By Kintu Nyago
Western governments oblivious to the fact that it’s not only gays who have human rights to protect
The pressure exerted on Uganda, by the US and some European countries, after President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the now defunct Anti-Homosexual Bill into law, was not premised, genuinely on their championing the human and democratic rights of our people. Their primary concern was on placating the fury of their influential gay lobbies.
Gays in the US are a major constituency of President Barack Obama’s ruling Democratic Party. And similarly, they have a significant presence in many European left-leaning political parties. And in the US, its Democratic Party’s leaders Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, amongst others, who ideologically support the protecting of gay rights.
The influence of the Gay community in the US and Europe is directly related to their capacity to mobilize politically rather than the size of their numbers. In these countries, homosexuals have a presence in their influential middle classes. For instance in the arts, academia and the professions etc. And hence their effective ability to lobby and contribute in the setting of the political agenda in these countries. And as minorities, they are both committed and passionate about their newly found political clout. Indeed, this explains their ability to effectively target and frustrate Uganda’s international relations, trade and development assistance, in their respective home countries.
Had the US’ President Obama and his concerned European counterparts been genuinely concerned about the protection of human rights in Uganda, then their focus would have been set on the repealing of the colonially imposed, tenanted feudal Mailo land tenure. This is because, in contemporary Uganda, the main causes of blatant human rights violations are triggered by contradictions emerging from the tenanted Mailo land system.
Tenanted Mailo has the character where land ownership is from its use. For the Mailo, the land lord differs from his or her Bibanja tenants. Consequently, within the context of a booming land market, many Mailo land lords selling off their land titles to all manner of developers and land speculators. These have no interest whatsoever to co-exist with the Bibanja tenants. Hence legal evictions, usually through the application of the law on trespass in the Penal Code are conducted. In many instances, entire communities are been evicted. This, alongside their social infrastructure, schools, churches, mosques and clinics being demolished.
The result is cross-cutting human rights violations that affect the most vulnerable men, women and children. Frantz Fanon’s ‘wretched of our earth.’ Actually within this month, the print media reported that in Kamaliba village, Mpigi District, during an aborted eviction, peasants viciously defended themselves from land grabbers, one Margaret Nakawesi, a Kibanja owner, lost her eye, in the process. With her neighbors having their houses and property destroyed.
Unfortunately, our Bibanja mainly peasants tenants, unlike the American and European Gay lobbies, have neither political organization nor visible voice. And literally exist, as the Kyamaliba example vividly illustrates, in circumstances of institutionalized uncertainty, abuse and impunity. Strikingly similar to the mediaeval England state of nature situation depicted by Thomas Hobbes, about 400 hundred years ago, where life was “…short, nasty and brutish.”
In the same light, the World Bank’s decision to “review” its development assistance to Uganda because of our anti-homosexual legislation, on grounds of protecting human rights, should be appreciated against the aforementioned background. And it points towards cynical hypocrisy. For, is it only gays with human rights to protect? How about the vast majority vulnerable Ugandan children, mothers and poor men who access our public health facilities and will be negatively affected by the World Bank’s so called “review”?
Uganda had been targeted by the Gay lobby for sanctions for three main associating factors that fed into the signing of the now defunct Anti-Homosexual Act, last year. These were Hon. David Bahati’s introduction of this Act, as an independent MP, in 2009. In its original form, it called for extremely severe penalties including the death penalty.
Then came the front page headline in The Rolling Stone, a defunct Kampala tabloid, in 2010, that publicized the names of 100 leading Uganda homosexuals and concurrently called for their being lynched. And through sheer coincidence, this was followed, a few months later, in January 2011, by the murder, in Mukono of one David Kisule Kato, a leading Uganda gay rights promoter and activist.
The Kato murder offered a perfect propaganda tool for the Gay lobby, domestic and international. This was based on a false narrative. For it was alleged that he was murdered because of state-sanctioned homophobia. And it was applied as a vivid example of the state-sanctioned persecution of gay people in Uganda. Indeed, President Obama, the UN’s Ban Ki Moon and Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, sent condolence messages on Kato’s funeral, alluding to the latter.
However, evidence presented in the Mukono High Court revealed that Kato’s unfortunate murder by Sidney Nsubuga, 22, resulted from a homosexual liaison gone wrong. For prior to the killing, Kato had cajoled Nsubaga, a unemployed serial petty thief, into offering him homosexual prostitution services, which he failed to pay for, led to acrimony and his unfortunate tragic murder.
Crucially, even after Justice Joseph Mulangira sentenced the criminally minded Nsubuga to 30 years imprisonment, Pillay and others never showed the required candor, usually associated with the struggle for human rights, to correct this mis-information. Rather, alongside the gay lobby, they have continued propagating the myth that Kato is a famed gay ‘martyr,’ who was murdered for promoting homosexual rights. At the same time, the Ugandan State, government and people are in the same narrative portrayed as incurable homophobes (those who hate homosexuals).
The writer is Ambassador and Uganda’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.