Ugandan Government Chaos Caused By Gay Rights Philosophy Essay
On the 26th of November, 2010 a Ugandan Gay rights activist by the name of David Kato was brutally beaten to death by a hammer after finding a stream of death threats about the photos of gay Ugandans published in a Kampala newspaper named ‘Rolling Stone’. This newspaper not only had the whereabouts of these homosexual people, but also stated that they were raiding schools and taking or ‘recruiting’ children. Things got so severe that a newspaper had published a picture of Kato with a banner. ‘Hang them’, it had said. Some are shocked and angry at the intolerance, like the other gay rights activist, others are in support (New York Times, 2011).
What I want to find out is whether this tolerance of homosexuality has been going on for long, especially in Uganda, and if this murder had just uncovered a whole different issue. I also want to find out whether this is truly a result of the culture and tradition of Uganda, religion, or both. By the end of writing this essay, I plan to have a very clear understanding of the Ugandan government’s involvement in this problem, and what they have done to stop it, or if they have not done much, the reason as to why they have not. Maybe, I can try finding very reasonable answer.
After further investigation, I found that shortly after Kato’s murder, a bill in Uganda that allowed the execution of homosexuals was taken into consideration by the Parliament. So obviously, the Ugandan government has not done anything to stop this chaos. In fact, the government may have added more fire to the problem. However, this is nothing new to the continent of Africa. As just one example, in northern Nigeria, gay men are executed my being stoned to death.
It happens to that this may have been building up for quite a while. In 2009, a year before David Kato’s brutal murder, there were still articles being written about how much fear Ugandan homosexuals had felt. An example is a man named Frank Mugisha, who says that being in crowded places can be very risky, as there is a higher chance of him being physically abused, or even burned (CNN, 2009). At the time, the law was a less severe, as you could be put away for life for having sex with another man. What is worse is that his own family treats him as a pariah, an outcast.
Is this the cause of religion? It seems so, as the Evangelists from the United States seem to be involved (NY Times). Not to stop this bill (which is actually very much a violation of Human Rights) but possibly to support it. This goes to say that although the discrimination of homosexuals may be very obvious here in Africa, it does not mean that in does not exist anywhere else in the world. Why is it not as drastic, obvious and strongly felt about? The possible reasons for this will be further analyzed.
In my opinion, the discrimination of homosexuals, also called homophobia is just simply wrong. However, I do believe that you have the right to believe or support any idea you want. There is also the freedom of speech, which allows you to say or express whatever you are thinking or believing (The Doha Debates, 2010). The responsibility you have is to mind other’s feelings, and to try to not offend anyone. But when you send death threats, hammer people to death, burn them, and abuse them in anyway, including physically, mentally, verbally or even sexually, you have definitely crossed the line. I am definitely not saying that there is absolutely no good reason as to why there is such an aggressive attitude towards homosexuality in Africa. In fact, with an infinitesimal amount, I admire the passion the African people have for their beliefs. Although, I believe there is a point where you can be overly passionate, to the point where you can commit heinous crimes, such as murder, towards the people you so passionately hate.
To find an insight on a local opinion, I chose to ask a couple of people I know, with opinions that I thought were worth sharing. The first person asked was completely surprised and outraged when I told him of the law that was to be passed in Uganda. He himself is not much of a person who supports homosexuality, but he totally thinks that the idea is “totally crazy.” He believed that absolutely no one should be killed for what they believe in. “What if homosexuality was something they couldn’t help, or perhaps a character trait? Why should they be killed for who they are?” He also believed that this may be the most extreme form of intolerance. When I asked him what he thought the overall reaction by the people of this country would be if such a law was passed in Ethiopia, he thought because the two most dominant religions in this country (which are Islam and Christianity) are against homosexuality, almost everybody will go for it, especially because he doubts that there will be anyone that will stand up against this law of executing homosexuals.
I also decided to ask a fellow friend and student at Sandford International School, who will remain unnamed. The first question I asked her is how she felt about homosexuals in general. “I actually find them cool. It would be nice to be friends with them,” was her reply.
I then asked whether she thought there were many gay people in Ethiopia. She had responded saying that even though they may not show it, they do exist. Even if they may be rare, they do exist. My following question was what she thought the government would do if they found a homosexual openly embracing who they were. She said, “I truly do not believe that the government here in Ethiopia cares that much about this, so they’re not going to do anything, especially because there are not many cases where things like this happen. Even if there was, and maybe if half our population was gay, what are they going to do? Arrest half the country?”
I agree with her on many levels, except just the one. When she had said that the government may not do much if someone decided to be openly homosexual in this country, I partially agreed with her. If I could modify that line in the way that it could fit my opinion, it would be: The government would not do anything unless the people of Ethiopia were in aggressive outrage. As Ethiopia is dominantly a Christian State, mostly like Uganda, the Christians of this country will not take such a movement so lightly. I believe it can be very hard for a government that either wants the best for their country, or wants to seem democratic to deny their people what they want. Once I realized this, I saw the many complications and complexities to this issue. I saw hard it may be to be in the parliament. I understood that you do not have that much of an option when the majority of your population is causing violence. Maybe this is the only way to stop the violence.
To find a perspective that was somewhat global, I came across a website named ‘Outrage!’ that protests against the persecution of homosexuality. On the 10th of December 2009, an article was published stating that nearly a hundred protesters rallied in London outside of the Ugandan Embassy (Outrage! 2009). On the event of the death of Kato, there were members that had expressed their condolences (Outrage! 2011). This shows that not only the Ugandans at the scene act out and stand up, but also others who are in developed countries, such as the UK are also trying to send a message through the internet and through protests.
Could this be a possible reason for the Ugandan government being the cause for the gay rights’ outrage? I very much believe so. If it is not ‘peer pressure’, then it could also be that these politicians where brought up to choose religion and their beliefs over everything else. And when you are raised in such an environment, it is hard not to have a prejudiced attitude towards the people, or actions of the people that you were told are doing wrong.
So what could be a possible solution to the problem in Uganda? The government should realize that trying to suppress a problem and make it go away will only make it worse. Whether the problem is homosexuality or chaos caused by homophobia, it will only become worse. Only then do I believe that they will get past their beliefs and realize that if they want to serve their people, their deaths and abuse will definitely not help them in any way. They must not try to please their people, but do what is best for them.
Yes this may be hard, but just as the violent people, or the people who discriminate may have the freedom of speech, and have the freedom to think, believe and express themselves in the ways they want or wish to, so do the people who are discriminated against.
They also have these rights, as they are human as well, no matter what many people might think. As a solution, the first action towards peace is recognizing this.
(Excluding Citations): 1, 562
“Ugandan who spoke up for Gays is beaten to Death” The New York Times January 27, 2011. Web. March 28th, 2011
“Why is Uganda attacking Homosexuality?” CNN December 08, 2009. Web. March 28th, 2011
“This House believes education is worthless without freedom of speech” The Doha Debates (Transcript) December 06, 2010. Web. March 30th, 2011
“Protest in London against Uganda bill: Peter Tatchell – Outrage! Gay activist” Outrage! December 10th 2009. Web. March 27th, 2011
“Statement by Outrage! On the murder of David Kato in Uganda” Outrage! January 27th, 2011. Web. March 27th, 2011
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