LGBT’s Reputation as Stake
The term LGBT is intended to emphasize a diversity of sexuality and gender identity-based cultures and is sometimes used to refer to anyone who is non-heterosexual or non-cisgender instead of exclusively to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Honourable David Bahati and fellow parliamentalians of Uganda think gays are just trained or recruited. Their belief is based on rumours that allege youths and school going children are being recruited into homosexuality by the Ugandan gay community, which is absolutely untrue. These legislators, alongwith pentecostal pastors have managed to convince uninformed Ugandans that homosexuality is a habit introduced to Uganda by the whites or the West in a bid to provoke violence against gays.
Even if this were true, why should one choose to become gay in a homophobic community like Uganda? Isn’t this very strange!
African homophobia is historical and was spread by white missionaries through their homophobic doctrines. Let us then look upon homosexuality as something African, and which existed in Africa much prior to the arrival of white missionaries and their hatred.
It should not require much effort to realize that homophobia owes its origins to white missionaries and their hateful religious teachings, followed by legislation by their counterparts, the colonialists.
Ugandan scientists can be liars
Research by authoritative academics like Glenn Wilson (Institute of Psychiatry, London) and Qazi Rahman (lecturer in psychobiology, University of East London) also confirms that gay people are not made but born. According to the findings published in the book, Born Gay (Psychobiology of Sex Orientation), homosexuality is caused by a combination of genes and hormonal influences in the womb during a mother’s pregnancy. Therefore the idea that people can be made gay, is not scientific but just homophobic, a conclusion that no doctor would have given. If Museveni’s signing of the bill into law depended on just baseless facts, then he obviously consulted the wrong people.
Boy Wives and Female Husbands
In the 17th Century, the Ndongo Kingdom of the Mbundu ( present-day Angola) had a woman ruler who preffered to be called Ngola (the equivalent of King), and not queen. In the Kongo and Ndonga Kingdoms during the 1580’s, natives of the Dombe area used to have men dressed as women cohabiting with their wives. We all know that prior to the arrival of the whites, most African cultures treated importent men as women. This continues to be so in many cultures. These findings have also been published in a book “Boy-Wives and Female Husbands: Studies of African Homosexualities” by Will Roscoe and Stephen O. Murray.
While the Constitution of Uganda only recognizes marriage between two people of opposite sexes , namely male and female, the same constitution guarantees all Ugandans the right to information and freedom of speech and expression. Like many other countries, Uganda has also ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Yet, under the new law, it is a criminal offence to fail reporting a gay person. This is simply an incitement for homophobes to go ahead and report against an act suspected to have happened in another person‘s bedroom. I suspect this law to have been intended by Ugandan parliamentalians to promote hatred and violence against gays.
In 1995, all Ugandans welcomed the idea of Uganda having its first constitution. This constitution made all Ugandans equal before the law and emphasized protection from discrimination on grounds of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion. But today, we have this very Constitution being twisted to turn against a sexual minority. Discrimination or legislation against gay Ugandans is an abuse to the Supreme Law of our land, the Constitution, which declares that “no person shall be deprived of personal liberty, and no person shall be subjected to any form of tourture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Fundamental rights are God- given. They are no favour bestowed on any person by any government. Criminalization of gay Ugandans is a travesty of the Universial Declaration of Human Rights to which Uganda is a signatory.
To force the Ugandan government rethink its policy on gays, it is imperative that donors revisist their funding policies to Uganda, tourists think twice when visiting Uganda, foreign governments tighten their policies in granting visas to Ugandan officials and their relatives and multi-national corporations threaten to fold up from Uganda. That is the only way that the Ugandan government will see sense.
When signing the Anti Homosexuality Bill (AHB), and giving it the status of a law in february this year, President Museveni reasoned that homosexuality was an import , and referred to it as “Imperial colonisation.” He meant thereby that homosexuality had no place in any African culture, and had found its place here from the West. Mr. President seemed to have ignored the fact that our culture always respected privacy and preferred to remain silent on what others did in their bedrooms.
Interestingly, our constitution still guarantees the right to privacy for all Ugandans, including the homosexual minorities. This shall enable us challenge the new law in a constitutional court.
At present, the Ugandan government is responsible for the deaths, torture and illegal detentions of thousands of homosexual Ugandans. Pentecostal homophobic preachers have been alleging that we ( activists) are purposely exaggerating the lgbt situation in Uganda in a bid to attract foreign funding. Yet, these are the very same people who use huge donations and funds from Europe and America for their own ends. Should they not be condemned as being part of modern corruption?
Our Ugandan politicians ought to realize that gay rights are human rights too. No Ugandan leader can ever tell any Ugandan that killing a gay, raping a lesibian, denying them access to medical care and the like is justified under the law.
When I interviewed Dutch Therapist and Human Rights defender Mirjam Eikelboom immediately after her presentation at the Homomonument in Amsterdam, she used history to explain Ugandan homophobia; “there are always periods when countries are unstable and uncivilized. The climax of all this is violence against innocent minorities”. Mirijam strengthens this analysis with the chronology of events in history such as when the Germans went on to attack and murder Jews and gays during world war II, or the Dutch murdered children and elderly women due to superstitions and primitive beliefs in Holland during the Middle Ages, or when religious zealots murdered blacks in rural America. She equated the new anti gay legislation in Uganda to terror and wondered if, in Uganda, the heterosexual majority thought that they were the only ones morally upright.
Gays push HIV AIDS drugs
In a chat with Mr. Norman Miwambo, an investigative journalist filing for Black Star News in England , Peter Tatchell, the Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation emphasized, “Governments around the world should impose a travel ban and assets freeze on the key movers of the new homophobic legislation. ” If this position is maintained by all governments in Europe and America, Mr Yoweri Museveni, Rebecca Kadaga, David Bahati, Simon Lokodo and several other homophobic evangelicals will stop equating homosexuality with child molestation, rape and bestiality and instead preach love and peace to the people.
In fact, Norman Miwambo has pointed out how homosexuals in Uganda had saved hundreds of thousands of HIV/ AIDS sufferers by providing them anti-retroviral drugs regardless of their sexuality. Besides, United States (US)-based gay campaigners were at the helm in convincing drug manufacturers and pushing government officials to fast-track research on HIV/AIDS.
Ugandans currently on anti-retroviral drugs would surely be furious if they got to know of MP David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality legislation, and how it indirectly affects and targets them.
The world responds
Scott DeLisi, U.S. ambassador to Uganda, has recently said that there was sufficient ground to deny US Visas to homophobes. “I can tell you that they will not be welcome in the United States of America. U.S Visas can be denied to people who incite violence, people who propagate hate, who have used political violence and therefore, the U.S Embassy may start examining all these issues soon.“
Denmark will divert about $8.7 million to private projects in Uganda that ordinarily would have gone to the Ugandan government.
Norway will divert about $8 million in development aid from the Ugandan government and give it instead to private organizations and human rights groups.
Virgin Group Ltd.’s Richard Branson has called for a business boycott of Uganda and U.S. President President Barack Obama has said that the law was “a step backward” and urged that it be repealed.
The French Foreign Ministry has issued a statement urging Uganda to “uphold its international commitments regarding the protection of human rights.”
The Netherlands froze $9.6 million in aid to Uganda’s legal system rather than provide financial assistance to courts implementing the law.
Mr Frans Timmermans, head of The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already met representatives of the Ugandan diaspora gay groups working together under the network, Kuchu Diaspora Alliance (KDA) over the just enacted anti gay law in Uganda.
Mr. Abbey Kiwanuka of England’s Out & Proud Diamond Group, and other gay rights groups’ representatives from England, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, U.S.A and France have also expressed their worries on the anti gay law in Uganda.In their opinion, the legislation will only succeed in promoting blackmail and extortion, while suppressing the rights of gays.
The law will now cause the LGBT’s in Uganda to face eviction by their landlords,rejection by their families and get expelled or denied jobs. Many more gay students will have to discontinue their studies. No LGBT rights workshops or meetings will be allowed in Uganda and local Ugandan gay rights organizations will be silenced due to the fear of being shut down. No homosexual will be able to seek medical attention as no doctor will be allowed to protect a homosexual. In fact, it is only black despair that shall prevail unless this law is repealed.
Ssendi’s view In one of my earlier presentations while in Europe, I emphasized that the difference between Gay rights and Human Rights is either very slim or undetectable and I ‘m still stuck there.
Ref: Peterson Ssendi (Netherlands)
Peterson Ssendi is a radio personality and a full time LGBT blogger currently in the Netherlands working on several gay rights projects in Europe. Additional reporting by Dr. Rina Mukherji, , a journalist from India with specialization in African Studies and a recent recipient of the first-ever Laadli Extraordinaire.- Award for relentlessly fighting against Gender Injustice.