Daily Monitor Hope they heed his words and ponder them while they are on holiday break
Uganda’s Parliament is – unbelievably – on the verge of considering a
new piece of legislation that would have the effect of legalising
persecution, discrimination, hatred and prejudice in that country.
Should the Anti-Homosexuality Bill be voted into law, it will
criminalise acts of love between certain categories of people, just as
the apartheid government made intimate relations between black and white
South Africans a punishable offence.
Members of the apartheid police force charged with the upkeep of
“morality” would rush into the bedrooms of suspected offenders to gather
evidence, such as warm bed sheets. Those found guilty were arrested,
put on trial and punished.
What awaits the people of Uganda?
One thing that Ugandan legislators should know is that God does not
discriminate among members of our family. God does not say black is
better than white, or tall is better than short, or football players are
better than basketball players, or Christians are better than Muslims …
or gay is better than straight. No. God says love one another; love
your neighbour. God is for freedom, equality and love.
People have over many centuries devised all kinds of terrible
instruments to oppress other people. Usually, they have rationalised
their awful actions on the basis of their belief in their own
superiority, in their culture, in their spiritual beliefs, in their skin
colour. Thus, they argue, they are justified to hate and bomb and maim
The anti-homosexuality legislation now under consideration in Uganda is
just such an instrument. Nelson Mandela said: “No one is born hating
another person.” If people are taught and can learn to hate, they can
learn to love.
Many times in my life, I have been blessed to witness the innate
capacity of our human family to reconcile differences. The common
denominator in all these transactions is recognition that the notion of
equal rights in any family, in any society, is non-negotiable. No sane
person or group of people can sustainably argue that their rights should
be more equal than others.
If what I am told is true, that the anti-homosexuality legislation in
Uganda has widespread popular support, it should surely be the moral
duty of the custodians of that country to educate its citizens about
discrimination and equal rights. Surely, it should be their duty to
clarify the fundamental misunderstandings in communities about what it
means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI).
The depiction of members of the LGBTI community as crazed and depraved
monsters threatening the welfare of children and families is simply
untrue, and is reminiscent of what we experienced under apartheid and
what the Jews experienced at the hands of the Nazis.
To those who claim that homosexuality is not part of our African
culture, you are conveniently ignoring the fact that LGBTI Africans have
lived peacefully and productively beside us throughout history.
I am proud that in South Africa, when we succeeded in overthrowing
apartheid, we put in place a Constitution that prohibited all forms of
discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual
We did this because we understood that the freedom of one depends upon
the freedom of all. We call it the spirit of ubuntu: the idea that I
cannot be free if you are not also free.
A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of
others, and does not feel threatened by others’ differences, for he or
she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she
belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated
or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.
The ideology of racial superiority that was once used to justify the
colonisation of our lands is part of our recent history. Today, we face a
new challenge. We must overcome the notion that sexual orientation
defines one’s identity or determines one’s station in life – or unjustly
elevates one class of people over another.
It is with supreme sorrow that I witness, to this day, the subjugation
and repression of African brothers and sisters whose only crime is the
practice of love. Hate, in any form or shape, has no place in the house
I urge the people of Uganda to reject hatred and prejudice.
Love comes more naturally to the human heart than hate.