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Truth Wins Out Calls On Uganda To Investigate Anti-Gay Activist Martin Ssempa On Possible Charges of Extortion, Perjury, and Fraud
Gay Man Claims Ssempa Paid Him To Say He Was 'Ex-Gay'; Ssempa's 'Ex-Gay' Also Testified in Favor of Anti-Homosexuality Bill Under What Appears to be Coercion and Duress
BURLINGTON, Vt. - Truth Wins Out today called on Ugandan authorities to investigate anti-gay activist Martin Ssempa for potential extortion, perjury and fraud, following the New York Times' discovery that Ssempa may have paid and pressured a witness to give false testimony in favor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
In a last ditch effort to bring the "Kill the Gays" bill up for a vote, Ssempa brought so-called "ex-gay" activist George Oundo to a meeting with the speaker of Parliament, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi. In the meeting, Oundo said that he had gone from gay-to-straight and strongly urged the speaker to pass the notorious measure.
However, with Ssempa no longer present, Oundo reversed his testimony and told New York Times reporter Josh Kron that he was paid by Ssempa to say he had gone straight and actually opposed the anti-gay bill. Clearly, there appears to be coercion, if not extortion involved, given Oundo's quick repudiation of his testimony and his allegation that he was paid for delivering a bogus sexual conversion tale.
"Clearly, something stinks in Martin Ssempa's corrupt campaign to get a vote," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "Ugandan authorities should immediately launch an investigation of Ssempa to find out if he has engaged in coercion or illegal activity in pursuit of passing the Anti-Homosexuality bill."
Mr. George Oundo, 26, a transgender person who used to go by the name Georgina, went next. (testifying to Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi)
"I used to call myself the Queen Mother and Lady of the City," Mr. Oundo said. "I was recruited into homosexuality many years back, when I was 12."
"When I joined Mr. Ssempa, I told him all my problems," he said. "I had to come out and join the struggle.
"Please help us; let the bill pass," he said.
But an hour later, in a quiet hotel, Mr. Oundo recanted much of what had been said at the meeting.
"David Kato was murdered; it was a plot," Mr. Oundo said. "I don't support the bill."
As for being a "former homosexual," that, too, was not true.
"I've always been gay," Mr. Oundo said, in a timid but growing voice. "I didn't choose it."
"David Kato was the first one who taught me to protect my human right," Mr. Oundo added.
Mr. Oundo said that his presence alongside Mr. Ssempa at Parliament had been to "protect" himself and that he had been contacted only that morning by Mr. Kagaba about the meeting and offered about $42 to attend. He said Mr. Ssempa had offered him about $2,000 in 2009 to repent and switch sides in the debate, but later reneged. Either way, Mr. Oundo became a poster-child for Mr. Ssempa's anti-homosexuality movement.
Mr. Ssempa declined to comment on the allegations.
Mr. Oundo admitted that he had picked up boyfriends at high schools and universities, what the antigay movement calls recruiting. But he said Uganda's gay population was full of "natural-borns," like himself.
"If I live or die, I am gay, and if I am buried, bury me gay," he said.
"It is clear that George Oundo came under an inordinate amount of pressure to lie about his sexual orientation and suppress his actual position on the this bill," said TWO's Besen. "Ugandan officials should question Ssempa to see if blackmail, extortion or fraud led to Oundo's false testimony. If it is determined that Ssempa lied or forced Oundo to lie at any time under oath, he should be charged with perjury. Martin Ssempa should not be above the law."
Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.