI) from responsibility for the rise and rule of the Nazi Party. Lively instead falsely claims that Nazi Party leaders were homosexual, while failing to explain why a Nazi Party supposedly controlled by homosexuals would supposedly target antigay Jews but not antigay Christians. Lively repeatedly contradicts himself regarding Hitler’s own sexual orientation. Lively then excuses the death of more than ten thousand homosexual Europeans in Nazi concentration camps, falsely claiming that they weren’t really gay or that they were effeminate.
Ironically, Lively uses propaganda reminiscent of neo-Nazis to distance himself and the German people from complicity with Nazi authority and with Nazi scapegoating of those — Jews, gypsies and homosexuals — who would eventually be exterminated. Jim Burroway notes:
…It was a common practice in Germany’ political culture to charge that one’ political opponents were overrun by homosexuals. Before coming to power, Nazis themselves used this tactic against the Wiemar Republic as well as against their Bolshevik and Socialist opponents. And they weren’t alone. Social Democrats, Conservatives, Bolsheviks, Socialists, Liberals and Centrists all used the same charges against the Nazis, as well as against each other, often with little or no reality behind the charges.
Lively expanded upon his strategy of blame-shifting and scapegoating when, at the antigay conference, he transferred blame for the 1994 Rwanda genocide from the tribal Hutu Power ideology (which sought the extermination of the Tutsi tribe) to the allegedly murderous impulse of all same-sex-attracted persons, who comprise a tiny, powerless, and irrelevant minority in Rwanda.
According to Frank Mugisha, another human-rights advocate, Lively apparently contradicted himself during his conference presentation, regarding the origins of sexual orientation: He said that it is not clear whether homosexuality is genetically caused or not — but then he maintained that homosexuals are those who self-define themselves that way. Lively equated same-sex attraction with pedophilia — the sexual abuse of children — and asserted that the gay equality movement consists largely of “predatory homosexuals who are always out to satisfy their sexual desires” with “young people.”
Lively said that the gay equality movement was trying to equate tolerance (or “putting up with what you do not want”) with acceptance. He claimed that until “the gays took over the clinics” there were very effective treatments for homosexuality. Lively apparently offered no evidence and no specifics; presumably he was referring to failed (and expensive) electro-shock and aversion therapies which were abandoned decades ago by mainstream mental-health communities due to ineffectiveness and counterproductive results.
Previously, when he spoke in Novosibirsk, Russia in 2007, Lively excused the murder of Satendar Singh in Sacramento. Singh was a 19-year-old gay Fiji man who was murdered by Russian immigrants. The Russian audience broke into cheers and applause as Lively described Singh’ murder.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission monitored and responded to the conference. According to UK Gay News:
“The American religious right is finally showing its hand and revealing the depth of its support for homophobia in Africa,” IGLHRC’ executive director Cary Alan Johnson said this afternoon.
“This seminar will increase violence and other human rights abuses against LGBT people, women and anyone who doesn’t conform to gender norms. This newest form of colonialism is deplorable and must be stopped.”
Ugandan Bishop Dr. Christopher Ssenyonjo said the conference adds to misunderstanding about human sexuality.
“This workshop is going to bring more conflict, greater hostility, increased intimidation,” he said. “We need love … in the long run, love will overcome.”
Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin commented on Exodus’ collaboration with Lively:
This is particularly dangerous in an environment [Uganda] where gays and lesbians have been hunted, tortured, and forced into hiding during several spates of officially-sanctioned and media-led vigilantism ‚Äî the very same dynamics, ironically, which led to the Rwandan genocide.
Ex-gay movement pundit Warren Throckmorton has further criticized Exodus International leadership for putting the lives of gay people and would-be ex-gays in Uganda at increased risk for their lives, as the conference affirmed laws and legislative proposals that detain and imprison anyone who comes forward with an admission of same-sex attraction.
In conjunction with the conference, Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity Dr. James Nsaba Buturo declared that new legislation will expand the nation’s prosecution of homosexuality, which already carries a penalty of life imprisonment. Buturo claimed that pornography causes homosexuality. He vowed that the new legislation will be expanded to enlist schools and churches in escalated vigilantism against same-sex-attracted persons.
Since 2008, antigay politicians have sought legislation to make same-sex attraction — not merely behavior — punishable by life imprisonment. Buturo and Stephen Langa appear to support that legislation, modified to mandate forcible ex-gay re-education.
Scott Lively, meanwhile, defended the nation’s criminalization of same-sex attraction but said that homosexuals should first be subjected to ex-gay brainwashing prior to any move to imprison them. Lively further declared that gay youths should be forcibly detained and re-educated.
Stephen Langa’s Family Life Network — organizer of the conference — encouraged the spread of HIV/AIDS in Uganda by discouraging the use of condoms among sexually active Ugandans, and by encouraging the detention and imprisonment of Ugandans who practice sexual honesty and responsibility.
Also in connection with the conference, Kampala antigay activists vow to respond March 15 with a followup initiative to “wipe out” gay practices in a nation that already subjects homosexuals to life imprisonment and extrajudicial execution.
- Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and Exodus International president Alan Chambers were cautioned in advance, not to participate in the conference. They were warned that conference organizers and allies had a history of promoting violence, imprisonment, and fraudulent magic rituals against gay, lesbian, and transgender people. Both Chambers and Schmierer declined to reverse course and withdraw Schmierer from the conference.
- Schmierer met with conference planners and Kampala’s antigay politicians immediately prior to the conference to coordinate the conference’s message and related political actions.
- Schmierer referred audience questions about homosexuality to Langa, Lively, and Brundidge, and despite three days of opportunity, made no effort to put Exodus on record against the conference’s message of forcible re-education, imprisonment, parent-bashing, magic rituals, neo-Nazi scapegoating, and implicit threats of Rwandan-style violent retaliation against homosexuals. Schmierer allowed Lively to use Exodus’ support of the conference to legitimize his holocaust revisionism in both Nazi Germany and Rwanda.
- The European Parliament’ Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights strongly condemned the meeting of March 5 between several Ugandan parliamentarians and Lively, Schmierer, Brundidge and Langa as an effort to further diminish the human rights and safety of Ugandans.
- Despite previous protests by critics, Exodus International’s web site promoted Scott Lively’s Pink Swastika, a neo-Nazi solution to homosexuality, for several years until Exodus removed the link without explanation on or about March 9, after Truth Wins Out, Box Turtle Bulletin and Ex-Gay Watch condemned Exodus’ affirmation and collaboration with Lively in Uganda. But far from repudiating Lively, Exodus merely states, “This opinion article by Scott Lively from 1995 is no longer offered by Exodus International.”
- Despite numerous requests over the past 10 years, Exodus International has refused to publish official policies that would explicitly oppose criminalization and forcible “ex-gay” therapy. Meanwhile, Exodus allies and donors have been shown to support both harsh sentencing of gay people and involuntary detention in ex-gay residential facilities.