Uganda: Martin Ssempa to stage rally in support of anti-gay law

Preacher claims Museveni will attend, but spokesperson won’t confirm

A Ugandan pastor known for his vociferous anti-gay lectures says he is organizing a rally March 24 in support of the recently enacted anti-gay law that further criminalizes homosexuality in the African country.

According to a report in The Daily Monitor, Martin Ssempa says the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni, has reportedly confirmed he will be among the participants, but a spokesperson has declined to confirm Museveni’s attendance at the demonstration, which is scheduled to start at Makerere University and end at Kampala Airport.

The Monitor quotes Ssempa as saying, “We stand by our President and our Parliament for enacting the law. This is a day to say no to sodomy.”

Several human rights activists and civil society groups in Uganda are part of a coalition that has filed a constitutional challenge against the anti-gay law, saying it violates fundamental rights and noting that there was a lack of quorum in parliament at the time of the measure’s passage.

After Museveni assented to the measure, a number of European countries announced they would withdraw or reroute aid to the country, while the World Bank has withheld a multimillion-dollar loan pending review.

French telecommunications company Orange also indicated it will not renew its advertising contract with the Ugandan Red Pepper newspaper, which is infamous for outing people who are gay or believed to be gay.

Ssempa has threatened to “mobilize the masses” to boycott the products of companies that support gay people, The Monitor notes.

The European Parliament also recently passed a resolution condemning both Uganda’s and Nigeria’s enactment of homophobic laws, with members calling for the implementation of travel and visa bans against “the key individuals responsible for drafting and adopting these two laws.”

Members also want a review of aid strategies aimed at the two countries, with an emphasis on redirecting assistance to civil society organizations, as opposed to withdrawing it altogether.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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