One Step Forward or Two Steps Back?

For the past 5 years, Westerns have been questioning Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s motives in to regards to his Anti-Gay Marriage laws which have now resurfaced because of a recent bill that was signed. President Museveni doesn’t believe that enacting this bill is a step back for his country, regardless of the west’s perception, because, being a Christian country, Museveni believes that homosexuality “was learned and could be unlearned”. According to CNN, President Museveni also stated, “the bill also proposed years in prison for anyone who counsels or reaches out to gays and lesbians, a provision that would ensnare rights groups and others providing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.” A question to take into consideration is; why now? Why create severe punishments for people who are already marginalized? To rebel against the Western culture? To create a pure society? In a way, the Ugandan president is emphasizing the moral code of Uganda through religion in stating that homosexuality is wrong; could he be right?

However, Leo Coleman’s report, titled Being alone together: from solidarity to solitude in urban anthropology, gives insight into the “queer theory”. He states that, “queer theorists explore discontinuities, deconstruct meaning and truth claims, and analyze how knowledge and identity have been formed.15 Claims about knowledge, the human person, and sexuality are deconstructed so that one can see how an idea or knowledge claim was formed, and which persons and groups benefited from them.” He further discusses how “queer theory has rightly stressed the nature of postmodern sexualities and identities: how fluid sexual identity is and how we need to pluralize the cultural notions of masculinity and femininity.” I believe that Uganda has become frozen in time; unwilling to break free from heterosexual norms and expectations from its people. Its evident that there is a divide in beliefs between the United states culture and the Ugandan culture which stems from “most early books on gay/lesbian theology assumed that a person was born gay or lesbian (the essentialist argument). On one hand, this approach can foster compassion for gays and lesbians because it assumes they cannot help that they are gay. On the other hand, this can also be used by those who want to ‘cure’ homosexuals through prayer or counseling.” Coleman highlights the extreme deviation between the two cultures as the Ugandan President rejects the idea of homosexuality all together and doesn’t believe in its existence. However, in the United States, we have accepted and learned to understand the several different identities within our soceity while beginning to break the stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.

The underlining issues are social norms embedded within each culture. In the United States, the LGBTQ movement has flourished, giving people who identify with this movement freedom to express themselves. However, in Uganda, they don’t live in a democracy where they can have rights, freedoms, and liberties. Uganda still holds their religion very true to their culture and whatever goes against the Christian belief is immediately going against God and therefor should be punished. Maybe it’s not the United State’s place to judge this practice simply because we believe in it ourselves.