Ugandan gays battle for equality

2011-09-22 10:17

Kampala - Pastor Solomon Male is worried. "Failed morals" in Uganda need urgent correcting, he says, arguing emphatically that gays and lesbians are responsible for much social delinquency.

"Homosexuality is a danger. First those engaged in it have no gender or social identity. It leads to childlessness. Many people think it is a small problem but it's a big problem. It's tragic," the Christian pastor says.

He and other Ugandan crusaders against same-sex relationships - mostly Pentecostal church leaders - are gearing up for a new fight as gay rights activists embark on a house-to-house canvass to push for equality and to fight negative stereotypes.

Ugandan legislators nearly passed a bill in parliament earlier this year that would have made some homosexual sex punishable by death. Even heterosexuals would be jailed if they failed to report everyone they knew who was gay to the authorities.

The bill was defeated when human rights activists abroad created an uproar and foreign donors threatened to withdraw funds.

With the bill off the table for now, gay activists decided to strike and, in late August, they launched their campaign, hanging posters and handed out pamphlets with images depicting the harassment of their members.

Vocal gay community

The discrimination often starts with high profile members of society, including church leaders and government officials. The activists say this four-month programme should help humanise gays in the eyes of their communities.

"We are carrying on with our advocacy programme to different people and groups; lawyers, the police, legislators and the public, to make our voices heard and to challenge the existing homophobia," says Dennis Wamala from the group Sexual Minorities Uganda.

However, Male, heading an organisation called the National Coalition Against Homosexuality and Sexual Abuses in Uganda, is concerned by the newly vocal gay community and is fighting back.

"We are carrying out our own campaigns to undo their lies. We are using seminars, summons and other fora to do this effectively," he told the German Press Agency dpa.

The furore around the bill that would have banned homosexuality touched off a chain reaction that the conservatives are struggling to understand: hitherto unknown gay activists and their pressure groups have surfaced with a demand for rights and identity.

Problems for the gay community were compounded when, early this year, well-known gay activist David Kato was murdered under unclear circumstances. His name and those of other gays were mentioned in a tabloid newspaper with the headline "Hang Them," just before his death.

The Ugandan public is divided, with some saying sexual relations and relationships in general are a private affair, while others fear society will suffer if gays are able to make their identity public.

Constant fear

"It should be someone's right to engage in homosexuality as long as one does it out of one's free will. The law should not bother those people at all because the two partners are consenting adults," says university student Ricky Galiwango.

"Society should look at homosexuality as a normal relationship between two adults," he added.

But a Kampala businesswoman, Ester Sekajja, 38, disagrees. She told dpa that "in our culture, it is immoral to practice homosexuality and even to mention it is a taboo. The law against the practice is welcome".

Though same-sex relationships and intercourse are illegal under the country's colonial penal code and punishable by a 14-year sentence, no one has been tried for the crime. However, human rights campaigners say gays are already being harassed and even tortured by police, though not officially.

And although the government has washed its hands of the proposed bill, which would make the laws tougher, it can be brought before parliament again by private members. This worries the gay activists.

"Our people are still living in constant fear. They are not yet out fully in public because the bill could be brought up again. It is still the property of parliament," activist Wamala says.

"But we are using all means to fight it and protect our people through our legal clinic which offers free services. We are finding our people wherever they are and telling them they have their rights," he added.

  • PRKER - 2011-09-22 11:08

    So the Christian pastor says homosexuality is "Very dangerous indeed". So go jail the childless heterosexual couples too for failing to bite in to the state coffers!!! Idiotic rhetoric kills a country. African logic is just so self-serving at times and they don't even see it.

  • Dane - 2011-09-22 11:32

    To Marete and Michael, your statements make you sound as retarded and ignorant as Pastor Solomon Male. Rather don't post on here unless you have something constructive or vaguely intelligent to add.

  • Orca - 2011-09-22 11:40

    Love the sinner, not the sin. Homosexuality is wrong.

      Brad - 2011-09-22 11:55

      ...and tell me, where do you get that it is “wrong”? From the Bible, where it says that a "man should not lie with another man"??? You do know that that the Book of Leviticus also allows you to sell your daughter to slavery once she reaches the age of 18. It also allows you to stone people to death should they work on the Sabbath! So, tell me, Orca - what is right, what is wrong, and what is regarded as sin? You say, "homosexuality" is wrong. What do you mean by this? Shouldn't you rather be saying that homosexual "acts" are wrong? You need to read your Bible together with the history of that time! Do you know that Sodom and Gomorrah was actually not about homosexuality, but about greed and corruption? The men were not willingly sleeping with one another. That story is all about how those in higher authority overpowered men because the best way to strip a man of his dignity in those days was to rape or sodomise him. That story does not mean that homosexuality is a sin! It says that the practice of rape for humiliation is a sin! You cannot take the Bible literally. I did for the first 30 years of my life, and it is the biggest mistake one can ever make!

      Jeff - 2011-09-22 12:54

      @Brad i think for some it go's beyond that other than Homo sapiens when have you seen too males/females stay together in nature? its only because of our intellect that we choose to be with same gender

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-09-22 13:39

      Bonobo chimps. Elephants. Dolphins. Dogs in some cases. Need i go on, Jef?

  • Momus - 2011-09-22 11:41

    I want to see that Christian pastor come out just as strongly about adultery - which when I last looked was specifically mentioned as a sin in the 10 commandments...having lived in Uganda, I can tell you that the Pastor's are too wooried that half the congregation will be condemed in just the same way they rile against honest decent people that live a different life. This is not a 'Christian' issue. Thankfully most Christians choose tolerance and love over hatred and bigotory.

      cerveza - 2011-09-22 11:48

      @Momus - if the anti-gay Christians just spend half the time on the other 99.99% of the Bible instead of focusing all their energy on a few lines they would actually make the world a better place instead of just exposing themselves as just ignorant selfish people that will do anything to promote their personal agendas

      Momus - 2011-09-22 13:02

      I'd have a cerveza with you any time.

  • Liberated - 2011-09-22 11:44

    We need to create an Island for gay okes and maybe call it Sodom

      TastelessJoke - 2011-09-22 11:59

      Is this your fantasy island?

  • Brad - 2011-09-22 11:45

    He says, "Homosexuality is a danger. First those engaged in it have no gender or social identity. It leads to childlessness". Where is the logic, dude? He is clearly indicating that childlessness is then also a problem. What if people choose not to have kids? I wonder if someone could inform this pastor that perhaps homosexuality is God's (or Nature's) way of ensuring childlessness to keep the population down...especially in Africa when excessive breeding is the norm! Good grief, buddy, gays and lesbians are surely the least of your problems. Start focussing rather on murderers, rapists, your economy and putting food in people's mouths.....

      lastclown - 2011-09-22 14:04

      you live in Africa hence that makes you a breeder too.

  • Granny - 2011-09-22 11:52

    Nothing wrong with anything that "leads to childlessness" in Africa. This continent cannot support those already on it, never mind adding to the problem.

      daaivark - 2011-09-22 12:01

      If your moniker is anything to go by, you have yourself borne children who, in turn, have done the same. So isn't it a bit off to suggest that it is not a good idea to go forth and multiply? Or are you really that special?

      Granny - 2011-09-22 12:23

      @Daaivark you presume too much... my moniker has nothing to do with my child bearing or lack thereof, just as I assume yours has nothing to do with pigs. Over population is a threat to this planet and needs to be controlled, not only in Africa. We are already running out of food, water will be next and slowly but surely we will die off. This is one earth and can only sustain so much. And just in case it really worries you, no I do not have children, never had children and do not intend having children.

      daaivark - 2011-09-22 12:40

      An understandable presumption, I think, but no matter, I apologise. However, although I will not for one second deny that overpopulation is a problem in Africa, it is also the case elsewhere, and is not grounds for suggesting that certain sectors of society should not have children. If anything, the whole damned human race could do well to avoid procreation for a few decades. Not just those some folk some place suggest to be inferior.

      Momus - 2011-09-22 13:07

      and Granny if you knew your rat crap from rice crispies you would know that population overcrowding isn't a problem in Africa. India has 200 million more people just in one country compared to Africa's entire population... so 'childlessness in Africa' is different from your assertion that 'the earth can only take so much'. You have just as much right to live off the Earth's resources as any one else - you aren't any more special, so if you believe so fervertly in declining going to be first in the queue?

      Granny - 2011-09-22 13:11

      I am in no way inferring that any one place is inferior to the other but Africa is, and there is no way to deny it, a problem and it's a problem caused by over population in the main. I merely said there is nothing wrong with childlessness in Africa because the main story is an essentially African story and if my statement was misunderstood then I, too, apologise. I do not make a habit of deliberately offending people. Peace!!

      Granny - 2011-09-22 13:29

      @ Momus are you incapable of having a debate without being obnoxious and rude? India and China and possibly a few other countries around the world have the same problem and yes, my feelings regarding them are exactly the same. And it's probably just as well that I can't tell my rat's crap from my Rice Crispies because sooner or later we are all going to be eating the crap, the Crispies will be long gone.

      daaivark - 2011-09-22 13:36

      Granny, understood and I think we are OK. I just get very upset at the knuckles who come up with a knee-jerk "sterilise the lot" and "so stop having offspring" at every African tragedy they encounter. Somalian wars force rural people who are starving to try and survive elsewhere, and some SOB in his/her airconned office will pipe up "sterilise". A teenage girl tries to feed her 3 or 4 siblings because their mother died due to AIDS complications, and some nasty will chirp "Don't have children." As if abstention today is miraculously going to load tables with food.

      daaivark - 2011-09-22 13:38

      Momus, I'm sorry but I am battling to see the point of your rant. Is there one, other than just venting in general?

  • Marius - 2011-09-22 11:58

    It leads to childlessness. Many people think it is a small problem but it's a big problem. It's tragic. Maybe we have the solution to overpopulation here!!!!

  • TastelessJoke - 2011-09-22 12:06

    Because homosexuality is a very dangerous thing, ranking on the danger-scale somewhere between rock-and-roll and women being allowed to wear pants.

      Brad - 2011-09-22 12:16


      Momus - 2011-09-22 13:09

      nice one Tonto! hahahha...

  • christopher jonker - 2011-09-22 12:53

    wait a minute, gays and lesbians are dangerous? But they are the ones being tortured and persecuted. surely the people actually committing violence against innocent people for an imaginary crime are the dangerous ones? surely the religious leaders instigating violence and hatred towards their fellow Ugandans are dangerous? It seems clear that "pastors" and religion are the problem here. once again religion has poisoned society to the detriment of all.

      lastclown - 2011-09-22 14:09

      your Secular religion preaches to us that we must live lives with no boundaries, no values and no morals. Scientists are the new preacher men and 'science' is the new dogma. i laugh at all the people being led by the nose because some new scientific study declares right to be wrong and wrong to be right. go ahead, sodomise one another, shut up your old people in old age homes, love money and things and not people. its all 'civilisation'

      daaivark - 2011-09-22 14:23

      lastclown. I think you are confused. Firstly, religion by definition is not secular. But one assumes you refer to science? Secondly, the fact that one believes that people should be free to make their own choices regarding gender orientation in no way implies that one is "being led by the nose" by any scientific study. There is simply no logical connection.

  • leta - 2011-09-22 18:41

    I am a Christian who finds the Pastors comments quiet interesting. You can not blame the gays for social delinquency. Homosexual people are people to be loved. I believe in fighting for their rights but I do not believe that some of the things being fought for are rights. To expect Christians to accept what we clearly know to be sinful is not fair. You cannot be Christian without accepting the authority of the bible. We look at the old testament through eyes of the new testament so we are not picking what we want to believe from the bible...nowhere in Leviticus does it say that a man can sell his daughter into slavery once she turns 18.The Christian's issue with homosexuality should be homosexuality amoung Christians not homosexuality in the gen population. I have heard it said that people can't choose to be homosexual or not. I have also heard it said that alcoholicss have a predisposition to alcoholism and so do paedophils. My Q is this if paedophils are born that way then why do we jail them (I'm not saying we should jail homosexuals)? What is wrong is not determined by individual preference and blurring the lines will only bring problems

  • Michael McN - 2011-09-24 22:13

    Leta, You say homosexuality is a sin and therefore should not be legal. War, indeed all murder, is a sin, so should war not also be forbidden. Adultery is a sin punishable by stoning so the Bible says. Should every Ugandan who have ever had sex outside of marriage be stoned? Even the stones themselves would weary of such bloodshed! Jesus said Love one another. Do that and all will be well. Leave the gays be if they leave other be. That is what Christ would teach.

  • Michael McN - 2011-09-24 22:23

    Oops Leta I hit post before answering your question. Paedophiles are gaoled because they choose partners who cannot legally or reasonably consent to the relationship. It not a mutual decision. It is akin to rape, which is also illegal.

  • thabo.vilakazi - 2012-01-23 13:14

    I am against violence against any race and gender. I am trying to come into terms with the gay fact. What makes a person to be gay or lesbian. Is it physical, mental or just a theory that someone decides i just want to try and see how it feels. I have a friend who started out nicely dating girls and all of a sudden he is gay and he is now dating guys. Honestly i find this confussing. I would like to apologise i mean no offense but this is disturbing.

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