Monday, November 30, 2009

Uganda pushes severe anti-gay legislation

By Michael J.W. Stickings 


It's Uganda. So, honestly, what do you expect?

Still, I'm all for the leaders of the Commonwealth, which happen to be far more liberal countries, doing all they can to pressure that severely repressive country to rethink its move to adopt such appalling legislation:

Britain and Canada protested yesterday over a proposed law that would result in gays in Uganda being imprisoned for life or even executed.

Gordon Brown followed Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, in telling Uganda that the legislation was unacceptable.

Mr Brown made his views plain in a breakfast conversation with President Museveni of Uganda on the margins of the Commonwealth summit.


The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 is going through Uganda’s Parliament after receiving its first reading last month.

According to Clause 2 of the Bill, a person who is convicted of gay sex is liable to life imprisonment. But if that person is also HIV positive the penalty — under the heading "aggravated homosexuality" — is death.

The Bill has not been endorsed by the Ugandan government but it has allowed it to proceed, and some top officials are said to have praised it.

A Canadian government spokesman said: "If adopted, a Bill further criminalising homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda."

I'd say that's an understatement.

I understand that a country -- and especially a liberal democratic country in the West -- ought to be careful not to meddle too much in the domestic affairs of another country. While we may desire that other countries respect, and enshrine in law, the same values we do, there is something to be said for promoting diversity -- and for respecting the particularism of other countries. One could argue, for example, that the U.S. itself did not, under Bush, respect the values of other liberal democratic countries, and one should appreciate the fact that other countries do not necessarily see our values as worthy of emulation, let alone as universal. In other words, who is to say? Besides, pushing our values on non-Western countries can come across as, and may well be, bullying, arrogant self-righteousness. And when it comes to Africa especially, it can come across as neo-colonialism.

And yet.

There is no defending Uganda here even if you accept this argument, which I address here only to show that what Uganda is doing is well across the line.

Canada and Britain are right to make their views known, and I would encourage them, their Commonwealth partners, and all decent counties around the world to do what they can to pressure Uganda to back down.

Freedom and human rights are worth fighting for, after all, and sometimes you just have to meddle in defence of basic principles, of your own fundamental values, if they are to have any meaning at all.


UPDATE: Pensito Review provides context, noting that "The Family" (aka The Fellowship), the extremist theocratic group that includes high-ranking Republicans like Mark Sanford and John Ensign (and that runs the infamous C Street House in Washington), is behind the legislation in Uganda. Indeed, it was a member of "The Family" who introduced the bill in the Ugandan Parliament.

Make sure to read the Pensito Review's full post, which includes comments from Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

It's telling that a major force behind the Republican Party, and American conservatism generally, backs such appalling legislation. These people seem to have more in common with Uganda, Saudi Arabia, and other such illiberal places that they do with their own country and its liberal democratic principles. But then, for all their pro-American jingoism, they're actually quite un-American in terms of what they would like to do to America, and to the world, which is to remake it in the image of their own fundamentalism, including at the expense of basic human rights.

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  • Gee Whiz. How nice you think it's 'weel across the line" to have me and mine executed for existing. Such sterling moral resolve is so unusual when it comed to Teh Ghey.

    By Blogger DavidEhrenstein, at 9:23 AM  

  • By Blogger DavidEhrenstein, at 9:29 AM  

  • In case you're confused, David, I'm on your side in terms of fighting against not just what's going on in Uganda but back here in the "free" world as well. This is just an extreme example. I certainly realize that, and have written extensively about the undeniable fact that, there is appalling anti-gay sentiment and violence in the U.S.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 9:37 AM  

  • Yes, you have and so have I. I consider this to be an atrocity and "The Family" to be a clear and present danger to life, liberty, justice, democracy and all I hold to be inalienable human rights.

    Why are so many comments here so reflexively cynical?

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 10:13 AM  

  • It's "Me Too!" time I see. Please check out Towleroad for the DAILY reports of wholesale genocide against the LGBT community here and abroad.


    By Blogger DavidEhrenstein, at 10:35 AM  

  • There is a difference between illegal, if fairly common acts and government policy driven by law.

    We have steadily been rolling back prejudices, gradually weeding out the things that stand between individuals and freedom, whether it's sodomy laws or cohabitation laws or misogyny laws. Uganda is heading the opposite way and it's not alone in the world. Am I wrong? Do I not get to declare opposition unless St Louis becomes a paradise of freedom first? Don't I get to decry the involvement of Americans and their government and their "religious" leaders in murdering innocent people abroad?

    Sorry, there is abuse here, but not "genocide" and I fail to understand what the hell it is you oppose and what you stand for unless making offensively false equivalences is some sort of hobby.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 2:32 PM  

  • As a further update, "Pastor" Rick Warren, the right wing proprietor of Saddleback Church and author of the bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life, is refusing to denounce the legalized murder of Gay Ugandans although he says that somehow he's disassociated himself with Seempa.

    On Meet the Press yesterday, says Newsweek, he reiterated this neutral stance in a different context: "As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides."

    Heaven forfend that as a "christian" he would be judgmental here. To kill or not to kill - no moral decision there. To marry or not to marry? cry havoc! let loose the dogs of God!

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 2:49 PM  

  • "I fail to understand what the hell it is you oppose"

    Heterosexual Privilege Conquers All!

    By Blogger DavidEhrenstein, at 4:47 PM  

  • Reverend Rick -- "America's Pastor" and Barry Obama's too --is a FUCKING LIAR!

    By Blogger DavidEhrenstein, at 4:49 PM  

  • Heterosexual privilege? You know, I'm beginning to think you're a right-wing troll posing as a gay man, given how much you're doing to undermine yourself. Stop being an idiot.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 7:45 PM  

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