Home Opinion Legislation alone will not end homosexuality in Uganda

Legislation alone will not end homosexuality in Uganda

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By Isreal Oteka

Majority Ugandans detest homosexuality as a practice for various reasons. A 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project poll found that 96 per cent of Ugandan residents believed that homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept, which was the fifth-highest rate of non-acceptance in the 45 countries surveyed.

However, the million-dollar question remains: How can homosexuality be defeated in Uganda? Like many other African countries, Uganda recently passed a legislation banning the practice and promotion of homosexuality as a means to combat the vice.

But, while this is a good gesture, legislation alone cannot defeat homosexuality in Uganda. The recent passing of the Anti-homosexuality Bill, 2023 by the Parliament of Uganda is a pseudo victory or rather a symbolic one.

Even when Presient Museveni already signed the Bill into Law, the victory over homosexuality is far from being achieved.

This is because sexuality is the most intimate and confidential aspect of one’s life that cannot be regulated by a mere legislation.

You may agree with me that even with the toughest laws, it is next to impossible to regulate or police individual private lives; not in Ugandans at least.

The Parliament of Uganda passed the Anti-homosexuality Bill, 2023, now an Act. (Photo/Daily Monitor)

God’s grace is solution
The Holy Bible is conscious of the fact that laws alone cannot transform man. This is the very reason why the Old Covenant handed down by Moses, despite its emphasis on brutal punishment for wrongs, was a failure (Hebrews 7: 11-19).

It is for this very reason that Jesus Christ came, bringing a New Covenant that emphasizes transformation of hearts and minds of men (Ezekiel 36:24-28).

Christianity emphasizes the inside-out transformation of the mind over obeying rules and regulations. The real anti-gay battle is neither in parliament nor in courts of law.

It is a battle for the hearts, minds and souls of the young generation. This is why you hear news of LGBTQI activities in schools. The scheme and wiles of gay activists and practitioners is to win the hearts and minds of the young people in schools by making homosexuality acceptable to them.

That is why they are flooding schools with gay literature. They know very well that once their ideology captures the hearts and minds of our young generation, then homosexuality will find its place in society – even with strong anti-gay legislation.

Therefore, the solution to homosexuality may not entirely be legislation. The real solution lies in activism and moral awakening.

This is a tried and tested method that has proven successful in the past.

Israel Oteka

Learn from the past
In the fight against homosexuality, Uganda can learn from its earlier successes in fighting against HIV/AIDS. World over, Uganda is widely regarded as an HIV/AIDS success story.

This country experienced a very high rate of HIV/AIDS infection in the 1980s and early 90s, reaching an epidemic proportions at the time.

The high infection rates were attributed to reckless sexual behaviours.

After coming to power in 1986, President Museveni spearheaded a mass education campaign, promoting a three-pronged AIDS prevention message: Abstinence from sex until marriage, being faithful (monogamy within marriages) and use of condoms as a last resort. The campaign was code named ABC.

The government launched an aggressive media campaign using print, billboards, radio, and television to promote abstinence, monogamy and condom use.

The mass media also embraced the campaign and crafted other behavioural change messages such as the “Zero-Grazing”, “True Love Waits” and “Love Carefully”.

Using a multi-sector approach to spread its AIDS prevention message, the government of Uganda developed strong relationships with other stakeholders including cultural and religious leaders who worked with the grassroots to spread the ABC message.

Schools incorporated ABC messaging into curricula, while faith-based communities trained leaders and community workers in the same.

One of the ABC campaign billboards Uganda used. (Photo/The Lancet)

As a result, Uganda has experienced the sharpest decrease in HIV/AIDS-related death rate in the world between 1990 and 2017, with an 88 per cent decrease in a timespan of 27 years.

According to Edward C. Green, a medical anthropologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, abstinence and fidelity in marriage were the most important factors in Uganda’s success.

So, if Uganda is to defeat homosexuality, the Anti-homosexuality legislation is the minimum it can rely on.

The government needs to spearhead a mass anti-gay education campaign, with the same rigor it employed in dealing with HIV/AIDS.

The same approach of working with religious institutions, community and cultural leaders, schools, and mass media to spread awareness about the dangers of homosexuality should be activated.

Besides, creating awareness about the dangers of homosexuality should be incorporated in schools curricula.

The writer is an Assistant Lecturer at Uganda Christian University-Mukono.
iladwar@gmail.com

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