The long awaited anti-gay workshop featuring some of the most virulent homophobes from the U.S. religious right started today at the Triangle Hotel in Kampala. The workshop, which is scheduled to last 3 days, attracted about 50 participants, including counselors from schools and churches, students, clergy and representatives from NGOs and Christian organizations. Five participants attended on behalf of the LGBTI community.

The workshop began at 8:30 a.m. after a meeting between Stephen Langa, leader of Family Life Network (the Ugandan organization hosting the workshop), his American guest speakers and Ugandan members of parliament.

Most of the morning session was focused on the objectives and anticipated results of the workshop. Participants were asked to share their expectations with the group and were given an opportunity to ask questions that they wanted answered. Participants repeatedly asked to receive tips on how to “deal with homosexuals” and “how to heal homosexuals.” Facilitators told them to wait—their questions would be answered by the end of the 3-day workshop.

The outspoken Kasha Jacqueline, leader of the lesbian organization, Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), asked, “Why do you think that homosexuality is a problem? I want to know that by the end of the workshop.” Bishop Dr. Christopher Ssenyonjo, ally and supporter of the LGBTI struggle in Uganda, added, “I want to know why homosexuals do not want to stop being homosexuals.” They were both promised answers in due course.

In response to these questions, someone called Harry from the Family Life Network acknowledged the presence of “practicing homosexuals” in the room. Stephen Langa said that homosexuality is a big problem and the existing laws that criminalize gay people 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.

Kasha was incensed by these claims: “To be sincere, I have spent a long time as a leader in the gay struggle in Uganda and sometimes we cannot afford to do our advocacy work because of lack of funds,” she said. “How then can we give out money for recruitment. That’s not logical and it is a huge lie he was telling to Ugandans.”

The rest of the workshop was dominated by Don Schmierer, a member of the board of the American “ex-gay” organization, Exodus International. His presentation was focused around his understanding of family morals and values. He told participants that one of the biggest causes of homosexuality is the lack of “good upbringing” in families—children should be brought up in proper Christian ways.

He said 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.

Caleb Lee Brundidge, affiliated with Extreme Prophetic Ministry in Phoenix, Arizona, is expected to speak tomorrow while Scott Lively, founder of Abiding Truth Ministries and Defend the Family International, will speak on Saturday. LGBTI activists attending the workshop anticipate that the next 2 speakers will be very provocative as they spread anti-gay propaganda.

Victor Mukasa