Friday, July 10, 2009

Head On

Someone tackles the anti-Gay hysteria in Uganda. Hadnt seen this article, but very much worth the time...

Is homosexuality really un-African?

Guest Writers

Written by Akumu Patience

Sunday, 05 July 2009 16:57

Uganda has of late become a hot bed of homosexuality debate with the majority of us agreeing that same sex relationships are a perversion, an abomination, unheard-of and unacceptable among Africans.

Almost all of us think it’s an act that must be condemned by all right thinking members of society in the most vehement of terms. Our dear President, political leaders and religious guardians have all added their strong voices. The result is a resounding reverberation: “There is no homosexuality in Africa”.

This rhetoric we have learnt to accept without question, faithfully rallying behind those who want our brothers and sisters involved in same sex love to leave the continent.

Yet same sex relationships were once embraced and accepted within several African societies, some of them were sexual while others were non sexual, and others still were symbolic. Perhaps the real western decadence is the grave homophobia that has now come to be part and parcel of African societies.

Joseph M. Carrier and Steven O. Murray, in a research entitled “Boy wives and female husbands” highlight the fact that same sex marriages have been documented in more than thirty African populations, like among the Yoruba and Ibo of West Africa, the Lovedu, Zulu and Sotho of South Africa, the Kikuyu and Nandi of East Africa, the Nuer and Zande of Sudan and the Hausa of Nigeria.

There is also evidence that homosexuality existed in pre-colonial Uganda but was largely closeted. However, the society then was not as homophobic as it is today. Bride price was central to these same sex relationships.

Typically one of the women in the woman-woman relationship would pay bride price and become the sociological husband. The woman for whom bride price was paid would be her wife. In a man-man relationship, the older man would pay bride price for his usually teenage ‘bride’ who would become his boy-wife.

The parents of the boy-wife would treat the older man as their son-in-law. Unlike woman-woman relationships that were usually permanent, man-boy relationships would end when the younger boy became of age and married his own boy-wife.

Like usually happens when any sort of social bonds are formed, same sex relationships in Africa were sometimes abused. Between 1880 - 1923, a study of homosexual crime among African males revealed that homosexuality began too early and was too widespread in nature to be dismissed as a result of European sexual decadence.

Even then, many of the men were prosecuted for being in relationships they themselves described as passionate. There were also cases of male elders and men in authority taking advantage of other men in vulnerable positions.

Like is the case with so many other aspects, in regard to homosexuality, Africa got the worst of both worlds. We let go of our culture of tolerance and embraced the so called “sodomy” and “unnatural” offences and put them in our statute books where they have stayed to date.

Criminalisation of same sex relationships makes it very hard to intervene in cases where there is abuse, for example where one of the parties is not consenting or when minors are involved.

Allegations like those against Pastor Kayanja become not just an ordinary case of one individual violating another’s body and sexual integrity but rather a crisis. The real issue gets drowned in other would be irrelevant ones. We are more concerned with integrity and morality issues therein.

Investigation gets geared more towards punishing such immorality or salvaging the reputation of the accused, instead of addressing the gross abuse of human rights involved and achieving rational and legal justice for the victims and alleged perpetrators.

What is ironical is that these laws, criminalising all forms of same sex relationships, we cling so tightly on and quote with utmost relish and gusto were long replaced in the statute books of the countries from which we imported them.

Culture, morality and religion are all dynamic, relative and subjective notions carrying different meanings to different people at different times and places. Seems like it’s high time we look for another reason to intervene in other people’s private lives besides claiming that they are “uncultured”, “immoral” and “un-African”.

Or maybe if we feel so strongly about it, we should be the ones to leave the African continent for some safe haven where we shall not be confronted by “immoral” and “uncultured” people.

The author is a Law student at Makerere University.


Princess said...

I'd very much like to see this evidence she speaks of.

gayuganda said...

Ha Princess. You's alive good.

Still trying to figure out how to pick the feed from your new blog.

And, I think this is what you are asking about.,2.html

There is more out there. Look at the bibliography.

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