Saturday, August 2, 2014

Don't Mix Religion With Politics & The Ugandan Antigay Law Overturn

It's good news indeed as we watched from outside Uganda for the ruling from the Supreme Court there as to the constitutionality of their anti gay law and it is instructive for us here in Jamaica as to how the law ought to be fashioned especially given the recent threat by some anti gay religious groups that any administration that changes the buggery law will be voted out while they will do everything in their power to block any protection under the charter of rights from discrimination due to sexual orientation.

The tyranny of the majority I suppose now comes a letter in the Gleaner which I agree with given the previous post on the turn over of the law in Uganda, see HERE or Constitutional Court Strikes Down Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Act

Now to the letter:

Don't Mix Religion With Politics


And so it was, while many in Jamaica and elsewhere were busy celebrating Emancipation Day, the freedom and right to be who we are, many of our brothers and sisters in Uganda were busy celebrating a different type of emancipation.

The courts in Uganda struck down the anti-gay law imposed by the ruling government which made Uganda one of the most brutal and homophobic places. The anti-gay law, which was originally intended to impose the death penalty, was later revised to life imprisonment.

The law, though extreme compared to ours, where gays could be imprisoned just for being gay in Uganda, in essence isn't much different from Jamaica's. The emphasis in Jamaica is based on actual sexual activity (ignoring consent), and the punishment here is less severe.

The ruling in Uganda has set the tone once again to show that we're indeed living in a changing world, where education is the basis of emancipation, and that values and attitudes towards gays are evolving.

Fighting losing battle

I've said before homophobes are fighting a losing battle. People are entitled to their personal views, but what they are not entitled to do is to impose these views publicly where people's lives could be endangered, or their human rights could be violated. Although a small step for Uganda's LGBT community, it is a giant step in the right direction.

The Ugandan anti-gay law created much controversy and resulted in international outcry against the Ugandan government, tarnishing relations, especially with the West. And, although the ruling could possibly be appealed, a natural recourse in the law, it is likely that Uganda's Government, which is tightly controlled by President Yoweri Museveni, a former guerrilla fighter who has been ruling for close to three decades, must be having second thoughts.

Wake-up call

The ruling could also be a wake-up call for those in Jamaica who support the archaic buggery law which could imprison persons up to 10 years. It is interesting to note that Uganda's anti-gay movement began only a couple years ago when American fundamentalist preachers went to Uganda and worked closely with legislators there to draft a bill that called for putting gays to death!

Our own fundamentalist church leaders, who are often labelled 'the local Taliban Church', should also take note. Religion is personal. We worship privately in groups, and we have the right to choose our churches, our faith, where, when and how we worship.

When we start to mix the business of religion with the business of the State, history shows this never works. Slavery was once endorsed by religion, for example! This is why the State should always separate itself from the Church, especially when it comes to drafting legislation and protecting human rights!



meanwhile Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati on Friday said that the Attorney General will petition the Supreme Court over the Constitutional Court ruling on the Act; just hours after court nullified it (Anti-Homosexuality law) which was approved by President Yoweri Museveni in February 2014.

“I want to thank the speaker, MPs who stood for what is right. The lawyer that represented government said she was not given chance to prove that there was quorum in parliament.

The court case ruling is no victory at all, the morals of the people of Uganda will prevail,” Mr Bahati said in a press briefing before adding, “The Attorney General who is very competent will petition the constitutional court over the constitutional court ruling. Our competent legal team will continue to petition the Supreme Court and I believe we will win.”

Bahati was the sponsor of the Private Member’s Bill. There has been no confirmation from the Attorney General’s office. The Constitutional Court is made up of five members of Uganda’s Court of Appeals and is subordinate to the nation’s Supreme Court.

Definitely this is not the end but it is a crushing blow to an unjust law how can one legislate morality or private sexual matters when consent is key?

TV news there have covered the issue fairly it seems:

UPDATE from Box Turtle Bulletin's page: Malevolence Personified where the US religious right link is made.

Peace and tolerance



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