When I am a gay man, in Uganda, and, by law it is no longer legal to be gay?
Not if. When, because, I have to be realistic. This bill could have gone through the 3 readings, and become law on the day that it was introduced in parliament. But, it didn’t.
So, in the meantime, we have alerted the world that such a bill is there. And, that it is likely to pass. And, there has been a lot of outrage. Civil, political, religious.
But, the bill still is. And, though it is more likely to be scrutinized, it will still most likely become law. As someone noted, we have an ageing, dictatorial ruler, autocratic, who does take joy in his homophobia. A tiny gay community, persecuted into invisibility, and ostracized. Few dare speak out. And, it is not without personal cost to even question the bill.
We have managed a tiny little bit of debate in the country. But, there are certain, very well organized forces that are desperate that the bill passes. For them, they have the will of the population, the state of homophobia, literally everything. And, we have nothing. Nothing except the outrage of a world, that, in this day and age, such a bill can become law. And, my country mates insist that, theirs is the right. Theirs is the sovereignty. And, they dared to challenge the world to take away its aid. That, they would rather kill off a piece of their populace, to cleanse Uganda and have a morally upright country, than have aid to help with, endemic corruption, and all the sick starving children, disease and drought stricken areas. Than have citizens who are homosexual.
But, I am diverting myself. What will happen when the law passes?
I fear to think of what will happen. I will un-man myself.
But I have to.
I was reading, meditating on a poem. Have been on the same for some time. Robert Cochrane’s 'A Private View.'
About a memory of his; the day a friend, a lover told him that he had AIDS. In the days when that was a diagnosis of death. The words, the lines comes into my mind,
I conjured with
names of long survivors,
but you cut through
‘At what cost though?’
From all the words
in my world of them
I could muster none,
my mind reeling
at such savage progress.”
What will happen, when the bill becomes law?
I cannot hide from it. I know how bad it is. What will happen, when I have to live with it?
Words fail me. Because, Uganda would have become the most dangerous country for a gay man to live in.
Not Iran, or Saudi Arabia, where the death penalty is the one for gay people. But, the burden of proof is very, very high. Something to be thankful for in Sharia.
In Uganda, under that bill to become law, any accuser will have the law on his or her side. Even touch will be deemed homosexual, as long as my intent is divined as homosexual. And, I will be liable to life in jail.
So, what will I do? What will happen?
I am seriously considering getting out of the country. For the first time, I do admit to myself that any decision to stay inside the country after the bill is law will be a serious risk of my life. In all ways. Because I am known. And, there are many who would be willing to ‘report’ me. And then, it would take some time to even prove that they cannot prove their allegations.
Do I want to die in prison? Do I want all this to hang over my head, for the rest of my life?
A while ago, when the hue and cry was hot, my dad felt he should come and ask me to think about going out of the country. I reassured him. No. I would be fine. He has known for some time. And, with him, blood is much thicker than water. We don’t discuss it, but, he did intimate his fear that we, me and my partner, were risking our lives. I reassured him.
I don’t know whether he is following the bill. Certain other things are distracting him. I don’t think I would be convincing if I was to try to convince him now. I am not convinced that I will be fine, after the bill is law.
Even my partner thinks we should seriously think about it.
I am the one who seems to have my head in the sand, ostrich like. But, I am no ostrich.
I am a human being that is sentient. My country mates may think that I am evil, that I deserve a quick death. It is my life, precious to me, though not to them.
So, what will happen?
I love this stupid little country of mine. And, I have family.
Once upon a time, I lived outside. For a short while. I felt too homesick, for the beauty and bothers of the country. And, I do have family and friends here.
Of course I do fear the logistics of relocating, and making another country mine. Starting another life.
But, I have to weigh my love and reluctance against the pain of prison, and death. For myself. For my lover. And, I may also be a danger to my family. Those who know. Would Uganda really dare prosecute my parents for not reporting me? More stupid things have happened in life.
I don’t believe in being a martyr. It is stupid.
But, I have lived in more dangerous places. Physically dangerous, with continuing threat, daily, to life and limb. Yes I have. And, my life has always had that guarantee. That there is no guarantee to life.
To be continued.....