Ugandans call for reason

Two op-eds in today’s The (Uganda) Independent call for reasoned thinking about homosexuality.

Conservatism blocking dynamic thinking in Africa:

[C]owardice is slowly killing African intellectualism and innovation. The mind that does not allow itself to analyse and be critical of its held beliefs because of prejudice, is likely to be limited on how far it can go in innovating solutions for complex problems our societies face.

Those drumming up hate propaganda against gays, base their arguments on religion and culture but fail to present to us any logical arguments, other than those rooted in religious dogma. Yet they fail to live up to Jesus’ teachings and actions which were always tolerant. Of course the other cheap argument is that homosexuality is un-African and a western lifestyle being promoted in Africa.

The strength of western civilisation has its roots in studying and analysing phenomena they did not comprehend and where they found it was in interest of their society to shift thinking even when it was unpopular and against their held beliefs. Good examples are giving women the right to vote, abolition of slavery and eventual abolition of racial discrimination in America where such practices directly contradicted the spirit and values of their constitution and capitalism as an economic mode of transacting business.

A particular problem with Ugandan society is its low levels of openness

Our challenge is how to foster openness and tolerance. This can only be achieved through open debate.

This is why although Bahati is subjectively homophobic, he is objectively an ally of gays. By introducing his bill with provisions to kill gays, he has inadvertently opened debate on a subject that has been taboo in Uganda. In the process, he has given gays and progressive intellectuals an opportunity and a platform to enlighten Ugandans about sexual diversity and expose the fallacies that inform homophobia.

As we debate Bahati’s bill, we will learn that the factors that shape human sexuality are complex and we should therefore not kill anyone because they are different. We should punish those who sexually molest children and those who rape – not because of their sexual orientation but because they violated some else’s rights while seeking sexual gratification.

At the same time, the author of this op-ed cautions that forcing openness will be counterproductive.

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