Uganda be kidding me! The Ugandan government is back to its old tricks, namely, discriminating against same-sex couples. Reports have been released that the initial round of arrests has begun under the anti-gay laws signed into effect on February 24th of this year.
A conviction of having had same-sex relations, just once, carries a 14- year prison term in Uganda under the new legislation. If you think that sentence is severe, you obviously haven’t read the law’s provision applicable to individuals who have been caught having sex with other members of their own sex multiple times. These “repeat offenders” can be sentenced for up to life in prison. Imagine spending the rest of your life in prison just because you got naked with another consenting adult.
So far, at least two men have been arrested. They were allegedly having sex in a Kampala hotel and were caught by staff who reported the men to police. The hotel staff’s evidence of the men’s sexual activity was a series of “moans” staff heard coming from the room.
Times are scary for homosexuals in Uganda, and I imagine for anyone who has an enemy with no moral limits. It doesn’t sound like it would be difficult for your neighbor or anyone else to accuse you of being gay just to get rid of you.
The only glimmer of hope in this nonsense is that the World Bank has postponed disbursement of a $90million loan to Uganda based on Uganda’s disregard for human rights. Meanwhile, Denmark and Norway have committed to the redirection of €6 million to private sector human rights and aid organizations rather than Uganda’s government where the funds are normally destined to end up. The Netherlands have also taken a stand, and withheld their €7 million subsidy previously extended to Uganda’s legal system.
My favorite reaction to the withholding of Western funds has come from Ofwono Opondo, a government spokesman, who said, “The West can keep their aid to Uganda over homos. We shall still develop without it.” We will keep our money, but Uganda probably won’t really develop very much.
Another juicy tidbit in the story, is Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, just happens to have a daughter who is apparently a lesbian. If the reports are true, what will the president do to his own daughter?
However, Ugandan authorities have defended the decision, saying President Museveni wanted to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation. Like most African countries, Uganda is a very conservative society, where many as majority of the population oppose homosexuality.
President Museveni himself has been under attack personally with his daughter Diana Kamuntu recently revealing in a recent radio interview that she is a lesbian. A young South African man has also claimed that he and President Museveni were gay lovers and the president showered him with gifts as a result.