Uganda’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.
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