Details are emerging that a story we published yesterday via the Changing Attitude blog in England may have been a scam. The story concerned the alleged murder of a youth worker for Integrity Uganda. We published it, in part, due to a quote in the story from Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, whom we know well enough to know that he wouldn't make up a murder. However, we didn't figure on the possibility that someone made up Bishop Christopher's quote. We now have confirmation that the quote was made up, and that the bishop is looking into the incident.
In the meantime, other details are emerging. Box Turtle Bulletin, which also published the story, is on the case:
Despite three sources providing some corroborating details, the veracity of this story has been called into question. Sources in the U.S. and Uganda now tell me that the young man whose beheaded body was found was not connected with Integrity Uganda, and that Bishop Christopher Senyonjo did not make the statement attributed to him by Changing Attitudes. The young man’s murder is no less horrific. But the connection to homophobia, for now, appears doubtful. I am still looking for more information and will provide updates as soon as I have them.
Update @14:45 PST: More fingerprints of a hoax are emerging. The Rev. Erich Kasirye, identified as the “General Secretary, Integrity Uganda” and who gave an extensive quotation that I reproduced in the original story about an LGBT activist’s beheading, appears to have exploited his connections with Integrity Uganda in a money-raising scam in 2004. He also absconded with the Kitemu Community Center, which had been built using funds from Integrity USA, by turning it over to the Anglican Church of Uganda while renouncing his connections with Integrity Uganda to church officials.
Update @ 1:45 EST 7/7/2010 - A message from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission underscores that in all likelihood the story is false.
Over the past one week, the SOGI list has been receiving reports from activists and media about the disappearance and murder of LGBTI people from Integrity Uganda. They are all very shocking reports indeed.
I have been in touch with the Chairperson of Integrity Uganda, Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo, officials from the Uganda LGBT Security Committee and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). All are doing investigations on the reported cases.
Speaking to the Bishop this morning, he told me that he is shocked by the news that is going around in relation to Integrity Uganda. He says that he is not aware of any disappearances or murder of any Integrity Uganda members. He says that he has read and listened to news in Uganda about a missing reverand, but not any Integrity Uganda members.
Regarding the reported murder of one Pasikali (said to be a member of Integrity Uganda), one of the reports on this list says, "Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, Chairperson of Integrity Uganda lamented the murder of this young man as 'absurd' adding that, ' clearly, the values of tolerance and social inclusion are sadly being sacrificed on the Alter of State ignorance, ineptness and good old colonial stupidity'." The Bishop has informed me this morning that he has not made any such comments and is not aware of the young man's murder.
Police are still investigating the whereabouts of the missing clergy.
For that matter, I would advise all of you who need clarification on the 'murder and disapperance' of Integrity Uganda members reported on the SOGI list and elsewhere, to contact Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo directly.
Research and Policy Associate for East, Central and Horn of Africa
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission