Yesterday evening I went to the LSE showing of ‘Call me Kuchu’ and the panel discussion afterward with Beau Hopkins and Rahul Rao. The contents of the film were disturbing to say the least. It is so sad that even in the 21st century, societies can still have homophobic laws, incite murder and outcast LGBT members of the community just because of their sexuality.
It is understandable why the American Evangelical Christian’s on a crusade against homosexuality chose to go to Uganda, the fervour to which people condemn LGBT people is powerful. However, this is not an issue confined to Uganda alone. Many who oppose it in Africa see it as a condition of Western culture and part of the hatred for it is no doubt because of colonialism and the resentment that many ex-colonial countries have for the dominance of Western culture. There have proposals from UN member states to tackle the issue but I don’t think withdrawing aid would be beneficial to the LGBT movement there. They would not only be persecuted because of their sexuality but as people that took funding for food, shelter and education away from most vulnerable in the country. Another possible area of contention is that it could be perceived as Western powers flexing its economic muscle. Change must occur within, with the support of other countries.
In the talk yesterday, it was discussed that the original laws of homophobia were not in fact African, but English. Many anti-homosexuality laws were enacted during the colonialist period, laws affect behaviour and perceptions of social norms. So the idea that being gay is ‘un-African’ seems particularly absurd. The Ugandan government and those that preach homophobia claim that it has its roots in Western society, yet they are living under archaic Western laws, there is a contradiction here.
Being half Nigerian, I must admit that homophobia seems to be rife throughout many African communities. I am pretty sure that members of my family would be openly homophobic, this view has been reinforced by many of the churches who view being gay as ‘sinful’. Religious positions on homosexuality can be damning, and it was heart warming to see Bishop Christopher Senyojo supporting members of the LGBT community in Uganda. Reinforcing the notion that you do not have to be LGBT to understand that every person on this earth deserves to be treated equally and the role of the ally is still important.
Watching the film has made me so thankful for the life I have and I’m sure others feel the same. Next time I am feeling sorry for myself I will just think of the struggles of others such as David and Naome and it will remind me that no matter what is happening to me, it could always be worse; I could live in Uganda. I hope that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill does not get through this time and that David has not died in vain and I urge you to sign the Amnesty petition as soon as you can by clicking on the link at the bottom of the post.