Saturday, October 17, 2009

Homosexuality: Uganda Scores Another Own Goal

Uganda is busy going the wrong way again in their 'fight' against Aids. Parliament will discuss a bill to create even more offences that gay people can commit. It's already an offence to have a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender. The 'offence' will carry a seven year sentence, as will aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring another to engage in acts of homosexuality.

HIV/Aids and sexual rights activists feel this sort of law will make HIV prevention, treatment and care services even less accessible that they currently are. No one is going to admit to being gay or to risk being exposed as being gay even under current circumstances. No one wants to be stigmatized or discriminated against, however unfairly.

There is even a proposed death penalty for sexual assault against someone of the same gender who is under 18 or disabled. But sexual assault against anyone should always be against the law, as should sexual assault against someone who is below the age of consent, male or female, same sex or otherwise. Ugandan law considers sex between people of the same gender to be against the laws of nature. If anything is against the laws of nature, it is for a homosexual to have heterosexual sex. But what law is homosexual sex supposed to be breaking? Are these laws written down? I don't think so.

Ugandan laws would be better off protecting vulnerable people, especially children, improving the status of women, targeting those who are most at risk and removing barriers to prevention, treatment and care services instead of creating new laws that make those services less accessible. The law could also give a bit of attention to reining in the power of leaders who appear to have gone crazy. And reducing the number of people who live in extreme poverty would also be a good thing.

Sex itself is neither moral nor immoral. There is no moral argument that shows that homosexual sex is immoral, only an arbitrary judgment. Punishing people for behaviour that is not immoral and creating laws to legitimise this punishment, that is immoral. The law in Uganda is being misused to serve the interests of those who make arbitrary judgments about morality. Stigmatizing and discriminating against people, which supporters of this bill are doing, is immoral and should also be punishable by law.


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