17 February 2010

Gay rights confronts biblically-inspired hate in Africa

Homophobia is running rampant in Africa. Thousands of Ugandans demonstrated this week in support of proposed anti-gay legislation. The Ugandan parliament is considering a bill that would impose life imprisonment as the minimum punishment for anyone convicted of having gay sex. The maximum will of course be the death penalty. Ugandans are obliged to report any homosexual activity to police within 24 hours or risk up to three years in jail. Malawi is prosecuting two men jailed in December for holding a wedding ceremony. They could be imprisoned for up to 14 years. Gay sex is illegal in 36 African countries.

And what is fueling this outburst of hate? Phumi Mtetwa, executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, a South African-based group, suggests at least one culprit. Commenting on the current binge of homophobia, he says,  "It's exploding at the moment, but it's been happening for a year and a half. We have proof of American evangelical churches driving the religious fundamentalism in Uganda." Knowing the attitude toward gays among fundamentalists in the United States and combining that with their missionary zeal, we are not surprised they should take their toxic views to Africa.

And of course they can rely on the Bible to support their bigotry. The good book says, in Leviticus 20:13, "If a man lies with a man as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be  upon them." Not known for tolerance, the Bible.

As a non-believer, I've never quite understood why people who claim to believe in the teachings of a gentle Jesus allow this Old Testament poison to infect their philosophy. I imagine quite a few gays in Africa are wondering the same thing. For them, however, it's a rather more serious matter.

1 comment:

  1. this is nothing new; Political power through the persecution of minorities; the Nazi did it, the catholic church did it,[the Inquisition; now called The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithful] the KKK did it, and many politician's use the same method.