By Alex Taremwa
Following the Parliamentary passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill late last week, homophobes have now turned their guns to the President pressuring him to ascend to it with immediate effect.
Following the murder of a Ugandan Gay and bi-sexual rights activist David Kato in early 2011 in Mukono, Uganda was accorded front page media coverage all over the world as one of the leading homophobic countries in the world.
However much the reporting was informed by Western prejudice and stereotype of Africa that claimed that David Kato was killed for being a Gay activist and it was later found out by the Police that he was involved in a robbery gone bad, Uganda remains as one of the most fertile countries where intolerance has bred.
The year before January 26 when David Kato was killed, parliament was legislating a bill tabled by the Ndorwa East Member of Parliament Hon. David Bahati that made it so vividly clear that it western suspicions were partly true.
Originally the bill had death by hanging as the core punishment to homosexuals but after several consultative meeting and debates, death was dropped and life imprisonment adopted.
In a phone conversation with Moses Mugoya, son of the Parliamentary Political Commissioner Emmanuel Dombo, he said that passing of the legislation would scare off those who plan to indulge in the practice hence promoting a value-filled and moral society.
This legislation that was passed by parliament is meant to satisfy those whose fears are immediate but are blind of the long term consequences. It is in most of the prisons that vices of Homosexuality are nurtured; some say that even in Single sex schools. Then how logical is sending a gay man or woman to a place where he/she is likely to continue the practice?
The argument that homosexuality is an alien practice to Africa is irrelevant and misleading and so is the one that claims that mini-skirts and skimpy bikini wear are also alien to the traditional African setting. On the basis of this example therefore whoever persecutes the gay in the name of protection of African culture doesn’t know what he/she is even fighting to protect. Ask me why;
I’ll refer you to the only research I have read on Uganda in pre-colonial Africa by Prof. Tibamanya Mwenemushanga that even President Museveni himself is aware of that confirmed Bahima- Ankole people. The research adds that the practice was neither condemned nor does it say that it was condoned; it only says that it was existent.
On what cultural basis therefore other than ignorance do the so called “morality protectors” base to defend African culture?
Homosexuality is a vice worth condemnation and indeed its pockets in Africa can be closed but I also believe that there is a better way to handle those involved in the practice other than jail. The feelings that attract a man to a fellow man or woman to the other are either psychological or mental and the solutions for such cases are either counseling or medication.
With the current tsunami of homophobia blowing over the country, how do you expect someone to meet a confidential counselor, confess to being gay so that he can get some help? The counselor even with confidentiality guaranteed will rush to call the police because the bill says that one who knows of the other gay practices and does not report could buy themselves a 2 year ticket to jail too.
Why is it so easy to mount accusations and counter accusations against others without careful consideration? I’m starting to think that maybe one of Hon. David Bahati’s relatives and friends was traumatized through this kind of experience and in fronting such a bill, he seeking retribution because I don’t expect such intolerance from a leader who should be extemporary to us he is leading.
Where I would agree:
If this bill was targeting any possible gay recruitment or seeking to whoever might have been sexually abused in this manner, then I would be in agreement. But targeting consensual gay couples who are above the age limit of 18 years with good mental abilities to choose between good and evil is despicable and absurd.
What happens in the privacy of one bedroom shouldn’t be the business of everybody and I’m aware of grave atrocities like corruption deserves such capital punishments including Parliament itself. In case you are wondering who paid me to write in defense of the gay community, be wondering on who paid Parliament pass such despicable bill.
I would be extremely happy if the President didn’t bow to any pressures either from the International Community in terms of Aid Cuts or to the Local Community threatening loss of political popularity. In fact if I were Museveni, I would send this bill back to Parliament twice so that if they pass it without my signature, at least the sane minded people would understand that I wasn’t involved in this ignorant act.
The Writer is Journalist, Blogger and Rural Development Activist.