A bill first introduced in 2009 in Uganda that would criminalize homosexuality by life imprisonment and/or death is back on the table. Lawmakers in Uganda are pushing for it to be passed. Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of the Ugandan Parliament said the bill will be passed by the end of the year as a “Christmas gift” to the Ugandan people. If it’s passed, it will then be up to the president to veto it. Otherwise, this bill will be set in place to threaten the full freedom of humanity. It puts gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people in Uganda in even greater danger than they are already in, in addition, it puts everyone in greater danger.
It should be obvious that this bill is horrifying, but there are reasons in addition to the obvious ones why this bill is awful. So…
Here are twelve reasons why this bill is a dangerous step:
1. When homosexuality is against the law to such extreme measures, it puts everyone in a police state mentality. This means that people are afraid to act freely for fear of being reported to someone as homosexual and then forced to prove otherwise. It also puts the burden on the community to either hold a secret or to tell on fellow citizens they know are homosexual or transgender. People may use it to hold it over the heads of others or to threaten people with it.
2. A law of this sort will allow the government to have free range over who they want to kill. All they have to do is make a case that a person was engaged in homosexual activity or did something outside of gender expectations and they can kill them. They could wipe out whole tribes of people if they wanted to, just by saying the people were gay or not conforming appropriately to gender expectations.
3. When people see the law is even more against gay people than it already is, the idea that gay people are bad will be further reinforced and gay people or people who might be considered gay or gender bending at all, youth especially, will be at greater risk for violence.
4. AIDS as an epidemic is not over. In Uganda, it’s pretty large. The UN AIDS report for Uganda estimated that in Uganda, there are 1.2 million people living with AIDS. This includes 150,000 children under the age of fourteen. The UN AIDS report of 2010 estimated 64,000 people died from AIDS in 2009 and 1.2 million children have been orphaned by Uganda’s devastating AIDS epidemic. Uganda has gone to great lengths to educate people, test people, and stop the spread of HIV. If people see homosexuality connected to HIV/AIDS, they won’t get tested and be averse to education about it. People will fear that getting tested will associate them with being gay. What this ultimately means is the efforts to stop the spread of AIDS will slowly be reversed.
5. It is likely that homosexual relationships between men will still exist but no one will identify as gay, pushing sexual relationships to be anonymous and the risk of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and others will increase.
6. Intimate partner violence will increase as there will be no consequences from police or community members. Homosexual relationships have been illegal for men and women since 2000, but with the consequences of being in a same sex relationship being so great (death or life imprisonment), when there is violence in a relationship, stopping that violence will be even tougher because the people in the couple won’t be able to admit the nature of the relationship.
7. The self esteem of people who are gay and youth who are gay will plummet. Youth will single other youth out for being gay and taunt them even more. Suicide among gay youth will inevitably be a problem.
8. Children will be punished for exploring the world they live in through play. Two-year-old boys who see Mommy wear certain things in her hair or certain shoes will try those things on and be punished because the parents will fear they will be gay and they will not want their child to be killed or jailed.
9. Rape and abuse of children will be seen as sexual acts rather than abuse. When a man sexually abuses a boy, this is not an act of homosexuality, it is child abuse. When a man sexually abuses a girl, this is not an act of heterosexuality, it is child abuse. Concern has already been vocalized about gay people possibly abusing the children of Uganda, though it seems that little has been examined about heterosexual people abusing children.
Rape by men of men and women of women will go unreported, putting more people at risk of being raped. When someone is raped by someone else of the same sex, they will not want to report the crime because they will fear they will be seen as gay or they may believe the perpetrator targeted them because thought they were gay. Even if the victim is not gay, they will very possibly question their own sexuality. Also, because the perpetrator may be of the same sex, rape of someone of the same sex does not mean the perpetrator is gay. This will also confuse the question of rape as sexual act rather than an act of violence.
10. Anyone who is not married will be at risk. Anyone who has associated with someone thought of as gay will be at risk. Women who have turned down marriage proposals or who leave abusive relationships and have women friends will be at risk. The list goes on.
11. This law will cause people, even if slightly, to push and act out even stricter gender roles. An enactment of stricter, more traditional, gender roles means a backwards step for women (and men). This inevitably means men will feel the need to be more in control of women and women will have to be at the mercy of men. Everyone will have to prove to everyone else that they are not gay or transgender by exaggerating outdated oppressive gender roles. The stricter the gender roles in place, the greater the possibility for violence to keep people in line.
12. The many gays, lesbians, and transgender Ugandans are at risk, not only of having any level of freedom, but of losing their lives- just for being who they are.
There is a petition circulating through Change.org asking Citibank and Barclays, two of the world’s largest banks, to publicly denounce the anti-gay bill in Uganda and say they don’t support the bill. Both banks have big bucks and big business invested in Uganda. Both are also known for supporting their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender clients and protecting them from discrimination. The hope is if they speak out against the bill or even take further action against it, maybe Uganda will consider the economic impact the country will face because of the companies opposition to it. Switzerland threatened three years ago to pull funding from Uganda if the bill passed. Financially, the bill doesn’t seem smart for Uganda, but ethically it doesn’t either. To sign the petition to Citibank and Barclays, please check out the link here. PETITION.