Monday, December 14, 2009

Africa’s Culture War: Uganda’s anti-gay bill

"A lot of attention has been paid to the proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda. And rightfully so, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 would sentence HIV positive homosexuals to death for having sex, and severely punish any homosexual with up to life imprisonment. Any Ugandan, gay or straight, who knows a homosexual and fails to report him or her to the authorities could face up to seven years in prison."

ABC's Dana Hughes reports from Nairobi:
There is intense international pressure on Uganda to withdrawal the bill, Hillary Clinton highlighted the bill today in a speech on human rights saying that “law should not become an instrument of oppression.” Even President Obama said in a statement over the weekend that the law “moves against the tide of history.”

Human rights groups say this draconian law has been pushed by the U.S. evangelical movement. American pastors were prominent speakers at an anti-homosexual conference last March. A key Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa who has been pushing the law, has been a featured speaker at Rick Warren’s Saddleback church. After weeks of silence, Warren released a video last week condemning the bill. Speakers from the conference have also now denounced the bill as being too harsh. Critics say the damage has already been done.

But while American evangelicals are being examined for their role in the origins of the bill in Uganda, East Africa, and for that matter Africa as a whole, is decidedly, virulently against homosexuality. Nigeria’s Northern States and Sudan have tabled laws where being gay can lead to a death sentence. Burundi recently passed a law making homosexuality a criminal offense, Rwanda is also reportedly considering passing a similar law.