Thursday, 15 October 2009

Uganda's homophobic frenzy..

I broke out in a bout of hysterical laughter when I read the following excerpt from this press release from Human Rights Watch..

"This new draft bill includes a provision that could lead to the imprisonment for up to three years of anyone, including heterosexual people, who fails to report within 24 hours the identities of everyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or who supports human rights for people who are."

This outbreak of frenzied homophobia is the epitome of the hypocrisy that pervades political life in Africa. At a time when expensive legislative time should be judiciously expended on the issues that really matter to the people of the country; when Ugandan lawmakers and the Ugandan government should be concerned about the welfare of vulnerable Ugandans, (including those same-gender loving men and women in their society, who are susceptible to wanton physical abuse and discrimination); when the Ugandan authorities should be looking to protect those of the country's citizens whose welfare is their responsibility; when the challenges that face our continent in this 21st Century are enormous; what we hear of instead is an Anti-Homosexuality Bill being introduced to Parliament. This bill is deemed necessary according to the MP David Bahati who introduced it. He claims that the purpose of the bill is to protect children and the "traditional family".

Now lets face it, the vast majority of the incidents of child rape in Uganda, as everywhere else, are not perpetrated by homosexuals. (In Uganda, child rape is referred to as 'defilement'). In fact, more often than not, the child victim has fallen prey to a predatory heterosexual rapist. It is this heterosexual rapist who children need protection from. And as far as I am aware, the laws that are currently in force in Uganda already make it an offence to engage in sexual relations with a minor.

Mr Bahati goes on to demand the death penalty for what he calls "aggravated homosexuality". I read this and I wondered if the said Mr Bahati has ever had the opportunity to sit inside a classroom in his life, given that unless he is starkly illiterate, he ought to know that there are no law books in any Common Law jurisdiction, (including Uganda), that refer to an offence known as 'homosexuality'. Homosexuality cannot be an offence! You cannot make it an offence and punish a person for having feelings of sexual and emotional attraction towards others of the same gender. You cannot prove 'homosexuality' in a court of law to the standard of proof that is required in a criminal court.

What the law describes as an offence, is the act of "carnal knowledge against the order of nature", i.e., the physical act of sexual penetration by one person of another person of the same gender. Now, unless you can prove beyond reasonable doubt that penetration has occurred, you do not have a case. Most of the homosexual sex that happens in this world is consensual, and not all of it is penetrative. Therefore, unless homosexual rape has occurred, a successful prosecution under the existing laws is virtually impossible. The operative word here is "rape", and a rapist should always be punished for his crime, be it homosexual or heterosexual rape. Similarly, a convicted paedophile must always be severely punished, and where he continues to pose a threat to children, he must be removed from society altogether, until such a time as when that risk no longer exists..But most paedophiles are not homosexuals. Homosexuals are only a tiny minority of the overall population and to ascribe to them such a disproportionate portion of the burden of guilt for child sex offences in Uganda is not only wrong, it is also manifestly prejudicial and irrational.

My point here is that you cannot prosecute for 'homosexuality'! There is no such offence in existence. There cannot therefore be the aggravated form of a non-existent offence! Section 140 of the Penal Code Act of Uganda already outlaws homosexual acts. The proper thing for lawmakers to do is to introduce an Amendment to the existing legislation, which in any event, I do not even see the need for, seeing as the existing law in Uganda is already one of the more draconian anti-sodomy laws in existence anywhere in the world. On the whole, this bill is suggestive of the fact that Ugandan lawmakers are allowing their homophobic prejudice to run away with them. Surely, there are some intelligent people in the Uganda Parliament who know enough to be tolerant and to be moderate in their views. I am relying on their good sense to kill this ridiculous bill...


Anonymous said...

Generally it’s the most corrupt, backward places on Earth that despise gays the most. The arab nations, the impoverished nations of Africa, the rust-belts of old communist Europe, the southern U.S., Jamaica etc. etc.

Most of these cultures also have a problem with insight and finding new solutions to old problems, which is part of the reason they stay so impoverished to begin with. They react to unusual circumstances with loud declarations of absolute authority (”we will never accept it! abnormal!”) rather than the sense of amused curiosity that we see in more advanced cultures. These primitive societies are terrified of change and cling to stasis, mostly because rejecting change as “wrong” gives them an excuse for not having made any of the progress that they see in the rest of the world. It’s sort of an “I’m not a failure, I’m morally pure and those others are depraved” defensive philosophy that can only be propped up by a show of indignation and pious rage. Having an “enemy” or “abomination” to oppose gives them a sense of purpose and achievement that actually comforts them; they gain a sense that they are unique, important, and special for their battle against depravity when in fact their society is pedestrian and unaccomplished. So, when this enemy doesn’t actually exist, it must be invented. That's where gays come in.

When the imagination needed for change simply isn’t there, neither is the insight needed to advance your character. Civilization is about progress, not tradition. If Uganda is still a hostile backwater in a hundred years, you will also find the same lack of curiosity and the same outwardly directed resentment and pious assertion in so many of its people that we see today.

Rox said...

Some people are just too ignorant. Seriously, is he even literate? Me thinks he should be shipped to Outer Mongolia where no one will hear his bull

Naughty feeling said...

that neighbour country of ours is reacting to a mosquito bite with a hammer! I think it scares them stiff just knowing the shere number of gays in their country. the hypocrisy in this country is incredible!

Anengiyefa said...

I am an African and for the first three decades of my life, I lived exclusively in Africa. I have not at anytime understood it to be the case for Africans to hate others who are different from them; and hate them to the extent of wishing suffering and death upon them. What in fact is the traditional African approach is to be welcoming and to be all-inclusive.

What we are seeing in Uganda is a direct consequence of the bastardisation of the African mind by European ideas of the 19th Century to which Africans have clung tenaciously, albeit inexplicably. It is also part of the reason why Africa seems to have failed to evolve as much of the rest of the world has done and this too can provide some explanation for our continent’s continued under-development

Anonymous said...

To some people
My love is somewhat alien;
When he comes up, they start subject-changing, and
In some states he's seen as some contagion -
In those zones, he stays subterranean;
Some love my love; they run parades for him:
Liberal citizens lead the way for him:
Concurrent with some countries embracing him,
Whole faiths and nations seem ashamed of him:
Some tried banning him,
God-damning him,
Toe-tagging him,
Prayed that he stayed in the cabinet,
But my love kicked in the panelling, ran for it -
My love! Can't be trapping him in labyrinths! -
Maverick, my love is; thwarts challenges;
Cleverest geneticists can't fathom him,
Priests can't defeat him with venomous rhetoric;
They'd better quit; my love's too competitive:
Still here, despite the Taliban, Vatican,
And rap, ragga in their anger and arrogance,
Calling on my love with lit matches and paraffin -
Despite the fistfights and midnight batterings -
Despite the dislike by Anglican Africans
And sly comparisons with those mishandling
Small kids, and his morbid inner chattering
My love's still here and fiercely battling,
Parenting, marrying, somehow managing;
My love comes through anything

Anengiyefa said...

Hello Anonymous 10:43, welcome to this place. Those are great words. Deep and very meaningful. Thank you.

Richard Brennan said...

Sorry, wrong account, please delete the earlier comment.

I thought that parts of the British media were homophobic, but I read an article in Uganda's Red Pepper magazine supporting this law using the most vile homophobic language. Does Uganda have press regulation, and if so how close is it to the Ugandan government?

Amooti, Uganda said...

Ha ha ha....Anengiyefa, I was laughing my heart out too! The more laughable and unimaginable the bills are, the closer Uganda is getting to recognizing homosexuals!

This morning, a straight colleague commented: "This is grossly outrageuous. I dont see this kind of bill passing the day of light!"

Frenized homophobia you may call it, but it is good for the cause.

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Richard, welcome to my blog.

As far as I'm aware the Ugandan media are regulated by laws, including the Constitution of 1995; the Press and Journalists Act of 1995; The Electronic Media Act of 1996; and the Access to Information Act of 2005. Article 29(1) of the 1995 Constitution states that every person has the right to the "freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media.

The Press and Journalists Act of 1995 was promulgated to ensure freedom of the press, to provide for a Media Council responsible for the regulation of mass media.

The Electronic Media Act 1996 provides for the setting up of the Uganda Broadcasting Council to licence and regulate radio and television stations and to deal with all matters relating to the electronic media. So you see, there is the framework in place for proper and vigorous regulation of the press. The pertinent point is, to what end is the regulation of the media in Uganda? It is known that the membership of both Councils are hand-picked by the government.

Recently, five FM stations were closed down by the government because it is said that their programming was unfavourable to the government. It seems that regulatory powers are invoked as and when the government so desires. When the target of the shoddy journalism as we see in the Red Pepper are gays, who for a long time the Uganda government has termed to be among it most dangerous enemies, regulatory powers are ignored.

Anengiyefa said...

Yes Amooti, you're correct. When gays are in the headlines constantly, nobody can deny that they do exist in Africa.

What I find utterly ridiculous is the way the bill expects relatives of gay people who know that their relative is gay, to report them to the authorities. I haven't heard of any such law in my entire lifetime. I suppose Mr Bahati must be feeling really important wherever he is..