Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Anti Gay Bill Uganda

The African nation of Uganda proposed an Anti – Homosexuality Bill on the 13th of October 2009 that would, if enacted later this year, punish homosexuality by introducing the death penalty for people who have previous convictions, are HIV - Positive, or engage in same sex acts with people under 18 years of age. The bill also includes a clause that if a Ugandan engages in same-sex sexual relations outside of Uganda, that they may be extradited for punishment back to Uganda. It also includes penalties for individuals, companies, media organisations, or non - governmental organisations that support LGBT rights. The bill is to be discussed in Uganda's parliament in Spring 2010.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”- Article Three, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On January 3rd 2010, The New York Times published the article: Americans’ Role seen in Uganda Anti – gay push. Upon reading it I was instantly horrified, but yet, unsurprised. Uganda, after all, like everywhere is bound to have a tremendous amount of people with very conservative attitudes and opinions. What did surprise me about the article is the spark that started this forest fire of a situation:
Last year a group of American Evangelical Christians had spoken to Ugandans about the “threat” of Homosexuality.

From the 5th to the 8th of March 2009, a workshop took place in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, which featured three prominent American evangelical Christians

The theme of the conference, according to The New York Times, was the " gay agenda": "how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how 'the gay movement is an evil institution' whose goal is 'to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity' ".
A special motion to introduce anti – homosexual legislation was passed a month after the two-day event.

In Uganda it is already illegal to be a homosexual but the bill proposes increasing the jail term, from up to fourteen years, to life imprisonment. The bill also proposes that if a person who has been in prison for seven years but repeats the “crime” they will be tried on “aggravated homosexuality” for which the sentence is death by hanging.
Other offences that reach “aggravated homosexuality” status are, “if the person against whom the offence is committed is under the age of 18 years”, “the offender is living with HIV”, “the offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed” and other such “offences”.

I personally, do not look on this as a gay rights matter, I do not look on any situation as a gay rights matter, for in my opinion it is not gay rights. It is a human issue and an issue of what we all are entitled to.
Everyone is born with a sexual preference. It is as much a part of who we are as the colour of our eyes. There is no doubt in my mind that every person has the right to choose to marry and every person has the right to adopt or foster a child: as long as they can financially and lovingly support the child.

If this bill is to become law in Uganda I fear this tenuous decision could affect the rest of Africa, nay the rest of the world.

Most recently gay marriage laws were passed in Mexico City, but as tends to be the case in most battles regarding basic human rights and religious moral issues, its one step forward and two steps back. Also as is the case in most African countries the separation of church and state is a concept we may not see for many, many years.

But in such an egregious act of persecution, we all must stand strong, we must not back down, for each small victory is another brick in the wall of justice we are building. We must make the Ugandan authorities and people see that when the rights of one are violated the rights of all are compromised.

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