Does it matter?
Once I was seated at home, our living room. There is a group of our neighbours who meet at a shop nearby in the evenings, enjoying the local gossip, alcohol and company. And, for some reason they were loudly discussing homosexuality. Yeah, I know that some of them know that I am gay.
One of them, in a raised voice (alcohol laced, I am sure) cursed gay people loudly. They should all be killed, he said. Yes, I did hear him, and of course listened harder to the conversation which was not exactly private.
No, I didnt rush out to defend gay people.
Ugandans are in a bind. There are few countries in the world where it is politically correct to gay bash. Okay, they are many. But, Uganda may be one of the concrete leaders. The political leadership. Social, and religious leadership of course. It is an 'incontrovertible truth' that to be gay is to be evil.
So, does such a high level of prejudices and bigotry matter?
It is funny that, the very people who say those things are the ones who think that they don't matter.
MP David Bahati wrote the Anti-homosexuality bill, and he is convinced that he loves gay people. In the bill, he advocated for death and life imprisonment for gay people. He is a born again Christian, and he says he wrote the bill in defence of country and family.
MP Odonga Otto says he would kill a son or daughter of his who is gay. Simply because they are gay. Ssempa jumps up and down, and uses his considerable charisma to charm and tell people how we are impossible, 'eat da poo poo' and thus in defence of the laws of 'nature, god, and culture' he would love to have us in prison and dead. The bishops of the Church of Uganda, and Seventh Day Adventists were happy with the bill, the only thing which irked them was that the death penalty was too final. At least life imprisonment would allow for 'healing...'!
As the one at the other end of that stick, to me it is hate speech. But, those guys believe that it is not. And, they are merely being morally upright and courageous.
Ssempa's moslem friends believe that the Holy Quaran's Sharia law should be applied to us sinful homosexuals. Death by stoning. It is a fact that, in all the times that I have heard them say those things, advocating for the death penalty and stoning for us, I have not heard Ssempa as a Christian try to rein in his Moslem brothers. Not when they were advocating for anti-gay vigilante groups. And, yes, I have heard that they were actually drawing up 'lists' of gay-friendly activists. In case the bill doesnt become law....!
Does hate speech matter?
Of course it does. From the rhetoric of Nazi Germany against the jews and homosexuals, to the anti-Tutsi rhetoric and exhortation to 'go and kill the cochroaches', hate speech does matter. When MP Benson Ogwal calls me a gay pervert 'because the Bible calls me so'- me pushing it into his mouth only makes him realise that it actually does matter.
Of course it matters. But, will a 'good and upright' Ugandan Christian, set on 'loving the sinner but hating the sin' ever have this ability to differentiate the stones dropping from their mouths? Not really. Because their thoughts are in a rut. Gay is evil, for the bible says so. And, is there anybody who can challenge a 'scriptural' truth? Certainly not a gay person. Nor a gay-friendly person. Because one is the sinner, and the other loves sinners. Quite apt, don't you think?
If you are a real Christian, that is the point when you will draw out the bible and point out that Jesus ate with sinners, and the Pharisees did castigate him for that.
Shows that things are not always clear cut, are they?
PS. What started this whole hate speech post was the reports of an LGBT advocate who was recently beheaded. In this post, I was careful to note that I could not confirm the motivation behind he death. I mean, the gruesome facts were on NTV. The beheaded remains of a man were found a few weeks after his disappearance. Was he an LGBT activist? Was he kuchu? Was he killed because he was kuchu? I don't know.
BUT, at the same time, I am very careful to note that it is almost impossible in Uganda to confirm the motive behind a murder. Because, relatives will deny that the dead person was gay. Hey, it is not good to talk bad of the dead. So, it may be 'rumoured' etc. But never officially confirmed.
Yet I have to remind all kuchus that we have to be vigilant.
And, as a mere statistical note, I would like to ask you, if you are a kuchu in Uganda, how many suspicious deaths of kuchus have you heard of in the last 6-9 months? I don't know whether I am being paranoid, or sensational, so I do have to hang lots of cautionary marks around these, my observations. These are the deaths that I remember in that time span.
Indian guy who used to cross dress and hang out at Rock Garden. Was reported found dead in a room in 'Tourist Hotel, Kampala' Report was in the red rug.
An expatriate mzungu found murdered in his house in Bunga. Was a teacher or administrator.
One guy, a student, Kenyan (?) found stabbed to death in his rental room, I believe that was in Ntinda suburb, though I might be mistaken.
Woman in Gulu, burnt in house in Dec 2009
Again, I have to be cautious. Play devils advocate. I am not sure what the motivation in these deaths or actions might have been. I may simply be paranoid- and in that case, I am not sorry. I live in Uganda- adequate paranoia for a kuchu is a survival skill. We have no place where we collect and document all these incidents. Most of the time we might here of them and dismiss them out of hand. But, we do live in a dangerous society. Whether we accept it or not.
Constant Vigilance, Kuchus.