A recent article in Mother Jones offers a snapshot of what it’s like to be lesbian or gay in Uganda–arguably the worst place on earth to be lesbian or gay. Perhaps not coincidentally, Catholics comprise 41% of the Ugandan population and are thereby the most numerous of any religious group.
In Uganda, one literally risks death to exit the closet as one can not only, if the infamous “kill the gays” bill is signed into law, be executed by the government for being gay, but also one is frequently the victim of spontaneous, mob violence. About one gay Ugandan, the article’s author writes:
“He’s got a scar near his eye from having a bottle broken across his face…Ugandans take situations as they come,” Dennis says. “If they see a transgender person and they want to beat them up, they will, whether the bill exists or not.”
In an earlier post, I explored the connection between the teachings of the Catholic Church and violence against lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons throughout the world. While magisterial teachings depict God-fearing heterosexuals as the victims of homosexual violence and disorder, the experience of lesbian and gay Ugandans exemplifies the way in which the situation is almost always the reverse. When we hear the magisterium argue the following: “when homosexual activity is consequently not condoned…neither the church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted and irrational practices gain ground and irrational and violent reactions increase,” let us interpret this passage in light of the lives of lesbian, gay, and transgendered Ugandans and begin to repent for the sins of our church.
To read more about what the violence lesbians and gays in Uganda suffer, you can also read this piece from Harper’s. I also recommend this very moving collection of first-person narratives of lesbians and gays from various places in Africa.