UPDATE: This post is based on reports that turned to have been a hoax. New reports can be found here.
There's disturbing and sad news out of Uganda today. The severed head of Ugandan LGBT rights activist Pasikali Kashusbe was found in a latrine on a farm in Uganda. Pasikali and his partner Abbey are youth workers with Integrity Uganda, a Ugandan LGBT rights group. The two organized young LGBT people in activities which helped them prepare and face the challenge of homophobia that they encounter living in Uganda.
Police identified the head as that of Pasikali Kashusbe, after his friends and family had been looking for him since he disappeared nearly four weeks ago during the time when Uganda celebrated Martyrs Day:
According to the police, a mutilated torso which was earlier in the week discovered in Kabuuma Zone, about half a kilometre away from Kiggundu's farm was probably Pasikali's The torso was described as belonging to a young man and had no genitals.
While details on the suspects and arrests in the case remain vague, the violent and horrific nature of this murder only further highlight the danger of being LGBT in Uganda that goes far deeper than the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill that captured world attention due to its draconian harsh punishments and death penalties for gay Ugandans and their allies.
Here is a news report from video report from NTV Uganda:
One cannot help but draw the connection between this violent murder and the recent calls for violence and bloodshed from American Evangelicals visiting Uganda in support of the "Kill the Gays" Bill. Evangelical extremist Lou Engle held a massive rally called "TheCall Uganda" in which he praised the Bill and called upon the government of Uganda to be firm and "hold on its righteous stand against the evil."
Engle has repeatedly encouraged his followers to be martyrs for their faith, calling homosexuality a "spirit of lawlessness" and called for "martyrs" to become "God's Avengers of Blood" to stop the "homosexual agenda" at all cost. Engle's bloody message makes no qualms about violence, including rhetoric like:
The most "dangerous terrorist" is not Islam but God. One of God's names is the avenger of blood. Have you worshipped that God yet?
It is this message that was exported to Uganda in early May. And it is a call that has been answered.
Lou Engle was the latest American Evangelical to go to Uganda. ABC Nightline News has a good piece on the Ugandan "Kill the Gays" Bill and the direct connection to the rabid anti-gay movement in the US. Three evangelicals from the United States - Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge, and Don Schmierer - held a three-day conference on homosexuality in Kampala, Uganda, in March 2009. Scott Lively, professional gay-hater, holocaust revisionist, and recognized hate group leader from the US, traveled to Uganda to whip up anti-gay animus in the country. Video of Lively at this conference shows him saying gay people were behind the Nazi holocaust and labeling all gay people as child molesters:
Pastor Martin Ssempa, one of the driving forces behind the growing anti-gay movement in Uganda, is not only pals with Rick Warren, but also has connections with the secretive political religious group "The Family", whose C Street House has been the focus of controversy after Mark Sanford and John Ensign's extra-marital affairs and who host the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC every year.
The ties between the anti-gay atmosphere in Uganda and American Evangelicals is deep and dark.
The dangerous climate in Uganda for LGBT people isn't disappearing as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill winds its way to what looks like defeat. The rhetoric used by proponents of the bill, including Americans like Lou Engle and Ugandans like Pastor Martin Ssempa, have sewn seeds for increased violence and bloodshed.
The danger isn't over if the bill gets defeated once and for at all. The effects of the debate surrounding it, and the deep ties and support from the American far right, will be felt for generations.
They have called for martyrs and bloodshed and gotten their answer.
Author's Note: It appears that some of the details about the motivation behind the violent beheading of Pasikali Kashusbe and his connection to LGBT rights group Integrity Uganda are still very much in question. A story that some connected to the beheading, the apparent disappearance of a Rev. Henry Kayizzi Nsubuga after what was reported to be a "pro-gay sermon", does indeed seem to be a hoax. I didn't include that side story in the original post for exactly that reason- it seemed odd and hard to corroborate. You can get the background on that story and how it is unfolding over at Box Turtle Bulletin, who is doing great work on the subject.
The actual beheading is not being called into question, just the motivations behind it. Read my update on the story here: New Questions Around Uganda Beheading, but Situation for LGBTs Remains the Same.