The unnecessary legal war on homosexuality in Uganda

Simply, homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. It can as well be defined as the enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/ or sexual attractions primarily or exclusively to people of the same sex. According to American Psychological Association, homosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orientation, others being bisexuality and heterosexuality. Over the years, there has been controversy as to what exactly causes people to be homosexuals and different views stretching from religion, science and culture have been brought on board giving us no specific conclusion on what makes people become sexually orientated towards homosexuality direction. However, so many studies have revealed that both nature and nurture play part to bring out this version of sexual orientation. Different perceptions, understanding and beliefs regarding this kind of life have resulted in the unending controversy of whether homosexuals are still in the normal continuum of human behavior or have diverted to non-human life that deserves punishment or some kind of treatment. Over the years, different organizations have reported violence, harassment, imprisonment, and all sorts of mistreatments against homosexuals in different countries around the world, including Uganda and you may wonder what really should be our stand in such times. It is due to this simple background that I want to highlight what exactly I believe should be our take on this matter.

To understand where to place our stand, let us examine some good and bad things about homosexuality. According to the writers of Rationalist and debashis, a rationalist and humanist website, 2% of U.S. population is homosexual, yet it accounts for about 61% of HIV infection. The same website indicates that about 12.1 Billion US Dollars is spent annually to deal with the disease outcomes of homesuality. This website stresses that mental break-ups and depression, sexual abuse of adopted children in homosexual families (sexual molestation), sexual promiscuity, and unsuccessful marriages are highly recognized in homosexual homes and relationships. While these findings about the dangers of homosexuality may or may not be true, it has been shown that homosexuality is regarded as dangerous in Uganda on moral, religious and cultural issues more than scientific reasons. However, this may not exclude the negative health and economic effects of homosexuality to Uganda. Actually, President Museveni of Uganda was quoted few years ago saying that a team of scientists had been employed to find out if homosexuality was genetically instituted in people, a research they concluded saying that it was not. And also much health information in Uganda have come up with similar trends as observed above that homosexuality is dangerous to the health of the society.

Despite all of the above findings about the dangers of homosexuality, so many writers, organizations and scientists have revealed that homosexuality is a normal sexual orientation as the rest and thus homosexuals must be treated with the same respect, care and understanding just as the rest of the people. Some writers and researchers as summed up in the American Psychological Association’s article, Answers to your questions (for a better understanding of sexual orientation and homosexuality) have urged that homosexuals are not mentally ill, have strong relationships and commitments as in other relationships, and also can be good parents to adopted children or their relatives. Actually, some failing marriages among homosexuals have been attributed to the ongoing and endless discrimination and harassment of homosexuals, a fact which if removed would result in great stability and effectiveness of homosexual couples and relationships. What most people agree on is that infections with sexually transmitted diseases are higher in homosexuals than in heterosexuals. However, this does not make STDs like HIV and others gay diseases, but diseases of general population. From the positive aspect of this issue, different human rights activists, international organizations like Amnesty International, United Nations and USAID, have urged different governments around the world to mark homosexuality as a human right and stop this discrimination and punishments that has marked our error, including Uganda that started out Anti-homosexuality Bill in 2009.

I do not think it would be a wise and justifiable idea to clarify homosexuality as people’s right since homosexuality bears no such characters as those of any human right. However, I do not agree with the general harsh method our country or other governments employ to deal with it. According to the website of Wikipedia, human rights are moral principles or norms that describe standards of human behavior, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law. Morality is differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are distinguished as proper functions and those which involve the omission of proper functions (the disjunction between right and wrong). However, Wikipedia highlights about four means of telling the right from wrong: Considering the code of conduct of certain philosophy, religion, culture, or from a standard that a person believes should be universal. While the first 3 means talk little, if not nothing at all, of homosexuality being right, then we can consider the last one which involves what the real involved person believes should be universal and thus right. Many studies have revealed that homosexuals do not feel good about themselves, a kind of guilt that makes them delay to express what they are compared to other sexual orientation classes. Though many other studies trace this guilt to the widespread discrimination and negative community perception about them, homosexual guilt is more inborn and inherent than the other way round. Also, a true human right causes little, if not nothing at all, harm to the person enjoying it, the environment, and other human rights, a characteristic that homosexuality does not have. All this disqualifies it from being a human right.

Finally, as observed by the 13-member Committee on Homosexual offences and prostitution in Great Britain (1957), society and the law should respect individual freedom of actions in matters of private morality". The Committee concluded that private morality or immorality was not the law’s business. This is my take on this issue too. Whether homosexuality is morally right or not, whether is genetically instituted in humans or we learn and adapt to be so, whether all its dangers are true or not, this is not a matter of the law but of the heart. It is the matter of the individual and his belief. Any offence committed during homosexuality orientation can be dealt with and punished by law as is done with other sexual orientations’ crimes but not exaggerated or undermined on the basis of homosexuality as a factor. This does not make homosexuality right or wrong, I already stressed where I belong in relation to this but it makes homosexuality an entry that is neither much nor less from the normal. We can deal with it the same way we deal with love and hatred; it is really up to us as individuals and our God or gods and belief.

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