Africa / Commentary / Faith and religion

Minor Ugandan candidate, major misunderstandings

Abed Bwanika on the campaign trail (Photo by Alex Esagala courtesy of the Daily Monitor)

Abed Bwanika on the campaign trail (Photo by Alex Esagala courtesy of the Daily Monitor)

A minor candidate in Uganda’s presidential election campaign has made news by unveiling an anti-LGBTI proposal that’s based on factual errors and major misunderstandings about the experiences of Uganda’s sexual minorities.

Presidential candidate Abed Bwanika, a Ugandan veterinarian, politician and pastor, said that, if elected, he would establish a “moral re-correction centre” for “all homosexuals” in Uganda. “We cannot accept to be pushed into homosexuality by the West,” he said, as reported by the Daily Monitor.

“All homosexuals (in Uganda) will be rehabilitated because they have demons and we have specialists to chase out demons,” he claimed.

The election of Feb. 18, 2016, will mark the third presidential bid by Bwanika, who won the support of less than 1 percent of Ugandan voters during his two previous campaigns, in 2006 and 2011.

Bwanika may actually know better, but his announcements imply that he does not realize:

  • LGBTI people are born with their sexual orientation. They do not choose it later in life.
  • Homosexuality is not un-African. It’s an aspect of every human society.
  • Homosexuality is not an import from the West. As Ugandan activist Edwin Sesange notes, “The West brought homophobia, not homosexuality, to Uganda.”
  • Homosexuality is not a result of demonic possession.

Sesange, director of the London-based African LGBTI organization Out and Proud Diamond Group, stated in response to Bwanika:

Edwin Sesange, director of the Out and Proud Diamond Group (Photo courtesy of WorkersLiberty.org)

Edwin Sesange, director of the Out and Proud Diamond Group (Photo courtesy of WorkersLiberty.org)

“It is very unfortunate that a person aspiring to become the next president of all the people of Uganda, including LGBTI, can completely divert from the facts. It is so cheap of him to misguide the voters that homosexuality is being imposed on Uganda by the West. This is poor interpretation of Ugandan history, which is very clear. The West brought homophobia, not homosexuality, to Uganda.

“It is a deliberate poor judgement on his side to claim that LGBTI people are demonic and can be rehabilitated. We request him to base his political campaign on facts not propaganda.

“Uganda as a nation has many issues that need to addressed during this Presidential campaign, like poverty,  health care, education sector, unemployment, among others. It will be  beneficial to Pastor Abed to challenge these issues rather than making shameful comments towards LGBTI Ugandans.

“I call upon fellow Ugandans and the world at large to distance themselves from promoters of hate campaigns towards innocent Ugandans, including LGBTI people.”

Bwanika made his remarks during a campaign launch yesterday, shortly after his renomination as the presidential candidate of his small opposition party, the People’s Development Party.

He also proposed changing the nation’s capital, cutting the time students spend in school, increasing teachers’ pay, increasing the budget for agriculture,  investigating unqualified government officials, using money from the Ugandan diaspora to boost the national budget, and renaming all Ugandan roads, lakes and parks in honor of Ugandans who have contributed to the country’s development.

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