(The taster video illustrates the fervour and campaigning in Uganda that accompanied the proposal of the Anti-Gay Bill.)
Born Again in the United States of Uganda is the story of how well financed U.S. evangelicals, fundamentalists & neo conservatives conspired in the incitement of hatred against gays & how this led to the introduction of the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill to Uganda’s parliament. (See below for more information on the bill)
The documentary will explore how the U.S evangelical right invests heavily in financial and advocacy effort in influencing religious Africans to shun gay rights. We will follow LGBT activists and Anti-Gay religious activists as both groups battle to fight for their rights and beliefs.
The documentary’s director Samantha Asumadu carried out some initial filming in 2010 (Please see taster video for a short edit of this). She shadowed Bishop Kiganda (an anti-gay activist) and spent some time with Pastor Ssempa (an anti-gay preacher). She will return to these 2 characters and will film Ugandan LGBT activists as they proceed with their court case against Scott Lively for inciting hatred against homosexuals. Samantha will also visit the U.S and will conduct interviews to investigate the influence of ‘The Family’ ‐ a Washington-based extreme right, neo‐conservative Christian group populated by both democrat and republican senators on the Anti-Gay bill. They have been inextricably linked with Uganda since the 1990s when they teamed up with President Museveni to create the Uganda National Prayer Breakfast.
Scott Lively headed a conference in 2009 in Uganda, titled "Seminar on Exposing the Homosexual Agenda", in which he characterised the gay movement as an "evil institution". In the same presentation, Lively told audiences that homosexuals were a threat to children, committed child rape and "recruited" children into homosexuality.
Among the attendees, was Ugandan parliamentarian Hon. David Bahati. One month later, Bahati introduced the "Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill", which criminalised gay-rights advocacy, depriving LGBT activists of freedom of assembly, association and the right to be free of discrimination. It also called for the death penalty for being a "serial offender for the offense of homosexuality".
At the same time, Ugandan tabloids and state-owned media called openly for persecuting homosexuals in what became a major campaign against them. After a number of attacks against homosexuals, many went into hiding.
Uganda’s 2012 Anti-Gay Bill
Ugandan Member of Parliament, David Bahati has said the confusion over his the Anti gay Bill, which he introduced in 2009, resulted from ignorance about Ugandan parliamentary procedure. The new submission includes a decision to drop references to the death penalty, originally mandated for "serial offenders" or people found guilty of a number of other homosexual acts. Life imprisonment terms contained in the first bill have also been dropped.
"We are reducing the prison sentences to two to seven years. Even the life imprisonment is not there," adding that the bill would take into account what "other people say".
Julian Pepe Onziema, director of programmes at Sexual Minorities Uganda, was in parliament when Bahati reintroduced the bill. "It was really scary and traumatising, seeing MPs from the opposition camp and the incumbent camp cheering the bill and calling it 'our bill'," said Onziema, who is transgender.
The bill was shelved under international pressure but was reintroduced in October 2011.
What is clear: The American evangelical right invests as much financial and advocacy effort in influencing religious Africans to shun gay rights as do pro-gay rights western non-governmental organisations working in Africa.
Who is Involved
Samantha Asumadu is a British film director, producer and campaigner. In 2009 she directed ’The Super Ladies’ a documentary film for AlJazeera English about female rally drivers in Uganda. It was first broadcast in September 2009 and then in March 2010 and 2011 as part of their International Women’s day programming. She has worked on many projects in East Africa including BBC Panorama: ’Addicted to Aid’, ’Congo: Combating Illegal Mining of Coltan’ for Deutsche Welle, ’Acid Attacks in Uganda’ for Agency French Presse and has done breaking news interviews and filming for CNN, Sky News and France 24.
Pablo Navarrete is a British-Chilean journalist, researcher, editor and documentary filmmaker. He released his first feature-length documentary ‘Inside the Revolution: A Journey into the Heart of Venezuela’ in 2009. Before that he worked with John Pilger as the Venezuela researcher for Pilger’s documentary ’The War on Democracy’ In 2010 he produced 2 short pieces on Colombia for ‘Al Jazeera English’. He recently completed a feature documentary on Colombia’s civil war and the role of the US government and is currently co-directing a feature documentary on Venezuela’s ‘Hip Hop Revolucion’ movement. He has covered contemporary Latin American political issues for various media outlets, including ’Aljazeera English’, The Guardian, ’The New Statesmen’ and ’Counterpunch’.
I began filming Born Again in the United States of Uganda in 2010. Many months have gone into researching and investigating the background of this situation and getting to know the primary characters. Uganda is a complex country, a favourite of donors and the media alike. However I believe both the media and donors have only skimmed the surface of why this bill was introduced. I lived in Uganda for nearly three years and as a journalistic filmmaker I am committed to trying to find & tell the many-layered stories that are part of the country.
The anti-gay bill has been covered extensively in the international media – I will further investigate and explain that Uganda is not a country of crazies out to kill homosexuals (though there are a few people like that, the same as in the UK). International groups heavily influence both politicians and Pentecostal pastors. One of the reasons for this is these groups will finance them with very few questions asked how the money is spent. The LGBT community in Uganda show great fortitude in their attempts to defend themselves physically and fight for their rights as humans, however the battle is far from over.
The funding will finance the travel to and remaining filming in Uganda. This time I will be following the LGBT activists letting them tell the story from their point of view and taking a rare look into their lives which have been forced further underground by the hatred incited by the anti-gay bill. I will continue to film the religious leaders I have been following. I was meeting with a gay activist, in a safe place in Kampala. He was one of the few men ‘out’ in Uganda, however he was murdered in a hammer attack last year. This was said to be a domestic dispute with his partner. I will be able to employ a local camera crew, as I did for my first film. It will also fund the travel to and filming in the U.S in February 2013. I will be able to purchase archive footage of anti-gay meetings such as the one described above.
Plans for the film
The filming will be wrapped up by March 2013 and will then go into postproduction stage, which will take 3 months. I will be accepting offers from broadcasters in the U.K, U.S & Uganda to televise it. I will also be entering the film into the major mainstream festivals and hold a premiere in London, which you are all invited to!
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