Monday, July 14, 2008

The Church and Homophobia

Nowadays, in Uganda, sermons in mosque and church, Anglican and Catholic usually talk about homosexuality. We are painted stupid, ugly, bad, killer, un-african, evil, and all sorts of things. Anyone who defends us comes out as bad, simply because they have defended us. Why is this so?

With Ssempa, I sincerely believe that the problem is repressed sexuality. From a lot of things that he says, it is quite clear that the guy has a problem with sex. From thinking that masturbation is evil (one of the worst), to abstinence campaigning and crowning homosexuality with evil. He is obsessed with homosexuality. Too obsessed for him to be free of it. Poor guy.

But the Anglican church?

There is an atmosphere of siege in the kuchu community here. With so many problems in our lives, we cannot understand why our sexuality has become such a huge issue. Politics? The African princes trying their best to take over, a coup within the church?

They tried, and failed. Or I think they did.

But we are paying the price. The new scapegoat for all the ills of society.

Its frustrating, but a real price. The bill in Nigeria which Akinola gave his blessing was so harsh it would have made it a crime for three ‘homosexuals’ to meet and talk. The erosion of their human rights, in Akinola’s view, was ok. Because they were homosexuals. Less than humans. So it was ok to let the legal might of the state be concerned with these iniquitous beings.

Now from our Church of Uganda's Orombi.

I knew that he was one of the schismatic leaders. But I had not heard this level of rhetoric from him. Even when we came out last year in August, I know that that Sunday, most Pentecostal and Anglican and Catholic churches preached about homosexuality. But I didn’t hear of him expressly talking about homosexuals. But he did have quite a number of surrogates. The guys who had us thrown out of the People’s Space at the Commonwealth Meeting. They were some of his bishops. With the muscle power of Ssempa’s Brown Shirts. That was the moment I did understand that these guys hated, simply, and virulently. And I was afraid.

Let me examine some of the points I have against the anti-gay church people in Uganda.

I simply cannot dialogue with the Moslems. The Mufti proposed a concentration camp: marooned and exiled on an island in Lake Victoria. He said it three times, just to make sure that we understood him. Yes we did. No dialogue there.

The Catholics?

Funny thing is that, despite the fact that they are known to be anti-gay, in Uganda the Catholics have not had much beef in fueling the homophobia to current levels. They are opposed. That is known, but they do not need to go out and prove how anti-gay they are.

The anti-gay Anglicans. And the Pentecostals, with Ssempa’s lead. Those are the forces of homophobia in Uganda. They are determined to so tar us with evil that they are going out of their way to paint us devils. Catholics are moderates in this account of wolves.

When one of their number (Anglicans), Bishop Ssenyonjo dared to demur, he was defrocked, and later excommunicated.

Yet these guys have consistently made sure that they do not reach us, that they do not talk to us, that we are pariahs to them. There is no dialogue.

So, they have used this hate to for their political needs. They want to ‘lead’ the church. Whatever. But in their strategy plan is making us evil in the sight of all and sundry.

They started with labeling us un-African. Till we reminded them of those ancestors of ours who were gay and African. And the fact that homosexuality in Africa predated Christianity.

Then they have gone out of their way to prove how bad, how evil we are. They hold a huge audience. Our people, in their poverty, do cling to religion. The church and mosque are huge factors in their lives. Thanks be that most of them believe in traditional faiths besides the ‘official’ beliefs.

But when week after week, in pulpits from minarets to church, homosexuality is held out as the modern day evil of all evils, there is bound to be a reaction from the populace. In Uganda, there is no dialogue on sexuality. There is a monologue from the church about the evils of our sexuality. And believe me, people are beginning to believe it. After all, who dares to come out and say they are homosexuals in Uganda?

So, according to the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, homosexuals want to kill him’’ I don’t wear my collar when I am in countries which have supporters of homosexuals’

‘They can harm anybody who is against them. Some of them are killers. They want to close the mouth of anybody who is against them’

The accusations from the prelate are many. We, homosexuals, are killers, murderers. We want his scalp. We want him silenced. We are in 'outside' countries, and not in Uganda. And we are offering wealth to convert the children. And the brave holy church is going to be out there to protect the poor defenceless Africans.

Besides the untruths which are in these statements, and the need that he feels to justify his leadership of the Anglicans, the fact is that he is whipping up hatred towards gay people in Uganda.

He is a very important person. And he is a ‘spiritual’ leader. And when he feels that he needs to create a scapegoat that is defenceless and abhorred by the populace, it is very easy, and very sharp of him to choose homosexuals in Uganda. Because our ability to fight back is very, very limited. Our people simply believe that what the pastor says in church is the fact. Is truth. Even I, am anonymous. Only in cyber do I have a measure of freedom.

So, the church, has chosen to fight us with its tremendous power. We have no option but to fight back.

Ridiculous, but true. And even those of us who say we have no faith cant but realise what a self appointed enemy the church is, against us.

And the church has allied with the state. The president, over and over again has lauded their ‘fight’ against ‘homosexuals. The traditional leaders are joining in the campaign.

Will we survive? How far will they go?

I have no answer to those questions. But I know I am in a fight, an unequal one. Well, they risk reputation, for me it is life, so, who has more to lose? But I sure as hell (is it sure?) need to realise that it is war.


PS. This almost refused to be written. I was too emotional at first, but remembering what is at stake, I could not NOT write it.


Cany said...

Thank you for writing such a lovely piece. I am so very sorry you find yourself in the middle of this wholly unnecessary mess.

As someone in the American Church--and clearly aware of the struggles here--it is good to read about how you are undergoing this thunderous change, but it tears at me terribly that you have found yourself in such an untenable position because of others in the Anglican Church.

gayuganda said...

Hi Cany,

thanks, and you are welcome here.

Dont worry about the homophobes here. They would have found another excuse to do what they are doing. Sorry that it is tearing up the church!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your writing. I guess it was not easy for you to write such a painful fact. I am a Japanese. My country has homophobia, too. Though homophobia in Japan is not like in Uganda, people ignore homosexual people. For instance, most of people try not to see homosexual people, when they happen to see gay or lesbian couple.
I don't have any religion, so I am not sure if I really understand the situation of your position. But after I read your article, I thought about the relationship between religion and homophobia. I think some traditional religious ideas about homosexuality need to look over and reconsider, because being homosexual is not evil, bad and immoral at all. We all have human rights to live as we are.

Anonymous said...

It is really sad thats the Church is putting this great amount of negative light on gays.It's sad how gays, to those that are homophobic ,are almost described as unhuman.I can only imagine how hard it must be to live in a country like Uganda ,where there Church does have great influence amongst its people on this issue.It's frustrating, especially when you yourself are religious.Issues must be brought to table in order to try and resolve them.Gays and lesbians exsist and they exsist everywhere.Gays and Lesbians are people.People that deserve the same rights and treatment as heterosexuals.I only hope for the best outcome.

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