08 December, 2009

Uganda: for or not for homosexuality

I spent most of my childhood in Northern Uganda; and still regularly spend time in Uganda. While growing up - be it in Lango or Acholi, not once did I witness any homosexual tendency or behavior. Boys and men grew up as men - we learnt from an early age, that handshakes have to be firm. No holding hands or hugging or touching or kissing between boys or men; that was unthinkable and impossible. Any one who has been in Northern Uganda, would know that even women there are masculine in many ways. They are strong; a woman can ride a bicycle with a baby strapped on her back and more load carried on the back of the bicycle; with no problem at all.

In Kenya, it is the same. Most of my youth and early manhood was with Luos. They too are very similar to Northern Ugandans. Masculine; Luo women are masculine too. It is only when I visited and later lived on the coast of Kenya, that I openly saw homosexuals. I even saw homosexual prostitutes in Mombasa. I was shocked and was rather nauseated. It is one of the reasons that I have never liked the East African coast - that openness and acceptance to such sexual relationship, simply was not acceptable to me.

For most Ugandans or Kenyans, homosexuality is simply not a topic for discussion or even mentioning. I understand once, for some reason, the topic was broached with the then President of Kenya: Daniel Arap Moi. He simply kept quiet and ignored it. He never responded. Should the subject be brought up with President Museveni, or President Kibaki or Prime Minister Odinga or most East African lawmakers - there is no doubt, the response will be very similar to that of Mr. Moi's.

The present bill being proposed in Uganda might seem harsh and absurd to many outsiders, especially Americans and Europeans:
  • Gays and lesbians convicted of having gay sex would be sentenced, at minimum, to life in prison.
  • People who test positive for HIV may be executed.
  • Homosexuals who have sex with a minor, or engage in homosexual sex more than once, may also receive the death penalty.
  • The bill forbids the "promotion of homosexuality," which in effect bans organizations working in HIV and AIDS prevention.
  • Anyone who knows of homosexual activity taking place but does not report it would risk up to three years in prison.
Indeed the bill is rather too harsh and has gone further than reasonable; but, it does reflect the attitude and feelings of most Ugandans: Ugandans are that repugnant about same sex relationship. Most Africans find it incredulous that an issue like that can even be brought up for discussion. Western media and politicians have now come hard on Uganda's attitude towards homosexuality; there is duplicity and the applying of double standards in this.

Western law and media - have always been very hard and very un-accepting of polygamy and polygamists - even if it is between consenting adults; and yet polygamy, is a kind of sexual relationship which is most acceptable and normal in Uganda and to Africans. Americans and Europeans, would rather we follow their laws. They have always made the mistake of trying to impose their ways of thinking on others. Their laws, which too, many of us here - find many absurdities with.

American and European laws and constitutional rights, are hypocritical and most absurd in the way they handle the whole issue of polygamy: a man has the right to engage in any form of consensual sexual relationship with any number of women and can live with multiple women - a very old man like Hugh Hefner  is allowed to keep multiple mistresses young enough to be his grand-daughters; a man can even sire children from different women so long as they do not marry. But when that same man accepts a legal commitment for two or more partners "as a spouse" even with the consent of the women - he is sent to jail. And yet the same man can keep as many mistresses as he wants; it's not against American law. But get married to more than one woman, and the American legal system comes down hard on you. Incredible.

Even most incredible for us, is the way Western law accepts and makes lawful not only same sex relationships, but same sex 'marriages' too. We find that most absurd and unacceptable. But we have never tried to impose our ways of thinking on them. Our media hasn't pounded them with harsh criticisms when they passed those laws. Our leaders, both religious and political, never questioned them about their passing such laws. May they too not impose theirs on us.

I did write about this subject almost three years ago. Read it here.

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