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August 10, 2007

Difference of Opinion

Writing about web page http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR590032005 http://www.afrol.com/html/Categories/Gay/backgr_legalstatus.htm

Yesterday evening we were out at a bar with a Ugandan friend and his old school friends. His school friends were from a certain demographic and most had ties with Western countries. It was a fairly standard evening, some light RnB and some Waragi, until we happened to stumble on the issue of homosexuality. At this point the table exploded and my friends and I suddenly became gay rights activists. The difference in opinion was astounding and there appeared to be a severe misunderstanding about what it meant to be gay. I don’t profess to be an expert on being gay, as I am not gay, but I imagine that it is just like being straight except that you happen to fancy someone of the same sex. I also don’t think that you can choose who you are sexually attracted to as attraction is one of the most complex human sensations as it taps both your psychological and physical desire. I’d like to give you a taster of some of the opinions that were heard yesterday evening;

‘it is just something that has happened to them during them in their adolescnce which makes them want the male instead of the female’

‘it is like saying that if you are born a thief, then its ok, you can go around and steal everything and it doesn’t matter if you hurt everybody’

‘I mean being gay isn’t about sex, if it was they could just go with a woman and have anal sex with them’

‘it is a crime’

It is important to remember that the conversation was not held under the most sober of conditions and that perhaps opinions were exaggerated more than normal. But there was a general consensus that homosexuality destroys Ugandan culture and that it is wrong. They also truly didn’t seem to understand why we would defend the right to be gay when we weren’t gay ourselves. Although Britain is far from being a haven for the gay community I do think that we have come along way in terms of our understanding and acceptance. I cannot see Uganda changing anytime soon, part of this is to do with the political opposition to homosexuality and part to do with the fact that religion is so heavily integrated in Ugandan culture.

The gentlemen who I was sat next to was extremely well spoken and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Although he was trying to understand what I was saying he just couldn’t believe that a man couldn’t find a woman attractive. How could breasts not be viewed as beautiful objects by a man, it was impossible! At the end of the conversation he leaned in and told me that he had a secret to tell me. It turned out that his brother was gay and that the rest of his family had disowned him. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it must be to be gay living in Uganda, let alone how much courage it must take to come out knowing that your family may well never speak to you again. Being gay, or having gay relatives shouldn’t be a secret, but I don’t see things changing anytime soon.


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