At this stage the new Ugandan Bill condemning GLBTI people to death has not been passed yet. I say GLBTI because the very same bill makes it very clear that there will be no distinguishing between any "attempts to legitimize homosexuality" by using the different terms in our collective community. Thus, as far as the Ugandan Bill is concerned, we are all "homosexual" - giving chilling affirmation to my plea for all GLBTI to stop their bickering and in-fighting, and to seek unity as one group, one community - because that is how our enemies see us.
In the meantime, the topic is featured on pink community news sites around the world, buzzing with this new outrage against our humanity, and only just now is it beginning to penetrate to the mainstream media which is as usual, slow on the uptake when it comes to threats facing gay lives, trans rights and those they normally don't care to know about.
Only yesterday I bemoaned the fact that not one single country - nor the UN or other world body - had bothered to comment officially on this slap in the face to human rights. Fortunately, to my surprise I saw last night that one country had.
"The French foreign ministry has attacked a bill in Uganda which would see gay people facing the death penalty. "France expresses deep concern regarding the bill currently before the Ugandan parliament," the foreign ministry said in a statement sent to AFP in Kampala yesterday. "France reiterates its commitment to the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity."
This commitment by the way, is the very same UN policy document to decriminalize homosexuality, which our beloved South African government refused to sign in December 2008, citing "having principles".
According to the article, American lawmakers have also expressed concern over the bill and have written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "warning that it had severe implications for the freedom and safety of gay people". The letter said: "We write to raise serious concerns about the Anti-Homosexual Bill introduced in Uganda's parliament earlier this month. This egregious bill represents one of the most extreme anti-equality measures ever proposed in any country and would create a legal pretext for depriving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Ugandans of their liberty, and even their lives."
This private member's bill was tabled by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, of the ruling party, who was further quoted in an article for the Uganda Observer "yesterday, Bahati said that homosexuality was not a human right. He added: " We will never accept homosexuality for the sake of appeasing other countries or as an incentive for their money.".
Not a human right? So are we not human? Let anyone again ask me why it is so vital that medical and scientific proof of sexual orientation and gender identity being inborn, natural and immutable be found - and I will refer them to this "gentleman's" utterances.
Defiance in the face of just criticism. This man sounds like Robert Mugabe, or even Thabo Mbeki - "What crime problem?" indeed.
It is good to see an official action taken by at least one first-world country - and leave it to one of the oldest democracies in existence to be the first to speak officially against such undemocratic and inhuman practice. It is almost enough to make me want to emigrate to France and learn French!
I wonder when or if other states will follow their lead? Will America add its voice to the growing outrage? Will others follow? Will any action be added to these voices? I wonder if this will be more than just a token show to appease the human rights watchdog groups around the world - to say "Yes, we spoke out, are you happy now?"
According to allAfrica.com "There is evidence to suggest that support for Bahati's bill has come from extreme-right Christians in the United States of America who are working through allied churches and parliamentarians in Uganda. In March 2009 the Family Life Network, led by Ugandan Pastor Stephen Langa (affiliated to the Kampala Pentecostal Church), hosted a workshop entitled 'Exposing the truth behind homosexuality and the homosexual agenda'. The workshop trainers included members of three American organisations well-known in US Christian right wing circles:
Scott Lively, co-founder of the hate group Watchmen on the Walls and author of The Pink Swastika, a pseudo-history book claiming that militant male homosexuals helped mastermind the Nazi holocaust; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a 'sexual reorientation' coach for the International Healing Foundation, a Christian organisation that aims to 'free' people from 'unwanted same-sex attraction'; Don Schmierer, a board member for Exodus International, an umbrella body for Christian groups that seek to 'reform' homosexuals using Christian teachings. Alongside the workshop, the Americans also met with MPs and influential religious actors. The Family Life Network has mobilised through churches across the country to deliver a petition to parliament calling for the introduction of stronger legislation against homosexuality. Bahati's bill is the result."
Of course this whole issue harks back to the "Conference on Homosexuality" held in Kampala earlier this year, attended by the same role players who had the mob baying for the blood of gay people. It is fairly obvious that foreign influence has played a prominent role in the hate mongering and incitement to intolerance prevalent in Uganda and the rest of Africa today.
Given all the publicity, I wonder why these bigots sitting comfortably and safely in their ring-side seats are so silent now on the topic of hate crime and hate speech laws? Why are they not pressing home the attack? Local SA religious groups and even political parties have been quoting favorable statistics about Uganda's handling of the HIV pandemic and gay rights for years - why aren't they defending their right to say whatever they will about GLBTI people in public spaces and in the exercising of their religious freedom now? Could it be because what they see in Uganda today is exactly what it results in? Could it be because they know they have been wrong? Or is it just because they know it makes them look bad and rightfully so - and that making any more noise about it right now will cause people to join the dots and see the blood on their hands? Oops - too late.
I feel hard-pressed to not say: "Reap the whirlwind, you bastards".
In response to a query, pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church has provided this statement concerning the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill and one of it’s major backers, Martin Ssempa (of Kampala Pentecostal Church).
"Martin Ssempa does not represent me, my wife Kay, Saddleback Church, nor the Global PEACE Plan strategy. In 2007, we completely severed contact with Mr. Ssempa when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own. Our role, and the role of the PEACE Plan, whether in Uganda or any other country, is always pastoral and never political. We vigorously oppose anything that hinders the goals of the PEACE Plan: Promoting reconciliation, Equipping ethical leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation."
Yes, so he says. Yet it has taken several years, for Martin Ssempe to take Uganda up to the very edge of the precipice overlooking a genocide with his name attached to it, for Mr Warren to start frantically back-pedaling.
And yet it is not just American evangelicals who have a hand in things, evangelical groups in South Africa have been playing patty-cake with Ugandan radicals also. On their website under "Missions", a large South African evangelical church brags: "Uganda – Providing leadership assistance and resource to 10 churches in this nation." - one would think that if they showed a measure of love or tolerance to gay and trans people, or actual leadership, then this would reflect in the attitude of the churches they support in Uganda? They boldly proclaim "We believe in and subscribe to the Biblical principle of heterosexual relationships between a natural man and a natural woman and that this is the only marriage relationship that constitutes holy matrimony." They produce yearly reports of their activities in African countries, including Uganda and Kenya, particularly involvement in setting up "Christian" education centers and influencing state curriculum to feature their ideology. And yet the slogan on their website is "Love extravagantly". Feel the luurve. Yes, indeedy. And they are not the only church in this country who could well be complicit in the dealings in Uganda and Kenya and in other homophobic states in Africa. There are many others with their fingers in the pie.
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The clear involvement of religious right groups from the USA and South Africa in this matter needs to be investigated and a case study has to be developed for future reference. Why? Because this is a clear example of the remnants of colonialism - IE archaic laws introduced by colonial powers, and the introduction of alien religions by colonial powers in their colonies. They entrenched in their subject populations the belief that certain things are "wrong" and "evil" or "unnatural" and now, long after these colonies are independent states and cultures again, they are holding to these erroneous teachings - and now the world is chiding them for it. Groups who hate sexual and gender diversity are all too keen and opportunistic to influence less-developed countries.
A closeted and anonymous Ugandan gay activist known only as "GayUganda" and calling himself "a fly on the wall", in his blog makes the following plea: "The Christians, all over the world, this is my prayer. That you will join hands to negotiate and open the eyes of Ugandan Christians. They believe that this is a chance for them to show the world how Ugandans can lead."
Bahati says Uganda "will never accept homosexuality for the sake of appeasing other countries or as an incentive for their money" - but yet they have been allowing their religious dogma and social policy be formed by foreign groups, tied to financial incentives and aid. How is the world - and Uganda - ever going to undo this festering web of lies and hatred?
Yes, it seems by their defiance that this is the case, that this is a chance for them to show the world how Ugandans can lead - the Anti-Homosexuality Bill No. 18 of 2009 of the Parliament of Uganda. What a wonderful example of leadership indeed.
Meanwhile, a new Facebook group has been set up to support this hateful Bill. Uganda is on the verge of a state-sposored genocide on GLBTI people - and spite of its "strict" code of conduct, Facebook allows such a group to exist? You want to suggest nobody has reported it to them yet? Reading these hateful comments, I have to wonder if these are really people? Are they? Do they have hearts and minds to think and feel with? And they thank God for this law? The same God that made us as equals?
Do they deserve any better treatment than they suggest for us? Decide for yourselves...
"Gays shouldnt be treated as normal coz they aint. & no one is born gay its a learnt mannerism." "Homosexuality should not be allowed publicly in our society. I saw the Norwegian Ambassador trying to justify it using the human rights line but sorry, it won't work here. Lets fight it and all evil guys!" "Lets not give them a chance cos if we do so homosexuality will spread like wildfire." "where have u heard of pple counselling pervets and lunatics in this world. They are just gross and dnt deserve to be counselled but isolated and hanged, end of the story." "thoz chaps are idiots i mean even a goat can tell wats female or male...but such humans cant...freaks...they should burnt alive"
"They will come to rue that" Says GayUganda, watching the circle of remaining light as it begins to close in on him. Amen to that, my brother.
It is not simply enough for the rest of the world to cut financial aid or to ban Uganda from participating in sporting or even cultural events which they probably do not attend anyway. This did not happen overnight, it took the better part of a decade to build up, and all the while Uganda rejected calls from moderate voices both internally and externally.
Uganda needs to feel what it means to be outcast from all vestiges of international cooperation, the AU, the Commonwealth, SADC, the UN and any other trade groups and blocs which it may from part. They need to be blockaded and forced into a position where they can see that holding onto such a vile anti-humanitarian policy and dogma will lead to their utter failure as a state, both economically, socially and politically.
And if they refuse to back down, then the world must adopt the same stance as when dealing with dictatorships and terrorist states - after all, this government is adopting the pose of a terrorist state, with its president-for-life terrorizing its own people - and do they negotiate with terrorists?
Interfering right-wing groups who have been using Uganda as some kind of private sociological experiment, should be blocked from acting outside their countries. Affirming church groups should instead be encouraged to repair the damage these genocidal evangelicals have wrought.
If we put the right message across, globally, we will succeed in the end. If there is a God, then he, she or it did not create us as we are to be punching bags and doormats for these low people to abuse for all eternity.
Moderates, coupled with scientific evidence and fact are the only real hope we have of achieving equality - and we have to use all the tools at our disposal to educate the masses. All these arenas are fronts of this war they have forced on us. And as a war it is very real indeed. There are real casualties and real losses and so far, few real victories for us or for anyone. But for the first time I feel there is hope. I can taste it. Because we can win - and we are going to win. Maybe not now, maybe not in ten years time, but within our lifetimes, or in the lifetimes of our children we will have equality and this culture war will end - and it will end well for us, and bad for none.