Monday News: Uganda’s New Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Today (Feburary 24, 2014), Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a controversial anti-gay bill into law, despite international outcry. The bill, called the ‘Jail the Gays Bill,’  originally called for the death penalty for homosexual acts when it was first proposed in 2009.  Although the death penalty was removed from the final draft, prison sentences of 7 years, 14 years, and life are the new penalties for violating this law. 

 Under this law, LGBT people face life imprisonment if:

  • someone engages in a sexual act with a person of the same gender
  • someone marries a person of the same gender
  • someone touches another person of the same gender with ‘intent’ to engage in a sexual act

Also, prison sentences for anyone(including a straight person) who tries to support LGBT people:

  • 7 years in jail for officiating a marriage between people of the same sex
  • 7 years in jail for trying to aid or counsel LGBT people
  • 5-7 years in jail for offering premises or supplies to LGBT related activities
  • 5-7 years in jail for directors of any business or non-governmental organization (NGO) who supports LGBT people
  • Similarly, any national or international company or human rights organization in Uganda, which supports lesbian, gay, bi or trans people (including their own employees), could face 7 years jail and de-registration of the company (Montreal Gazette). 

Human rights groups like Amnesty International have expressed concern that this law could essentially outlaw much of their work in Uganda, making it extremely difficult to legally advocate for increased gay rights, or even offer adequate health services to LGBT Ugandans.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights warned the law was “formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power and accusations against anyone”.

 According to President Museveni:

“Homosexuals are actually mercenaries. They are heterosexual people but because of money they say they are homosexuals. These are prostitutes because of money,” Musaveni said.

He added “there is something really wrong with you” if you were gay, adding that he didn’t understand how a man could “fail to be attracted to all these beautiful women and be attracted to a man”.

The LGBT community in Uganda face frequent harassment and threats of violence, and rights activists have reported cases of lesbians being subjected to “corrective” rapes.

In 2011, Ugandan gay rights campaigner David Kato was bludgeoned to death at his home after a newspaper splashed photos, names and addresses of gays in Uganda on its front page along with a yellow banner reading “Hang Them”.

Currently, there is a petition from All Out that is calling on Ugandan leaders, global governments, corporations and religious institutions to take forceful action to denounce the law. To sign this petition, go to http://www.allout.org/kill-the-bill.

Amnesty International Statement

 

 

At LOVEboldly we embrace controversy, dissenting opinions and even a good debate now and then. However, we also value civility, kindness, and respect. Therefore, please feel free to share your opinion, but keep it constructive, considerate, and civilized. If you choose to be rude we will delete your comment. Do so consistently and we will ban you. And yes, we do get to define the terms.

Monday News: Anti-LGBTQ Violence in Russia

LOVEboldly is starting a weekly blog post highlighting current events in the LGBTQ community. Every Monday we will blog about a specific topic/story that we believe the Church should be aware. 
GayRussia-2

Right now, there are laws being passed in other countries that make it illegal to be LGBTQ or even be associated with supporting this community’s rights. Prison sentences, torture, and the death penalty are possible punishments for violating these laws. Although there are numerous laws being passed or already passed criminalizing homosexuality, we want to bring attention to what’s happening in Russia.

During June 2013, President Vladimir Putin signed a new law banning the ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships’ to minors. This law makes it illegal to hold any gay pride events, speak in defense of gay rights, or say that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships.

The federal law defines propaganda as:

 “distribution of information that is aimed at the formation among minors of nontraditional sexual attitudes, attractiveness of non- traditional sexual relations, misperceptions of the social equivalence of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations, or enforcing information about non-traditional sexual relations that evokes interest to such relations . . . .”

Since the law passed, there has been a surge in violence against the LGBTQ community. Self-proclaimed vigilantes have targeted LGBTQ persons with both public and private acts of brutality and torture. For example, a group called ‘Occupy Paedophilia‘ has been on what they call a ‘safari’ hunting gays. Videos of this group’s violent attacks document incidents where unsuspecting LGBTQ teens are lured through online dating sites and then brutally humiliated and tortured.

According to the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance (SHRA):

“These self-proclaimed ‘crime fighters’ perform their actions under the broad day light, often outside and clearly visible to the general public that indifferently passes by or even commends them.”

“Video recordings of bullying and tortures are freely distributed on the Internet in order to out LGBT teens to their respective schools, parents and friends. Many victims were driven to suicides, the rest are deeply traumatized.”

There are reports that other Russian citizens have also attacked openly LGBTQ persons in public areas, while onlookers do nothing to prevent the violence from occurring. Several government officials have denounced and degraded LGBTQ people on television and in other media.

Sadly, groups of Russian Christians have been reported as participating in some of these public attacks (CBS report).

(For more information: CNNThe Guardian, CBS News)

 

LOVEboldly condemns these and any acts of violence against the LGBTQ community. 
Be sure to watch for a future blog post where we provide practical ways you can help the LGBTQ community in Russia as well as other places where this violence is occurring. 

 

Even the Christian who cannot feel comfortable supporting or protecting LGBTQ relationships should be appalled by the brutality to the community (and for that matter – brutality to any person as we are all made in the image of God.

 

At LOVEboldly we embrace controversy, dissenting opinions and even a good debate now and then. However, we also value civility, kindness, and respect. Therefore, please feel free to share your opinion, but keep it constructive, considerate, and civilized. If you choose to be rude we will delete your comment. Do so consistently and we will ban you. And yes, we do get to define the terms.

Consider This Perspective – Tripp York

The first installment of our new weekly interview series, Consider This Perspective, is finally here! We chat a bit about sex and violence with theologian Tripp York.

Tripp York, PhD, is the author and editor of ten books including The Devil Wears Nada, A Faith Not Worth Fighting For, and A Faith that Embraces All Creatures. He teaches in the Religious Studies Department at Virginia Wesleyan College in Virginia Beach, VA. He also serves as a Keeper Aide at the Virginia Zoological Gardens in Norfolk, VA where he is routinely urinated on by numerous animals. He considers this to be quite natural as well as intentional (especially among the primates).

Tell us about the projects you are currently working on.

I’m trying to wrap up the third volume of The Peaceable Kingdom Series. I am also working on two manuscripts pertaining to sexual ethics, two graphic novels, and I’m constantly working on my comic, Anarcrow! It’s about a crow that is smarter than all of us because he refuses to buy into our obsession with ‘isms.’

That and I think he, secretly, adores Wittgenstein.

Your humor is one of your hallmarks. How can we approach such serious topics of sex and violence with humor? And why should/shouldn’t we?

I have a hallmark? I’ve always wanted one of those. So far, it’s gotten me nowhere.

Greg Graffin of Bad Religion sings, “I would rather laugh than cry.” When dealing with sex and violence, those seem like the most faithful options we have, so, for now anyway . . . let’s laugh. Otherwise, I fear my liver would not survive the whiskey-spike.

In The Devil Wears Nada you have some comments about homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom as a way of, in part, refuting the claim that gay sex is ‘unnatural’. Would you be willing to expand on this thought a bit?

Part of my doing that in The Devil Wears Nada was to simply show off my lay-obsession with ethology and anthrozoology. I’m narcissistic that way. But it was also an attempt to revel in the incredible diversity that takes place in the natural world–which is such a weird thing to say, isn’t it? The ‘natural world’. I mean, what are our options here? What is an ‘unnatural’ world? What does that look like? Basically, anything that can be done can be said to be ‘natural’. It’s not like we can walk on walls or breathe under water. Now, that would be unnatural.

We seem to be quite careless when employing the terms ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’, and I’m not sure how fruitful their use is in this sort of conversation anyway. I especially find it difficult to understand why, especially when Christians talk about living in a post-lapsarian world, how the term ‘natural’ is synonymous with ‘good’ and ‘unnatural’ (which, whatever that is, is impossible) is ‘evil’. Placing any kind of moral language on these abused terms is nothing more than people’s enactment of their own will-to-power.

Sorry about getting all Nietzschean on you. It happens on occasion.

How have you seen violence used in discussions on sex? How can we practice nonviolence on sexual topics?

I teach a course called Sex & Violence in Christianity as well as a course called, The Ethics of Intimacy. In both of these courses, my students often unwittingly betray subtle forms of violence by the manner in which they discuss practices such as same-sex relationships, heterosexual marriage or, to use an example here, even what constitutes consensual sex. Coming out of a long-winded patriarchal order, in which every single facet of human purpose (much less sexuality) has been dictated by those with the XY chromosome, it may be the case that Catherine MacKinnon is correct to argue (or, ‘more’ correct than we would like to imagine) that consensual sex is not possible. The very reasons we often give for knowing when it’s the ‘right time’ to have sex are so thoroughly embedded in misogynistic discourse that even when we try to resist it, it appears we collude with the object of our protest. The concern is that we have no other language (hence, world) for how to discuss something like consensual sex that has not been determined by those most anxious to get others to say ‘yes’.

This sort of thinking tends to permeate most of my classroom discussions, especially when I hear my male and female students attempting to discuss what is and is not legitimate modes of sex (and/or violence, for that matter).

Okay. Now, I feel like crying.

What do you think are some of the most prevalent contributions to our culture’s continuing desensitization of things related to sex and violence?

Purity balls, virginity oaths, and Mark Driscoll. Though, not necessarily in that order.