A sexuality counseling expert is finding fault with a recent Uganda conference on homosexuality where church leaders and some of the guest speakers supported the criminalization of homosexuality and enforced therapy for gays.
Uganda-based Family Life Network hosted a conference on March 5-8 in Kampala that called parents and the community to oppose the homosexual agenda. It featured guest speakers, including a few from the United States, who offered insight on the causes of and treatment for homosexuality.
Among the American guests was Dr. Scott Lively, president of Defend the Family International, who reportedly said he supports the government of Uganda criminalizing homosexuality, but that subjecting homosexuals to therapy is better than imprisoning them, according to UGPulse.
Lively reportedly said the main goal was to help homosexuals recover and not to punish them.
But Dr. Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of Psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, finds it troubling that the American Christian leaders spoke at a conference that supports the criminalization of homosexuality and that none of them had reportedly publicly opposed the law. He noted that the people in charge of the conference called for stricter enforcement of laws against homosexuality.
"It is illegal to be homosexual in Uganda. There's also a category of homosexuality (act) that has a potential for life imprisonment," said Throckmorton to The Christian Post on Wednesday. "How often it is enforced is not clear."
But news reports have communicated that homosexuals have been interrogated by police, beaten, and some have sought asylum outside the country, he said.
"So it is a very difficult place for those who are same-sex attracted to be open about it," the sexuality researcher said.
Meanwhile, the American representatives from prominent U.S.-based ex-gay ministries, such as Exodus International and the International Healing Foundation, work in an environment where people can be open about their sexuality, Throckmorton pointed out.
"I think it's inappropriate to try to transplant American concepts of ex-gay ministry into an environment where you can't even go in and open yourself up to that kind of disclosure without some kind of risk," he said.
In response, Exodus International said it applauds its board member Don Schmierer, who attended the Uganda conference, for his effort to convey an "alternative message that encompasses a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality," according to a statement by Exodus International president Alan Chambers to The Christian Post on Wednesday.
Exodus says neither Schmierer nor the ministry agrees or endorses Uganda's criminalization of homosexuality law, imprisonment of homosexuals or compulsory therapy. Rather, the ministry says it "unequivocally denounces" the positions the government of Uganda has towards homosexuality.
As for Throckmorton, he also condemns the government of Uganda's criminalization of homosexuality. He argues that people "cannot be forced to believe" and the state should not use "coercive power" to try to "generate obedience to the Gospel."
Throckmorton, who holds the traditional Christian view that homosexuality is a sin, urges local churches in Uganda to lead the way in "implementing the Golden Rule" and to support freedom of conscience.
"I suspect they (Uganda churches) believe they are doing a good thing, but you can't really win someone over who fears and resents you," he said.