Wednesday, April 9, 2014

We Cannot Allow Another Holocaust!

Internet Debris

We Cannot Allow Another Holocaust 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out
– Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out
– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
– Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me
– and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller (German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor) 

by Neal McKenna, Johannesburg, 4/9/14

We all know something about it. It’s ugly and it’s burning across the world like wildfire. Human rights abuses targeting sexual minorities are a modern-day version of the 17th century witch hunts in Europe and the settled lands of America. Only this time, the holocaust is on a global scale.

On March 31, 2014, at Kololo stadium in Kampala, 30,000 supporters gathered at a national rally organised by the Interreligious Council of Uganda in support of the recent Anti-Homosexuality legislation. There, they gave thanks to President Yoweri Museveni for passing the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The event combined the fanfare of a mass political meeting and a cultural festival. Addressing this massive audience, Museveni began with: “There is a fundamental misunderstanding between us and the liberal west. They say that homosexuality is sex. But it is not sex. …There are other words in Luganda for sex. I won’t tell you those words.” The crowd laughed, enjoying the coy omission. “But if you take homosexuality, the Ugandan people don’t call it “sex”. They call it “ekifire.”

A loose translation of “ekifire.” is “half-dead, yet still living.” Thus, those perceived as “sexual deviants” are dehumanised, relegated to being things – zombies preying on children – not people. Consequently, these “abnormals” become much easier to hate and destroy. Death for the victims is neither fast nor easy. Gays and those merely suspected of being gay are whipped, bludgeoned and often burned alive – all in the name of conservatism – and of course, God.  

Aside from Uganda, atrocities continue in Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi as well as supposedly progressive countries like South Africa. Here’s an example. On March 22, 2014, David Olyn from Ceres, in the Western Cape, was murdered in a premeditated act of violence. His alleged attacker, prior to the beating invited at least seven teens to witness the assault, saying he was “going to kill a moffie”. The 28-year-old man has since been arrested and charged.

While on the subject of South Africa, in spite of the Constitution stipulating equality for all, according to a Pew Research Study conducted in 2013, 61% of the population would prefer to have this equality stripped from LGBTIs. It seems God-fearing Christian South Africans would be more comfortable if gays had no rights at all, because “they are abnormal and recruit children into their sick lifestyle”.

This sentiment has been moved another step farther when this past April, president Jacob Zuma responded to a parliamentary question on whether or not he intended to make clear South Africa's policy position regarding Uganda's anti-homosexuality law. In reply, Zuma said: "South Africa respects the sovereign rights of other countries to adopt their own legislation." So the nation of South Africa plans to do nothing about Human Rights abuses happening right next door. This decision has been made in spite of the fact that in 2011, this country’s delegates at the United Nations introduced a resolution to guarantee Human Rights for all people – including LGBTIs – around the world. Clearly, our fearless leader is asleep at the wheel.

However, to be fair, Africa is not alone in its quest of “deviant cleansing”. Injustices and violence can also be found in South Asia – India is a prime example – the Arab States and Eastern Europe. Even permissive Western Europe is not exempt, with recent anti-LGBTI outbursts occurring in France. The erosion of LGBTI rights, recent criminalisation trends and increased persecution by state authorities, strongly indicate more and more governments employ homo-intolerance as a political campaigning tool, using discriminatory legislation as a vote-winner. Paradoxically, the notion that homosexuality is un-African is not historically correct. Long before the colonial era, many African cultures contained an element of accepted homosexuality. And to prove it, anthropologists have discovered more than twenty cultural varieties of indigenous African same-sex intimacy. 

For 300 years, Europeans and Americans colonised much of Africa. With them they brought their culture and their God. The result today is African despots use the Bible to support their anti-gay agendas even though, ironically, the Bible is utterly “un-African.” But why is anti-gay sentiment gaining such momentum now? The answer is diabolically clever. It is a convenient political means of anti-Western resistance, which strangely enough, is generally backed by Westerners themselves.

According to Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian Episcopal priest, “‘African’ ideas about homosexuality are often those spread by American Evangelicals, out to colonise Africa spiritually rather than politically.”  American anti-gay organisations such as Human Life International and opponents like Lou Engle and Scott Lively are scarcely known in the United States but in Africa, Lively in particular, is a crusading American Evangelical megastar.

Scott Lively is a radical American pastor who specialises in stirring up anti-gay sentiment around the globe. He first visited Uganda in 2002. Since then, he has cultivated ties with influential politicians and religious leaders heading-up the nation's anti-gay movement. Just before the first draft of Uganda's anti-gay bill began circulating in April 2009, Lively travelled to Kampala giving lengthy presentations to members of parliament and cabinet. These talks became the basis of what Uganda's president and lawmakers would later use to justify the country's draconian anti-gay crackdown.

According to Ugandan gay rights activists, Lively has played an unparalleled role in fostering the climate of hate. “Uganda's anti-gay law is essentially his creation,” says Frank Mugisha, director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, which is a coalition of gay rights organizations. Mugisha's group has filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in US federal court, accusing Lively of international crimes against humanity on the grounds he and his Ugandan allies allegedly conspired to deprive gay Ugandans of basic human rights.

The purpose of the enacted anti-gay law is to combat Western agitators trying to unravel Uganda's social fabric by spreading the “disease” of homosexuality to children. “They're looking for other people to be able to prey upon,” Lively said in video footage. “When they see a child that's from a broken home, it's like they have a flashing neon sign over their head.” Lively’s most convenient tools are fear, disinformation and outright lies.

Westerners such as Lively bring comparatively large sums of cash and influence and they are gladly met by opportunistic African leaders. However, each side is using the other. Evangelicals shift policy and are able to raise money to be pumped into cooperative countries and conveniently, their African collaborators can posture against “Western imperialism” and also get rich. The only big losers are the marginalised – those who get ostracised, beaten and murdered. 

That’s the downside but there is also an upside. If anti-gay rabble rousers can take cohesive action so can we. Of course, people always say: “What can I do? I’m just one person.” Well, if a group of individuals band together, they create a collective voice that gets louder as their numbers grow. Do anything to combat this purge. Start a petition; find a way to boycott or humiliate a homophobic country; attend demonstrations at embassies; start a pro-gay Facebook blog page or offer your services to one that’s already established. All these little things add up.

For example, the Pretoria based Call to Action to Stop Persecution of Sexual Minorities was created in March of this year – by two people. Its first order of business was to have Facebook shut down an anti-gay hate page called the Uganda Youth Coalition Against Homosexuality. On it were horrific photos of gays who had been burned alive along with appalling hate speech. It took several email complaints as Facebook flip-flopped with the page being removed and then quickly revived. Finally, a socially-responsible decision was made when the Call to Action created a petition through Within 24 hours of establishing the petition, the UYCAH page was down for good.

The next hurtle was convincing civil society must be accountable to their own prime directives. Several large organisations like Oxfam, CARE and ActionAid were reminded they could not to pick and choose which human rights battles to fight – that human rights are everybody’s rights. This was, naturally, met with canned replies and quiet resistance but the Call to Action persisted. With the help of people within these organisations, a concerted plan of action was put into place.

While CARE and ActionAid have not taken any official stand, Oxfam has conceded it cannot continue to sit back and look the other way. Currently Oxfam does have a nebulous general policy on LGBTI rights. However, in the light of the current situation, those at the top agree this is not good enough. Over the next several months – these things always take time – policy will be developed regarding LGBTI rights while also determining the most effective influencing strategies.

Both the removal of the hate page on Facebook and getting a large civil society player like Oxfam to re-evaluate policy is an amazing feat accomplished by a few people with just a blog page and no budget. That’s why people – like you and me – have to step up to say “NO”. If we don’t, persecution of sexual minorities will not only continue, it will spread like a lethal virus. We cannot allow history to repeat itself by unleashing another holocaust. Now is the time to stop the violence and discrimination against LGBTIs – people like us. So you see, there is actually a lot we can do; all we have to do is get started.

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Monday, March 10, 2014


 Internet Debris

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Help the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law in its fight against Anti-Homosexuality in Uganda and around the world



We thank you for all the support you have accorded the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL) in its fight against Anti-Homosexuality over the years. We specifically thank you for the support since the Parliament of Uganda passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill on 20th December 2013.

Unfortunately, despite the intensive work that has been done since 2009 to stop the passage of this draconian bill into law, President Yoweri Museveni Kaguta of the Republic of Uganda on Monday 24th February 2014 signed the Bill into Law. We now have to work with the reality of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (2014).

These guidelines are intended to all our partners on how to support the CSCHRCL in this new context:

1. Speaking out: It is very critical that we continue to speak out against the law and its implications in terms of security of the LGBTI community, their allies, and the general implications of the Act on the work around public health and human rights in general.
Important to Note: In all communication about the impact of the law, please refer to the shrinking and deteriorating policy space that civil society is experiencing; not only about this human rights issue, but about "mainstream" human rights as well: Uganda's track record is bad, and is getting worse, and these issues are related. In this regard please also be aware of the Anti-Pornography Act and the Public Order Management Act when discussing the situation of civil society activists in Uganda.

2. World Wide demonstrations. We call upon all partners, friends and allies to organize demonstrations in different cities around the world now as this Act is set to have detrimental effects for all of us. We all MUST continue to speak out. These could include demonstrations at the Ugandan embassy in our country, or asking your place of worship to
organize a vigil.

3. Call on Multinational companies that have businesses in Uganda to go public about their concerns on the Act and their future economic engagements in Uganda. For example Heneiken, KLM, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Barclays Bank, and other companies with important interests in Uganda and that already respect and value LGBT rights in their own internal policies, should note the risk that these laws pose for the safety of their own employees, as well as the impact on their brand image of continuing to do business in Uganda.

4. Issue statements condemning the passage of the Bill into Law. We need the Government to know that they shall not get away with their actions. These statements should reflect the other human rights violations in the country, not just about LGBTI rights. Please always alert us to any such statements, whichever language they are written in, such that we may either post them on our website ( or a link to your website.

5. The question of cutting Donor AID has arisen. Our position on this is very clear. We do not support General Aid Cuts to Uganda. We do not want the people of Uganda to suffer because of the unfortunate Political choices of our government. However, we support Strategic Aid Cuts to specific sectors, such as the Dutch Government’s decision to withdraw funding from the Justice Sector. We encourage urgent review of Aid to organizations and government institutions that have failed to demonstrate respect for Human Rights and those that have been actively supporting this bill. We DO NOT support cuts in support to NGO’s and other civil society institutions that offer life saving health services or other important social services to the People of Uganda.

6. Partners should expand investment in funding for service delivery and advocacy in defiance of the law, targeting LGBT populations, to attempt to mitigate the harmful impact this law will have on access to services, and on human rights.

7. We encourage you to lobby your Government’s Immigration Services to adjust their asylum policy with regard to LGBTI persons from Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, Cameroun and other countries in which levels of state-sponsored homophobia are rapidly rising.

8. We further request that you send us information on which organizations can be helpful in assisting the individuals who are at risk if the situation gets worse and they have to get out of the country and seek asylum or relocation elsewhere.

9. We request you to prepare for Urgent Actions given that LGBTI people or people doing work around LGBTI rights are increasingly liable to being arrested. Urgent actions could include sending messages to the Uganda Government to protest such arrests, use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, to raise awareness that arrests have happened, contacting your own embassies in Uganda to voice your concerns.

10. Call for your governments to issue travel advisories on Uganda, and remind them that they have a duty to protect and therefore should take responsibility for alerting their own LGBTI citizens to the risks of traveling to Uganda.

11. Contact travel companies to urge them to also routinely issue such travel advisories to their customers (on the same principle that tobacco products must have a health warning visibly displayed, so flights and package holidays should have warnings of the risks of traveling to Uganda!)

12. Get more foreign leaders in foreign governments to say something about the Act as they have not come out strongly as it was expected.

13. Get celebrities to say something against the Act. We need more voices that Ugandans recognize and revere socially to speak out against this Law.

14. Get more international Aid groups especially those responding to HIV/AIDS work to say something for example: USAID, Pepfar, CDC, Global fund and others.

15. Use your influence and work or networks to encourage and Pressure more African leaders to speak out against the rising levels of homophobia through state sanctioned Anti Gay laws.

16. Engage with any non-LGBTI partner organizations in Uganda that you may collaborate with or whom you fund to issue statements condemning the passage of the AHB and its implications to the work of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Remind them that this Bill is going to further shrink NGO spaces and is bound to affect the work they are doing.

17. Draw international public attention to issues such as corruption, human trafficking, nodding disease in northern Uganda, land-grabbing, as well as the suppression of media freedom and civil society space, the Public Order Management Act so that attention shifts to where it properly belongs; in the best interests of the country’s population as a whole. We need to step up public criticism to other negative trends in Uganda and remind the world that this Act is being used as a tool to divert attention from other pertinent issues that Ugandans are facing.

18. Get religious leaders of all faiths (Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Protestant, Seventh Day Adventists, Quakers, etc.) to issue statements encouraging tolerance and respect for human rights for all Ugandans and Africans.

19. Call for your governments to ‘recall’ ambassadors back to their respective Capitals for at least one week for strategic consultations on how to move forward when dealing with Uganda and Nigeria in regards to the two draconian laws. This will give the Ugandan government food for thought.

20. Contribute physical, financial, or technical support to the Coalition and the LGBTI community as well as the exposed Human Rights Defenders working on LGBTI rights who are likely to begin to be arrested and charged or otherwise persecuted. Financial and technical support for challenging the Act in the Constitutional Court and the East African Court of Justice.

For More information Contact:

Kasha Jacqueline: Tel: +256 772463161

Frank Mugisha : Tel: +256 772616062

Pep Julian Onziema: + Te: +25 772370674

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Spooky Reading

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