Uganda: “Ex-gay” anti-LGBTQ law champion arrested for homosexuality

Elisha Mukisa claims that young people are being "recruited" into homosexuality in Uganda

Elisha Mukisa’s elaborate and dangerous claims that young people are being “recruited” into homosexuality in Uganda have been widely accepted without question (Image: COU Family TV / YouTube)

In a tragically ironic twist, an individual who championed Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act while claiming to be an “ex-gay” has now found himself targeted by the very law he supported.

Elisha Mukisa and another man are facing charges of engaging in homosexuality between December 2022 and July 2023, as reported by local media.

The two men appeared in a Kampala court on Tuesday. They denied the charges and were remanded in jail pending their next court appearance. If found guilty, the men face life in prison or even the death penalty.

Mukisa gained notoriety in Uganda for presenting himself as not only an “ex-gay” but also a firsthand witness to alleged recruiting practices into homosexuality. Earlier this year, he appeared alongside prominent proponents of the anti-LGBTQ legislation in Parliament, portraying himself as a “former victim” of homosexuality.

In addition to featuring in several other videos, in October 2022, Mukisa shared his journey of being “saved” from homosexuality in a YouTube interview, attributing his transformation to his born-again Christian faith.

Despite previously having himself spent almost six years in jail on child sex abuse charges, he claimed that as a schoolboy, he was enticed to a human rights NGO with promises of money, supposedly by an “agent” paid to “recruit” children into homosexuality.

Mukisa alleged, “I realised they were actually trying to indoctrinate… their lies that being gay is a human right and that somebody was born gay.”

According to him, he and other boys were shown gay pornography by the NGO and were then compensated to appear in explicit sex videos that were allegedly filmed in “shelters.”

These outlandish claims were exploited to advance the narrative that young Ugandans are being groomed and exploited by human rights NGOs and LGBTQ community members, thereby justifying the need for anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Dr Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan human rights defender who was the subject of some of Mukisa’s allegations, expressed disappointment that his unsubstantiated claims were accepted unquestioningly by politicians.

“The [anti-homosexuality] law in its entirety was based on cheap and unfounded claims and his conspiracy theories,” Mugisha told Monitor, adding that it was perplexing how someone with a history of assaulting minors could gain an audience with Ugandan legislative figures to propagate fear and hate that led to the enactment of the law.

Signed by President Yoweri Museveni in May, the Anti-Homosexuality Act has sparked global outrage. It imposes severe penalties, including life imprisonment for engaging in homosexual acts, the death penalty for “aggravated” homosexuality, and a 20-year prison sentence for advocating LGBTQ+ rights.

Even landlords can face up to seven years in prison if they knowingly allow their premises to be used for homosexual activities.

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