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Foreign Affairs

Africa and the West

The New York Times reports that colonialism is alive and well:

In neighboring Uganda, the homosexuality issue has become front-page news after a lawmaker with the governing party proposed executing gay people. Most people in Uganda support criminalizing homosexuality, and an anti-gay bill is being debated by the cabinet. But in recent interviews, many people said they thought imposing the death penalty was going too far.

The anti-gay bill has catalyzed a firestorm of criticism, with many of Uganda's foreign aid donors voicing concern and some even threatening to cut off much needed help. In recent weeks, the Ugandan government has indicated that it may water down the bill or scrap it all together. Yoweri Museveni, Uganda's powerful president, who has been in office for 24 years, recently expressed apprehensions about the bill because it was becoming a "foreign policy issue."

"The prime minister of Canada came to see me, and what was he talking about? Gays," Mr. Museveni said. "Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to see me, and what was he talking about? Gays. Mrs. Clinton rang me. What was she talking about? Gays."

Andrew Wasswa, a gay activist in Uganda, said he attended a meeting on Wednesday between several gay rights activists and high-ranking government officials, but it still was not clear what the government was going to do.

"They kept asking us, 'Why all this criticism, why all this pressure?' " he said. "They seemed more concerned about the foreign pressure than anything."

Categories > Foreign Affairs

Discussions - 9 Comments

In the Vision of the Anointed spoke of 'mascot groups' whose 'plight', such as it is, made for an occasion for the anointed to distinguish themselves from the benighted (while allowing the designated mascots to aggrandize themselves in various ways). Uganda's politicians are learning that homosexuals are now the ultimate mascot group in the affluent West.

But let's remember that the West hasn't rolled over and died yet, yes? Wasn't it supposedly Westerners that ignited this issue there in the first place?

AIDS ignited that issue in Uganda.

http://www.aidsuganda.org/

Look at the section, "HIV/AIDS in Uganda".

"Adult life expectancy currently is at 48.9 years (50 years for females and 48 years for males) yet it is projected to have been 56.9 years without AIDS. AIDS is cited among the leading causes of poverty in the country."

"The NHSBS estimated a total of 2.18 million Ugandan orphans by end of 2005. About 47% of these and 81% of the 567,700 dual orphans are due to AIDS. "

Most AIDS transmission in African nations are through heterosexual contact, but the disease has been a spur to "family values" of all sorts. While glancing through the reports I note that the implication is that there is no homosexual transmission of AIDS in Uganda, but it also says that about 90% of "sex workers" are female, which logically leaves about 10% who are male.

I was curious about that, because I know many people who work with AIDS orphans in East Africa, including Uganda, who speak of the sex trafficking of young children of both sexes as a major problem there. I see this, too, from AIM. http://www.aim.org/aim-column/spreading-aids-to-uganda/

All good points, Kate. I suspect that that spirit was part of the missionary effort in Uganda. This is how it is being portrayed elsewhere:

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/35512_American_Evangelicals_Enabled_Ugandas_Death_Penalty_for_Gays

There is probably truth to both sides of the story. C.S. Lewis always warned against such efforts - anything that called itself "Christianity AND..."

Really, Kate? A link to Cliff Kincaid's loathsome "coverage" of the issue for AIM?? The text of the legislation says this:

"The objectives of the Bill are to:

(a) provide for marriage in Uganda as that contracted only between a man and a woman;

(b) prohibit and penalize homosexual behavior and related practices in Uganda as they constitute a threat to the traditional family;

(e) prohibit ratification of any international treaties, conventions, protocols, agreements and declarations which are contrary or inconsistent with the provisions of this Act;

(d) prohibit the licensing of organizations which promote homosexuality."

Hmmm.... some of that sounds awfully familiar to these American ears, having heard more than my fair share of GOP talking points and right-wing radio shows.
The bill also provides for all kinds of punishments simply for engaging in consensual sexual relations with someone of the same sex, ranging from seven years to death:

" The offence of homosexuality.

(1) A person commits the offence of homosexuality if-

(a) he penetrates the an*s or mouth of another person of the same sex with his p**is or any other sexual contraption;

(b) he or she uses any object or sexual contraption to penetrate or stimulate sexual organ of a person of the same sex;

(c) he or she touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.

(2) A person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.

Aggravated homosexuality.

(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the

(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;

(b) offender is a person living with HIV;

(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;

(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;

(f) offender is a serial offender, or

(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,

(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

Attempt to commit homosexuality.

(1) A person who attempts to commit the offence of homosexuality commits a felony and is liable on conviction to imprisonment seven years.

(2) A person who attempts to commit the offence of aggravated homosexuality commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life."

The vast majority of all that has little or nothing to do with HIV, and nothing to do with non-consensual sexual activities. The bill also retains provisions which require that if someone knows that someone is engaging in homosexuality, that person is to report them to the police within twenty-four hours or face fines and/or up to a three year prison sentence themselves. Lovely.

It's interesting that the reports - from a group established by a statute of the Ugandan parliament in 1992 - give "the implication [...] that there is no homosexual transmission of AIDS." (and even I wouldn't believe that there is NONE), yet that's what is regularly offered as an excuse for a bill which would imprison or execute people for being homosexual where AIDS is simply not a factor. Not that it WOULD actually justify such draconian measures if it were a major factor, of course.

You can see for yourself the text of the bill, here:
http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/btb/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Bill-No-18-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009.pdf

Keep in mind, too, the actual title of the bill is "Anti Homosexuality Bill." - not anti-AIDS or anti-HIV bill.

As I read in another critique of the legislation and Kincaid's rants about it, "only to rabidly anti-gay bigots can draconian legislation aimed at harshly punishing and killing gays be presented as a noble effort 'designed to save lives.'"

As for this being a matter of "colonialism" - what a joke.

I was actually pretty surprised to see this story even mentioned here at NLT (although admittedly it was for the bizarro purpose of saying that diplomatic pressure to stop sadistic legislation is "colonialism"), seeing that the link between this legislation and the work of C-streeter/Family evangelical Christians is pretty clear:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/world/africa/04uganda.html?src=twt&twt=nytimes

"Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.

The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed 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.”

Kate, you might find this bit interesting:

"Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.

“Now we really have to go undercover,” said Stosh Mugisha, a gay rights activist who said she was pinned down in a guava orchard and raped by a farmhand who wanted to cure her of her attraction to girls. She said that she was impregnated and infected with H.I.V., but that her grandmother’s reaction was simply, “ ‘You are too stubborn.’ ”

I wonder if these evangelicals also told their Ugandan audiences about how America's founding was Christian - the way they're Christians!

Without endorsing Scanlon's (or Kincaid's) framing of things here, I'd say he's right that the idea that the actions of our state dept. and of the U.K.'s are in any way akin to colonialism is preposterous. Most social conservatives would have wanted a Republican administration to act similarly.

What about democracy? What about allowing the democratic process in another country express the majority opinion in that country? Palestinians elect a group that rains terror on Israel and we say, "That's democracy for you."

Meanwhile, Christians I know are discussing this, looking at their Bibles and trying to figure out what is right. Not one I know can stomach the idea of Uganda's proposed law. However, if we liberally accept homosexuality as normal then we get consequences that we might not like.

Yes, we would expect a Republican administration to act similarly. However, how we deny that we are trying to influence Uganda's government to act undemocratically?

Do we bring similar pressure on the Saudis or other Moslem nations if they mistreat women? No. We say nothing. Are gay men more important to the US than any woman?

Yes, I am ignoring whatever Craig wrote. What I saw of it was offensive.

As for this being a matter of "colonialism" - what a joke.

The matter does raise two questions:

1. What is the baseline of human rights, local deviation from which is unjust?; and

2. How do policy-makers set priorities?

Saudi Arabia executes adulterers. Perhaps a commensurate quantum of manpower by the Canadian Prime Minister has been invested in addressing this; or perhaps it has not because of reasons of state; or perhaps it has not because of a sense of futility. (Or perhaps it has not because adulterers are not a mascot group).

Also, what is the nature of our concern here? Is it that applying capital sentances for sex offenses is draconian?; or that vice crimes are 'victimless offenses' and ought not be punished; or that we think it part of the baseline of 'human rights' to be free to engage in sodomy, to form subcultures dedicated to the practice of sodomy, to incorporate organizations to promote sodomy, and to encourage grown men to behave like teenage girls?

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