By Cynthia Ayeza Mutabaazi
A gay activist was recently murdered in Uganda, my home country. A bit of hell broke loose in the international community and two weeks or so later, life goes on. This is our sad reality. I highly doubt that he was murdered because he was gay. But I do not have proof and neither does anyone else.
At the risk of sounding terribly insensitive, I would like to say that I make no apologies for my belief and value system. How others interpret it is beyond my control. The reverse is also true — I wouldn’t want for anyone to live apologetically for whatever they choose to believe etc.
I have on several occasions heard people exclaim: “I do not know anyone that would want to be gay at this point in time when they are the most persecuted.” My response — rubbish! There are so many groups of people out there that are being insanely persecuted, some that we may never know of.
It is also often made to seem like all Christians are against gays but from what I have read, they really are not against people — gay or not.
It makes me wonder if we are not also pointing fingers at the wrong people? We should not be trying to play the blame game. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals cannot be the most persecuted at this point in time.
I think that they may be the most vocal about their persecution in this day and age. I applaud the various activism for human rights but let’s consider the hundreds of thousands of Christians that are killed every year — would you want to be a Christian knowing this fact?
Because the persecution of Christians does not make it to the front pages of newspapers, tabloids or even headlines for news on television, we may not see or deem it important, right? There are many things that are NOT right in our world today and choosing to blame or picking on a particular group does not in any way promote peace or the “harmonious global” existence that we seek.
The drafting of Uganda’s constitution started sometime in the 1970s when Yoweri Museveni and the National Resistance Movement came into government. The country’s laws were governed by a colonial past and even a faith that was introduced by the colonialists/missionaries (understand that I am not blaming the West for this but let’s be realistic and honest about what we want to confront).
We are tackling something that is deeper than just the motto “for God and my country”.
I do not quite understand why some gay people would then pick on this when they do not necessarily ascribe to this “God” that “Ugandans” speak of. How is it that you conveniently choose to use His word to defend your cause and yet are quite prejudiced about the people that ascribe to this God? How is that you can pick a verse that works for you but not the one that condemns part of what you do?
I think what is most irritating for me in all this is that the same people who preach tolerance are quite intolerant of others. There are various pieces that have been written on this platform, like the “Fighting sin with sin” piece to conveniently manipulate and brainwash people, attempting to sound tolerant but really not concerned for those being wrongfully blamed/accused. Perhaps it is to get sympathy from whoever your target audience is.
When you speak of Uganda, most Ugandans will feel like they’ve been put in one box — as being intolerant, which is not true! Right now, most people are afraid to say anything against gay people — yes, that is how afraid you have made people. It is wrong — just as you find your being condemned/judged wrong.
I think it would be great for us to be able to accept one another, unpretentiously, if there is any such thing. So, if you want to preach tolerance, try practising it — after all, actions speak louder than words.
If you think Christians are hypocrites, you are absolutely right! Maybe you should dig up some of the ancestors who introduced this faith to our forefathers and ask them to correct the bits that displease us. Perhaps they misread or misheard God? I don’t know. We have to go way back in time to rectify a lot but since this may not be possible (time not allowing us this luxury).
Let’s try and work on our hypocrisies (we all have a couple in some way) and promote what is mutually “comfortable” — get along, so to speak, whatever tickles your fancy. BUT practice what you preach if you want to be accepted or tolerated, be tolerant of others — whatever the context.
What you ascribe to does not have to be what I ascribe to and I don’t have to accept it. I can respect it. It is your fancy or choice etc. It will most likely not please you as a matter of fact and vice versa.
Anyhow, every human being has rights irrespective of their sexual orientation, faith, colour etc. We also have a responsibility to one another — irrespective of what we choose or who we are. Sexual orientation does not define us — I learned recently from my queer friends that for them gay or lesbian is not who they are. Their sexuality or sexual orientation does not define them.
Uganda has a long way to go and the international community can put as much pressure as they desire (keep it up, it may help) but truth is, as the old saying goes: Rome was not built in a day.
I am totally gatvol of apologising for what I believe just so someone else can feel comfortable in their choice — a choice that DOES NOT make me uncomfortable. It is your choice. Be yourself and I will be myself, respecting each other’s context.
Ayeza is studying culture and media studies at the University of Pretoria and hails from Uganda. This contribution is a response to “Fighting sin with sin”, published on this blog earlier this month.