By Richard Kaplan

There comes a moment in every young gay man’s life when he has the awful realisation that no matter how hard he tries, he will not become the president, the pope or the chief rabbi. This is followed by the second great realisation that at some stage he will have to tell his mom and dad about his limited career options.

In a world where homosexuality is punishable by death in seven countries and outlawed in eighty others, many gay men still lead furtive lives, fearing that their sexual orientation may result in social ostracism or imprisonment.

Fortunately, gay rights are increasingly being embraced in more enlightened parts of the world with seven countries having passed legislation affording gay people similar legal rights to heterosexuals. These are Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, South Africa, and Spain.

Unfortunately the gay activism that has accomplished this has also spawned a backlash from the rabid, religious right who, since Jew-baiting became unfashionable after the Second World War, have taken up gay-bashing as a replacement pastime.

Some of the most vicious homophobic propaganda originates from the US evangelical movement, which is not averse to exporting its hatred to other countries. In Uganda, this has recently inspired the drafting of one of the most draconian pieces of homophobic legislation in the world in the form of an anti-homosexuality bill, which is currently before parliament.

This bill, which calls for the death sentence for some homosexual acts and prescribes prison terms for friends and family members of gay Ugandans who do not report them to authorities, enjoys the support of the interdenominational Uganda Joint Christian Council.

Following widespread publicity and condemnations from Western governments, some in the US evangelical movement have sought to distance themselves from the bill, claiming their advice on how to curb the spread of homosexuality in Africa has been misunderstood. It now appears that they merely wanted to cure homosexuals not kill them.

Watching this sordid theatre play itself out, it is tempting to agree with the refreshingly, irreverent new atheists that religious belief is the root of all evil. But, believing in god is, in itself, probably less harmful than believing in homoeopathy and possibly as benign as the relationship a child has with an imaginary friend.

While I do not wish to be gratuitously sacrilegious, the dialogue of the devout with the lord, like the dialogue with an imaginary friend, does tend to be quite one-sided. God only seems to reply every couple of thousand years and then to a very select audience.

For such a taciturn deity, it hardly seems plausible that he would use these rare vocal moments to condemn homosexuals to death and prescribe lashes for women wearing slack suits. So I am afraid, little fellow mud monsters of earth, it is not the lord who has ordained this nonsense; it is the creation of our very own minds.

If truth be told, unless very drunk, homosexuality tends to be harmless for the vast majority of heterosexuals. However right-wing religious zealotry is not.
It is an interpretation of religious scriptures without compassion. It is hatred disguised as riotousness. It is patriarchal, oppressive, narrow-minded and mean. It spawned fascism and apartheid. It is truly an abomination on earth and should be vehemently opposed by every decent human being.

Richard Kaplan is a medical doctor working in the field of HIV/Aids. He has developed a strong strain of resistance, bordering on antipathy, to politicians and poseurs, whatever their hue.


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On our Reader Blog, we invite Thought Leader readers to submit one-off contributions to share their opinions on politics, news, sport, business, technology, the arts or any other field of interest. If...

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