By Rick Plasterer, Juicy Ecumenism
The saga of Uganda’s proposed toughened anti-sodomy law and the American Evangelical connection with it drags on, even as laws and punishments of as great or greater severity continue on in the Middle East, largely unremarked on.
Like many African and other non-western countries, Uganda has had a sodomy law on its books for many years. A legislative proposal in 2009 would have increased penalties to death for “aggravated” homosexual activity, which include activity by HIV positive persons, or with minors, and increased penalties generally to include acts committed outside Uganda, and mandatory reporting of homosexual activity or support for such activity. The bill also denied the claim commonly advanced by homosexual activists that sexual orientation is immutable and noted international pressure to impose “sexual promiscuity” on Uganda.
Intense international pressure indeed quickly followed leading the government to propose dropping the death penalty. However, the bill continues to be advanced; the Speaker of the Parliament sought to pass it in 2012 and the bill is on the legislative agenda for 2013.
Uganda reasonably has a historical background which makes the debate about sodomy especially intense domestically, and contributes to the confrontation when faced with international pressure. The famous Ugandan Martyrs, 22 young men who were pages of the king of the native state of Buganda, were put to death in the late nineteenth century for their refusal to submit to the sexual advances of the king, and refusal to renounce Christianity. More recently, Uganda was one of a number of sub-Saharan African countries that suffered severely from the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s and continues to cope with the threat of AIDS, with considerable success, although controversially, by emphasizing sexual abstinence and fidelity before the use of condoms.