A group of South Asian activists and academics has launched an online petition against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill being considered by the Ugandan parliament. The petition urges Uganda to grant full human rights to all citizens, recognizing the countries’ shared history of colonialism that led to their original 19th century anti-homosexuality laws.
The petition states in part:
We write as citizens of South Asian countries, former British colonies that are also grappling with the multiple legacies of colonialism, of which the inheritance of homophobic laws is only one. We too have been told in our countries that homosexuality is a ‘Western import’ that is alien to our cultures. This claim flies in the face of a wealth of evidence of same-sex love and desire in our histories and cultures.
It is a matter of fact that consensual same-sex love in our cultures, just as in parts of Africa, including Uganda, was accepted, and in some contexts, celebrated until the advent of the colonial experience.
It is a claim that, moreover, is contradicted by the fact that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, represented the most aggressive institutionalisation of the criminalisation of homosexuality in the history of the Indian subcontinent. It is this legislative initiative of an unrepresentative colonial state that was then replicated in only slightly modified forms in other colonies of the British state, including Uganda.
It is homophobia, rather than homosexuality that is a colonial legacy. Today, we are engaged, along with our counterparts in other ex-British colonies, in an ongoing struggle against this legacy of colonialism, a struggle in which we have relied primarily on the activist labours of our people and on the moral and legal commitments of laws and Constitutions that we have given unto ourselves.
We share much with Uganda, including the legacies of struggle against colonial rule. As postcolonial states that are proud of their hard-won independence, we understand, share and support your commitment to realising and maintaining democratic decision making processes, in line with your Constitution and in the exercise of your sovereignty, unimpeded by the external world. And it is precisely for this reason that we ask you to revisit the decision to consider passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law.
The petition concludes:
We reach out in solidarity against attempts at imperialist control over our political, moral, ethical and cultural lives. The irony of history is that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is an instance of such attempts at control is being seen as evidence of the expression of sovereignty.
To recognise the rights of all Ugandans to lives of dignity, equality and freedom of expression and assembly, by refusing the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would be the true assertion of sovereignty.
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- Over a million speak out against Uganda’s anti-gay bill (76crimes.com)
- Paris ‘die-in’ targets Ugandan anti-gay bill (76crimes.com)
- How outrageous is Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ bill? (76crimes.com)