“We are at war with the Devil”: Politics of exclusion of LGBTI groups amongst conservative Christian groups in Uganda

As part of the Lunchtime Seminar Series, the African Centre for Migration & Society presents a seminar by Dr. Barbara Bompani; Associate Professor in African Development and Director of the Centre of African Studies at the School of Social and Political Science, the University of Edinburgh. The rise and political action of Pentecostal-charismatic communities have, in the past decade, impacted upon the very nature of Ugandan politics, firmly integrating morally aligned perspectives into public policy. The impact of Pentecostal discourses in the country is in particular laid bare around issues of sexuality and morality. The Anti-Pornography Act, the Marriage and Divorce Bill, and the Anti-Homosexuality Act briefly approved in December 2013 and then nullified by the The Ugandan Constitutional Court in August 2014, are intrinsic to this public moralisation and religiously driven public action. Since suffering isolation and persecution during Idi Amin’s era, Pentecostal-charismatic churches (PCCs) have grown rapidly over the past three decades.

Alongside their numerical growth their political and public participation has increased and is now very visible. In particular, Pentecostal-charismatic leaders have focused their energies on articulating the immorality of homosexuality, which they often present as a Western import that clashes with African and Christian values. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex (LGBTI) communities have become, in the Pentecostal imaginary, the sinful dangerous Other, the non-African influence that is corrupting the nation and its future, and that must be excluded. Drawing from fieldwork in four Pentecostal-charismatic churches in Kampala as well as media and policy analysis, this presentation will critically investigate issues of exclusion, danger, urgency, morally-framed public action, sexual citizenship and social pollution intrinsic in Ugandan Pentecostal narratives and theological understandings to provide an overview of why and how those relatively new religiously-driven actors became so active and influent in contemporary Ugandan life.


Dr. Bompani is an Associate Professor in African Development and Director of the Centre of African Studies at the School of Social and Political Science, the University of Edinburgh. Dr Bompani’s work focuses on the intersection between religion, politics and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. For several years, her research has investigated religious organisations, their public role and socio-political action in post-apartheid South Africa. She has also been involved in a research project looking at Christian churches in Kenya and their role in promoting biotechnology and development. Between 2009 and 2011 she worked on a research project that analysed the role of Faith-based Organisations (FBOs) in South Africa to support non-citizens during the xenophobic attacks in 2008 and in 2009 and the churches’ critical voice towards State’s intervention. Since 2012 she has been involved in a research project that investigates the role of Pentecostal-charismatic churches (PCCs) in framing public and political discourses around morality, sexuality and public engagement in Uganda. She is currently publishing and presenting on this topic.

Date: 28 February 2017

Time: 12:30 – 13:30

Venue: ACMS Seminar Room, SH 2163, South-East Wing, Second Floor, Senate House, East Campus