Perceptions of LGBT in Uganda and Africa
York University; Africa Leadership Institute
November 21, 2009
LGBT refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Currently, there is a ‘tsunami’ of a debate raging in Uganda, in particular, and Africa, in general about LGBT. This paper delves into impressions of the Ugandan people and their leaders about the phenomenon, if one can call it that. Homosexuality, or LGBT, is still a taboo subject in many African societies. There was fallout in the Anglican Church over the ordination of gay priests as bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion. In October 2009, a bill entitled the 'Anti-Homosexuality Bill' was tabled before the Ugandan parliament with the aim of legislating penalties for 'homosexual acts' and those who defend the rights of people who engage in sexual relations with people of the same gender. President Museveni said, “We used to have very few homosexuals traditionally. They were not persecuted but were not encouraged either because it was clear that is not how God arranged things to be.” A Ugandan Minister has been quoted saying that LGBT people are trying to impose a strange, ungodly, unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral way of life on the rest of our society.
On the flip side, gay groups in Uganda say the proposed law is not necessary and will only legalise discrimination. They call on government to respect people’s rights and fundamental freedoms, as prescribed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Human Rights Watch has accused the government of promoting state homophobia in Uganda and urged it to repeal of a colonial-era law against sodomy.
The debate is so intense it is bordering on extremism. The same scenario is playing out in many parts of Africa and one wonders if there is a possibility of finding a middle ground. There is talk of possibilities of aid being cut and an increase in the number of people seeking refuge in western capitals because they believe their rights are being denied.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Uganda, Africa, homosexual, lesbian, LGBT, transgender, gay, bisexual
JEL Classification: I28, J71, K19, K42, N47, N40, Z00working papers series
Date posted: November 22, 2009 ; Last revised: January 7, 2010
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