I think we did. Get to him that is. I dont think these remarks were random. Though Museveni tends to wander in remarks.
“I hear European homosexuals are recruiting in Africa,” said Mr Museveni on Saturday, to an audience of mainly youth at the Kampala Serena Hotel that homosexuality is un-natural.
European Homosexuals? No, I dont think that Museveni would mistake all the 'outside' for Europe. So, why European homosexuals, and not American homosexuals?
But, the subtext is clear. It is not from Africa. And, the 'recruitment' drive is something that is happening. Even the head of state believes that nonsense! It is a foreign thing. And, of course it is un-natural.
“We used to have very few homosexuals traditionally. They were not persecuted but were not encouraged either because it was clear that is not how God arranged things to be.”
So says President Museveni. He is a history buff. History written as he desires it to be. So, maybe I should not be suprised.
My history, (and Ssempa concurs) says that homosexuality was accepted at the Buganda Court before Christianity was accepted. Oh, I have remembered, Museveni at the moment does not like the 'Mengo establishment'....!
We used to have very few homosexuals traditionally? Why, seems the impression from His Excellency is that the recruitment drive has been hugely succesful! So, homosexuals in Uganda are 'increasing'. As his Minister for Ethics says, Uganda is 'under attack'. And, we need to be defensive about it?
And, they were not persecuted....! I wonder whether his government is going to try and reverse that historical oversight.
Yet it is true. Homosexuality in Africa was more than benignly accepted. Why, because nobody seemed to think it any threat to anything. Why would it be a threat, to any rightly thinking person? Actually, many people argue that homophobia, which came with Christianity, was the actual western import. Not homosexuality.
At least, Museveni at last accepts that homosexuality is not 'un-African'. Sigh, the myths that we have to debunk are kind of myriad.
If I was not so convinced of my Africannnes, and my Ugandanness, I would surely believe that my black skin is white. And that I am not what I am. Why does everyone around me believe in myths about me? Sincerely, it is a bit puzzling, not just galling!
But, is this enough?
Please note, very carefully, that His Excellency came out strongly and firmly as a gay basher.
“You should discourage your colleagues [involved in homosexuality] because God was not foolish to do the way he arranged,” said Mr Museveni, adding, “Mr and Mrs, but now you have to say Mr and Mr? What is that now?”
International protest and revulsion over the bill has been a lot. At least 3 western governments have expressed 'concern' overtly and diplomatically. Even from Nsaba-Buturo's statements, others are expressing their reservations in private. 'Diplomatically'
Christian organisations, and Christians, are coming out with strong statements. The very defense that the bill is a pro-christian thing is indefensible. Which makes proponents unconfortable. So much so that, the anglican Church of Uganda has found itself to have no 'official position'.... Funny diplomatese... from churchmen.
Others like the Catholic Church are actually damned by their very silence. The Ssempas do not need much rope to hang themselves, in their zeal for their god. And, they are furiously wrapping it round their bloody necks.
Human rights groups were the first and most prominent to come out against this bill. Which, incidentally, was tabled almost exactly one month ago. But the Nsaba-Buturo snear is the best answer to what Ugandans officially think of pressure from that point. 'Anal sex has no rights'. Period.
So, is it working?
Speaking from outside, it would seem as if there is no way that this bill could pass.
Speaking from inside Uganda, I think there is no way that it can be stopped. Why? Because, Ugandans believe they are in a position of 'leadership' of the world. With this law their stamp of authority! Maybe they were wavering, under the build up of international pressure.
But, that small speech from the President shows where the winds are blowing. He knew that this bill was coming. He is a homophobe. Rumour is, the international pressure was expected, and the government, for 'deniability' wanted the bill as a private members bill. It was all part of the strategy. How many times over the year has Nsaba-Buturo been coming out with threats about the new bill? It was becoming so common for him to mention it that some actually thought it was a joke. All bark and no bite.
Well, the fangs were revealed.
The president has taken note. And, he wants to stiffen the resolve of the front line troops. That is how I am taking that statement.
Matter of fact, homosexuality is below the radar in the list of sins of Ugandans that are 'seen' by gods. Corruption is much bigger, actually threatening the omniscient ruling party. That is why we are more visible, defenseless us. That is why we are being demonised, and, that is why the 'moral leadership' of Uganda needs to be emphasized.
Sigh, this happens only in novels I thought! Works of fantasy, not real life.
So, is it so hopeless that we should stop?
No. It is our lives. It is a question of OUR lives, and we simply cannot stop. That has always been the strength behind the gay movement. The perceived threat by the majority is a myth which most people cannot actually believe. They may, when preachers like Ssempa are at the pulpit. But they dont, not with their day to day experiences of life.
But for us gay people, that transient hostility to a minority is a life threatening stumbling block. It is our lives on line. That I know, more now than ever. And I will not close my eyes to it.
No. We will not give up. Because we cannot give up. Unless we are ready to go to the concentration camps. Literally.