Over the weekend, SBS “Dateline” in Australia aired a report about those in Uganda who live in fear for their safety due to their opposition to the country’s barbaric Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Those behind the new laws see homosexuality as an abomination against their religion and believe a Western ‘homosexual juggernaut’ is threatening Uganda. They say they want to ‘cure’ gays and lesbians and get rid of all homosexual influence in the country.
One lawyer opposing the plans tells video journalist Aaron Lewis that even murderers are treated with higher regard than gays and lesbians.
The transcript begins by introducing the dangers faced by human-rights activist Frank Mugisha:
Daily life on the street has become even more difficult for Uganda’s sexual minorities since the campaign for the bill began. Not yet passed into law, the bill has further criminalised Frank and others in the eyes of the public.
FRANK MUGISHA: Many Ugandans have taken the law into their own hands and started attacking homosexuals, beating them up. Landlords have thrown people out of their houses because they are saying “If this legislation is passed and I have a homosexual who is a tenant, then I become a criminal, so it is better I throw you out now before the law is passed”.
Pepe works with Frank on advocacy for sexual minorities.
PEPE: Kampala is one of the places that is known for mob injustice – anything can happen. You can move on the street and someone can say “Look, the homosexual is doing something” – just that word alone is going to draw attention and something can happen so that we live in fear of all the time.
Besides outright violence, Ugandan mobs are taught by certain Christian churches to use “corrective rape” as a method of turning people straight.
Sheila Mugisha is a lesbian. She’s lived her entire life under attack. Sheila’s worst fears were realised at only 12 years old. She had already started to show interest in other girls and she then became the target of what is known here as curative rape.
REPORTER: Curative rape is the process of sexually assaulting someone hoping that, that process will turn them into a heterosexual?
SHEILA MUGISHA: Yes.
REPORTER: And this has happened to you?
SHEILA MUGISHA: It has happened to me.
REPORTER: Can you tell me anything about that?
SHEILA MUGISHA: At the age of 12 I had a friend at home – and actually these things are done by friends. I had always told him my stories, my secrets, my encounters in bed. So, he would tell me, “You know what? I want to teach you how to play with boys, not with girls.” He put his leg here, and here, and then he got into my body, into my vagina, and I screamed because I’d never had any sex, I’d never known, you know, any of those practices. “So, from now, you are going to learn how to play with boys.”
As a result of the rape, Sheila became pregnant at the age of 12. Her family took her to have the child aborted but the effects of the rape continued.
SHEILA MUGISHA: I went to a certain AIDS information centre in Mengo with a friend – I took a test – and it was positive.
SBS observes that “Uganda is a deeply Christian country where the church and state work hand in glove.”
Hand in glove, that is, to purge and kill religious dissidents. They learned the rationale for such a purge from the U.S. ex-gay movement:
If the anti-homosexuality act were to be passed, courts like this could have their hands full. A whole range of everyday behaviours, including public touching, text messaging, or reporting on a gay or lesbian issue, would be criminalised. Even witnessing an act of same-sex public affection and failing to report it to the authorities could land you in the dock.
DAVID BAHATI: I think the bill addresses the real problem. And the real problem is promotion of homosexuality in Uganda. Whether it is children, whether it’s the adult people, it’s the real problem.
David Bahati and Moses Male both believe that if no-one is promoting the homosexual lifestyle, there simply won’t be homosexuals.
PASTOR MOSES MALE: None is born a homosexual. Homosexuality is a habit that is gradually learned. When it is gradually learned, it can finally become an addiction, just like drugs, just like alcoholism.
Evangelicals are teaching this myth in Uganda because the ex-gay movement was never discredited there:
Lad Rakafuzi tells me that this idea of promotion is the biggest danger for Uganda’s sexual minorities.
LAD RAKAFUZI: That means shutting out debate on these issues. Which means it will be infringement of freedom to speak and freedom to communicate, and to receive information.
Dissidents include religious authorities:
Bishop Alawe Sonjogo was threatened with excommunication from the Anglican Church of Uganda for defending the rights of homosexuals.
BISHOP ALAWE SONJOGO: That bill is draconian and the first thing – people into hiding.
REPORTER: In what way is the bill draconian?
BISHOP ALAWE SONJOGO: First of all, you have to report, me as a counsellor, I would be reporting people who are homosexuals – if I don’t – I could be punished. So anyone working with a person is supposed to report that person. And again, the punishments, the penalties are so severe, ranging from five years to life imprisonment, even to have some people sentenced to death.
Meanwhile, journalist Stanley Nduala of the antigay vigilante tabloid Red Pepper admits what “values” drive the antigay pogrom:
REPORTER: So here in Uganda, being a rapist is minor compared to being a homosexual?
STANLEY NDUALA: Yes, to the public eye.