We can often be our own worst enemies, that adage is absolutely true.
Take this article, circulated recently, that names the 10 worst countries in the world to be gay.
It lists the countries in the following ascending order: Malaysia, Trinidad & Tobago, Iran, Ethiopia, Guyana, United Arab Emirates, Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, and …Uganda. The article is complete with picturesque images of some of these places that would seem to be a contradiction of the message the writers sought to project.
There are a number of problems with the list as far as Uganda is concerned. Most obviously is the fact that Uganda actually has no recently enacted anti-LGBT laws on its statutes. But that’s mentioned only in passing, and the focus is placed on claims that “police and groups of private citizens have publicly attacked and beaten members of the LGBTQ community.”
One mentions other countries guardedly because it can appear as though one is indulging in “whataboutism” or comparing one evil with another. But it is critical to put things in perspective because when we lie so blatantly, it can alienate friends and potential friends who will justifiably decide that there is no point in engaging with a group of people who have no interest in being rational or fair.
There has been one violent attack on an LGBT activist in Uganda this year that I know of, but it wasn’t fatal. There was another bad one last year and a number of attacks on LGBTs leaving a popular gay hangout on Sunday evenings which indications suggest were motivated by theft. Over to anyone who has more reports of regular beatings, fatalities, maimings or hospitalizations caused by the “police and groups of private citizens.”
For records of the sordid LGBTQ attack statistics in Africa, and specifically around East Africa, one need go no further than Denis Nzioka’s prolific reporting of such incidences. I have never met Nzioka but I consider him a person every LGBT in Africa ought to see as a friend due to his relentless reporting on LGBT travails.
For the more accurate picture, one is of course best advised to seek local information. That’s also what makes the above richest.com article remarkable – none of its sources seem local to Uganda, for instance. Where then did they get their conclusions from?
Finally, check out this deeply disturbing story of a lesbian murdered recently in South Africa, reported by Uganda’s Kuchu Times. Corrective rapes, murders, assaults are legion in South Africa despite friendly LGBT laws. Kenya, too, has had more reports of violence against LGBT in the last 6 months than Uganda has had in 3 years if Denis Nzioka’s reporting is to be believed and there is no reason not to since he is reporting while “embedded’ in the thick of the action.
This leaves puzzled as to how richest.com’s list was compiled. Perhaps more importantly, it makes one wonder if the publishers of these throwaway, sensational, uncorroborated articles realize the harm they do to the efforts of the local LGBT movements to build bridges with the rest of their non-LGBT countrymen.
Sadly, likely not.