What is up with the Ugandan anti-gay bill? And why does it seem like only a few people are talking about this? I first learnt about this proposed legislation on Shakesville and I personally believe that we, the Africans, should just be as vocally opposed to this law as others seem to be.
Under current Ugandan law, homosexuality is a crime punishable by life in prison. The proposed law would not just condemn HIV positive gay men and “repeat offenders” to death, it would also jail for three years anyone who knows a gay man but refuses to report them to authorities. Further, anyone who defends in public the rights of gays and lesbians would be subjected to a seven year prison term*.
At first, I did not understand why on earth Uganda was thinking of passing such a heinous legislation, I mean are they not other things that the government should be worrying about? Rather than, you know, trying to dictate the way other adults choose to live their lives? My initial feelings were sort of derailed after I discovered that American evangelists** may have actually been influential in the growth of homophobia in Uganda and this proposed bill. No, I am not making this up.
“[The] legislator that introduced the bill, a guy named David Bahati, is a member of The Family,” he [Jeff Sharlet] said. “He appears to be a core member of The Family. He works, he organizes their Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which The Family has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda.” Read more…
It is just too disturbing, mostly because I have several questions on my mind including; when will African governments stop letting foreign nations influence them in such a manner? Please bear in mind that most of the homophobic laws in previously colonised countries are vestiges of their colonial rule. India did the smart thing getting rid of a homophobic law that was essentially placed by the British colonialists. However why is it that in Uganda’s case, external influence has seems to have only changed hands? What happened to state sovereignty? What boggles me even more is that it seems some Ugandan officials might have actually actively sought out this foreign influence.
You can read more about The Family’s connection with Uganda and more about this ridiculous bill by checking out the following links; “Rick Warren’s Africa problem”, “Anti-Gay legislation in Uganda sponsored by ‘The Family'”, “American Evangelists and the growth of homophobia”(you only need to read the first 5 paragraphs of this one), “Behind the Ugandan antigay laws: American evangelicals manoeuvering for power, the better to spread their hate in the name of the Lord” (this one is excellent because expounds on the legacy of British colonialists while also providing excellent links), the Pan-African International lesbian, gay, trans and intersex Association’s press statement and “Uganda kill-gay bill- why the bloody silence?!”.
No matter what your stance on homosexuality is, I am sure we can all agree that imprisoning someone because of his/her sexual preferences or for supporting gay rights is WRONG. Not only is it wrong but it also does not do anything but destroy the lives of innocent people and place emphasis on things that should not be other people’s business (sorry I believe Africa’s priority should be growth and development). Please take the time to write a letter to the Ugandan embassy closest to you telling them that you find their law an abuse of basic human rights. Thank you.
I must mention that the parts about death penalty and life-imprisonment have been dropped from the bill. Update: It turns out that the death penalty and life-imprisonment have NOT been dropped from the bill. Goodness gracious me! Excuse me while I vomit at this quote from the man spear-heading the implementation of this heinous law David Bahati;
‘We are not going to yield to any international pressure – we cannot allow people to play with the future of our children and put aid into the game. We are not in the trade of values. We need mutual respect.’
Mutual respect? WTH? So it is okay to learn hatred from an international audience eh? This is so disgusting, I am appealing right now to all who can write letters to please write.
Update #2: It seems Rwanda may be following in Uganda’s footsteps…
**I read somewhere online that members of the Family do not call themselves Christians but ‘followers of Jesus’ and that their beliefs differ from those of other (mainstream?) Christians.