Monday March 3 2014

Hypocrisy in the homosexuality debate

By Muniini K. Mulera

Dear Tingasiga:
Ruyooka, who arrived in Uganda the day President Museveni assented to the anti-homosexuality Bill, was initially surprised by the celebratory mood in the country.

Years of living in Washington DC had eased his own homophobia. After all, several of his professional colleagues, among them some of the smartest and nicest people he knew, were openly gay.

In any case the laws in America and neighbouring Canada were, for the most part, very clearly against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Ruyooka, a passionate human rights advocate, had no trouble defending the rights of gays to be themselves.

Yet he was also a Christian who had remained firmly rooted in the culture and traditions of his people. So he was not certain how he personally felt about homosexuality itself.

To be sure he understood the visceral homophobia that the President of Uganda, speaking for the majority of his subjects, had expressed after signing the Bill. So he was not surprised that even opposition politicians had rallied behind Gen Museveni in his verbal fights over the anti-homosexuality law.

After a brief rest Ruyooka drove to his favourite club in Kampala where he was sure the conversation would be about the anti-gays law. There he found Dr Andreas Tisa, a famous Ugandan sage, engaged in verbal combat with a group of men and women, including MPs and a couple of Anglican bishops, whom he knew to be otherwise sober debaters of national issues.
People were shouting and talking over each other, with no one willing to listen to an alternative point of view.

Dr Tisa, after being told not to bring science into the discussion, reached into his vast database of memorised scripture verses and pulled out the one in Matthew chapter 7 where Jesus told us to remove the logs from our eyes before pointing at the specks in the eyes of others.
“Listen ye miserable hypocrites!” Dr Tisa shouted. “Do not judge or you too will be judged.”

Shocked into silence, Dr Tisa’s opponents were transfixed as they listened to him recite verbatim the passage in John Chapter 8 verses 1 to 11 which narrates Jesus Christ’s encounter with Scribes, Pharisees and a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.

“To the fellows who wanted her to be stoned, Jesus said, let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone! The fellows fled”, Dr Tisa reminded them.
“The problem in this country is that Ugandans suffer from traditional bigotry, religious chauvinism and lack of exposure,” he continued. “100 per cent of Ugandan Christians that I know fornicate and cheat on their partners. All of you here are hypocrites, leading a country where 90 per cent of the citizens are ignorant! You steal, you fornicate, you commit adultery, you…”
Dr Tisa’s words were lost in the melee that erupted. “ Those bishops are anti-Christian!” he yelled as he fled into the ladies’ toilet, narrowly dodging a bottle hurled at him by an honourable minister.
As Ruyooka fled to the safety of his car, an MP and a bishop caught up with him.

“We understand that you are well connected in America,” the MP told him. “Please tell Obama to respect us and our values. Tell him that homosexuals are disgusting. He can keep his money and his abnormal people in his godless country, but he must leave us alone.”
Ruyooka listened respectfully, nodding as though in approval, but really because he wanted peace.

“Listen,” Ruyooka said. “I agree entirely that the statements and threats by Obama and other leaders of rich countries and multinational organisations betray an arrogance born of ignorance about our values and traditions.
“I very strongly resent the hypocrisy of Obama who is now singing about Ugandans’ human rights because Museveni has gone after homosexuals. Where was Obama when Museveni’s police were harassing, beating and teargasing opposition leaders?

“Where were these champions of freedom and human rights when Dr Kizza Besigye was almost killed simply because he was attempting to enjoy his rights of citizenship?

“We see through the hypocrisy that considers African lives to be worthless and African values to be subordinate to European and North America ones. We are not fools. We see the American government cozying up to Saudi Arabia which still treats women like chattel.
“However, the bigger problem as I see it is that we are talking at each other, not to each other. We are listening to ourselves, not to those with alternative views.

“We are reading science and the scriptures to suit our points of view, not to learn and make an informed opinion one way or the other. We are mixing moral questions with human rights and freedoms.
“I strongly urge you and your opponents to take a deep breath, stop listening only to those who agree with you and seek to understand the other side as well. We should talk less and listen more, doing so respectfully and asking questions with open minds.

“This applies as much to Museveni as it does to Obama, to Dr Tisa as it does to you Bishop Azaria Rwendinga.”
muniinikmulera@aol.com