Warning: the article you are about to read might be illegal- at least as far as the new law in Uganda is concerned

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I will start with the basis of President Museveni’s signing of the Anti-homosexuality bill into law, as presented in the text of his statement, which came into my email box. Here is an important excerpt, word for word:

“The studies that were done on identical twins in Sweden showed that 34% – 39% were homosexual on account of nature and 66% were homosexual on account of nurture. Therefore, even in those studies, nurture was more significant than nature. Can somebody be homosexual purely by nature without nurture? The answer is: “No”. No study has shown that. Since nurture is the main cause of homosexuality, then society can do something about it to discourage the trends. That is why I have agreed to sign the Bill.”- President Museveni.

A little confusing, isn’t it? Well, feel free to go over it again and again before you proceed.

This reminds me of a story I was told, as a kid- and which I came to read about when I grew up- of a man that walked the earth almost 2000 years ago.  This man, the story goes, went from place to place, talking about peace and love and performing other wondrous acts like feeding the hungry, healing the sick and bringing the dead back to life. But that did not please some people, who did not like the following he was commanding. One day, an order was issued, upon fabricated indictments, and the man was arraigned before a judge by an irate mob. The judge listened to the charges and interrogated the man, but saw no wrong that the man had committed. It is also said that on that day, the judge was supposed to release one incarcerated man from prison. When the judge asked whether he should set the said man before him free, in the place of the hardcore criminal, the mob shouted,

“Crucify him,” they shouted, referring to the good gentleman. “Set the criminal free! Down with this man!”

Overwhelmed by the noise of the mob, the judge, much respected for his judicious consideration of issues, capitulated, thus granting their wish. He had yielded to mob demands and sacrificed a good man for a criminal instead.

And so it came to pass, more than 2000 years later, that when a well-respected head of state that commands immense respect among his peers was asked whether he would set the gay minority free and create space in the prisons for the corrupt public officials, the mob shouted, “Lock them all away. Let’s stay with our corrupt. We will give you another term in office.”

Tantalized by the smell of another term in office from afar, he smiled, rubbed his palms in anticipation, and declared a big, unprecedented state spectacle, to be broadcast live on television across the country. It wasn’t too hard to imagine what this was all about. And when all the cameras and recorders were rolling, he declared, as the world watched, “studies in Sweden showed 34%- 39% of homosexuality in identical twins was by nature, but since that is a minority, it means no one can be homosexual by nature! I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks with their human rights things. I will lock the gay people away! It’s what my people want.”

Disclaimer: the quotations in the anecdote above are not a verbatim representation of what is found in any book you might be familiar with. For the quotes attributed to the said head of state, only the first quoted excerpt is a verbatim representation of his statement.

Interested in knowing why the ordinary folks support the new law, I posted this on my Facebook Timeline:

“State one reason why you support the new ‪#‎Antigay Act or why you don’t support it. I’ll include your views in my blog- put only your own, best-reasoned views forward, not what you have been told. Please, keep your posts free of hate expressions and F words. If you can’t resist the temptation to drop the F word or expressions of hate, don’t post”

Here’s a sample of the responses:


  • Chris Higenyi Do you mind gauging our intellect on something else. We are insulted enough that the West wants us to be “reasonable”
  • Kennedy Makmot I totally dont support the anti gay law as passed. I believe no body has the right to police what 2adults do in their bed room. Two with this law, we are becoming a mob, three it affects me directly when i dont report homosexuals im definately heading …See More
  • Karungi Daphne I do not support the #AntiGay Act because gays have human rights too and i feel as long as they do not solicit sex from underage children and it is consenting then it is their right.We should not shove our beliefs down a minority throat just because we are scared of something different from our mental confines.
  • Joshua Mmali Chris Higenyi, unfortunately, this is the issue I put forth, and you don’t have to like it. My being in the West doesn’t make me a part of the West. Secondly, I’m not gauging your intellect, I’m only asking you to state a well-reasoned point in support of your prejudice (at least judging from your posts). Lastly, human rights are not a Western thing- I don’t know how so difficult that is to understand.
  • Chris Higenyi “Well-reasoned” is effectively setting standards. Whose standards?

Joshua Mmali Mine, Chris Higenyi. Don’t you find it tiresome to engage in debate with people who pursue lines of argument that do not reflect independent, informed thinking? The beauty of setting standards on this is that I’ll get the best views, because before anyone posts, they’ll endeavour to think  … so yeah, bring your best views on.

Chris Higenyi A man whose prejudices insofar as homosexuality is concerned has set standards,LOL. So Mr. Mmali, i’m pleased that it has been signed into law because it will protect my a son. At least i mind being reasonable to him not you. Allow me let you get down to work. You know too well which side of your bread is buttered.

Mish NseReko Is our security guaranteed when we express our views?

Joshua Mmali Oh Chris Higenyi, come on, bro. You can do better than make a personal attack when called upon to reason. Your very erudite expression of views does seem to contradict what you just posted. Luckily, today I’m off, so I don’t have to worry about earning…See More

Nsereko Simon Peter Rock The West….the West, there to destroy!! Kozi is polygamy legal in Europe and America!? Why legislate about people’s desire to hv as many partners as thy want, it’s their right. Arizona lawmakers hv recently passed an anti-gay bill, eehh I hv just remembered the state of Arizona is actually in Uganda.

Joshua Mmali Mish NseReko, I don’t know security from whom, but guess your security is guaranteed on my wall. hehehe

Joshua Mmali Nsereko Simon Peter Rock, you would have to understand the context of making bigamy(or polygamy) illegal before you start defending it. But that would take us so many years back in history. Do you have another reason- in response to the question I posed?

McMot McMot Matthew I dont know what is in that bill but I wonder which rights have been trampled over considering i heard the president say if they do their thing in the bedroom no one will come looking for them. In Uganda the gays live in fear and it is comfortable for…See More

Giovanni Pamba Joshua Mmali, if M7 just signed that bill to spite the west!!!… then it is a really sad situation….he did not need to have consulted anyone or set up any committees in the first place…it was a waste of tax payers money, the west’s position on the subject has been the same even before this bill came to parliament…

Chris Higenyi My apologies for the personal attack Mr. Mmali, it’s not my disposition. As for my son,don’t make me keep him away from his “liberal” Uncle just in case he is made to appreciate being gay. *nopunintended*.

Charles Orwoth Americans are following Uganda’s example already i can see: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/21/us/arizona-anti-gay-bill/

Wapakhabulo Wonyanyanbulo Comrades…..our Bududa boy Joshua Mmali is not gay… He is just a human rights activists… someone who loves humanity

Joshua Mmali Apology accepted, Chris Higenyi. Your unintended pun is indeed funny- it made me chuckle

29 minutes ago · Like · 2

These comments, though not fully representative, can tell you a thing or two about why people look at homosexuality in Uganda the way they do. If there is anything that has been learnt, it is the prejudice with which they approach it. For some, instead of submitting well-reasoned responses, it was easier to attack me, portraying something that is very disturbing: that either some people don’t like to be intellectually challenged on their long-held beliefs, or they are afraid to think for themselves.

The president’s signing of the bill was largely informed by the skewed conclusions from a report by a group of scientists (medical experts and experts in psychology) whom he had commissioned to enlighten him about the scientific basis for homosexuality. The subject of that report has been extensively tackled by scientists, including Professor Ogenga Latigo, a former Member of (the 8th) Parliament who, writing before the bill was signed into law, said he has been silent because of “President Museveni’s initial bold and objective stand on the bill, and his demand for scientific justification.”

He goes on to write:

“By taking the science path, one expected the president to invite scientific arguments both for and against the bill. Regrettably, in spite of a brilliant article by the much respected lawyer, Peter Muliira, on the lack of scientific, legal and real bases for enacting this law (See: Homosexuality is regarded as a genetical condition, Daily Monitor, January 28) and in spite of facts and caution by many, the president has now agreed to sign the bill into law, based on the biased views of Drs. Kenneth Omona, Chris Byaromunsi and others, all NRM legislators.

Deeply concerned by the gross misrepresentation of the science of homosexuality by these medical doctors and about key issues that we have not considered, and given that President Museveni may not have signed the bill into law yet, I am compelled to make this last ditch appeal to the president to return the bill to Parliament for reconsideration.”

You can read the full article here: http://www.observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30308&catid=37&Itemid=66

And so now, the Act has received widespread condemnation, including from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who denounced the law saying

“Disapproval of homosexuality by some can never justify violating the fundamental human rights of others,” Pillay said. “This law will institutionalise discrimination and is likely to encourage harassment and violence against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. It is formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power and accusations against anyone, not just LGBT people.”

Pillay stressed that Uganda is obliged, both by its own constitution and by international law, to respect the rights of all individuals and to protect them from discrimination and violence.

“This law violates a host of fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom from discrimination, to privacy, freedom of association, peaceful assembly, opinion and expression and equality before the law – all of which are enshrined in Uganda’s own constitution and in the international treaties it has ratified,” Pillay said.

And other organisations that are concerned about the issue of human rights, like Human Rights Watch who in their statement said:

President Museveni’s signing of the Anti-Homosexuality bill into law is a deeply worrying infringement on the human rights of all Ugandans. The law, signed by Museveni in Kampala on February 24, 2014, increases penalties for some forms of consensual same-sex conduct between adults; curtails constitutionally protected rights to privacy, family life, and equality; and violates internationally protected rights to freedom of association and expression.

“President Museveni has dealt a dramatic blow to freedom of expression and association in Uganda by signing the Anti-Homosexuality bill,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher. “Attacking basic rights and criminalizing the expression of divergent views doesn’t bode well for anyone. This is yet another troubling sign of disregard for fundamental human rights in Uganda.”

See full report: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/02/24/uganda-law-rolls-back-basic-rights

One last thing, though: Some people are quick to cite what members of the House of Representatives in Arizona have done, by passing a discriminatory law, which is hurting gay people in their rights campaign. See below

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/21/us/arizona-anti-gay-bill/

I would say this: two wrongs = two wrongs. One does not justify the commission of the other.

 

Conclusion

Well, I have no conclusion; I would rather let you draw your own conclusions from this:

“The studies that were done on identical twins in Sweden showed that 34% – 39% were homosexual on account of nature and 66% were homosexual on account of nurture. Therefore, even in those studies, nurture was more significant than natureCan somebody be homosexual purely by nature without nurture? The answer is: “No”No study has shown that. Since nurture is the main cause of homosexuality, then society can do something about it to discourage the trends. That is why I have agreed to sign the Bill.”- President Museveni.

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