Proposed genocidal law targeting GLB persons in Uganda
Historical beliefs. Current status. 2007 petition.
"GLB" is an acronym referring to gays, lesbians,
and bisexuals. More commonly, the letter "T" is added to
refer to transgender persons and transsexuals. Sometimes "I" is added to refer
to intersexual persons.
Historical beliefs about GLBs in Uganda:
There are two schools of thought among historians concerning
homosexuality in Uganda:
Some believe that same-sex sexual behavior has always been condemned in
Uganda's past. When Christian missionaries came to Africa to support the
colonization effort by various European powers, they supported this condemnation.
Others believe that before the arrival of the missionaries, the people of
Uganda accepted same-sex sexual behavior like many followers of other
Aboriginal religions worldwide. However the fundamentalist teachings of the
Christian missionaries turned the people against homosexuals and bisexuals in
the 19th century. These beliefs have continued to the present time.
The latter theory is certainly true among many tribes in Africa. It is
unclear whether it applies to Uganda.
The current status in Uganda:
There is strong opposition to equal rights for GLB people from the
Baha'i, Christian, and
Muslim communities. This hatred and rejection appears to
have grown to the point where some in the country do not think that sexually
even have the right to continue living.
Same-sex behavior is currently criminalized in Uganda, even among loving, committed
same-sex couples. Out of this atmosphere, a bill has been proposed before
Parliament to further restrict same-sex behavior by applying penalties up to and
According to Ariel Rubin of the Huffington Post:
"94% of Ugandans consider themselves religious and 95% strongly oppose the
legalization of same-sex relations. ..."
Uganda [is] a country where the ruling party can simply resort to McCarthy-esque
scare tactics to intimidate and coerce any number of potential 'enemies of the
state.' Homosexuality becomes, like the purported communist threat in 1950's
America, an easy red herring, allowing a fearful ruling party to bolster its
ideological support while ignoring the true social ills plaguing society, such
as entrenched corruption and venality. As [Dr. Sylvia] Tamale [dean of the
Makerere Law School] noted in a recent interview, 'All you have to do is send
someone an unsolicited email or SMS which has some homosexual material and
voila, you'll be guilty'. ..."
"Framers of the bill have manipulated the fears of its religious constituents to
shore up support by implying that anyone who opposes the bill thus opposes the
family and the church. Anyone who supports gay rights is thus gay and/or a
pedophile (as the two have been insidiously rendered synonymous) and part of the
Western neo-imperialist plot to deracinate African culture. As the bill's
self-styled guru, Pastor Martin Ssempa explained:
'I'm an African. And as
Africans we find the whole subject of sodomy and lesbianism an unacceptable
lifestyle...the African finds that what does not benefit the community must be
done away with'." 1
A study conducted in 2007-JUL by the Steadman Group in the cities of Nairobi, Kampala and
Dar-es-salaam showed that:
18% of those polled were Muslim, 36% Protestant, 31% Catholic, 15% other
Christian, and 15% other religion, no religion, or no response.
95% wanted the criminalization of homosexual behavior to continue.
4% wanted same-sex behavior to be legalized
1% were unsure or did not answer. 2
2007: petition in Uganda:
During 2007. Amanda Respess created and circulated a petition titled: "Speak Up Against Baha'i
Discrimination Against Homosex" [sic]. She writes:
"The Baha'i Faith, a world religion
that espouses many beautiful, forward thinking ideas, also unfortunately
overtly condemns homosexuality and
teaches that it is a spiritual 'handicap.'
Gay Baha'is face the loss of their Baha'i
administrative rights if they are open and honest about their sexual
orientation and lifestyle."
"Recently, the Baha'i community of Uganda participated in an interfaith effort
to deport an American journalist for covering a
LGBTI human rights event called, 'Let Us Live in Peace.' The Baha'is of Uganda also advocated the arrest
of all LGBTI individuals in Uganda for their 'immorality'. ..." 3
"Baha'is who disagree with this blatant discrimination face administrative and
spiritual 'sanctions' from their religious authorities."
"It is time to speak up." 4
The Baha'i faith has been and continues to be very progressive in matters of democracy,
scientific investigation, gender issues, etc. However, they actively
discriminate against lesbians, gays and bisexuals who go public with their
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Ariel Rubin, "Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Satan's Agents and the
Real Reason Behind It," Huffington Post, 2009-DEC-18, at: