- Stella Nyanzi
Stella Nyanzi is an anthropologist who studies gender and sexuality issues in Uganda, at Makerere University in Kampala.
Talk about being at the eye of the storm.
Uganda has become ground zero for what some characterize as an explosion of homophobia and increased criminalization of homosexuality in Africa. Hostility toward gays is hardly new or confined to Africa, of course, as Humanosphere has noted. Nearly 80 countries worldwide consider homosexuality a crime, with some making it a death penalty crime.
“In Africa, I think it’s worth noting that the countries with the most severe laws are former British colonies,’ said Nyanzi, who will be the keynote speaker at a Seattle conference focused on sexuality, health and human rights. “You don’t see this so much in the former colonies of other countries.”
The conference, hosted and run by students at the University of Washington, is the 11th annual Western Regional International Health Conference, which opens with Nyanzi speaking on Friday and runs through the weekend.
The meeting will also screen a powerful documentary, Call Me Kuchu, that describes the plight of gays in Uganda – and the murder of a gay activist.
“This is happening in many places but I’m not sure everyone recognizes why, and how,” said Nyanzi. Continue reading
World Vision USA, the large Christian aid organization headquartered just outside of Seattle, earlier this week announced it had changed its policy and would begin hiring Christians in same-sex marriage.
World Vision USA President Rich Stearns had championed the move saying it was “Symbolic of how we can come together even though we disagree.”
But in less than two days, World Vision USA reversed itself saying it had made a ‘mistake’ – the mistake, apparently, being that it had not anticipated the massive criticism it would get from many in the religious community who oppose gay marriage.
“This a depressing step backwards from what had seemed a very progressive move forward by World Vision,” said Ed Carr, an aid and development expert at the University of South Carolina. “After only a day or so, they’re back on the wrong side of history.”
- Ugandan pupils from different schools take part in an event organised by born-again Christians to celebrate the signing of a new anti-gay bill.
- AP Photo/Stephen Wandera
Boston, MA – Returning home to Uganda after two years makes James* feel uneasy. As a gay man from a country that penalizes homosexuality, James cannot even use his real name for fear of outing himself to the wrong people.
“I choose not to think about it,” he said to Humanosphere.
Only some friends and family know that that he James is gay. Being out has not necessarily changed the minds of the people close to him. The Boston-area student said that friends that do not know about his sexuality will freely share anti-homosexual sentiments on social media.
“The ones that know; I will post something on Facebook and they won’t say anything,” he said. “They choose not to engage in that, but they will comment on other things.”
That was before the east African nation’s President Yoweri Museveni signed into law legislation that now imposes harsher penalties on homosexuality. People can now go to jail for life if convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.” Such a punishment would be dealt to those having gay sex with a minor, having sex if infected with HIV and with a vulnerable victim. It adds onto existing laws that carried punishments from 14 years to life in prison.
The law makes for a more tense situation in a country that has witnessed hostility towards gay Ugandans. Activist David Kato was among some 100 Ugandans outed by the tabloid magazine Rolling Stone in 2010. A year later he was brutally attacked in his home. He died on the way to the hospital. A public outcry galvanized the issue of gay rights in Uganda to slow down anti-gay legislation, but the law finally passed.
Such tactics were undertaken only a day after the bill was signed.The headline on today’s Ugandan tabloid magazine Red Pepper, touted exposing “Uganda’s 200 Top Homos.” International leaders reacted strongly to the signing.
“We will continue to urge the Ugandan government to repeal this abhorrent law and to advocate for the protection of the universal human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda and around the world,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. Continue reading
Imran Khan, a young leading man in Bollywood, participates in a satirical video to answer questions following the re-authorization of a law in India banning gay acts.
He describes how gay people are trying to convert others, where to find the gay/straight switch and other practical advice. All in all, it is a strong criticism of fears about homosexuality in India and a rather funny way of taking on the fears.
The video comes from All India Bakchod, the same group that used humor to criticize attitudes about rape in India.
- Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, filmmaker Roger Ross Williams and Rev. Kapya Kaoma
Uganda has emerged as a focal point of US evangelical efforts in Africa. A new film, God Loves Uganda, shows how the efforts to bring Jesus to Ugandans is also spreading hate against gays. Specifically, it has enabled the progress of legislation that will imprison gay Ugandans.
Film director Roger Ross Williams debuted the film at the Sundance film festival earlier this year and it will hit US screens in October. The main character is Reverend Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia and doctoral candidate at Boston University. His 2010 research paper showed how a new form of evangelism took shape in Africa starting in the 1970s and 80s that impacts the trend of anti-gay laws across the continent.
“African allies of the U.S. Christian Right echo their friends in deriding African and Western human rights campaigners as pursuing a neocolonial agenda,” says the report. “To better support the communities, allies around the world need to be more attuned to the complexity of theological and institutional ties between Africa and the U.S. Christian Right.”