Odious: Ugandan Paper's Anti-gay Campaign

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As my daughter Sasha would say, it was not too long ago that we, being Black were an "abominable nuisance" to some, punished by rape, sexual abuse imprisonment and lynching. I do not have to agree with or like homosexuality but I don’t have to agree with discrimination of another human being because of their homosexuality.

[London Bridge Is Falling]

The issue of homosexuality has been debated since time immemorial.

While it is still a taboo in most African countries, it is now less so in Western society; that is to say it is widely accepted than it was 10 – 20 years ago. Researchers are still intrigued by the “causes” of homosexuality. There have been various studies to try to ascertain whether homosexuality is genetic or learned behavior; nature verses nurture.

One study on the nature verses nurture was debate conducted in 2008 by Dr. Niklas Langstrom and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the studies were of all adult, ages 20 – 47 years old, twins in Sweden. Many genetic studies use identical and non-identical twins to tease out genetic and environmental influences.  Identical twins share same genes and environment and non-identical twins share half their genes and all their environment. If there is a greater similarity in trait between identical twins compared to non-identical twins, then genetic factors are deemed largely to be responsible.

So if scientists observe that same-sex behavior is more common amongst identical twins, then there must be genetic factors at play. In Dr. Langstrom’s study, the scientists asked all participants -same gender twin pairs- about their sexual orientation and amount of same-sex and opposite sex partners they had sex with. They found that genetics accounted for about 35% of the differences between men in homosexual behaviour and non shared environmental factors about 64%.

In homosexual women 18% of the variation in same-sex behaviour was accounted for by genetics, non-shared environment 64% and shared environment 16%. Although specific genes were not identified researchers believe they operate somewhere during development.

Since the 1960's Western culture has steadily legalized private homosexual acts between consenting adults. In the UK, the Sexual Offences Act (1967) decriminalized private sexual acts between men 21 years or over in England and Wales. The minimum age of consent at which a person may lawfully consent to intercourse and to certain homosexual acts was then reduced to 16 in England and Wales by the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000. This came into force in 2001.

In Uganda, where homosexual acts are still illegal, a relatively new publication, The Rolling Stone, is causing widespread fear and panic within the gay community and world wide condemnation from Gay and Human Rights Activists.  The two months old paper recently published names and photographs of supposedly gay Ugandans next to a caption which read “Hang Them”.   Most of those whose names appeared in the newspaper have been harassed and threatened with dismissal from work and their homes.

Mother and Father have turned against son and daughter, brother against brother and sister.  Society has turned on each other.  Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda, reported that one woman was almost killed after her neighbors bombarded her house with stones. The Editor of the paper, Giles Muhame remains unapologetic. He denies inciting violence and says he is acting in the public interest, that Ugandans did not know to what extent homosexuality was “ravaging the moral fabric of our nation” and vowed to continue to publish the names and photographs of gay Ugandans. A judge has since ordered him to halt.

In 2009, David Bahati, a legislator from the ruling party, introduced a controversial bill before parliament titled Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.  The current penalty for homosexual acts in Uganda is 14 years but the bill proposes life in prison.  It also proposes death penalty for a new offense of “aggravated homosexuality” defined as when the participant is a minor, HIV positive, disabled or a “serial offender”.  US president Barrack Obama called the Bill “odious”.  The European Union and Britain’s Africa minister, Baroness Kinnock have also condemned the Bill.

The Baptist Union of Western Australia (BUWA) Task Force on Human Sexuality in their study found that "a person becomes a homosexual by choosing to be involved in same sex activity.  This is in contrast to innate characteristics such as gender and ethnicity.  The report affirms that "the Bible is clear that sin involves choice, and it unequivocally condemns homosexual behaviour as sin"  Genesis also teaches that God instituted and designed marriage between a man and a woman (Genesis 2: 18-25)

What about those who do not believe in the Bible, how are they guided on the issue of homosexuality and marriage between Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve?  Gay Activists claim that homosexual activity between consenting participants is nobody else’s business.

Times have moved on from biblical interpretations on many aspects of our life, for example there are now gay Bishops, and priests and women priests and if the Bible were to be taken in its literal form then it would seem that modern society is accepting as holy what God decreed as sinful.

It would seem to me that individual belief will determine how we answer the question of homosexuality. I am torn and full of questions. Who would choose to be gay and invite such hate and violence into their lives if it were merely a question of choice as some have alleged? How can the very existence of a human being be an abominable nuisance because they are gay? How can one advocate for imprisonment and even death of another human being in a consensual, loving, caring relationship?

Being Black and also a woman, I am more inclined to preach love, peace, equality and tolerance.  As my daughter Sasha would say, it was not too long ago that we, being Black were an "abominable nuisance" to some, punished by rape, sexual abuse imprisonment and lynching.  I do not have to agree with or like homosexuality but I don’t have to agree with discrimination of another human being because of their homosexuality.

In Uganda the Anti-Homosexual Bill seemed a foregone conclusion and it was supported by demonstrations throughout the streets of Kampala, however uproar in the international community has halted its progression as on May 7th  2010 a committee appointed by Yoweri Museveni, Uganda's ruler, recommended that the Bill be withdrawn because it found “technical defects in form and content”

One has to wonder whether or not the publication of names and photographs of gay Ugandans in The Rolling Stone newspaper is not a publicity stunt to garner readership, because by choosing such a controversial topic with a deplorable caption, it has done just that.

Allimadi writes for The Black Star News from London.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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