Pastor Martin Ssempa on Tuesday plumbed the depths of notoriety when he offered graphic images of gay sex as proof of the need for tough penalties against homosexuals.
But midway through his presentation, saved on a computer, most of his audience walked out, some visibly disturbed, leaving him to wonder if he had done anything wrong. The cleric seemed genuinely rattled when he asked: “Why should I be traumatised?”
One man, who was part of a group of American students invited to the press conference by Rubaga North MP Beti Kamya, was seen crying, his colleagues consoling him as the group left the National Theatre.
In the immediate aftermath of the presentation, which ended prematurely, Pastor Ssempa said he did not regret his actions. The press conference, the latest in a series of events he is holding in support of the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, had been called to unveil two Ugandans, a man and a woman, who say their homosexuality has been rehabilitated.
“I am Paul Kagaba, and I am a former homosexual,” the man declared. The woman, Sandrah Baggotte, a 19-year-old mother who says she became gay when she was 16, offered her baby as proof of her new life, while Kagaba says he is now happily married to a woman.
The duo had been brought to validate Pastor Ssempa’s argument that homosexuality can be cured, that gays are recruiting actively, and that “David Bahati is a hero” for proposing tough legislation against gays. The room was decorated with colourful anti-gay posters, including one that said: “Bahati Bill Made in Uganda for Ugandans.” The cleric, who let his two young sons attend the press conference, said the boys were free to make their own statements against homosexuality. “They represent those we need to protect… We are giving a red card to sodomy.”
Pastor’s Ssempa’s latest conduct represents a profound attempt to keep the anti-gay debate alive after President Museveni expressed opposition to Ndorwa West MP Bahati’s proposal of death or life imprisonment for gay sex. Mr Museveni recently said Uganda’s foreign policy was being hurt by anti-gay efforts at home.