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A bizarre trio of American anti-gay leaders arrived in the Ugandan capital of Kampala Thursday to stage a three-day seminar, “Exposing the Truth Behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda,” in a country where homosexuality is already a crime. They are:
• Caleb Lee Brundidge, a “sexual reorientation coach” for the International Healing Foundation, whose signature technique, as demonstrated on CNN, involves patients “beating on chairs with tennis rackets and screaming, “Mom, Mom, why did you do this to me?” Brundidge also counsels men struggling with their sexuality to visit mortuaries with a fringe Charismatic ministry team to “practice raising the dead.”
• Don Schmierer, a board member for Exodus International, an international umbrella group covering hundreds of “ex-gay” ministries. Schmierer warns parents in his guide to preventing homosexuality to watch out for boys who show “extreme macho behavior” are “frail, deformed, deaf” or “avoid fights/physical altercations.”
According to Steven Langa, executive director of the Family Life Network, the New York-based Christian right advocacy group that organized the seminar, Lively, Brundidge and Schmierer were called to Uganda because gay activists in that county are recruiting children to homosexuality.
That justification seems farcical, considering that death threats and the fear of state-sanctioned execution have forced gay rights activists in the African country underground. For decades, homosexuality in Uganda has been a crime.
Violent anti-gay attacks are common in Uganda, where fundamentalist Christians and Muslims filled a stadium last August for a rally demanding the mass arrests of gays and lesbians after a handful of activists wearing masks to protect their identities held a press conference to demand basic civil rights.
Two months later, the country’s Ethics and Integrity Minister, James Nsaba Buturo, announced plans to step up enforcement. “If someone is a homosexual or confesses to being a gay or lesbian, then he is a criminal,” Buturo said.
The Uganda seminar is proving controversial even among supporters of “ex-gay” therapy. Warren Throckmorton, a leading proponent of sexual orientation change, wrote in a blog post that he’s distressed by the appearance of the American speakers in Uganda: “It sends the wrong message for these people to go where the agenda is not simply congruence with religious teaching but also on state intervention in private behavior.”