NOT THAT THIS EXCUSES IT IN ANY WAY, but it is useful to understand the different ways that different cultures view homosexuality. I absolutely condemn this law in the strongest terms. But when fighting against this kind of evil, it may be useful to understand the origin of the evil.
I have no idea what goes on in Uganda, but in Cameroon, homosexuality was a complicated subject. Basically, people noticed that all the gay people they saw were rich. Obviously, this is because only the rich could afford to go against social norms in a public way. But Cameroonian people didn’t see that. They just saw that they were rich. And how does one get rich in a country that is mostly very, very, very poor? Witchcraft. Most Cameroonian rich people were strongly suspected of being involved in some kind of witchcraft. How else could they afford private jets when normal people were scraping by for food? It was the only explanation people could come up with for the massive inequalities they saw in their country.
And so the belief formed that all gay people were involved in secret witchcraft societies. Specifically, the belief was that these societies required you to kill and eat a family member, preferably a young one. In exchange, you get worldly riches. Being gay was also considered a part of the cult activities. People were very upset about these kinds of cults flourishing in their communities. And so they harbored a lot of ill will towards gay people.
The absolute sincerity of these beliefs was illustrated to me when one of my female students came to me with a problem. She had realized she was a lesbian. Since childhood, she’d had erotic dreams about women. Whenever she masturbated, she thought about women. She had no desire for men, but strong desires towards women. This idea worried her a lot. She’d visited clerics from Islam, Christianity and the local religions. Nobody could cure her of it. So she asked me for advice.
I spent a good afternoon giving her advice. I told her about our views of homosexuality, and how lesbians in America could live fairly normal lives, even having children. I told her a bit about the gay communities in Cameroon’s larger cities, and helped advise her about how she could get out there. I gave her advice for dealing with her family’s constant attempts to arrange a marriage for her.
In the end, she was greatly relieved. She’d never heard the idea that it might be normal before. She was relieved that she had at least a small prospect of a happy life, and she began to accept herself more. And after so many hours of talking, she said…
“You know, I think it might not be true that all gay people are part of secret death cults.”
I’m not sure if they hold beliefs like this in Uganda, but if they do, these kinds of beliefs are very real. It’s hard to understand ignorance this massive, but it exists. If a law like this passed in Cameroon, it would probably be because they genuinely truly believed in these death cults, not simply out of hate.
There is A LOT of ignorance to fight in this world.