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Xtra reports from Uganda: Hundreds rally against homosexuality

Xtra reports from Uganda: Hundreds rally against homosexuality

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Countries like Canada blamed for spreading gay rights
This is the fifth in a series of articles from Uganda by Xtra freelance reporter Kaj Hasselriis.

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It wasn't quite the "Million Man March Against Homosexuality" that organizers promised, but its size was still impressive — and troubling.

In a small town in southeastern Uganda called Jinja, 350 people demonstrated against gay rights on Monday. Young and old, they carried crudely made signs with homophobic messages:
  • "Homosexuality is a curse, it leads to death!!"
  • "Let's kick sodomy out of Uganda"
  • "God hates homosexuality"
  • "Homosexuality is evil, I hate it"
  • "Sodomy is not what we need"
  • "I say no to homosexuality"
  • "Islam stands against homosexuality"
  • "Say No. Man to man homosexuality is a curse!!"
  • "Remember Sodom"
  • "It is time to stop homosexuality"
  • "Sodomy = hell"
Many of the protesters' signs targeted one man in particular — US President Barack Obama — for speaking out against a Ugandan bill that, if passed, could lead to the execution of gays and lesbians, the abolition of pro-gay organizations and the imprisonment of allies who try to hide the identities of queer friends and family.

One anti-Obama sign showed a drawing of the US president with fangs in his mouth and horns coming out of his head, along with the words "No pact with the devil."

Trevor Snapp, an American freelance photojournalist who witnessed the march, said, "If someone had been called out for being gay, they would have been ripped to shreds. Just the mere mention of homosexuality made people freak out, fall down and start shivering. It was really intense, kind of like a frenzy."

After the march, a rally was held. Christian and Islamic preachers made homophobic speeches linking homosexuality to pedophilia. Oddly, though, Snapp said that the protesters' reactions didn't always seem hateful. "People actually seemed giddy with the naughtiness of it all. Homosexuality just isn't talked about in Ugandan society."

According to Snapp, the crowd was made up of two groups of people: middle-class churchgoers and poor, shoeless villagers who were encouraged to join the mob. "Underlying all of this is poverty," he said. "Poor, uneducated people are being incited and manipulated by powerful preachers."

Snapp also saw three white men at the event who were identified to him as American Evangelicals. Yet most of the speakers blamed countries like the United States, Canada and Great Britain for spreading homosexuality. Snapp said one of the main messages was: "The West is giving aid to Africa but forcing it to become homosexual."

"There's a really clear desire of people to say 'Fuck you' to the west," he said, "and gays are being used as the scapegoats. The power of fear and scapegoating is exciting for these preachers, and they're sinking their teeth into it."

Another, bigger demonstration is being planned for Wednesday in Kampala, Uganda's capital. "If this bill goes through Parliament," said Snapp, "it'll get passed, no question. No one wants to be seen supporting this."

Read Kaj Hasselriis' next update from Uganda later this week. Get the latest update as soon it's posted:


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Comments

Where The Rhetoric Comes From
As a Christian, I cannot help but notice the rhetoric in the homophobic slogans used in Uganda comes from the various homophobic religious extremists here. This is frightening. If extremists are able to pass the bill there, we need to wonder just how long it will be before we see demands for the same kind of bill here. This is a wake-up call to all of us.
Commonwealth Pressure
It is an incredibly hate-filled bill. It certainly has relections of Nazi tactics. Randy's suggestion that the Commonwealth expell Uganda might actually cause some Ugandans do some reflection on the matter. I doubt that Ugandans would really care if Canada itself decided to drop out. The whole notion that in this day and age people could even think of treating their fellow citizens in such a manner is so troubling.
No to Uganda
Economics or no, Uganda is clearly telling countries like Canada to fuck off. So we should. Uganda should be kicked out of the Commonwealth (or we should voluntarily leave it ourselves) and all aid to Uganda should be eliminated, if this bill passes in any form. Please note that it's not just gay people who have sex who are affected by this bill. Please view this video, which clearly explains (using the text of the bill itself) how all gay people, and anyone who knows them, are subject to the death penalty in the bill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fuEsRJp2nU
Human Rights and Economics Not the Same
The human rights issues in many parts of Africa is indeed very troubling; however, it is wrong to connect this with economics. Withdrawing economic assistance will certainly not fix the human right issues. It indeed could make them worse. The West should be careful not feel too superior. Problems in developing countries often have some roots in West.
Not my taxes!!!
Canada, like many western democracies, sends financial aid to countries in Africa like Uganda. As a gay taxpayer, I call on the government to stop all aid to Uganda. I don't want my taxes feeding these homophobic mobs. Ditto for Malawi, ditto for Nigeria. A complete ban on aid would force these people to realize they live in a pluralistic world, and they must learn to be tolerant. 'Nuff said!
Africa is a basket case.
In fact , the countries of that continent are the very definition of backward, primitive & poor. None of it has anything to do with race.But when the colonial powers left , the vacuum was filled with various combinations of brutal dictators & western missionaries.Gay rights are an important issue in 38 0f the 53 countries in Africa.But in many , rights must stand in line with human sacrifices , the killing of witches (which usually targets the elderly), & the hunting , killing , & dismembering for profit ; of albinos. Superstition is entrenched , & the cultures reflect it.In Senegal, the bodies of dead gays have been disinterred from Muslim cemetaries & turfed.
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