Three years ago, before I left Uganda, the country had started to rise within Africa and get attention from all over the world. Uganda has its military all over the African continent; that is to say; more than 1 battalion in Somalia, over 3 battalions in South Sudan, a battalion in Central African Republic and more in many other African countries. Surprisingly, the majority of the people within the country find it unjust for such an underdeveloped country to spend so much financing useless wars and interfering with other countries’ internal affairs, while failing to work on the many issues affecting its people.
In recent times, the most pressing issue within the country has been rising human rights violations by the government. The current government, has been in power since 1986. The persecution of LGBT people, detention without trial of leading opposition politicians, suppression of the freedom of press as well as infringing on the freedom of worship.
|Protesters against the anti-gay bill in London
With all that being said, I want to conclude by making these few facts clear: knowing the background of the country and its deep routes in the Christian faith, it’s very difficult for LGBT people to co-exist with others. Further, many people in the country are not exposed to LGBT people openly, and have little or no education. It is for these reasons that I believe that the way that the West decided to handle the issue of he anti-gay bill, was not constructive at all.
Engaging the people of Uganda and teaching them how to co-exist with people of different sexual orientations would have been a constructive and more effective at combating this issue than cuts to aid. People in Uganda find it very difficult to understand that everyone has the right to fall in love with whoever they want. They need to be taught how to respect every one regardless of their gender. Cutting aid will not help. This results only in “mob justice” against those found to be Gay or LGBT.
The developed world needs to rethink their approach towards the different African countries’ on the LGBT matter. Influence should pivot towards assertive and focused long term solutions to the issue by creating a society where people can co-exist regardless of their sexual orientation. More to that, I also think that the West needs to realise its own complacency surrounding the other human rights violations that are going on in the different African countries than just focusing on one issue.
John Nakaswa, is an international relations student at Kwansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya Osaka, Japan. Born in a family of 6 on his mother’s side, he has more than 20 siblings on his father’s side. A 24 year old eloquent, passionate leader, John became an orphan after losing his father in 2003 to AIDs. After finishing high school, he embarked on sensitizing the youths living in slums all over Uganda, forming a Youth Empowerment Group. While in Japan, John became the general secretary of the Uganda Students Association in Japan. John also spear headed the formation of the Network of African students in Japan (NASJA), the very first African student’s organization in Japan. Being a foreigner in Japan, John emphasises the need for understanding and appreciating cultures of different people.