Sometimes there are moments when you read something and it just hits you, right in the face, leaving you entirely shocked. This is one of those moments.
The President of Uganda has just signed the recently rewritten ‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill’, which (among other things) increases the penalty for homosexual acts in Uganda from 14 years in jail to life.
Firstly, this in itself seriously breaches Human Rights laws. Additionally, amongst this is another serious issue that impacts women and children in a very serious way.
In Stephen Fry’s interview for the first episode of his show ‘Out There’, he interviewed Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, on the government’s stance on homosexuality in Uganda.
While saying that homosexuality is dangerous to children, the Ugandan minister states that heterosexuality is not dangerous in any way. To prove his point, he goes on to say that people should be allowed to rape children, so long as it’s heterosexual, because that is the ‘natural’ or ‘right’ way.
This is a frightening situation where a man high up in politics (who in the interview says he is the law) decrees that it is perfectly fine for men to rape female children, and that they should be allowed to do so as they wish. This was in light of Stephen Fry commenting on the epidemic of child rape in Uganda, something that obviously is not going to be addressed with this level of ignorance.
It’s unbelievable and heartbreaking that this view even exists, let alone that a government official is happy to voice it on a television show that (he knew) would be aired in many countries
In a search for a slight silver lining, it is important to note that there are people in Uganda who oppose this Bill. One example is Ugandan Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who urged President Museveni not to sign this bill. He believes that the Government should be focussing their efforts on ensuring criminal sanctions deal more harshly and appropriately with all acts of rape and sexual violence (including commercial sexual transactions), regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This is the opinion we yearn to hear more of, and it is nice to see, amidst the insanity of Lokodo’s views, that there is a voice of reason. Surely this would make Uganda a safer place for women and children and people as a whole.
All I can think to conclude with is that it’s sad what fear will do to people.
Amnesty International. Uganda: Anti-homosexuality bill ‘a grave assault on human rights’, February 7, 2012. Available from: <http://www.amnesty.org/en/
BBC News, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signs anti-gay bill. February 24, 2014. Available from: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/
The Guardian, Desmond Tutu condemns Uganda's proposed new anti-gay law, February 24, 2014. Available from: <http://www.theguardian.com/
world/2014/feb/23/desmond- tutu-condemns-uganda-proposed- anti-gay-law>
Stephen Fry’s Television show ‘Out there’, Episode one.