THE LAW OF SHAME

Anti-gay laws enacted in Uganda. Here a view from the green capitol Kampala.
Anti-gay laws enacted in Uganda. Here a view from the green capitol Kampala.

With a single signature from Uganda’s President Museveni, the East African country has lost moral and international standard.  For a long time the President did not sign the controversial law that was adopted by parliament just before Christmas, but this week he did – to the applause of his own people. The president accuses western countries to engage in social imperialism and attempts to inflict their social values on African countries.

Outing
In addition to life imprisonment for homosexual acts, the law also contains prohibition of spreading information, and introduces strict penalties for not turning homosexuals in. This means that a citizen of Uganda must report potential fellow homosexuals to the authorities if they want to avoid being punished themselves. People therefore take the law into their own hands, and homosexuals experience actual witch-hunt. A tabloid newspaper was quick out and “outet» 200 homosexuals over the front page on Tuesday.

Aid cuts 

Norway and Denmark cut aid to the government. Instead, aid will be redirected towards human rights work. But – there is a danger that cuts in aid will be linked exclusively to the anti-homosexuality bill. The cuts in aid can seem additionally problematic as people could blame homosexuals for the decrease in aid to hospitals, schools and so forth. Homosexuals in Uganda warn against precisely this. It is therefore important to actively encourage preventing prosecution of an already extremely vulnerable group.

Extensive homophobia
Strong homophobia is widespread in Uganda, as in most of Africa. Homosexual relationships are according to Amnesty illegal in 36 of 55 countries. Nigeria also introduced stricter legislation recently. And in regards to the introduction of the strict laws in Uganda there were demonstrations in Kenya – to make the law more stringent there. Today Kenyans risk up to six years in prison for “practicing homosexuality” . The conditions in detention are grotesque. Homosexuals receive bottom range respect in prisons and are being severely exploited and harassed.

Do as Tutu
An exception in liberal direction is found in South Africa, where gay marriage is allowed. The country is also blessed with bishops as Desmond Tutu who compares the law in Uganda with those of the Nazis and the apartheid-regime that prevented love across races and classes. Let us hope that more religious leaders can stand up for love together with Desmond Tutu. No one should have to rotten in jail for the rest of their lives simply because they cannot do anything else than being themselves.

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