I do not want to write this blog post.
I do not want to do the research or open my mind to the soul-sickening horror of the issue. But I have been signing and posting petition after petition, Tweeting and sharing on Facebook, and it just isn’t enough.
Thinking of this, I am physically nauseated.
American fundamentalists – both Catholic and Protestant – have not found it sufficient to preach hellfire and damnation – implicitly if not explicitly inciting physical and verbal violence and intimidation – against gay, lesbian, bi, and transsexual persons in the U.S., but they have also felt it necessary – by silence and/or speech – to incite the homophobia driving the infamous Ugandan legislation stripping LGBT persons of virtually every human right, including the right to life.
Among the provisions of the bill, which comes up for a vote this week:
“Any person alleged to be homosexual would be at risk of life imprisonment or in some circumstances the death penalty”paragraph
“Any parent who does not denounce their lesbian daughter or gay son to the authorities would face fines of $2,650 or three years in prison”paragraph
“Any teacher who does not report a lesbian or gay pupil to the authorities within 24 hours would face the same penalties”paragraph
“And any landlord or landlady who happens to give housing to a suspected homosexual would risk 7 years of imprisonment”paragraph
Similarly, the Bill threatens to punish or ruin the reputation of anyone who works with the gay or lesbian population, such as medical doctors working on HIV/AIDS, Civil Society leaders active in the fields of sexual and reproductive health; or even religious leaders providing guidance and counseling to people who are unsure of their sexuality or any other consultations….(Read more here…
The Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament is pressing for a fast passage of the bill, calling it “a Christmas gift” to the nation. The bill’s author has said he believes the government of Uganda should “kill every last gay person.”
We are talking about a holocaust here. As a Christmas gift.
A holocaust. As a Christmas gift.
What barbaric century are we living in???
And the “good Christians” who are responsible for instigating this horrific piece of bloodthirsty mob-thinking disguised as legislation are distancing themselves – claiming that they are shocked and surprised at the results of their instigation, but not taking any action against those results.
I hear that the gay community is accused of being responsible for the terrible issue of pedophilia in Uganda as in other African nations. It’s the same absurd projection that has been used to excuse gay-bashing in the States, despite all the documented evidence that pedophilia and homosexuality are unrelated.
The mob-thinking, the legislation are bad enough. That a population could be so deceived as to demand the physical or social destruction of 20% of its people is unimaginable in its horror. But that supposedly Christian religious leaders are doing nothing in response – that the Vatican is doing nothing to condemn the Catholic bishops who had once opposed, but who are now supporting this legislation – that the Vatican,in fact, sought to remove references to sexual orientation and gender identity from a recent U.N. resolution condemning executions motivated by anti-LGBT bias – that a conservative evangelical preacher, Scott Lively, has been identified as directly contributing to the 2009 “Kill the Gays” bill and conspiring to create an environment friendly to the new legislation – and that an expose by the Political Research Associates has revealed the purposeful involvement of U.S. evangelicals in fostering homophobia in Uganda —
Does nobody see that this is the same, hate-projecting, shadow-casting, reasonless, genocidal madness that has destroyed untold millions of lives in target populations around the world since ideologies began?
I suppose I should not be surprised or shocked: how long have I been aware of human bigotry, and particularly gay-bashing, being a proud ally and PFLAG mom and “mother of the brooms” for my stepson and son-in-law?
I suppose that my dismay over this situation shows an appalling level of naivete or numbing-out…that I’m just now, finally, allowing myself to process this horror beyond the intellectual disgust and intellectual care that drive petition-signing. That I’m moving, in Ivan Illich’s words, toward a point of no return –
“I live with the refusal not only to say certain things but also to use certain words or to permit certain feelings to creep into my heart…Reflection on certain things we take for granted is, in my opinion, acceptance of self-destruction, of burning out your heart…*
I do not want to escape my sense of helplessness and fall into a pretence that I care and that I do or have done all that is possible of me. I want to live with the inescapable horror…[suffered by] these persons, in my heart, and know that I cannot, actively, really, love them. Because to love them – at least the way I am built, after having read the story of the Samaritan – means to leave aside everything which I’m doing at this moment and pick up that person….
Thinking that I care, first, impedes me from remembering what love would be; second, trains me not to be in that sense loving with the person who is waiting outside this door, and third, stops me from taking the next week off and going and chaining myself to the door of some industry in New York which has a part in the …disaster….**
I have been “caring” for a long time, signing my name to the impassioned words of others….and it’s no longer enough.
Returning to the horror in Uganda: What is the real crime committed by the men and women being targeted by this legislation?
They belong to a group historically identified as scapegoats at a time when Western “civilization” is evolving to realize it is no longer acceptable to target any scapegoat group.
The anti-gay campaign that is not limited to Uganda, but is also being pursued in Rwanda and Nigeria by Lively, bases its power on a broader fear, says the Reverend Kapya Kaoma, who was part of the Political Research Associates team investigating the role of US right-wing groups and evangelical groups in Uganda. Quoted in a Democracy Now! interview, the Rev. Kaoma said:
…I was in Uganda the time when Scott Lively of Abiding Truth Ministries was holding this conference, which was then a seminar exposing their anti-homosexual seminar agenda. And what it did is that it told Ugandans that this international gay movement will take over the world, it has managed to take over the United States government, it has taken over the UN, it has taken over the country of Brazil. And now, in Brazil for instance, people who are not — who are opposed to gays and lesbians, they are being forced out of their country. And if Uganda does not stop them, then they will do the same thing, because they are now —- their new target is Uganda. So Lively preached a lot of hatred against the LGBT persons.
That’s it. In a twisted bait-and-switch, Lively et al interpreted humanity’s evolution in accepting diversity as an LGBT takeover. They planned a duplicitous legislative backlash against the growing global realization that yes, LGBT persons are, indeed, human, and entitled to all the rights associated with being human. That same-sex love is not an evil human perversion but can be found in hundreds – some say thousands – of species, from bugs to birds, from mice to whales.
It’s a backlash against the growing global awareness that one more of the groups historically targeted as “Others,” in fact, can no longer be acceptably hated. Against the dawn of the possibility that there may in fact be no “Them” who can targeted as a scapegoat, loaded up with the projected sins of the population, and cast out into the wilderness. That we may in fact all be fully human beings, responsible for respecting and caring for one another, regardless of our perceived differences.
And – sickeningly – this backlash is led by religious leaders, despite the example of a loving Savior who reached out to prostitutes, tax-collectors and assorted other perceived “dregs of society,” who harshly criticized the ruling religious hierarchy, and who said nothing – zero, zip, zilch, nada – on the topic of men loving men or women loving women, let alone the modern medical miracle of transgender transitions – and despite the same Savior’s very harsh words on the topic of judging others.
And those in positions of the highest religious power, who should speak out if only to take responsibility and attempt to avert the murderous outcome of their implicit or explicit actions, are not doing so.
I wish I could say with confidence that Gandhi’s words, ‘When the people lead, the leaders will follow”applied equally to such religious leaders. The president of Uganda, however, has said that he will veto the legislation – but pressure is mounting on him to withdraw that promise.
So it’s up to the people of the world to hold him to his word. Please, if this looming holocaust touches you at any level of caring or love, add your voice on any or all of these petitions…
Let me close with this wrenching recollection of the last all-out Gay Holocaust, in WWII – and adapt the great Jewish teacher Maimonides’ questions: “And if (we are) only for (ourselves), then what (are we)? And if not now, when?”
* David Cayley, Ivan Illich in Conversation (Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1992)., 126
** Ibid., 217