Gay Rights Groups Still NOT Recruiting Children

 Gay Rights Groups Still NOT Recruiting ChildrenUganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister is drooling over a document he has misinterpreted. In an article in The Observer, also highlighted on the blog Towleroad, we read that a strategy document developed by gay civil rights advocacy groups was confiscated:

The government says it has intercepted minutes of a recent meeting that discussed wide-ranging strategies on how to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Uganda.

These strategies include how to raise funds and recruit ‘friendly’ journalists into the cause of fighting for homosexual rights in Uganda. Some sources have told The Observer that security operatives infiltrated gay groups and managed to get a document containing minutes of the meeting.

Read it closely. It mentions promoting “the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” and also how to recruit friendly journalists. The article goes on to state:

This strategy involves “mapping out friendly journalists, as well as hostile and ignorant ones” with the objective of “identifying trainable journalists to become allies and objective reporters on sexual minority and gender identity issues”.

The plan is to raise a list of “40 journalists of a mixture of friendly, hostile and ignorant”. The strategy, whose aim is “gaining acceptance for the sexual minority groups”, with a time frame of June 2012 to June 2013, lists among its activities, workshops, talk-shows, barazas and parliamentary advocacy programmes for legislators.

And…

There is also a well laid-out plan to lobby the national, regional and international community to pile pressure on the Uganda government to abandon the Anti-Homosexuality bill and any other laws hostile to homosexuals.

OK – so they are trying to identify journalists who might give them positive coverage, and also identify hostile journalists so that they can educate them. They also want to gain acceptance for homosexuals within the larger Ugandan society so that they don’t have to worry about being killed.

Is it me, or does this sound like the strategies undertaken by ANY advocacy group, no matter what their issue? I don’t see in here any reference to a strategy of recruiting young people to become gay.

I want to be very explicit about the fact that a document outlining tactics to protect the human rights of homosexuals is NOT the same as a document outlining recruiting tactics to turn children gay. It is very important to fight this idea at every turn, as the “protect your children” line is the emotional trigger that Uganda is using to get public support for the anti-gay legislation.

Lokodo, the Ethics and Integrity Minister, re-emphasized the fact that he doesn’t see gay rights as human rights because homosexuality is illegal. If he had lived in the United States under the Jim Crow laws, would he have felt ok about them because having rights as a black person was illegal? What about the fact that, as a black man, he could not have chosen to marry a white or Asian woman if he wanted to because it was illegal until recently in many US states? Would he have been ok with that? After all, marrying the person of his choosing would have been illegal. Therefore, according to him, not a civil or human rights issue.

The Ugandan government is threatening to revoke the charters of 38 NGOs that have been involved in promoting gay rights. That is the power of a dictatorial government, and one of the reasons it is difficult to advocate for human rights in Uganda. In this case, it is easy for the government to do it, because homophobia is rampant and they won’t get a push-back from their own citizens – only from western governments. However, it is the same abuse of power that leads to people like the opposition leader Besigye ending up in prison.

-Mark D. Jordahl

 Gay Rights Groups Still NOT Recruiting Children
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Prince Charles’ Video Address to Rio+20

Most of the world seems to have low expectations for what will come out of the Rio+20 environmental conference that is happening right now.

In this video, Prince Charles highlights how little has been accomplished since the Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago, and also how important it is for the world to take action NOW to address such issues as climate change and biodiversity loss.

This is an important message for the whole world to hear:

You can also see the video at the TreeViver blog: http://blog.treeviver.com/2012/06/22/prince-charles-talks-climate-and-environment/

-Mark D. Jordahl

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Anti-Gay Police Raid in Uganda

Even if the “Kill the Gays” bill never gets passed in Uganda, prejudice, homophobia and a lack of respect for human rights will live on.

As reported on the LGBTQ Nation blog yesterday, Ugandan police raided a gay rights meeting and apprehended over a dozen people, claiming they were “propogating gay issues in Uganda.”

In a comment on the article, a man named Ruben Luyombo says “please stay in your western world, africa does not intertain you pervert and money seeking wannabe’s.” This is even after President Museveni himself publicly admitted that homosexuality is not a western import (I’m sure it was after reading my post: Homosexuality In Uganda Isn’t a European Import – Christianity Is).

Where does “money seeking wannabes” come from? Hmmm…I think I’d like to become rich. Why don’t I convert to homosexuality and, just to make it more exciting, I’ll do it in a country where I can be killed for it.

I have argued in the past that gay rights are civil rights, and when the slow tide of history turns, the anti-gay Ugandan majority will realize that they are on the wrong side of this issue.

-Mark D. Jordahl

Read More:

Homosexuality in Uganda Isn’t a European Import – Christianity Is

Gay Porn in Church

Gay Rights in Uganda

 Anti Gay Police Raid in Uganda
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Rest of East Africa Leaves Uganda Behind on Environment

Yoweri Museveni1 Rest of East Africa Leaves Uganda Behind on Environment

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Entebbe, July 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ten African countries – including the East African bloc of Kenya, Tanazania and Rwanda – signed an agreement to take the environment into account when developing national economies and corporate practices. Uganda is conspicuously absent from this agreement, dubbed the Gaborone Declaration.

An article on Mongabay talks about the intentions of the pact:

The Gaborone Declaration declares that “the historical pattern of natural resources exploitation has failed to promote sustained growth, environmental integrity and improved social capital.” Noting that the Africa’s people and economy are imperiled by ecosystem destruction , the leaders pledge to protect ecosystems and biodiversity from “overuse and degradation.”

To do so, they commit to adding natural capital into “national accounting and corporate planning.” In addition, the ten countries pledged to transition major sectors (agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and mining) towards sustainable practices and to restore degraded ecosystems.

Perhaps President Museveni of Uganda is afraid it will put too many (ie. any) restrictions on extracting the oil he is still hoping will begin flowing into a refinery in the next few years.

Uganda actually has some of the strongest environmental laws of any country in Africa. Unfortunately, their enforcement is weak. With Rio+20 upon us, you would think Museveni would sign the agreement just to be able to hold his head high and then ignore the commitment later.

-Mark D. Jordahl

Read more: http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0611-hance-gaborone.html#ixzz1xtL3y100

 Rest of East Africa Leaves Uganda Behind on Environment
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Do Uganda and Rwanda Want to Annex Eastern DRC?

Does anybody have any information to support the recent claim by Antoine Roger Lokongo in Pambazuka News that:

“Britain, America and the European Union are now caught red-handed and cannot claim not to be aware of the plot (of annexing eastern Congo to Rwanda and Uganda, encouraged by the Sudanese experience) that is being weaved by Rwanda and Uganda in the eastern DRC.”

It wouldn’t surprise me, although I am hesitatant to believe such a strong accusation that is made without references in a heavily-footnoted article.

What I do know for sure is that Rwanda and Uganda have been meddling in resource-rich Eastern Congo for decades. The instability in that region gives the leaders of both countries plenty of excuses to send their militaries across the border under the guise of “regional security and stability.”

The article goes on to make well-supported arguments that Rwanda’s national army has close ties to rebel groups in Eastern DRC.

Anybody know anything about this?

-Mark D. Jordahl

 Do Uganda and Rwanda Want to Annex Eastern DRC?
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Chimp Tracking in Uganda

Most people in Uganda think Kibale National Park is the only place to go for a good chimp tracking experience. I heartily disagree. I have always been a big fan of Kaniyo-Pabidi forest near Murchison Falls National Park. Not only is the chimp tracking excellent, but it is easy to combine with a safari in Murchison – by far the best park in Uganda by my reckoning.

I took this shot on my most recent trip up there last week. It’s the last thing I remember from the hike:

p1100454 Chimp Tracking in Uganda

Go Chimps!

Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala

Posted in Destinations, Tourism, Wildlife Conservation | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Invisible Children Funding Infographic from Upworthy

Interesting infographic from Upworthy. Thoughts?

KonyNCFrevised3 Invisible Children Funding Infographic from Upworthy

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What Would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Think of The Expat Life?

300px Martin Luther King 1964 leaning on a lectern1 What Would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Think of The Expat Life?

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deutsch: 1964: Martin Luther King Português: Martin Luther King (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On this day 44 years ago, April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed.

It is interesting reflecting on this sitting here in Uganda where sometimes it is hard to tell he ever lived.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the unfairness of the ex-pat life. There are times it feels like the old south – you go to an expat party and the only black faces you see are those of the servants. We live in nice houses and drive our own cars, spending as much to fill the tank once as we pay our maids for a month of work. We are able to come and go freely between Uganda and our home countries, whereas a Ugandan can spend a lifetime trying to get a visa to enter the United States.

Organizations here even have “local” and “expat” pay rates. I heard from one American woman that she flew back to the US to sign her contract because she would get paid more. A Ugandan wouldn’t have that option. And the benefits packages are often staggering – shipping containers to bring all your possessions from home, flights home for visits for the whole family, private school education for your kids (I must admit, as someone who hasn’t ever had a paying job here in Uganda I am sometimes a little jealous of some of these perks! But then I think about all of the benefits I do have.).

We are given extra – and undeserved – status based on the color of our skin (see my post The Expat/Ugandan Dynamic), and can walk into nearly any venue without being questioned. I have often thought it would be interesting to be a white con-artist here just to see what you could get away with.

I believe all of this undermines the goals of international development, an important one of which is local empowerment. One thing Uganda needs is jobs and business development. Bright, young people with an entrepreneurial spirit that will drive the economy forward. Instead, what they see is that the way to get rich is to work at an international NGO. In the United States, college kids who want to make money go into business. Here, they go into any field that will get them a job at USAID. This leads to thousands of “briefcase NGOs” whose only goal is to come up with a good mission statement and get money without ever delivering any services.

What would Dr. King think if he spent time in the expat world of Kampala (or the capital city of any other nation in the world that has a large foreign-aid industrial complex)? I hope that he would feel there is some good, important work being done with good intentions, but what I see when I imagine the encounter is a look of bewilderment and a tear of discouragement running down his cheek.

Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala

 What Would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Think of The Expat Life?
Posted in Human Rights, Musings, Personal Observations | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Back in Uganda

Well, the whole family made the journey back to Uganda safely, and we’ll be here for the next 6 weeks. Japhy, coming here for his first visit at 7 months was a trooper, and Nile, 5, is an old hat at international travel and was un-phased as usual.

We left here nearly a year ago, and it feels like it was yesterday. The warm, familiar smiles, old friends, soft air, the “dogs of Muyenga” barking all night long, that welcome taste of matooke and g-nut sauce. At the same time we are once again confronted with daily reminders of how hard people here work just to make ends meet, and all the odds that are stacked against them doing so. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that the world is a fair place.

Our lives always feel so split between our attachment to this place and our attachment to family and friends back in the United States. Where is “home?” If only it wasn’t so difficult and expensive to travel back and forth, we’d have the selfish good-fortune of not needing to choose.

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Ugandan Blogger on Kony 2012

Here is a video created by Rosebell Kagumire, a respected journalist and blogger in Uganda, with her thoughts on the Kony 2012 video:

Please pass this on, as it is important – AND DIFFICULT – to get the voices of Africans into debates about Africa.

Mark D. Jordahl

Posted in Foreign Aid, Human Rights, Northern Uganda, Regional, Uncategorized, Video | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment