Tuesday January 21 2014

Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Politics has come from the back and taken centre stage

By Nicholas Sengoba

Now that President Museveni has not assented to the much anticipated Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Uganda is back where it all begun. Endless debates, that occupy minds, newspaper space and social media.

It is very significant that the attempt to have a law against homosexuality shows that in Uganda, the notion of a man marrying or sleeping with a man and the same happening to a woman is regarded as abominable.

Most people detest it.
It does not matter whatever the arguments that have been put forward to justify homosexuality the leading one being that, what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom is their own business.

To counter this one, others have asked why it becomes a police case (of murder) when two similarly consenting adults in their bedroom agree that one kills the other.

Even the one by Museveni that seemingly pours water on the Bill when he states correctly that homosexuals lived in pre-colonial African societies and were not ‘harassed.’ It has been argued that even thieves, rapists, murders and all forms of people who go against the acceptable norms of society existed in that epoch and overtime laws have been made to tame or eliminate them from society.

That aside, this particular law, however, well or ill-intentioned is going to be a hard one to implement. First, homosexuality is not written on the backsides (no pun intended) of those who practice it. Secondly, homosexual acts or even the ‘acceptable’ heterosexual ones are rarely committed in the full view of the public. A person who has just had a same sex ‘encounter’ does not have the tell tale signs of a person who has been licking sugar. So as an expression of general societal dislike it passes with flying colors. But as an enforceable law, it will join the other redundant laws on the statue books.

It is here that we bring in the politicians. First, the well intentioned Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, who is made to appear as a potential rival to the President, come 2016, had climbed the ladder when she delivered the Bill as a ‘Christmas present.’ She was bitten by a snake and came down to earth when the President refused to sign the Bill into law. (Here Museveni cements his credentials as a compliant client of the Western powers that opposed the Bill from the onset.)

He also makes a statement that presents are ‘delivered to his children’ on his terms. It will help prolong the diversionary phantom debate of ‘Museveni Vs Kadaga.’ Now Ugandans as a priority should be asking the President and (Parliament) either to deliver medicines in hospitals, better schools and roads. Or even call for an end to NRM’s corrupt and inept government. Yet they will for sometime be diverted into asking Museveni to use his good offices to sign the anti-Homosexuality Bill ‘to stop immorality!’

Lastly, the debate on homosexuality is a conversation that like many others over the last 50 years it originated in the West. The aim is to divert and subvert meaningful debate on our predicament.

Spear headed by the International media the debate on homosexuality is designed with intensity, that we no longer have the attention and space to take on the pertinent questions of the impact of colonialism and neocolonialism (antiquated as I may sound) on our quandary.

All these 50 years we should have dedicated our energies to understanding (and solving) why the West controls the markets, the money, our own resources, the instruments of coercion (now including the International Criminal Court) and the governance agenda be it promotion of dictatorship or democracy, etc
So, even if Museveni signs the Bill into law, it will not reduce the number or people who live on less than a dollar a day. It will feed into the process of paralysis that comes with endless analysis!

Nicholas Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues. nicholassengoba@yahoo.com