In fact, the language of the law is written in such a way that it is nigh on impossible for any gay man or woman to be arrested and successfully prosecuted for sodomy unless the state can produce incontrovertible evidence of “carnal knowledge against the order of nature:”
Unless the government is ready to turn the police into a peripatetic gay sex brigade, with spies lurking in closets or breaking down bedroom doors to film “carnal knowledge against th
e order of nature” the government of Uganda has been soundly defeated where trying to victimize consensual sodomy is concerned. Besides, if they want to go after gays who might be having carnal knowledge, they must also be prepared to go after straight couples who also certainly have the ability to have carnal knowledge against the order of nature.
So, now that the Uganda government has been legally muzzled on the homosexuality and homo-sodomy issues, what next?
Here is a suggestion:
As everyone in the gay community knows, the fight against HIV/Aids in Uganda has totally ignored the gay community because according to various government spokesmen, gays have no rights in Uganda. There are two or three rag tag gay organizations which get funding from disparate organizations in Europe and the US but they do a terrible job of focusing on the issue because they use most of the money they get on themselves. So, lousy seminars are organized with terrible food and a few beers but they usually don’t have any coherent message. These groups go through the motions but it is clear that they are out of their depth where managing the Aids/HIV message to the gay community is concerned.
You just have to see the irresponsible, ill-informed and contradictory messages they send out from, for instance, Frank2Candy’s Yahoo e-mail such as the following:
YES, one can get HIV from oral sex. You can get it if you are the person giving the oral sex, or, even when it is being done on you. You can get it if your partner is a man, or your partner is a woman. It is a low or small risk, but it is there. Oral sex is safer than- Penis/Vagina sex- Penis/Anal sexKissing and mutual masturbation are safer than oral sex. (With these, there is almost no risk).Certain things increase the risk of you getting or giving HIV during oral sex:- Wounds in the mouth.- Wounds on the penis, vagina, anus or other part that is touched by the mouth.- If the woman is menstruating (in her periods).Of course, there is no risk if both you and your partner are HIV negative.
A few rudimentary questions come to mind after reading this. Isn’t kissing a type of oral sex? How can one say that there is no risk in kissing and then turn around and say that you risk getting HIV if you kiss someone with mouth sores? What kind of message is that? Is Frank2Candy suggesting that gays should check their partner’s mouths for sores before kissing or that they shouldn’t kiss at all? What if we engage in mutual masturbation and one of us has a sore on his hand? Is that safe or unsafe? And how are we to know that we are HIV negative if we haven’t tested? And what if we tested last week and were negative; does that mean we are safe this week?
These are questions that Frank2Candy doesn’t concern itself in this particular e-mail. Given that this organization sends out only about four e-mails a year, their efforts border on the disinterested.
And what about this message (again from Frank2Candy in January 2009) to the gay community after a silence of three months?:
Knowledge is power. We are giving you knowledge.Remember: You decide for yourself what you like, and what you don’t like. We are not telling you what to do, and what to like.We are giving you FACTS: KNOWLEDGE for you to make correct
decisions.So, what is anal sex? Our definition is simple, any sex which includes one’s anus. Or arsehole. Or bottom…!First, let us deal with some false stories. Yes, people can have anal sex… Some people believe it is impossible!Why do it?Because it is a pleasure. It can be a very meaningful part of your sex life.Who does anal sex?Could be you alone. With fingers or sex toys. While masturbating. Could be a man and a woman. On the man, or the woman.Could be a man with another man. Could be a woman with another woman. With fingers or sex toys. Not all gay men like anal sex. Some like it, some do not. We plan to give you knowledge about anal sex. The connection with HIV, risks, how to make it safe.RESPECT yourself. LOVE yourself. LOOK AFTER yourself. It’s all about you. Do not do something which you don’t want. You don’t have to do something if you think it is wrong. DO NOT DO something if you think it is wrong. Also, respect your lovers. Don’t force a lover to do something they do not want.Next we will talk about anal sex and HIV. We all wish you a fantastic new year.
What constructive message is a gay man or woman supposed to take from the above e-mail? Is Frank2Candy really suggesting that of the subjects they could address in their four or so e-mails a year, this repetitive, pointless and, yes, dangerous e-mail is worthwhile? The mind boggles.
The Ugandan gay campaign so obviously needs to focus on TESTING and here is why:Crude, unofficial, figures that 50% of the kuchus who have gone for testing have tested positive. That would mean at least 100 kuchus in Kampala alone are positive, too high by far. But most who test don’t return to collect their confirmatory test results so a large number of our boys are positive and don’t even know it. Given the high estimates, it stands to reason that every gay man in Kampala has, knowingly or otherwise, had sex with someone infected with HIV.
Therefore the most urgent area to focus on is TESTING for those who are not using condoms AND those who are using them. Unless the testing is made routine, we have a tinderbox situation in the Ugandan gay community.Sadly, the rag tag groups (SMUG, Frank2Candy, the ironically named Integrity etc.) that exist in Uganda don’t seem to have the organizational skills even if they were actually interested in focusing on the issues that matter most in getting the message about HIV/Aids out.
It is thus important for the gay community to direct the debate rather than wait for the leaders of these groups, who likely mean well but have no competence in the assignments they have taken on, to determine the agenda as they deem fit.
The “seminars” these groups organize are an excellent opportunity to stress the most important message: TESTING. In fact, these forums should be used to actively encourage testing and it would make sense if these organizations worked with friendly medical groups to bring the testing down to the gay boys in their own environment. There is no evidence that such efforts have been attempted, making the seminars that happen a waste of time and a lost opportunity.
Though, obviously, safety from prosecution doesn’t mean safety from stigmatization and discrimination from the general public, it is time for gays in Uganda to focus on what is the most urgent problem; The spread of HIV/Aids in the gay community. The crucial campaign should be on finding ways of making HIV testing more accessible to the gay community in Uganda.