Uganda’s anti-gay “poopoo” pastor on the run

Pastor Martin Ssempa

Pastor Martin Ssempa

One of Uganda’s most notoriously homophobic figures is on the run after a US court issued a subpoena for him to testify in the case against American anti-gay extremist Scott Lively.

Lively is being sued for crimes against humanity in the US for his role in fuelling anti-gay sentiment and legislation in Uganda.

In April last year, Pastor Martin Ssempa, a US citizen living in Uganda, was subpoenaed by the court to testify in the case.

Ssempa, who was a key instigator and proponent of Uganda’s now annulled Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is known for his virulent anti-gay hate speech. He has reportedly worked with Lively since at least 2002.

In 2010, Ssempa, the senior minister of Makerere Community Church, made headlines with his unique strategy of showing extreme fetish gay porn at public meetings and press conferences to rally support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

He has claimed that gay people regularly eat each other’s faeces and famously ranted about “eating the poopoo” and “fisting”. In 2012, he appeared on Ugandan television wielding a banana to demonstrate to viewers the “unnaturalness” of gay sex.

Ssempa has refused to respond to the subpoena. He is being pursued by the Uganda law firm Onyango and Company Advocates, on behalf of the United District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The court recently published an advert in the New Vision newspaper advising him that he must testify in the US.

“As a United States Citizen, you are hereby notified that you have been subpoenaed to testify at a deposition in the civil action brought by sexual Minorities Uganda against Scott Lively in the United States district of Massachusetts Civil Action No. 3-12-CV-30051,” reads the notice.

The court stated that all travel costs associated with his testimony would be covered.

Last week, The Kampala Sun reported that Ssempa is being hidden by other pastors in their homes in order to avoid being served with the subpoena. It is believed he fears being arrested if he travels to the US.

Ssempa demonstrated "fisting" to an audience

Ssempa demonstrates “fisting” to an audience (YouTube)

Ssempa has been accused, along with Lively, of conspiring to “intentionally and severely deprive persons of fundamental rights on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The lawsuit against Lively was filed in March 2012 by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which allows foreign victims of human rights abuses to seek civil remedies in US courts.

Lively has told The New York Times that the suit is “as ridiculous as it gets” and said “I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue.”

Lively has also been active in countries like Russia. In 2007, he toured 50 cities in Russia recommending some of the measures that are now included in the country’s “gay propaganda” law.

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