You know, I never felt comfortable with that sentiment. The idea of someone from a different culture being ‘savage’ abhorred me, and there was always a racial overtone to the word ‘Dark’, at least in my mind.
But now I can’t help but feel that this statement is most apt. It is not the culture of the native Africans that I am criticising as savage. In the native culture, homosexuality was, by many accounts, acceptable. No, it is the import of evangelical Christian ideas from the west that has ingrained such savagery into the hearts and minds of the local populations. From Victorian era missionaries insisting on full gowns and corsetry for women in blistering temperatures, to the bleached smiles and fake tans of American Evangelists, the message of a loving god and Jesus Christ has always been presented to these people alongside strict condemnation of the slightest hint of sexual expression outside of the heteronormative idyll.
What about ‘Dark’? Well a cloud of darkness has descended over Uganda and its people, with other African nations looking to them as some great ray of light in this moral crusade against the devil and his homosexual allies.
“Oh but it’s their culture!” I hear people whine “You have to respect their culture!”
The president of Sierra Leone tries to mediate the issue, saying that it isn’t right for the west to impose their values on Africa and cut Aid to the Ugandan government.
Fuck their Aid. Fuck their culture. Fuck their traditions. These are people’s lives we are talking about here. And it isn’t just the threat of life imprisonment that hangs over the heads of LGBT Ugandans, but it is now a lack of protection under the law for violent assaults or corrective rape on people who cannot come forward and report the crime, as their being gay or lesbian constitutes a bigger crime than what is done to them. Whenever a government takes even the slightest step backwards in the rights of a minority, it sends a clear and concise message to its people that this minority are less than human and do not deserve the same respect, courtesy and protection as ‘real’ people. This is evident in Russia, where gangs go around beating people they perceive as gay, and raping women to ‘make them straight’ with little to no intervention by authorities. Heck, even our step backwards in the 1980s with Section 28 made life much, much harder for LGBT persons, especially among the young.
But here is the even more insidious thing. It is now a criminal offence for NOT reporting someone who is gay. Not for not reporting homosexual activity, but just for being gay. This is ‘Thought Crime’, enshrined in law and in a legal system based on British law no less. Anyone that someone wishes to denounce or ruin, only needs to be accused of being homosexual for their lives to be ruined. By forcing the LGBT community underground and removing all support networks the spread of HIV and AIDS will get much worse, especially since gay men and women will feel compelled to marry one another to stay on the good side of the law, thus exposing unsuspecting spouses to disease. Without access to information on safe sex, disease awareness and treatment, millions of people over the next few decades will be condemned to lonely, painful deaths in a pandemic that would make the mythological plagues of Egypt appear to be a minor irritation. This will be a plague of the Ugandan government’s making, and they will use the results as further justification for their laws.
They are not the only government in Africa to have laws against Homosexuality, but the fact that the author of law originally called for the death penalty for the ‘crimes’ shows just how much hatred there is in the Ugandan establishment. Whilst many countries have laws prohibiting homosexual behaviour, only a handful still execute people for it, and Uganda came very close to joining that little band of dusty, oppressive, super religious nations. But it doesn’t matter if the death penalty is on the books or not, people are going to die because of this law, and in droves to boot.
The law of course, is religiously motivated. Just like every anti-gay law in the world, its origin doesn’t have to be traced back far to find either the Bible or the Quran. As an atheist it makes as much sense to me as saying Father Christmas won’t bring us any presents unless we get rid of ginger people. We need to stop supporting these governments with Aid, and deliver directly to the people, and we need to stop holding the rights of the religious as equal, or even above the rights of LGBT people. It is now indisputable that one’s sexuality is not a choice (seriously, with the downright cuntish behaviour of some people towards us, why the hell would we deliberately put ourselves in the way of such hate), but being religious IS a choice. When people who choose to support the BNP spout racist bullshit, we decry them as inhuman, yet when people who choose to follow a religion spout hate about LGBT people, we’re often told that we have to respect their opinions.
We need to put out the message to all corners of society, and indeed the world, that homosexuality is no more a choice for an individual than race or height or hair colour, and yes, this means presenting it in schools to children as the perfectly normal aspect of human diversity that scientific research proves it to be. If you want to raise your children to dislike a certain group of people, fuck off to Russia, Iran or Uganda. I just hope they turn out gay and come back to civilisation unharmed.
LGBT people around the world don’t want special treatment, or to turn your children gay or bring about the rise of the devil. I see and hear people banging on about a ‘Gay Agenda’ which they are unable to explain, yet are adamant that it exists. We just want to be able to live and love honestly and openly like non-LGBT people do, without fear of being attacked, raped, imprisoned or murdered. The laws that give us special protections are there because, like all laws that offer minorities special protections, they are needed. Seriously, it’s like someone who lives on a mountain whinging that all the people in the valley are being given flood defences that they aren’t. We don’t want to have to need them, believe me. Stop hate crime tomorrow, and we will gladly call for the repeal of hate crime legislation. But until then, we all need to do our part to ensure that the world is safe for everyone, whether they are British, American, Russian, Ugandan… anyone from anywhere.
This can only be done if you challenge hate wherever and whenever you find it. Educate yourself, then educate those who need educating. Get to know someone by their actions, not by their labels. Always take everything you read in the media with a sceptical mind, always take anything the religious say with a pinch of salt and never forget that the person you are looking at, talking to, passing in the street and getting served by in Sainsburys, is a human being until they prove otherwise. Most of you do this anyway, but are there some others who need reminding.
Peace and love… and fuck you The Ugandan Government.