Saturday, January 31, 2009

More News from Kenya. Remember the Outspoken Gay friendly priest?

kenya’s pro-gay reverend may face an axe

Jabulani Dube (BTM Fellow)

KENYA – 29 January 2009: Pro-gay priest, Reverend John Makokha may face an axe from the United Methodist Church (UMC) following his positive stance on homosexuality, which is said to contravene the social principles of the UMC.

Makokha confirmed this explaining that he is likely to be released from his duties during the next annual conference in April 2009 in Kampala.

“I’m still the Minister of Riruta United Methodist Church, but you can see their [UMC leaders] wish is to see me out”, Makokha said.

Controversy began when Makokha who is also an ally of Other Sheep Kenya, an ecumenical Christian organisation that includes lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LBGTI) people, was last year accused by UMC leaders of promoting homosexuality in the church.

This after Makokha made it clear that he does not “find religious arguments against homosexuality persuasive because I have come to learn that historically religion has been manipulated and misinterpreted to oppose the rights of various minority groups such as women, slaves etc.”

Since Makokha had been accused of making big decisions without informing his supervisors such as talking openly, on behalf of the UMC, about inclusion of homosexuals, Reverend Neal Christie, Assistant General Secretary Ministry of Education and Leadership Formation General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) said Makokha has split the church into two.

“He has made big decisions without informing his supervisors. He has hid behind this one issue [of homosexuality] he is so passionate about. John’s colleagues, even when they agree with his convictions, do not believe he has done his job as a communicator well”, Christie said.

Christie expressed his concern about the way Makokha works. “I am concerned that he uses contacts for his own financial interest. I have organized seminars with him. I would not trust him financially again with any of our agency grants unless he is supervised by others for accountability.”

He added that Makokha’s colleagues have shared that he has taken advantage of them financially and taken advantage of their churches generosity.

Such accusations prompted Makokha to write an open letter to Bishop Daniel Wandabula last year asking for a fair treatment.

In the letter he had pointed out that he had been impersonated through e-mails and other communication using disparaging remarks because of his association with the Other Sheep.

He had said that he had been referred to as a “gay pastor”, even though he is a heterosexual man with family.

Even so, Makokha has said that he is frustrated but not loosing hope.

“I have tried my level best but we seem to be going back to Egypt every day. They [UMC leaders] have avoided inviting me in crucial meetings. They meet behind my back to strategise on how to finish me as a ‘gay pastor’ this is what they call me”, Makokha said.

He added “Despite all these persecutions and suffering due to my stand on LGBTI ministry in Kenya and within UMC leaders in Kenya I will not throw the towel since my calling is from God and not man”, Makokha concluded.

Africa News; From Kenya...,

Some news from accross Africa. Let us start with the quaintly funny...

kenyan male sex workers serve “politicians and religious leaders”

Nanjala Majale (BTM Correspondent)

MOMBASA – 26 January 2009: Panning out to Mombasa, the second largest city in Kenya, a young good-looking well-groomed man sits on a bamboo chaise lounge. He is a male sex worker, who caters only for male clientele.

He has a slightly bored expression on his face, but is willing to talk about his lifestyle and line of work.

“I don’t know why they think there are only a pocketful of homosexuals in this country”, Brian* mused before the interview even started, staring absentmindedly at his nails.

“Our main market is not the white tourists who come down here. We cater for people in Nairobi, Meru and even Mandera!”

He went on to say, in a slightly feminine tone, that last December he spent the entire month, fully paid, in Nairobi. “I had fun!” Brian enthused.

Brian is one of many male sex workers who cater exclusively to male clients.

He regularly attends one of four health centres that serve MSM in the coastal town, set up with the help of the International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICHR) an institution that teaches men about safe sex practices and offers occasional counselling.

In a study published in the June 2007 edition of AIDS, researchers estimated that at least 739 MSM were selling sex to other men in and around the city of Mombasa, a “sizeable population that urgently needs to be targeted by HIV prevention strategies,” the research said.

24-year-old Brian says he initially got into the business to make money. “Nowadays sometimes I do it just for pleasure, but mostly it’s for the money. I work only five times a week,” he declared.

Asked whether he is a homosexual Brian confided “I was raped by a neighbour when I was about eight years old and from that time I started getting sexual urges – more for men than women. I didn’t take any action after the rape, because I was threatened”, he revealed, explaining that he suffered emotionally for a while before coming to terms with it.

“I started actively going with boys when I was in secondary school. I was in a boarding school and I had about 40 boyfriends during my four years of studying there,” he said with a seemingly shy but proud expression.

“I didn’t have sex with all of them, but I liked the romance. After college is when I came out and from then I would look for people who want serious relationships.”

Brian revealed that his first few relationships did not work. “Most people just wanted to have sex and then they would often cheat on me. I have never desired to have a sexual relationship with a woman though. Maybe one day I will, just to try.”

“In my business, I charge about KSH 1,200 per shot. But that’s on the lower side for the younger clients. I only give two shots, once at night and once in the morning. I don’t stretch myself.”

“I don’t like old guys,” he confided with a low voice, “so with those ones I charge a bit extra, about KSH 2,500 and that is just for the night.”

Brian says that despite the stigma that faces homosexuals, more specifically from society, police, and the church, their clientele is made up of people in these very segments.

It was revealed at a June 2007 conference on Peer Education, HIV and AIDS, in Nairobi, that MSM face high levels of stigma and discrimination.

Agnes Runyiri of ICHR said at the forum that homosexuality is considered taboo, un-African and anti-Christian.

“It [homosexuality] is very common. The only problem is stigma. That is why we are scared to come out. But in real sense, our clients are politicians, businessmen, religious leaders – I'm very sorry to say – but it’s true,” Brian pointed out.

Since every business has its own down sides Brian narrated that “sometimes you get bad customers who pay you less than the agreed amount or disappear with your money.”

“Luckily, I have never had a violent customer although I was in a violent relationship once. He used to beat me up and say that it was because I had become naughty, that is why I had to break it off”, he said shrugging.

He also underlined that safe sex is key in his line of work, and even generally with men who have sex with men.

“There is a safe clinic [ICHR] that I work with. I started as a peer educator, but since I have a background in journalism, I now work as a counsellor. We have very many gays, who are messing about and they don’t know that they are. We deal with prevention of HIV/AIDS and it is helping because many of us were dying.”

He says it’s unfortunate that homosexuals are mistreated in most health institutions, an issue which he thinks the government should look into.

“I wish that the government would sensitise the whole country to accept that this thing [homosexuality] is there and we have to help these guys out. The more we push it under the table, the more we are going to die.”

“What we need is health rights, not even marriage rights because I don't think even my family would allow me to do that [be a homosexual]. They need sensitisation. People don’t understand that we are normal human beings, it is just that our sexual preferences are different”, he concluded.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Now Buturo is after My Porn

Seems I cannot keep the nasty man off my very privacy. Shame, shame shame.

Bet you soon the GayUganda Blog will be too pornographic to view in Uganda! Enjoy this chance when you can, dear reader.

Shame, why dont moralists stick to policing their own places! Why come after porn when there is so much corruption...! Oh my porn! Goodbye, soon...!

[ps, do you see how many human rights abuses this bill would trample on, in the name of a 'moral Uganda'? Oh, my porn...!]

Makes me wonder how tough the anti-gay bill will be. He has already promised to outlaw being gay, in the name of morality.

Who will save us from this moral crusader? He cant deal with government corruption, but things like miniskirts, porn and homosexuals are very dear to his mind.


Pornography traffickers face jail

Thursday, 29th January, 2009          


Josephine Maseruka

and Susan Ninsiima


INDIVIDUALS peddling pornography risk being sentenced to Prison for 10 years or to pay a fine of sh10m, once the Anti Pornography Bill 2009 is passed.


Ethics and Integrity minister Dr. James Nsaba Buturo said the Bill was ready and would soon be tabled in Parliament.

If the offender is a corporate body or a business, the directors or proprietors or both, will be liable to a fine not exceeding sh100m or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or both.


“Pornography is a big business for both promoters and advocates of immorality, who do not care about the quality of human relationships in the family and nationally,” Buturo yesterday told journalists at the Media Centre.


He also said: “Pornography is a poison to the mind. It fuels sexual crimes like rape and defilement. It destroys marriages and turns values upside down. Some of the values have stood the test of time.”


Buturo said responsible Ugandans had expressed concern, which prompted the Cabinet to direct the ethics and integrity ministry and the Attorney General’s office to draft the Bill.


He said the Bill seeks to repeal and replace sections 166 of the penal Code Act with a new and comprehensive legislation, which is capable of controlling and suppressing obscene material.


Some sections of the Bill target to punish producers and participants in the production, traffickers, publishers or broadcasters of pornography. It also empowers the courts of law to order the forfeiture and destruction of all materials and objects used to commit the offence.


The Bill empowers the court to issue a search warrant for any premises or persons, seize the materials and arrest the culprits.


It states that once culprits are convicted, they have no appeal option.

Buturo said the Bill caters for Internet service providers, who permit the downloading or uploading of pornography.


The minister said: “When it comes to cabinet, I will insist on keeping the prison term in the Bill, rather than the cash fine, because the dealers can easily pay.”


The minister was challenged to explain why the ebimansulo (strip dances) were still being performed with the knowledge of law enforcement agencies.


Buturo said it was regrettable that enforcement officers were sympathisers of immoral acts.


He said a joint committee of officials from the ministries of gender, ethics and integrity, health and internal affairs would discuss the link between traditional healers and human sacrifice.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Gay Prime Minister

I saw this, and thought, wow. What a milestone.

Icelandic politician may become world's first lesbian Prime Minister

By Tony Grew • January 27, 2009 - 15:08

The President of Iceland has asked Social Democratic party leader Ingibjorg Gisladottir to try to form an interim administration.

It is reported that Social Affairs Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir will be named as interim Prime Minister.

If chosen Ms Sigurdardottir, 66, will become the first openly gay or lesbian person to become a head of government.

She has been an MP since 1978 and was recently voted the most popular politician in Iceland.

Yesterday the country's Prime Minister stood down and the entire Cabinet resigned.

A general election has been called for May 9th.

The government was toppled by the financial crisis, which severely affected the Icelandic banking system.

Of course gay people have held all sorts of posts. Brains matter, truly, not a person's sexuality. Some of us are very good. And our sexuality is just a by the way. And some of us are good enough to surmount any problems related to being gay in our societies.

It matters.

To me in Uganda, this kind of happening is a fantastic milestone. I know where we are coming from!

Yet, the comments here made me realize how fantastic a milestone it is in another way. The so what reaction. Iceland is in crisis, and it needs its brightest and best to lead it. And so what if that person is gay?

Good luck, Iceland.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Assault on Human Rights

Interesting. In a bid to justify the 'banning of gay marriage', the Nigerian parliament is doing what it once tried to do before. Mounting a broad assault on the human rights of those who are gay or perceived to be gay. The perception is the key, to wipe out this menace.

A common theme of this kind of legislation. The sin, of homosexuality is perceived to be so bad that a whole range of provisions and assaults on basic human rights is mounted, in the name of prosecuting homosexuals. Happened in Uganda, continues to happen...

and now, in Nigeria again.

If this bill passes, I will be liable to prosecution in Nigeria for living with my lover- whether or not the Nigerian police can confirm that I have had homosexual relationships with him. (well, the point is not that I have sex whenever I can damn make it...! It is that the govt in this case is demanding that just the 'suspicion' of me being gay, living in a gay relationship, is enough to condemn me to prison.

Here is an assesment of the bill

Nigeria: Reject ‘Same Gender’ Marriage Ban

Bill Would Assault Rights of All, Reinforce Punishment for Homosexual Conduct

January 26, 2009

This bill masquerades as a law on marriage, but in fact it violates the privacy of anyone even suspected of an intimate relationship with a person of the same sex. It also threatens basic freedoms by punishing human rights defenders who speak out for unpopular causes.

Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) - A bill before Nigeria's National Assembly to ban "same gender marriage" would expand Nigeria's already draconian punishments for homosexual conduct and threaten all Nigerians' rights to privacy, free expression, and association, Human Rights Watch said today.

In a letter to President Umaru Yar'Adua, leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate, the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission, and other national, regional, and international bodies, the group urged legislators and the president to reject the bill. The letter urged the country's leaders to combat an environment of stigma and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Nigerians.

On January 15, 2009, the Nigerian House of Representatives voted favorably on the second reading of a bill "to prohibit marriage between persons of same gender." The bill would punish people of the same sex who live together "as husband and wife or for other purposes of same sexual relationship" with up to three years of imprisonment. Anyone who "witnesses, abet[s] and aids" such a relationship could be imprisoned for up to five years.

"This bill masquerades as a law on marriage, but in fact it violates the privacy of anyone even suspected of an intimate relationship with a person of the same sex," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "It also threatens basic freedoms by punishing human rights defenders who speak out for unpopular causes."

The House of Representatives referred the bill to its committees on Human Rights, Justice, and Women Affairs, which will hold a joint public hearing on it. If the House approves the bill on a third reading, it must then be approved by the Senate and President Yar'Adua.

Members of the House of Representatives reportedly justified the bill by citing links between "sodomy" and HIV and AIDS, making clear that they see the marriage ban as a deterrent to homosexual conduct, though research shows that HIV is most-often spread through heterosexual conduct in Nigeria. Article 214 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act already provides up to 14 years of imprisonment for anyone who "has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature." As Human Rights Watch documented in a December 2008 report, this law is a Victorian-era provision that remained after the end of British colonial rule.

The proposed law contravenes several provisions of regional and international human rights standards. Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights promises every individual equal entitlement to rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind; article 3 of the charter guarantees all individuals equality before the law; and article 26 states that: "Every individual shall have the duty to respect and consider his fellow beings without discrimination and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance."

The United Nations Human Rights Committee, which authoritatively interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and evaluates states' compliance with its provisions, found in the 1994 case of Toonen v. Australia that laws criminalizing consensual, adult homosexual conduct violate the covenant's protections for privacy and against discrimination. Nigeria acceded to the covenant without reservations in 1993.

In its letter, Human Rights Watch pointed to grave human rights issues raised by the proposed law:

* The evident intent of the new bill is to extend the already-existing penalties for homosexual conduct.

* Criminalizing "living together as husband and wife" further expands these punishments. They would no longer be limited to sexual acts between people of the same sex, but would potentially include mere cohabitation or any suspected "intimate relationship" between members of the same sex. Far less evidence would be needed for conviction, and prejudice and suspicion would be a basis for arrests. This threatens all Nigerians' right to private life.

* The proposed five-year sentence for those who "abet" a same-sex relationship is greater than the punishment stipulated in the bill for those who enter into a "same gender marriage." This provision could be used to punish anyone who gives any help or advice to a suspected "same gender" couple - anyone who rents them an apartment, tells them their rights, or approves of their relationships. Advocates, civil society organizations, and human rights defenders would be ready targets.

* Under the bill's provisions, anyone - whether Nigerian or foreign - who enters into a "same gender marriage," or simply has a "same gender relationship" in another country and wishes to continue it in Nigeria, could be subject to criminal penalties when they set foot on Nigerian soil. This provides the state with even broader powers to invade people's privacy.

Similar concerns were raised in a joint public statement issued by the Nigerian Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Nigerian nongovernmental organizations, and Amnesty International.

In 2006, Nigeria's minister of justice proposed a similar bill, seeking to criminalize not only same-sex unions but also public advocacy and associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people. Sixteen human rights groups - from Nigeria, across Africa, and around the world - had condemned the bill for violating the freedoms of expression, association, and assembly guaranteed by international law as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and for further jeopardizing the fight against the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the country. That legislation failed to come to a vote in the National Assembly.

Nigeria has the world's third-largest population of people living with AIDS. Data collected by international health organizations suggests that 80 percent of HIV infections in Nigeria result from heterosexual sex, which discredits the equation between "sodomy" and AIDS as drawn by the members of the House of Representatives. The proposed bill would further hinder HIV and AIDS education and prevention efforts in the country by driving some groups affected by the epidemic further underground for fear of violence. In July 2008, the UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) country report on Nigeria recognized that criminalization of vulnerable populations, including men who have sex with men, makes HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment efforts less accessible to these populations.

Violence against LGBT people is frequent in Nigeria. In September 2008, several national newspapers published articles criticizing a Christian church in Lagos that ministers to LGBT people: the articles included names, addresses, and photographs of members of the congregation and the church's pastor. Police harassment and threats forced the church to shut down and the pastor to flee the country. Some members of the congregation lost their jobs and homes and had to go into hiding, and several of them continue to be under threat of physical harm and harassment.

"This legislation would allow the state to invade people's homes and bedrooms and investigate their private lives, and it would criminalize the work of human rights defenders," said Gagnon. "It is not a ban on marriage, but an assault on basic rights."

and by the way, they have tried it before. And in a similar way. Here.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ted Haggard... Again!

Fact is, the saga of Ted Haggard continues its enduring fascination, for me.

And I do like this real, life opera.

So, is dear Ted not gay? Not homosexual? There should be some comparable stories from Larry Craig.

In Uganda? Well, as an update to the Kiwewesi stories, they fizzled out, the public got better current topics of gossip. Wonder how long it would take if Ssempa was...!

But, I am going back to Ted Haggard. Poor Ted.

As if Ted Haggard's downfall from respected homophobic preacher to gay prostitution john and drug user couldn't get worse, it has: Haggard's relationship with escort Mike Jones wasn't his only closeted same-sex relationship. Just in time to drum up more publicity for the HBO documentary The Trials of Ted Haggard comes word Haggard also had a relationship with an unnamed young male volunteer at New Life Church, where Pastor Ted once preached.

The matter was supposed to be kept secret, at least according to the agreement signed between Haggard's just-disclosed other lover and New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Shortly after Jones' allegations surfaced, the volunteer — then in his 20s — came forward to church officials and informed them of his "consensual" relationship with Haggard, 52, according to New Life's senior pastor Brady Boyd, who succeeded Haggard after he resigned. There is an "overwhelming pool of evidence" that shows an "inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship" that "went on for a long period of time … it wasn't a one-time act," Boyd tells the AP.

The story continues. So, Ted had a good long time relationship with another guy. Good for him, or maybe it is bad because he didnt (again) appreciate his sexuality.

A crime to ourselves, that one. We are gay. Not even religion will change our sexuality. For us to grow into good, old age when we are so convinced of our 'wrongness' is something that can be truly horrible. As is witnessed by poor Ted.

And the young man who is cementing the deal? Poor him too. But you will have to read the story to the end, here.


Blessed are the...Persecutors?

By Craig Young - 24th January 2009

Gay US Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson was a speaker at Obama's inauguration last week. However, as a whole, global Anglicanism is still a communion in crisis.

While most of New Zealand Anglicanism is sane and liberal, the same cannot be said for Uganda and Nigeria.

However, Ugandan Anglicans aren't all vile fundamentalists. Former Ugandan Anglican Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo describes gay people as 'oppressed and marginalised.' This straight grandfather has seven children of his own, but he became chair of Integrity Uganda, which supports the rights and human dignity of Ugandan lesbians and gay men. Banned from Ugandan Anglican churches by current Archbishop Henry Orombi, Ssenyonjo has started the Charismatic Church of Uganda as an inclusive alternative. He comes strongly recommended by the saintly former South African Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, himself a strong voice for reason, compassion and inclusion.

Orombi has joined with other social conservative fundamentalist Christians, Muslims and Bahai in an (ironically named) "Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality." This outfit harrasses progay journalists, and unfortunately has the support of current Ugandan fundamentalist President Yoweri Museveni, scurrilous Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper, and Cabinet "Minister for Ethics and Integrity" James Butero, also known for trying to ban miniskirts and a belief that decriminalising homosexuality would lead to sex with animals.

Fortunately, though, Ugandan journalists are known to criticise this perspective and continue to take risks and support media freedom in this context. The Sexual Minorities Uganda Group speaks up for the rights of Ugandan lesbians and gay men, and Silvia Tamale, a noted Ugandan feminist legal scholar, has published Homosexuality: Perspectives from Uganda (2007) to provide an alternative perspective to fundamentalist hijackers of the Ugandan "Anglican" Church.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A lesson for the rest of us.

A democracy in action.

The election, a grueling, telling ordeal. The primaries, where a woman challenged male privilege, and nearly won.

The last fight, when two behemoths slogged it out in public and private, each deploying armies of citizens.

And the win. A minority man, a groundbreaking historical moment. An orator in the old mould, and new- a man of the moment, ready to use the best of his country’s human resources to tackle very new and old problems.

A change of the regime, in the best democratic tradition- and the nation and the world is watching.

A very compelling story. A very, very compelling story.

So un-African, though many of us will have the audacity to claim the main actor. Right now in Zimbabwe, the same old farce is being re-enacted. We are being held out to the whole world like we are stupid, other citizens. Oh yes, there is a lot of bitterness to dish around for the likes of Mugabe.

But, that distracts us from the moment.

The ideals that make our communities human and humane can be made workable. Democracy, a strange ideal. So funny when you think of the whole in- and out fighting that charactarises our political interaction. But it can be made to work. Even if sometimes it does fail, and fail badly. What seems not to work well is the deification of any single human being. Yet, for some reason we seem to consistently do that, time after time. Seems as if it is the default, before we consider putting our faith in ideals.

I am an African. Faith in ideals is usually a misplaced concept. A dream. Too many of us dream dreams, but- few of those dreams survive the hard reality of our continent, our world.

But, and- Yes, we can. Dream, and follow those dreams. Accept, and embrace the fullness of our largesse, the problems, the upset ideals, and the dreams of a common humanity.

Indeed it is a huge lesson for me, in Uganda. In Africa.

And for most of the world.

Good luck America. Good luck Obama.


Barack Hussein Obama?

‘K. This is an issue that I have to write about.

I am being flooded, bombarded by news about this guy. Barack Hussein Obama. Soon to be president of America.

I was fascinated before, by the fairy tale story of this rise of pauper to prince. It is amusing, fascinating, enthralling. This real life story of a good man.

I am unashamedly African. Mine has not been the heritage of the African American, nor that of the African in the diaspora, in Australia, Europe or America. Indeed, I identify more with Barack Obama Sr, who was an African thru and thru. So, my perspective maybe odd for anyone in the west.

What does Barack Obama American journey mean to me?

First it was a source of amusement.

My upbringing, my sense of family, my sense of clan can never divorce from my thoughts that Obama is African. Simply because his father was African.

Bear with me. I grew up where the clan and ethnic group defines the person. That is Africa. Where a man, a male human being is something of a god. An adult male child is always 'owned' by the clan. As a child, the death rate is too high. But a grown male is firmly owned by the clan. The clan grows, is numbered by the males. The fact that BHO was born, and grew up overseas is nothing more than a reminder that we can grow up elsewhere. But, (and that is a big thing) that does not take away our clan, and tribe, and ethnic group.

Obama is Luo. That African ethnic group which straddles the Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. As much as Orokie is Luo, it is a stretch of the mind to believe him other than that. And, of course, his people claim him, and very proudly. (It is kind of funny how the western media is failing to understand the ecstasy and fascination in Kenya, but also in much of Africa. Simply put, this is a son of the soil, making good over the seas.)

So, here is this African man that is becoming president of the most powerful nation on earth. A bit unbelievable.

Yet that very fact is touching.

But he is more than that. He is also a white man. WildeY once touched me with his anger at the racial abuse that he suffered from fellow Africans, who thought that he was not African enough because one of his parents is white.

A continent of paradoxes. And the same old prejudices.

If Obama was in Africa, he would, on the one hand be accepted as a male member of the clan- and he would suffer abuse because he was not African enough. And, because he was and is male, he would beat those prejudices. More than likely.

But those racial problems have been a problem in America for years. And this is a part of their heritage which I as an African fail to understand. Our experiences, (at least for those of us who did not grow up in apartheid South Africa), our knowledge of racial discrimination has not been much. We are the majority in most of our countries. We are more likely to be the oppressors of minorities, than the victims. The anger, despair, sheer determination of fellow black people in the west is something that catches us off guard.

For the first time in my life, c/o CNN, I have listened to the MLKJr speech- the speech, ‘I have a dream’. Brought tears to my eyes. High flying eloquence, rhetoric, the power, cadence of speech, the point when he seems to put aside the written words and goes on to describe the dream. The marriage of ideals, speaking out against bigotry. All sorts of bigotry. Tackling the central theme of the African american’s discrimination in all spheres of life, but going ahead and tying it with the Jew, and all others who were discriminated against. The ideas and ideals are solid, and moving. The logical and rhetorical basis of the words touching.

I must say they reached out and touched me.

And that is the rub, not because the dream that he was talking about touches me as an African in my world- but as a gay African.

I have never truly identified with African Americans. I can never claim to understand their problem of race and racism. If I was from Zimbabwe, or South Africa, maybe I would have been able to. But I am not. I am from Uganda.

I can understand what I have lived, in my small and limited experience, environment. I can understand being considered half a person, on basis of a small part of what I am. It is not a failing, and I understand that when I don’t articulate that dream of I, a gay man, being equal and, that I, a gay man have and should have no fear for my life and happiness just because I am gay, a homosexual, I understand something is going on in my life that links my world to that of the current President elect, and soon to be President of the US.

This is a global village. I understand the fact that, with the US and the world in recession, my personal happiness on the economic front may depend on Obama pulling the world’s biggest economy out of recession. It will certainly affect me.

Bush the 43rd proved again and again in my life, how powerful the president of America is. Of course I don’t vote for him, but he affects me. Whether I like it or not.

Sigh, having said that, I have to take the next logical step for me. Make the dream mine, reach out and live the ideals, less Obama’s or the Americans’ but mine- where I am.

That is the challenge, seeing the ideas beyond the leader, however charismatic he or she is. Being able to forge the dream into my own, instead of the charismatic leader’s- and following it even if he fails it. Making the dream my own.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Nigerian MPs vote to ban "immoral" gay marriages

To me, this is a political thing. Just as it was in Uganda when our constitution was changed to ban gay marriages. That was in 2005, when, officially, there were no gay Ugandans. It begged the question, why outlaw that which is not there?

But they did it.

So, now in Nigeria, they ban gay marriage. But why? Is it a bigger moral problem than the cancer of corruption that has beset that poor, oil rich nation? Of course, perceptions differ. I hear Uganda is soon becoming another oil rich country, with teeming corruption- and of course a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

What is your take on this, Gay Nigerian Man?

It is interesting how our countries differ, and yet are the same. You have Akinola, we have Orombi, for example!!!!


By Tony Grew • January 19, 2009 - 12:50

The House of Representatives in Nigeria has voted unanimously in favour of a new legislation banning same-sex marriage.

The bill "prohibits marriage between persons of same gender, solemnisation of same and other matters related therewith."

Representatives said that both Islam and Christianity, the prominent religions in Nigeria, condemn homosexual acts.

The bill had been discussed at public hearings and was backed by citizens, one politician claimed.

Another, Igo Aguma, said:

"It is against my faith to have same-sex marriage.

"It is against our penal code to even engage in activities that are as quarrelsome as this between man and man, as well as women and women.

"It is time for us at this point in time to think back and look at the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

"The greatest means of transmitting this disease is through the act of sodomy. Young children are already victims of been lured into this cruel and unimaginable act. It is an act of perversion."

Leo Igwe, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, said:

"This vote is a step backward for Nigeria's democracy and a breach of the nation's human rights obligations.

"Banning gay marriage will increase homophobia and attacks on lesbian and gay people. it will undermine Nigeria's efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially among gays.

"At a time when many civilised nations are taking measures to abolish all forms of discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation, we humanists call on President Musa Yar'dua not to sign this oppressive and retrogressive bill into law."

Nigerian law states that anyone who has "carnal knowledge of any person against order of nature or permits a male to have carnal knowledge of him" can be imprisoned for 14 years.

In 2007 the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill was debated in the Nigerian Parliament but did not proceed.

It called for imprisonment for any person who "goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex", anyone who helps them and any gay clubs or organisations.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Health leaders call on Senegal to release 9 gay men arrested (BTM)

I don’t think the sequence of these events was coincidence. But then, I just read the news. Can we legislate HIV out of existence, or is it the proverbial ostritch head in the sand?


SENEGAL – 15 January 2009: The Society for Aids in Africa (SAA) and the International Aids Society (IAS) call on Senegalese government to immediately release and drop charges against 9 men sentenced recently for 8 years each in prison based on sexual orientation.

Among those arrested work towards providing critical HIV prevention, care and treatment services among men who have sex with men (MSM).

The organisations and other leading international and regional institutions partnered to organise a groundbreaking International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) held in December last year in Dakar, Senegal.

At that conference, public health leaders, scientists, community and politicians all affirmed their support to meaningfully address HIV among MSM.

In closing at ICASA, IAS Executive Director Craig McClure said: "The unique partnership that has driven the HIV response has at its core the people living with HIV and the populations most vulnerable - women and youth, gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers and drug users. The communities most at risk and those living with the disease have shown us that the fight against HIV

is a fight for the human rights of all human beings."

Senegalese government officials, as hosts to this international gathering of 8000 HIV professionals, also publicly pledged their support to reducing HIV among sexual minorities during their speeches and presentations.

On 22December last year, just ten days after the ICASA conference, police officers raided apartment of an HIV prevention programme leader working with the Senegalese lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, and arrested him and eight other men. Last week the men appeared in court to respond to charges of "criminal conspiracy and engaging in acts against the order of nature" where they were sentenced to eight years in jail.

Under Article 3.913 of the Senegalese penal code, homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment of between one and five years and a fine of 100,000 ($200) to 1,500,000 ($3,000) CFA francs.

SAA and IAS believe criminalising sexual orientation has never been shown to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and Aids, and is an abuse of basic human rights.

From the perspective of science and sound public health policy, the SAA and IAS believe that all countries around the world must work respectfully with all communities of their population to stem the tide of inequality and to support disease prevention. Evidence shows us that criminalising and discriminating against any group of individuals serve to fuel the HIV and Aids epidemic by denying services and relevant prevention messages.

"The arrest of these men, based purely on their sexual orientation, represents a major setback for the Senegalese response to HIV, which is widely viewed as a model in Africa", said Joanna Mangueira, President of SAA.

According to UNAIDS, fewer than one in 20 men who have sex with men around the world has access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care - and even fewer in low-income settings like Senegal. Compared to the HIV testing rates of 63-85 percent seen among men who have sex with men in Australia, Europe, and North America, rates in this population in much of Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe are often under 20 percent.

As has been demonstrated in many different countries, reducing the social exclusion of gay and MSM communities through the promotion and protection of their human rights (including sexual rights and the right to health) is not only consistent with, but a prerequisite to good public health.

Once discriminatory policies are abolished and stigma and discrimination are confronted, country-based programmes can be put in place to encourage gay men and MSM to stay free of HIV infection, thus supporting national goals of reducing HIV burden.

Bottle of Sunshine

I am looking out my window, to my village, or what I would think of like so. It isn’t, a village that is. A suburb of rowdy, bustling, growing Kampala- though what I see at the moment is a moment of peace. All I see are the greens of the hedges, trees, banana plants and- the sunshine.

Since the year began, it has been beautiful, sunny weather.

A clear blue sky, that once in a while shows the chasing clouds. Huge, blinding white pieces of wool, across a calm blue, unchanging sea.

It’s the dry season, in this country of eternal summer and spring.

The dry season, with the winds not stirring for now, the sun out bright, a constant companion. The heat, the dust, the constant golden light that seems to touch everything.

No, I do not wish for the wet season. I want to be shirtless, to feel the touch of sun when I move out from under the shadow. Its tempting, yet too warm- chases me into the cool tree shades every few minutes.

I don’t wish for the wet, because that will come in its own time. At the moment, the green of the leaves is touched with the brown of dust. A coating heavier nearer the roads, testament to the number of days it has not rained.

When the cars pass, it rises, the red brown dust, in clouds choking and deep, soon settling, because the air is not moving. Not much.

Beautiful Kampala. Where it possible, I would bottle this sunshine, carry it around with me. To remember and know how beautiful my tiny world is.

But that would take a piece of it away, the beauty.

I would rather live in the now- picking the chords of happiness out of the very air, than reflect on what is in the past. Yes, even if it is thinking of breaking open this bottle of sunshine on the deepest days of overcast.

It is beautiful. Cant help being, it is home, and I am in love with it.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Rick Warren Update 4

I have been amused by the controversies that have been ongoing. About Rick Warren, and Obama, etc.

Cant help but see the silver lining on this cloud.

I mean, Ssempa has been tied to Rick Warren so nicely in the blogosphere and in the conscious of the world that I cant help feeling happy that Ssempa is having this effect on his mentor. Wont do much in Uganda- unless it is to decrease his political influence, which is not likely to be. Afterall, his connection there is with the first lady, who continues her Abstinence campaigning. But, we shall see what happens there.

And, in the US, Rick Warren is back peddling. Which I am happy about. I mean, the constant exchoriation of his opinions, the exposure of his bigotry and his ‘love’ for gay human beings has been a lesson to homophobes the world over. Hate should not be called love, and when it is done so in church, and nothing done about it, doesn’t have to be so outside the church, in the glare of public opinion.

Rick Warren has actually endorsed Robinson leading a prayer for Obama. What! Oh, yes, he could, and he did. Can you imagine that!

Here it is anyway.

Robinson, an openly gay Episcopal bishop, had reacted angrily to the selection of Warren, who opposes gay marriage, calling it a "slap in the face." But then Robinson was selected this week to give the invocation at the inaugural opening ceremony at the Sunday afternoon concert on the Mall.

Today, Warren issued a statement praising Obama for selecting Robinson, saying the president-elect "has again demonstrated his genuine commitment to bringing all Americans of goodwill together in search of common ground. I applaud his desire to be the president of every citizen."

Small world, isnt it, when something like this has effects in the US, and in Uganda.