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Proposed genocidal law targeting GLB persons in Uganda

Historical beliefs. Current
status. 2007 petition.

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"GLB" is an acronym referring to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. More commonly, the letter "T" is added to
refer to transgender persons and transsexuals. Sometimes "I" is added to refer to intersexual persons.

Historical beliefs about GLBs in Uganda:

There are two schools of thought among historians concerning homosexuality in Uganda:

bulletSome believe that same-sex sexual behavior has always been condemned in Uganda's past. When Christian missionaries came to Africa to support the colonization effort by various European powers, they supported this condemnation.
bulletOthers believe that before the arrival of the missionaries, the people of Uganda accepted same-sex sexual behavior like many followers of other Aboriginal religions worldwide. However the fundamentalist teachings of the Christian missionaries turned the people against homosexuals and bisexuals in the 19th century. These beliefs have continued to the present time.

The latter theory is certainly true among many tribes in Africa. It is unclear whether it applies to Uganda.

The current status in Uganda:

There is strong opposition to equal rights for GLB people from the Baha'i, Christian, and Muslim communities. This hatred and rejection appears to have grown to the point where some in the country do not think that sexually active GLBs even have the right to continue living.

Same-sex behavior is currently criminalized in Uganda, even among loving, committed same-sex couples. Out of this atmosphere, a bill has been proposed before Parliament to further restrict same-sex behavior by applying penalties up to and including execution.

According to Ariel Rubin of the Huffington Post:

"94% of Ugandans consider themselves religious and 95% strongly oppose the legalization of same-sex relations. ..."

Uganda [is] a country where the ruling party can simply resort to McCarthy-esque scare tactics to intimidate and coerce any number of potential 'enemies of the state.' Homosexuality becomes, like the purported communist threat in 1950's America, an easy red herring, allowing a fearful ruling party to bolster its ideological support while ignoring the true social ills plaguing society, such as entrenched corruption and venality. As [Dr. Sylvia] Tamale [dean of the Makerere Law School] noted in a recent interview, 'All you have to do is send someone an unsolicited email or SMS which has some homosexual material and voila, you'll be guilty'. ..."

"Framers of the bill have manipulated the fears of its religious constituents to shore up support by implying that anyone who opposes the bill thus opposes the family and the church. Anyone who supports gay rights is thus gay and/or a pedophile (as the two have been insidiously rendered synonymous) and part of the Western neo-imperialist plot to deracinate African culture. As the bill's self-styled guru, Pastor Martin Ssempa explained:

'I'm an African. And as Africans we find the whole subject of sodomy and lesbianism an unacceptable lifestyle...the African finds that what does not benefit the community must be done away with'." 1

A study conducted in 2007-JUL by the Steadman Group in the cities of Nairobi, Kampala and Dar-es-salaam showed that:

bullet18% of those polled were Muslim, 36% Protestant, 31% Catholic, 15% other Christian, and 15% other religion, no religion, or no response.
bullet95% wanted the criminalization of homosexual behavior to continue.
bullet4% wanted same-sex behavior to be legalized
bullet1% were unsure or did not answer. 2

2007: petition in Uganda:

During 2007. Amanda Respess created and circulated a petition titled: "Speak Up Against Baha'i Discrimination Against Homosex" [sic]. She writes:

"The Baha'i Faith, a world religion that espouses many beautiful, forward thinking ideas, also unfortunately overtly condemns homosexuality and teaches that it is a spiritual 'handicap.'  Gay Baha'is face the loss of their Baha'i administrative rights if they are open and honest about their sexual orientation and lifestyle."

"Recently, the Baha'i community of Uganda participated in an interfaith effort to deport an American journalist for covering a LGBTI  human rights event called, 'Let Us Live in Peace.' The Baha'is of Uganda also advocated the arrest of all LGBTI individuals in Uganda for their 'immorality'. ..." 3

"Baha'is who disagree with this blatant discrimination face administrative and spiritual 'sanctions' from their religious authorities."

"It is time to speak up." 4

The Baha'i faith has been and continues to be very progressive in matters of democracy, scientific investigation, gender issues, etc. However, they actively discriminate against lesbians, gays and bisexuals who go public with their sexual orientation.


References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Ariel Rubin, "Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Satan's Agents and the Real Reason Behind It," Huffington Post, 2009-DEC-18, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  2. Elizabeth Agiro, "Ugandans reject homosexuals - Study," Sunday Vision, 2007-AUG-25, at: http://www.sundayvision.co.ug/
  3. Peter Tatchell, "Ugandan gays demand freedom," Guardian newspaper, 2007-SEP-17, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
  4. Amanda Respess, "Speak Up Against Baha'i Discrimination Against Homosex," [sic], Care2 PetitionSite, at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/
  5. "Notmytruname," "Stop Baha'i Anti-Gay Discrimination," You Tube, 2008-APR-05, at: http://www.youtube.com/

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Laws > Ugandan bill > here

Copyright © 2009 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-NOV-18
Latest update and review: 2009-DEC-19
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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