When the Ugandan parliament passed a bill that criminalises homosexual practices, there was an avalanche of unmatched criticism and vitriol from Western countries who castigated the bill as an insult to human rights. This pro-gay lobby called for severe punitive measures against Uganda.
What is puzzling is that an independent African country that has unfettered claim to self-determination could be ostracised for merely deciding to criminalise a practice that widely frowned upon in African custom and conscience. There is nothing untoward about the Ugandan anti-gay bill since it is simply translating African culture into law.
Worldwide, culture and custom are incorporated into law through what has become known as customary law. So, why deny the Ugandans and other Africans a chance to turn their customs into law?
Throughout Africa, homosexuality is viewed as repugnant and an affront to God’s procreation designs. In African settings, homosexuality, together with other sacrilegious practices such as incest, is believed to bring misfortunes such as drought, floods or outbreaks of contagious diseases.
This has been part of African culture since time immemorial and no one can wish it away as it is the African way. Buoyed by its culture and custom, the Ugandan parliament passed a bill that will outlaw some homosexual practices. Member of Parliament, David Bahati, justly praised the passage of the anti-gay bill, thanking the legislators “for the courage and defending the children of Uganda and the cause for humanity, to protect our marriages, to defend culture and to defend the future of our children.”
However, the passing of the bill did not go down well with the conceited pro-gay Western community that immediately and unreservedly castigated Uganda.
The US State Department said, “The United States opposes any legislation that undermines a person’s enjoyment of his or her human rights, and for that reason we condemn legislation that criminalises consensual sexual conduct between adults or criminalises simply being of a particular sexual orientation or gender identity.”
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged the Ugandan government “to ensure respect of the principle of non-discrimination, guaranteed in the Ugandan Constitution, and to preserve a climate of tolerance for all minorities in Uganda”.
UK business tycoon Richard Branson called for a business boycott of Uganda. “I would urge other companies worldwide to follow suit. Uganda must reconsider or find itself being ostracised by companies and tourists worldwide”, said Branson.
Deputy Africa director at Amnesty International, Aster Van Kregten said that the anti-gay bill “amounts to a grave assault on human rights and makes a mockery of the Ugandan Constitution.” Germany cut off aid to Uganda last year citing the bill as one of the reasons. UK prime minister David Cameron has also threatened to cut aid to Uganda over the bill.
Such venom was not only directed at Uganda, but at other African countries such as Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe ran into flak for its stoic anti-gay stance fronted by President Mugabe. President Mugabe has made it clear that Zimbabwe would not recognise gay rights saying gays are worse than dogs and pigs.
During a political rally at Mutare Aerodrome in 2013, President Mugabe rightly pointed out that homosexuality is not consonant with the African culture and practices. President Mugabe said, “We need continuity of our culture. This culture comes from the norm that women carry pregnancies for nine months.
If there is anyone who disputes that, he should lift up his hands to say no I fell from Heaven. This thing (homosexuality) seeks to destroy our lineage by saying John and John should wed, Maria and Maria should wed. Imagine this son born out of an African father (Barack) Obama says if you want aid, you should accept the homosexuality practice. Aah, we will never do that.”
Zimbabwe continued to grapple with the homosexuality discourse during its constitution making process and later during the July 31, 2013 elections. Some gay proponents were calling for the infusion of gay rights into the new constitution. The pro-homosexual lobby found support in the MDC-T, which took it upon itself to mobilise support for gay rights during the constitution making process.
The MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai explicitly sounded his support for homosexuality in a 2011 interview with the BBC. Referring to the homosexuality discourse, Tsvangirai said that, “It’s a controversial subject in my part of the world. My attitude is that I hope the Constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody.
To me, it’s a human right.” On his cue, the MDC-T vainly tried to campaign for gay rights during the constitution making process.
Zimbabweans unequivocally rejected the inclusion of gay rights in the new constitution and later sounded their rejection of homosexuality by delivering an indisputable electoral blow to the MDC-T during the July 31 elections.
This is what Africans think about homosexuality. The African jury spoke through the 31 July elections in Zimbabwe and flatly rejected the practice of homosexuality.
The viciousness of the pro-gay lobby also became apparent in 2010 when a Malawian court sentenced two Malawian males to 14 years in prison with hard labour for homosexual offences. The trial and sentences were roundly condemned by the so-called human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and donor countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, and the World Bank.
The donor countries went on to withdraw their aid to Malawi leaving the southern African country trapped in economic quagmire. However, the judgment by the Malawian magistrate Usiwausiwa stood in defence of the African conscience. Delivering the sentence, magistrate Usiwausiwa said, “I will give you a scaring sentence so that the public be protected from people like you, so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example.
We are sitting here to represent the Malawi society, which I do not believe is ready at this point in time to see its sons getting married to other sons or conducting engagement ceremonies.”
The magistrate called the offences “unnatural” and “indecent”. This was supported by the Malawi Council of Churches which advised Government to maintain the laws that criminalise same-sex sexual acts. The MCC asked international organisations and countries to “respect Malawi’s cultural and religious values and refrain from using aid as a means of forcing the country to legalise sinful acts like homosexuality in the name of human rights.”
Due to crippling economic challenges plaguing the country, Malawi ultimately baulked under pro-gay pressure in 2012 and president Joyce Banda shelved the country’s anti-gay laws. Against their culture and conscience, Malawians were rail-roaded and bulldozed to acquiesce to gay practices.
Russia is also at the receiving end of the pro-gay lobby after it enacted a law that criminalises some homosexual practices. The homosexuality proponents are overzealously pushing for the boycott of the Sochi Olympic Games to be held in Russia in February 2014.
It is clear from the foregoing that homosexuality is indisputably abhorrent to African culture and conscience. African people, courts, parliaments, churches and leaders have dismissed the practice as ‘unnatural’ and ‘sinful’. So why should the West foist such a despicable practice that offends the African thought?
The detestable practice of homosexuality is only amenable to communities and cultures in the West. Gay practices are not human rights but Western rights. Western countries should not force other nationalities to accept homosexuality.
Benny Tsododo writes in his personal capacity. Feedback on [email protected] or Twitter @bentsodaz