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Thursday, October 21, 2010

'Hang these Homosexuals'

Gays and lesbians are being attacked in Uganda after the publication of a front-page newspaper story that listed the African nation's 100 "top" homosexuals.

Rolling Stone, a Ugandan newspaper in October 9 published an article that included photographs and addresses of 100 ‘top’ gays and lesbians in the country, alongside a yellow strip that read “hang them.” Although some Ugandan press have a history of sensationalism like Red Pepper, a daily tabloid, the Rolling Stone seems to have taken the issue of sensationalism to the next level.

But the alleged attacks are likely to resuscitate the homosexuality debate that has dominated headlines in Uganda since the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill was tabled in parliament.

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The bill fronts for the criminalisation of homosexuality where any person found to have previous convictions, or who engages in same sex acts with people under 18 years of age are punishable by death.

The private member's bill, submitted by MP for the constituency of Ndorwa West, Kabale District, Mr. David Bahati on 13 October 2009, also included provisions for extradition for punishment for any Ugandan who engage in same-sex relations outside the country.

The penalties in the bill included for individuals, companies, media organisations, or non-governmental organisations that support LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights.

The bill caused a major global uproar with both international governments, religious and human rights bodies and different international media condemning the bill.

US President Barack Obama termed it as ‘odious’ saying, "we may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are -- whether it's here in the United States or ... more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.”

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni distanced himself from the Anti-Homosexual Bill in January 2010.

The bill stalled in parliamentary committee and remains with the Ugandan Parliament's Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, after failing to make it to a vote.

According to human rights organisations, Uganda houses about 500,000 homosexuals, but existing laws criminalise homosexual behavior with prison sentences lasting up to 14 years.

Homosexuality has been a hot topic especially in Africa. In early May this year, a gay Malawian couple were sentenced to 14 years in prison. The two, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, were arrested after celebrating their engagement in a traditional ceremony in late December. They were tried and found guilty this month of sodomy and indecency, and sent behind bars only to be released after a presidential pardon.

In Kenya, police raided a gay wedding in the coastal town of Mombasa and arrested five men in early February. The five were accused of being homosexuals and even faced public wrath before the police intervened. A gay wedding of a Kenyan couple in a ceremony in London caused a major public uproar back in the East African nation where homosexuality is illegal but arrests are extremely rare.

Homosexuality is illegal in most of Africa’s 53 states and only South Africa recognizes same-sex marriage after passing a legislation in 2006.

This latest twist to the gay saga is likely to inflate emotions and arouse heated arguments about the place of homosexuals especially in the contemporary African society where religion plays a very vital role. 

But just where did this homosexuality come from and who made this 'invention' in Africa? Surely, this act must have been imported from one of our 'big brothers', and it seems we want to firmly accept it- the way we always do when things come from the west.

Oh Africa!!

And That's thesteifmastertake!!