Sunday, January 31, 2010

Contrast in Uganda

Uganda is beautiful country.
Very, very beautiful. So beautiful that it is very easy to forget that it can also be ugly. Very ugly.

Yesterday I was out dancing, having fun, in a bar with other people.
I had fun. The music was good, the mind was easy, and I was wild with relief that I am alive. I was happy, I felt it, and did show it.

Yet, I am immersed in the middle of a battle for my life. My very life, me and my partner’s. And of all Ugandans that are like me.

Now I am seated in a corner of our compound, typing away, thinking of the contrasts, the extremes that my life is.
And, there  are deadly caveats to the beauty, ugliness that I have to ignore most of the time. Because I can go mad if I obsess about some of those things.

How can I be a gay Ugandan and be happy, living in Uganda?

I have to shut my eyes to some of the things that happen.

Yesterday, I did have a conversation with a couple of people who are questioning their sexuality.
I am gay, and I know it. But sometimes I forget that the confidence in my sexuality that I now take for granted, it is something that used to torture me. The self knowledge has come at a price. Many others are still paying it. Many are questioning, many are wondering, they are praying, and self doubting, seeking for answers in the worst sort of persecution that can go on in the country. In any country.

There is one lady in Gulu who was burnt to death by someone, a colleague.
Her reported crime was making a pass at another woman. This woman was so incensed that she took fire to the lady’s home. There were two children in the house at the time. Am informed that they are both dead. So is the woman, the one who made a pass that was not appreciated.

Sigh... I believe the 'defence' is the so called 'gay panic'. You, a profoundly heterosexual person, find a homosexual advance so increadibly offensive that in a panic, you kill the 'offender'.

Another guy is being blackmailed by former lovers.
He is well off, and these guys see a chance to make money. So, for what were consensual sex acts, they report to the police as the injured party.
There is no justice in Uganda for the gay person. These former lovers, they first steal from the man, and then go to the police to report that he is gay. So, he is caught in a lurch. To report that they have stolen from him, and then he finds this other case that they have reported him as gay.

And, in Uganda, the ‘victim’ has all the advantage.
Remember the case of Pastor Kayanja? Mega church, multibillion shilling man. But, some guys want to say he is gay. He might be, or he might not be. But, it did take him more than half the year to fight the allegations. And, his accusers, fellow pastors jealous of his ministry, (including dear Pastor Ssempa and Pastor Male), stand accused of trying to tarnish his name.

Incredibly, it is these guys who are behind the Anti-Homosexuality bill.
And, to cover themselves, they have two categories of people. The ‘offender’, who has no rights, once reported. And, the ‘victim’, who is protected by the law once he reports, or she reports.

You don’t believe it? Read the text of the bill, here.

I am picking out some of the proposed law, word for word.
5. Protection, assistance and payment of compensation to victims of homosexuality.
(1 ) A victim of homosexuality shall not be penalized for any crime commuted as a direct result of his or her involvement in homosexuality.
(2) A victim of homosexuality shall be assisted to enable his or her views and concerns to be presented and considered at the appropriate stages of the criminal proceedings.
(3) Where a person is convicted of homosexuality or aggravated homosexuality under sections 2 and 3 of this Act, the court may, in addition to any sentence imposed on the offender, order that the victim of the offence be paid compensation by the offender for any physical, sexual or psychological harm caused to the victim by the offence.
(4) The amount of compensation shall be determined by the court and the court shall take into account the extent of harm suffered by the victim of the offence. the degree of force used by the offender and medical and other expenses incurred by the victim as a result of the offence.
6. Confidentiality.
(1) At any stage of the Investigation or trial of an offence under this Act, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judicial officers and medical practitioners, as well as parties to the case, shall recognize the right to privacy of the victim.

It is simply tailor made for blackmail, extortion. And all that is okay, since it is homosexuals that are being persecuted. As Minister Nsaba-Buturo said, ‘Homosexuals should forget about human rights.’ We are simply not worth the protection of the law. It is a very clearly visible, clearly sane thing in the eyes of most Ugandans.

Yet the grass is still green.
The sun rises bright, and it is going to be a great hot day. Maybe highs of 30s. The avocado pear tree behind my house has flowers, and young fruits on it. The pawpaw tree has some fruits on it too. And, below them, the ducks are panting in the heat. Maybe I should give them some water.

No. I cant forget about the beauty of my world, of my country.
I simply cant ignore it. I must open my eyes, my hands and sing and dance and be happy. And, I must at the same time remember that some of my very countrymates believe, with a passion and conviction that is utterly appaling, that I cannot share with them this beauty.

They want to rid the country of those like me.

And, they are deadly serious.

Have a thoughtful day.



Jean-Paul, Canada said...

Good morning gug,

I would be so proud to have a son like you, to have a brother or a friend like you.

Thanks for sharing this. How can anyone set fire to a house and burn a woman and children and then be protected by the law? It staggers my imagination.

Things will get better, you'll see.


Tobias said...

Yes indeed, if I had a son like you I should be more than proud and I should thank God for the gift she gave me.

PKW said...

There seems to be a bit confusion between homosexuality and sodomy among the proponents of the bill. And even rape among homosexual people. I called in during NTV's talk show last week (I forget the name of the show, but they were discussing the bill) and said there should simply be an age limit when it comes consensual sex.Irrespective of who one is having sex with.

gayuganda said...


I think I did hear your question, PKW.

The confusion is unfortunately very deliberate. I say that because the bill is very specific in language, as it should be as a legislative instrument.

Generally what I try to do on such is to clarify what I mean, and specifically ask what they mean.

When you look through the smoke, you get to what they mean. And, it is death and jail for homosexuals. As simple as that.

Thanks JP, Tobias

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