Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Pearl of Africa Loses Some Lustre

Uganda is a beautiful green country in central Africa, a place so fertile and verdant that you could bury a rock it it's rich, red soil and it would sprout little rock trees. The air is thick with moisture, and filled with more butterflies than you ever knew existed. I worked at a hospital in its capital city for a couple months back in 2005, and was forever changed by it. For all its beauty, though, it's at the center of some real ugliness at the moment.

Sassy Posing Girls: a universal truth

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. Gay and lesbian Ugandans face violence, employment discrimination, arrest and even life imprisonment. New pending legislation would add insult to injury.

Anyone found guilty of one same-sex encounter would face life imprisonment. A family member or friend found to have helped a gay or lesbian person with their 'unnatural' lifestyle - or even knowing about it without reporting it - could be jailed for anywhere from 3 to 7 years. And though recent reports say that the final bill will exclude such language, the original wording would impose death on 'serial offenders' and gays and lesbians with HIV+. Death. WTF.

Look, I respect that there are cultural and religious differences between countries. I also respect that people feel differently about the nature of homosexuality, no matter how much I may disagree with some of them. But I do not respect lawmakers that would kill their own people for no other crime but loving differently than they do. I do not respect a government that allows fundamentalist religion to dictate the human rights of its constituents.

There are some good articles about the situation here, here and here. This is not the first darkness that Uganda has undergone, and when viewed from a certain angle, not the darkest. What it is, however, is a finite, preventable action (rejecting the bill) that will save Ugandan lives. And I am all for anything that does that.

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