Being gay and famous in the UK isn’t newsworthy

posted in: AID, Ethics, Politics 0

A survey that came out today shows that British people are more liberal towards same sex couples. Kelvin McKenzie a former Editor of The Sun newspaper and Michael Cashman an openly Gay politician  were interviewed by  John Humphreys on Radio 4 this morning (listen at 2hours 10 minutes) on the issue of our changing attitudes to homosexuality here in the UK.

What came out of that interview was that indeed attitudes have changed and if you are a celebrity and gay in the UK this is unlikely to make news, but on the other hand if you a heterosexual celebrity who is caught cheating on your spouse things might be different such as they were with Tiger Woods

As I listened I was reminded of a news story that broke whilst I was in Uganda last month. I generally switch off from  news whilst I am on holiday and las month was no different only this time I could not escape from the news especially this particular news. I received a text message from a friend in London saying,

Ida is it true what they are saying about the abuse of gay rights in Uganda? it is all over the headlines including the BBC, there is a call for a ban on all Ugandan products!

I recalled a recent conversation that I had had, with a UK based  immigration lawyer prior to going out to Uganda. He said he had seen an increase in Ugandans applying for asylum in the UK. They are fleeing from persecution in Uganda, he had told me.

I said I didn’t know but I would imagine this to be a sensitive issue and I would discreetly find out

I grew p in Uganda but was not aware of Homosexuality until I came to the UK, I remember asking my mother whether there were gay people in Uganda and she said yes there were but they had to be very discreet as it was a taboo. I later learned from my then landlord (Simon) who also happened to be gay that this is how things were for gay people in the UK many years ago. Simon was great, I asked  him all manner of questions about his sexuality and he answered them openly and I thank him for educating me.

Being in Uganda and wanting to get to the bottom of the headlines behind this story was not going to be  easy. Uganda is a very religious country and a very conservative one at that and the anti gay private members bill in parliament  appeared to have support from all various corners fo the country.

I thought the best approach was to ask family members and they all felt that in spite of the strong feelings in some quarters such a bill would never be passed for various reasons but mostly because the  country had a lot to lose!  I never explored this but I understood what they meant.

Things have since moved on as I learned from my twitter buddy @jkainja that Uganda is not alone in her view on the rights of gay people and furthermore the West is using AID as stick with which to beat  Uganda and Malawi with if they don’t reconsider their views. You can read the rest of his thread here and here is what my other buddy @TMSruge had to say.

It would appear that  dependency on AID by African governments to supplement their budgets leaves them vulnerable should donor disagree with their policies.  Is this what  my relatives meant when they said Uganda has a lot to lose by passing such a bill?

Can Africa manage without donor AID?

Human rights abuse should not be tolerated in any society, it stands in the  way of development and engenders a culture of fear amongst citizens cutting of creativity and economic growth.  I am hoping that both  Malawi and Uganda do indeed reconsider their stance on the issue of homosexuality.

Going back to today’s report on social attitudes in the UK, it has taken the UK a longtime to get to a state of tolerance in as far as homosexuality is concerned. Isn’t it best to work with the African governments and share that  lessons that have  been learned here in the UK?

Those are my thoughts. Have you got a view of any of the issue raised here? if so I would love to hear it.

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