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Thursday, 26 March 2009

The “Ex-Gay” Star of the Uganda Anti-Gay Campaign

By Jim Burroway

I reported yesterday afternoon on the Uganda media circus surrounding the anti-gay activists who held a press conference, where an ex-gay by the name of George Oundo claimed to have spent a lifetime recruiting schoolchildren into homosexuality. The widespread media coverage of that press conference, along with Oundo’s fanciful statements, may well set the stage for yet another orgy of anti-gay violence and public vigilantism.

Timothy Kincaid followed that up with a report on a meeting held in Kampala on March 22, which featured more outlandish claims by George Oundo. That meeting set the stage for yesterday’s press conference.

Who is George Oundo?

I asked around among contacts in Uganda who wish to remain anonymous. The picture that emerges is both strange and disturbing.

George Oundo was known in Uganda’s tight-knit gay community as Georgina, a “flamboyant, no holds barred homosexual activist.” She had spoken at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2007, and she was known for being very outgoing and confident. But because of her “flamboyance” she drew considerable attention and was arrested by police numerous times.

There are reports that she also had some personal difficulties and, some say, was emotionally unstable. Whether it was because of her arrests, or whether she had problems beforehand, it’s unclear. Given what we know about police brutality and torture of LGBT citizens, the former is certainly plausible. She had a difficult time holding down a job, and was dependent on handouts from friends.

She was arrested again on September 10, 2008 along with Brenda Kiiza outside of Kampala for “recruiting homosexuals” — which is not a crime under Uganda’s criminal code. The Uganda constitution provides that suspects cannot be held for more than 48 hours, but she and Brenda were held for eight days and released only after their lawyer threatened to take the police to court. During their detention, they were reportedly beaten and denied food, and Oundo was denied treatment for her diabetes.

And that’s where the story gets really strange. On September 8, just two days before her arrest,Oundo appeared on the pages of the Uganda tabloid The Red Pepper. In this article, she appears with Kiiza talking about a previous arrest that they had experienced and the trouble they were encountering since then. In the article headlined “Stranded Gay Couple Pondering Suicide,” Ounda complains of being shunned by Ugandan LGBT activists, a charge that was denied by Victor Juliet Mukasa of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).

Red Pepper article featuring Georgina Oundo (Click to enlarge)

Red Pepper article featuring Georgina Oundo (Click to enlarge)

Red Pepper article from the 2006 vigilante campaign. (Click to enlarge)"

Red Pepper article from the 2006 vigilante campaign. (Click to enlarge)

What makes this appearance in the Red Pepper strange is that this was the very paper which had earlier been the instigator of previous anti-gay vigilante campaigns. The Red Pepper was notorious for publishing names and identifying details of gay Ugandans, calling on citizens to take action and for the police to round them up. Many gays in Uganda went into hiding or left the country to avoid getting caught up in the violence. Others saw their lives shattered as their identities were splashed across the pages of the Red Pepper. The paper’s reputation as the prime instigator of hatred and violence was firmly established in the gay community, both in Uganda and abroad.

So why did Georgina go to that particular paper to tell her story? It’s not as if the Red Pepper decided to turn over a new leaf in its coverage of LGBT issues. Look at this article from March 5, 2009, just as the anti-gay conference was getting underway:

MPs To Discuss Bum Shafting
Members of Parliament are set to discuss the rate at which bumshafters are slowly but surely entrenching themselves in Uganda, Red Pepper can exclusively reveal. The meeting which is to take place on March 5 at the parliamentary conference hall will be officiated over by the first lady Janet Kataha Museveni.

Snoops have seen an open invitation to all MPs in which the organizers of the meeting want the legislators to among other things understand the Gay movement’s agenda which is bent on destabilizing society. The MPs will also have to understand in detail the Gay blueprint for transforming this nation and also how Uganda can respond to the bumshafters’ secret agenda.

“This is an executive sensitization meeting themed ‘Exposing the truth about bum shafting and the homosexual agenda” part of an invitation seen by RP reads. Recently, State Minister for ethics and integrity Nsaba Buturo informed MPs at Imperial Royale hotel that a group of bum shafting leaning donor countries had approached him seeking for his nod to start funding and campaigning for bum shafting in Uganda, but he refused.

This vice of homosexuality has been reported in several institutions including churches, schools and high institutions of learning.

We don’t know why she chose to be interviewed and photographed by the Red Pepper, despite its well-earned enmity in the gay community. There are rumors — some pretty wild ones of jealousies, betrayals, recriminations and more — which need confirmation before we can repeat them. And that confirmation will undoubtedly be difficult to obtain, if not impossible. But it does appear that whatever Georgina’s motivations may have been, she became too dangerous for the besieged gay community. With her appearance in the hated Red Pepper, the gay community became suspicious of her.

And now, barely five months later, those suspicions are confirmed in the minds of many who knew her or knew of her. Georgina — now George — is back in the spotlight again, completing a journey that began on the pages of the Red Pepper last October.

These developments threaten to inflame an already tense situation in a country that has witnessed repeated campaigns of public vigilante acts and widespread extrajudicial detentions, beatings and torture of LGBT people. Oundo’s statements are particularly inflammatory, claiming that he had been trained and paid by foreign gay activists to recruit Ugandan schoolchildren into homosexuality. With statements like that receiving wide media attention, the ground is now well laid for a fresh round of violence against Uganda’s beleaguered gay community.

Complete BTB Coverage:
Mar 26: The “Ex-Gay” Star of the Uganda Anti-Gay Campaign
Mar 25: More on Uganda Anti-Gay Vigilante Incitement
Mar 25: Another Anti-Gay Vigilante Campaign May Have Begun In Uganda
Mar 23: Schmierer’s & Lively’s Uganda Talks Continue to Reverberate
Mar 17: Lively Defends Forced Therapy Proposal
Mar 16: Commentary: When Good Men Do Nothing
Mar 13: Sanctimony Alert
Mar 13: Scott Lively and Alan Chambers Respond to Questions About Uganda Conference
Mar 13: Exodus Applauds Schmierer’s Part in Uganda Conference
Mar 12: South African LGBT Advocates Condemn Exodus
Mar 12: Ex-Exodus Minister Condemns Uganda Conference
Mar 12: Ugandan Conference Leaders Call For Another Meeting While Pushing Pedophilia Theme; Exodus Continues Silence
Mar 11: Open Letter To the Exodus International Board of Directors
Mar 10: Scott Lively: The Gay Agenda Is “To Turn The Whole World Gay”
Mar 9: Exodus Removes Link To Scott Lively From Its Web Site
Mar 9: EU Group Condemns Ugandan Conference
Mar 8: Uganda Anti-Gay Conference: Day Three — Gays Blamed For Rwandan Genocide & Pedophilia; More Exodus Ties To Holocaust Revisionism
Mar 6: Uganda Anti-Gay Conference: Day Two
Mar 6: Exodus’ Silence About Uganda: Day Five
Mar 6: Exodus Board Member Participates In Uganda Conference Calling For Forcing Gays Into Conversion Therapy
Mar 5: Anti-Gay Conference Kicks Off In Kampala
Mar 5: Warren Throckmorton Speaks Out Against Uganda Conference
Mar 5: International LGBT Group Expresses Concern About Uganda Conference
Mar 2: Anonymous Ugandan Blogger Wants Answers From American Anti-Gay Activists
Feb 24: Exodus Board Member Joins Nazi Revisionist At Uganda Conference


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