Five arrests for “homosexuality” in Uganda: A fuller story

Demonstrator at 2012 anti-homosexuality protest in Kampala, from www.pbs.org

Demonstrator at 2012 anti-homosexuality protest in Kampala, from http://www.pbs.org

On Wednesday, the Daily Monitor, a state newspaper in Uganda, headlined a story, “Five Suspected Homosexuals arrested.”

Police in Pader district have arrested five people suspected to be promoting the act of homosexuality in the district.

The suspects were arrested in the period of one week after the tip off by the locals, who accused the suspects of moving within the schools in the district, promoting the practice which was early this year criminalized by the Anti-homosexual [sic] Act 2014.

It’s alleged that the suspects have been carrying out clandestine movements in both primary and secondary schools in the district luring the pupils and students into the practice.

The story was foggy, but certainly made it sound as though these were early victims of the country’s months-old Anti-Homosexuality Act. It came only a couple of days after Uganda’s Foreign Ministry had issued a palliative statement aimed at donors, saying the new law had been “misinterpreted as a piece of legislation intended to punish and discriminate against people of a ‘homosexual orientation’, especially by our development partners,” The government “will continue to guarantee equal treatment of all persons on the territory of Uganda,” it promised sunnily. 

The coincidence was too rich and sinister not to stress, “Five Ugandans have been arrested under the country’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act,” said the US-based Advocate magazine.  Somewhat to my embarrasment, I got on this bandwagon myself, at first tweeting:

Ugandaa 1 copy

–then correcting myself a day later, as we heard more from Ugandan activists:

Ugandaa 2 copy

Neither message was accurate. In the last two days, a team from Uganda’s Human Rights Awareness and Protection Forum (HRAPF) A team from HRAPF and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)  went to Pader, in Uganda’s north. “The team spoke to the Officer in Charge at Pader Police Station, the District Police Commander of Pader, one of the persons arrested, and visited the school where the incidents of promotion of homosexuality were said to have taken place. ” According to a message from Adrian Jjuuko, HRAPF’s Executive Director, this is what they found:

1. It is true that five people including a minor were arrested in Pader on allegations of homosexuality. The arrests took place on 26th and 27th of June 2014. The five persons are: an 18 year old who was the original complainant, a 34 year old businessman; a 16 year old student who stays with the businessman, and a 21 year old and a 30 year old.

2. The background to the case is that one of the arrested persons, the now 18 year old (who was a minor at the time the case was first reported) was arrested on 10th October 2013 for attempted suicide. When asked about the reasons for attempting suicide, he stated that his employer with whom he had been staying had started acting violent towards him. That they had been living together for sometime as ‘husband and wife’ but he had turned violent after he had accused him of stealing his money. That is why he attempted to take his life by stabbing himself. The Police did not arrest the employer at that point. On or around 25th June 2014 he once again stabbed himself and he was arrested by the Police. He repeated the story and that is when the Police arrested the other four.

3. They were not charged with any offence but statements were taken from them.

4. They were subjected to anal exams which were inconclusive.

5. The file was forwarded to the Resident State Attorney who did not advise on any charge but instead sent the file back to the police commenting that there was no evidence of any offence related to homosexuality.

6. The police released all the persons who had been arrested on Police Bond. The file however remains open and ‘investigations’ are ongoing.

7. On the allegations of promotion of homosexuality, no one was charged with this, and the Headmaster of the school denies that there are cases of recruitment that have been heard in the school. The Police also do not mention any facts on which this [newspaper claim] was based.

Location of Pader district in Uganda

Location of Pader district in Uganda

Three things are noticeable. First: a minor claimed that he was a victim of domestic violence. The legal case started, though, when he was arrested as a result, followed by the alleged perpetrator and others. In other words, the story shows again that even Uganda’s old, colonial-era sodomy law (never mind the new one) denies people accused of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender the basic protection of the law. The rhetoric surrounding the new “Anti-Homosexuality” law was that it was meant to protect “children and other vulnerable groups,” as the recent government statement reaffirmed. That’s nonsense. Children are at threat, deprived of any protection under the law.

Second, while we don’t know what else these people underwent during the police investigation. the “inconclusive” forensic anal exams, while medically valueless, are also an intrusive and abusive form of inhuman treatment that, conducted in carceral conditions, can amount to torture.

Third, the “investigation” continues to hang over the heads of the abused men, with no indication of whether or when they could finally be exculpated and freed from the threat.

Torture, abuse of children, absence of safety or protection, unending and debilitating uncertainty: even without the Anti-Homosexuality Act being invoked, the legal menaces to the lives of LGBT Ugandans are real enough.

There’s nothing called “stupidity,” it’s called letting your mouth work while your brain goes on vacation

Lebanese parliamentarians debating a proposed new law on domestic violence have removed a provision that would criminalize marital rape. Beirut MP Imad Hout, a member of the subcommittee that voted the language out — and parliamentary representative for Lebanon’s version of the Muslim Brotherhood — falls back on a peculiar conception of the dynamics of the dictionary:

“There’s nothing called rape between a husband and a wife. It’s called forcing someone violently to have intercourse,” he told The Daily Star.

This is a wonderful moment in philosophy, when everything old is new again. Back in the Dark Ages, it was Islam and the distinguished ancestors of today’s Brotherhood that preserved Aristotle for future generations, while the West was scrambling around in dirty rags and eating spoiled potatoes turnips like extras from an early Monty Python film. And, in the classrooms of Paris and Bologna, Aristotle’s rediscovered books helped defeat the medieval school of Nominalism, which held that particular objects are real but abstract ideas aren’t. Thus, according to the Nominalists, the act of a man forcing a woman violently to have intercourse may, in a certain sense, examined analytically, be said to happen; but the name for it, “rape,” is just a conventional fiction, so much empty air. The cowardly and pragmatic compromises of Aristotle undid this nobly extreme world-view, and launched Europe on its downward trajectory toward debt, low birth rates, homosexuality, French hip-hop slang, and sexually unsatisfied wives that corrodes its moral fabric today. But Imad Hout happily is around to resurrect the old forgotten truths, verities that precede and supersede even the great ʾAbu l-Walid Muḥammad bin ʾAḥmad bin Rusd‘s contributions to human thought. “Marital rape” is just a word, and the law doesn’t punish words. Nothing to see here! Move along!

Of course, “Imad Hout” is just a name too, as are “member of Parliament,” “Beirut,” and “Lebanon” itself; hence all this arguing happens in something of a philosophical fantasy world, a paradise of vacuous abstractions, and all the married women getting raped are off in some other academic discipline, like sociology or automotive engineering or applied physics. But there’s already a page devoted to finding out what, under all the syllables, Imad Hout really is: There’s Nothing Called Imad Hout. Check it out and contribute to the investigation.

NB. It has been pointed out to me that medieval Europeans did not eat spoiled potatoes, since those (along with the unspoiled ones) were only introduced from Latin America after the Columbian conquests. They were much more likely to be gnawing turnips. So consider this: Europe got philosophy from the Orient, carbohydrates from the Americas. What exactly did Western civilization generate on its own? Marital rape and priestly celibacy; that is our heritage. Embrace it!  Defend it against the jihadists and the cultural relativists!  Be proud, O white people, of who you are! Imad Hout knows you better than you know yourselves.