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Hide and seek over gays in Africa

in UGANDA, 07/02/2013

Ever since the leader of the most powerful nation on earth cautioned against the antigay bill which imposes harsh punishment, Uganda has gone into ‘seek and hide’ game with other African nations watching silently.

Uganda Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga Alitwala promised Ugandans that the antigay Bill would be fast tracked to give citizens a Christmas gift last year.

Despite some clerics’ warning politicians over failing to table the Bill then, the sign of the Ugandans’ gift is not yet in sight over a month after the Boxing Day.

During his first tenure office, President Barack Obama reacted to Uganda maiden antigay Bill tabled by Ndorwa West Member of Parliament David Bahati in its early stages of development.

“We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are, whether it’s here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda,” President Obama said.

Ever since the leader of the most powerful nation on earth cautioned against the antigay bill which imposes harsh punishment, Uganda has gone into ‘seek and hide’ game with other African nations watching silently.

The proposed punishment for homosexuality acts included life imprisonment and even death penalty.

Doctor Joseph Serwada, a prominent Pastor in Uganda, warned late last year that all religious leaders in Uganda must put pressure on the promised antigay Bill.

Failure to pass it, according to him, would see the serious issue becoming a campaign agenda against anyone aspirant in the forthcoming 2016 presidential election in Uganda.

Activists and politicians around the world had condemned the maiden Bill ever since the Ndorwa West MP proposed it.

And in March 2010, campaigners gave the Ugandan Parliament an online petition signed by some 450,000 people against the Bill.

The international protest went even an extra mile to threaten brainchild of the Bill with travel ban to the US and other developed nations in case it is not revised.

Citing the 1971 Article 9 section 1 and 3 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bernard Membe said his country’s position on homosexuality was crystal clear, as its constitution prohibits sexual relations between same sex partners.

“Our morals and laws are against homosexuality, we stand by our dignity, we would rather lose the aid than succumb to the dim-witted string attached,” Membe said.

Section 162 of the 1930 Kenyan Penal Code of 1930, as revised in 2006, provides as follows: “… any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years”.

The Kenyan Constitution prompted Prime Minister Raila Odinga in 2010 to say the behaviour of gay couples was “unnatural” and that “If found, the homosexuals should be arrested and taken to relevant authorities”.

He asserted: “there is no need for homosexual relationships” because the latest census shows there were more women than men, … it is a sign of “madness for a man to fall in love with another man while there were plenty of women” and that “there was no need for women to engage in lesbianism yet they can bear children”.

Days later, Odinga denied ordering the arrest of gay couples, saying he meant only that same-sex marriages are illegal in Kenya.

According to Raymond Smith an American author on Gay and Lesbian Americans and political participation, “Gay and Lesbians have had the attribute of relative “invisibility”.

They are born in the general population, and thus cannot be marked by virtue of birth into a particular social group or category.

In Africa, religion and culture supersede all human rights. When the big powers pouring donations on the continent cough in favour of gay and lesbian existence, an automatic response of cold will be felt on the other side of the beggar which affirms the English adage: “beggars must not be choosers”.

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