BBC Documentary Explores Anti-Gay Attitudes in Uganda

Yesterday evening BBC 3 broadcast The World’s Worst Place to Be Gay?, a documentary about Uganda presented by gay DJ Scott Mills. There are few surprises: gay people are forced to live in slums, rejected by their families and at risk of violence, while a sampling of random interviewees from the street shows a visceral hatred for homosexuals and a wish for their execution (“everything bad should be done to those people”, says one young woman).

Mills also spoke to some of the individuals who are actively promoting anti-gay feeling: Giles Muhame, managing editor of Rolling Stone newspaper; Pastor Solomon Male; and David Bahati MP, author of the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill (a bill not unfairly dubbed by critics as the “Kill the Gays Bill”). Muhume is notorious for “outing” homosexuals in his newspaper (although a court injunction recently put a stop to this), and he explained that his paper had got information through having “infiltrated their circles” and by talking to “ex-homosexuals”. Muhame also claimed that stories of attacks on gay people were lies, and (rather unconvincingly) that if his own picture had appeared in the paper he wouldn’t be scared. He added:

We are not policing but we are assisting the police to do their work.

Muhume also told Mills that homosexuality reduces one’s lifespan by 24 years – that particular talking-point comes from Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute (Cameron has featured on this blog previously).

Pastor Male, meanwhile, was introduced as claiming “he was first to openly come out against gays” – he has appeared on this blog here (it’s perhaps worth noting that Male has deployed accusations of homosexuality against rival pastors). Male’s views, expressed with a smile, are what you would expect: homosexuality is “morally incomprehensible, abominable”; “of course” gay people are as bad as paedophiles; “it is beyond human imagination that people of the same kind can love each other”. When Mills tells Male that he was gay from birth, Male insists that he is saying this “to deceive other people, because you want so many people to come to your ranks”.

Mills then went on to interview David Bahati on the grass outside the Parliament building: he described his proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill as “a wonderful piece of legislation that will help those who are involved in this behaviour, but also protect those who are not involved in this”. He also claimed that a quote attributed to him about killing homosexuals was a misquote, and that he wants gay people “to come back to normality”. Like Muhame, Bahati further claimed that accounts of abuse and violence against gay people was “planned deliberate propaganda by the gay movement… I’ve not seen any person being harassed”. As for parents chasing away their gay children, “I’ve not heard of that in this society”. Bahati explained that once the Bill was passed, parents would be expected to report their children to the police, and then “the law enforcement agencies should take care of that”.

Mills then told Bahati that he is himself gay; Bahati’s first response was awkward, and then became slightly hysterically jocular:

Well, I think  if I had known, it would be a different matter for this interview…. I think it’s not professional, right, to engage in this… If you are we could probably ask our police to check if that’s right [laughs]…. Make sure you are not caught in the act because if you are you will be put in.

Bahati then terminated the interview; Mills tells us Bahati followed up by calling his fixer asking for information, and that police had been sent to a hotel where Bahati incorrectly thought they were staying. Bahati previously featured on this blog here.

83 Responses

  1. Hi

    I was disappointed that the documentary didn’t sufficiently explore the cause of the recent homophobia: Evangelical Christianity. The US connection was mentioned, but Mills swiftly moved on.

    The religious roots of the problem got an easy ride.

    • In fairness to Mills, this was his first experience with anti-gay hatred in Uganda (or, even, any real form). He was less making a documentary than a travelog.

      ~alec

  2. Deeply upsetting viewing, I’m about to write a memorial piece for my blog about David Kato, a legendary soul who fought for gay rights in Uganda.

    As for the influence of US evengelical, this does play a part but homophobia is deeply written in the phallo-centric culture of sub-Sahran Africa, it’s not all the fault of the religion but animist beliefs that rise the man to level of God.

    South Africa is littered with it.

  3. I’d be interested in seeing verifiable citations for both Arthur and Daniel’s statements. Not doubting them, like… I am interested to know just whence comes this deep vein of bigotry in sub Saharan Africa.

    I can see European/American pastors seeing African socities’ views on homosexuality as fertile territory now that the West as become like B-a-a-a-a-a-bylon (one Scottish Presbyterian in SA said pretty much that to me). But, the hatred had to be there to produce a situation where all levels of society exhibit the same level of violent hatred as disorganized mobs do against paedophiles in this country.

    • I worked in South Africa for a spell, including in prison and my wife is South African, I have spent a great deal of time looking at the deeply entrenched phallo-centric culture, which is a peon to the macho.

      For insight into the entrenched male hegemony and it’s social and economic repercussions , I’d recommend Three Letter Plague by Jonny Steinberg, which looks at how this attitude impacts on the wild spread of AIDS and also his book on prison gangs The Number which touches on the cult of the male.

      • Hmmm, that is interesting, thanks. I suppose this also is seen in the tendency to attribute the spread of HIV to homosexuals rather than randy travelling businessmen or truckers who pick-up women at each town.

        But, why does the macho have to be anti-gay? I’m thinking of Ancient Greek in which it was damn near celebrated. That Alexander the Great, camp as a row of tent pegs, was he not?

        Anyone who’s been into a gay bar will know that, even thought there are effeminate characters, from others there definitely is not.

        ~alec
        ~alec

      • Because the phallo-centric nature of African culture is about the man’s ability to spread his seed, to create life via his seed.

        A homosexual is seen as denying that and in turn, putting Africa in danger because he refuses to spread that seed and make more Africans.

        You can see it on the documentary when the ignorant Dj tries to argue that if everyone was gay, Africa would die as no one would have children.

  4. Uganda is a very tollerant country and Gays don’t have any danger at all, we all have friends who are gays. This is just a campaign for certain Gay groupt o solicit money from Gay s in the West. If there was any danger that club Mills went to wouldn’t exist?

  5. Seriously…I know we all want to make money but this is getting annoying. Those gays dont even live in such slums. They only want more funding. If they were not trying to recruit more gays in their group, promising money, I wouldnt mind.
    Do they want to look for jobs? no. All they do is smoke, go out in bars, looking for recruits, due to the freedom and funding they have. Ofcourse preachers will condemn gay activity. Wats wrong with that, its their belief. Police condemns idol and disorderly citizens.

    Hope you shall share with them on the dimes you have made from our country. As the suposed ‘witch doctor said, U need deliverance’ lol

    • “Gloria”

      Odd, that you come here to refute clear evidence with odd ideas that you have no evidence for at all. You speak of funding, you buy into the myth of homosexuality as a Western invention and export to Africa. You speak of recruiting, failing to see you can’t recruit homosexuals, you are born gay or not.

      The more you comment here the more you prove the point that Uganda is wracked with bigotry and ignorance.

      Show me evidence of this funding you speak of, or are you just spitting out lies that have been propagated about this oppressed group.

      Pathetic.

      • ..actually thats it..its a ‘western invention and export to africa’..Call us ignorant but we call it pervertion. Yes the majority of ugandans have a problem with gays but they are not opressed as u call it.
        In the documentary, if u recall a guy talked of how he was approached to join the group. Most students in our universities have a confession of gays trying to convince them to join..I was approached too.
        The gays themselves tell us of how they get bonuses on the more recruits.
        Am not trying to prove a point here actually,..as i said if u sympathise with them, well and good, that works for them, but if you ask any ugandan of their opinion of the documentary, they would all say the same thing.

        Ignorant?? Pathetic?? am yet to know who i could call that.

      • Homosexuality is not a Western invention exported to Africa, show me the proof for that.

        In reality, homosexuality occurs in all animals and species, including us and has done so since the beginning of time.

        You then show huge disconnection by claiming that gay Ugandans are not oppressed but in the same breath make it clear that most Ugandans have a problem with homosexuality. The two concepts can not co-exist.

        Also, all evidence, from state approved legislature, newspapers and asking Ugandans in the street, speaks of repression.

        As for the guy who asked to join, I’m sorry but these myths, lies and fabrications were once tried in the UK.

        Can you not grasp that this man cannot be asked to join because there is nothing to join, homosexuality is not a choice.

        The bonuses thing is lies, propaganda you’re willing to swallow whole to demonise gay people.

        What frustrates me is that you want to be bigoted, ignorant, vile, homophobic and anger-ridden but you get upset when you are called such.

        You can’t have your backward views and expect them to go unchallenged.

        One day Uganda will join the civilised world, when all people, no matter what they sexuality, will be treated with equal respect.

      • What frustrates me is that you want to be bigoted, ignorant, vile, homophobic and anger-ridden but you get upset when you are called such.

        I think you mean anger-riven.

        ~alec

      • No, I mean ridden, I’m a writer, as in: a combining form meaning “obsessed with,” “overwhelmed by” ( torment-ridden ) or “full of,” “burdened with” ( debt-ridden ).

        Cheers.

      • Ah, I see. My thought was that “ridden” perjorative but which the holder was proud of. I don’t appreciate being saddled with debt, but Uganadans no doubt like being proof of the statement that just ‘cos someone’s non-European doesn’t mean that one cannot be a nasty, small-minded bigot.

        Homonyms are cool.

        ~alec

    • You’re a liar, Gloria. Thou shalt not bear false witness.

      Go back to your hole, you bigot.

    • dimes given to us by your corrupted leaders who rob you put in our banks

  6. If homosexuality is a Western invention how did it get into the bible? Check out Noah’s paranoia some time.

    But – surely children are not sexually attracted to anyone from birth. I think that’s a Freudian myth.

    • Who said anything about children being sexually attracted to anyone from birth? The idea that you are born into your sexuality doesn’t mean you have sexual urges when you’re 6 months.

      • Would you care to define what it does mean? I sense it’s not quite as simple as some would make out.

      • Sexuality is coded within our DNA with regards to a percentage of sexual proclivity. Just like eye colour, elements of behaviour, criminality and other such traits are written within us. We are all gay to some degree but in many the degree is so slight that we are heterosexual, in others it is to a greater degree.

        Another example would be cancer, our chances of getting it are written in our DNA, now we can carry out behaviours that effect that but in most cases we are repressing that variable.

        Before the homophobes jump on that, homosexuality is not cancer, it is a naturally occurring variable in about 1 in 10, that occurs in all species.

      • That sounds a bit wooly to me. There is obviously an element of choice in gender preference. Environmental factors such as single-sex environments have a role to play too.

      • Wooly? Not really, it seems pretty factual to me, sexual orientation is written in your DNA, you don’t have a choice in the matter.

        All leading scientists and scholars can agree on that, including the American Academy of Paediatrics and the Royal College of Psychiatrists among many others.

        Not wooly at all.

      • Tom Robinson of Glad to be Gay fame is now married, apparently. Just goes to show.

      • Tom Robinson is bi-sexual. So doesn’t show owt. Sexuality is contained in your DNA.

    • If homosexuality is a Western invention how did it get into the bible?

      And, if Ugandans are so het-up about supposed Western imports, why do they make an exception for Christianity?

      If they want an chthonic African-expression of the Abrahamic faith, there always is the Rastafaris.

      ~alec

      ~alec

  7. The Royal College of Psychiatrists until recently classed homosexuality as a mental illness. So maybe they don’t always agree about the same opinions.

    • Again, running interference, I’m curious as to your agenda here.

      We all know that the UK and the US held untenable views about homosexuality and the Royal College of Psychiatrists have made it clear they made an error and have explained where that came from.

      That’s the joy of science, rather than religious dogma, it changes based on evidence.

      • My “agenda”, if you must, is that I agree with part of what you’ve said but I also see things slightly differently than you do. Perhaps we should agree to disagree.

  8. How does the gay bit get transferred genetically if homosexuals are not breeding?

  9. “and the Vatican are after testing the tears. They say they contain vorgin DNA”.

    • Vatican has normally not been a fan of DNA testing or science for that matter, it exposes their relics and dogma as fakes and myths.

      • Check out Brass Eye sometime. It was a quote.

        With respect, all you’ve succeeded in explaining are your strongly-held views, and that’s fair enough. I suspect neither of us are DNA experts in the sense that we could explain this matter.

        Neither are psychiatrists, though. It’s not their job.

      • Big Brass Eye and Jam fan, it took me a while to know what vorgin was.

        Strongly held views?

        Well yes but they are also fact, as in this is the consensus view on sexuality as we speak.

  10. As we speak it’s not because I am not in consensus with you. It’s possible that you are right, however.

    • It’s the consensus view of those who have studied and understood the data. The views of the ignorant hold no weight.

      • Richard, I appreciate that this is past tedious by now. I apologise to you for my part in that and I certainly don’t intend to trivialise the seriousness of the situation for gays in Uganda.

        Daniel, you started out by saying “the idea that …”

        I’d say it’s more than an idea by now. It’s a scientific hypothesis that has, as you point out in your imitable (by Dogsbody) fashion, become rather orthodox. What interests me more than whether it turns out to be true or not is the phenomenon of you clinging to it so fundamentally and seeming to resent hearing an alternative view. I actually find that quite fascinating, believe it or not.

        I admit that biology was the science I didn’t take in school so please have pity on a poor uneducated fool. I still don’t understand from your remarks what you are trying to convince me.

      • With regards to your first comment at 241am, you may not agree with the consensus view but that doesn’t stop it being the consensus view held by those that, as Dogsbody put it, have studied and researched the data and carried out the analysis.

        On your comment at 4.44am, the consensus that sexuality is written in your DNA has been the consensus for around 30 years, it is taken as the truth.

        As I’ve made clear here, which is why I’m annoyed you’re assigning values to me I don’t have, this may change, such is the way of science but it will change based on data and research and impartial analysis.

        I have no problem with this.

        What I do have a problem with is someone trying to make out that sexuality and DNA is some novel but unproven idea, when that is not the case.

        I also have a problem with you trying to portray me as dogmatic when I am the opposite.

        Hope that’s clearer for you.

  11. Wow! Reading some of these comments and I really find it so hard to believe that some people can be so intolerant and get so het up about this. I don’t know about DNA or what the Bible says, all I know is that I am a gay woman, and I know that I have been gay since as far back as I remember. I think it is very sad that people can’t just live and let live, if I or anyone else chooses to have a relationship with someone of the same sex then so what?

    • Het up?

      I confess, bigotry does get me het up.

      • Het up about gay people, I thought that would have been obvious but hay ho. But yeah, not everyone is going to be converted, some people just don’t agree other peoples lifestyles, and that’s fine, not everyone will ever agree or get on, it’s best to just to live and let live.

      • No, bigotry, not gay people.

        I agree with live and let live but if you’ve watched the documentary you will see that cliche does not cut in Uganda where gay people are being brutalised and murdered.

  12. Oh dear, I did watch the documentary, that’s what brought me to hear as I was so appalled by the situation in Uganda. I was interested to read what people had to say, and as I mentioned in my first post I was surprised by the posts at how so many people are so intolerant and that it’s very sad that people just can’t let others be happy. Watching the documentary made me realize just how lucky I am to live in a society where I am not persecuted because of my sexuality, unlike those poor people in Uganda, and unfortunately many other places in the world. To be honest I’m failing to see your point, I think you may be just one of those people that has an argument for arguments sake. If you do feel so strongly about the situation in Uganda, perhaps you should actually do something about it rather than argue with someone who is actually on the same side as you.

  13. By the way, your genetic determinism is amoral but I won’t hold it against you because I don’t suppose you’ve thought it through properly, as usual.

    • your genetic determinism is amoral

      So what? The universe is amoral. Humans create morality based on many factors the most basic being empathy and the need/desire for a functional society. Obedience (to a magic sky fairy, or whatever) is not morals.

    • At last, we are getting somewhere, you are exposing more of your real feelings on the issue, rather than made up positions.

      Problem is for you, sexuality is amoral, there is no right and wrong, unless you’re a bigot that is (I must confess I have set a wee trap for you here, hopefully you won’t fall into it) and you clearly hold that against me.

      Otherwise you wouldn’t have had a weak dig.

      Dogsbody is also right of course.

  14. Leaving aside sexuality for a moment, you have already stated that criminals are born and therefore presumably you deny free will. I differ in that regard.

    Predestination was also a big thing in the religious world, and still is for some of them.

  15. Tom, I said no such thing, good grief you’re desperate. Behaviour is in our DNA but no one is born a criminal, we all know poverty is the key driver there. Sexuality is not behaviour, it’s sexuality. Free will does not apply, sexuality is not a choice. Now go away for go

    • “Just like eye colour, elements of behaviour, criminality and other such traits are written within us.”

      You have since qualified that in a way which makes more sense and perhaps I drew the wrong inference from it.

      Are you saying that you don’t believe in free will or not by “does not apply”? Leaving aside the vexed issue of sex that you are determined to drag it back to.

    • I believe in free will to a degree, I certainly don’t believe in God designing our lives.

      But ‘will’ does not apply to all areas of existence.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environment_and_sexual_orientation

        “Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles.[4]“

      • Sure but you still can’t choose your sexuality.

      • Of course, many homosexuals do apply ‘free will” inasmuch as some do marry and attempt to live a ‘normal’ life. Which might explain how sometimes the genetics can be passed down (though I’m not aware that it is passed down – it’s possible for something to be congenital without it being inherited).

        But there’s a price to be paid in having a sexual relationship with someone your instincts insist is ‘wrong’. It’s not good and it’s not advisable to go against your sexuality (so long as the sexual attraction always involves consenting adults of course). But yes, you could always make a ‘choice’ to marry the opposite sex. If you were homosexual that would be the wrong choice; there’s someone else in the relationship to consider, for starters.

        BTW I’ve also come across women who have made a choice to be lesbian – for political reasons. Maybe that’s a reflection of the idea that sexuality is on a continuum?

      • Claire, not sure why you say of course when of course is the last phrase to be used here.

        Being in denial because of self-loathing is not showing free will, the opposite in fact, oppressed will.

        As for women who’ve made a choice to be lesbian for political reasons, aside from being idiotic, they are repressing their true sexuality in order to make a point. Which is dangerous and daft.

  16. Does anyone else not see the similarities between gays in Uganda and paedophiles in this country?

  17. Totally pointless effort and poor journalism to say the least! Has Mills ever been to Uganda before? Obviously not…
    Forget the poor housing, toilets, sanitation, security fences, bars on the windows etc… That’s standard for the majority of people, whether they are homosexual or not!
    Yes, gays are persecuted in Uganda. The likes of Red Pepper & Onion do not help this by inciting hatred and violence.

  18. I feel that one thing that will probably turn this all around is politics, as they mentioned that the church from the US is fueling the idea(anti-gay) . I believe that, if some corporation or church from the UK or the US that support gay right, fund organization or send in funds, and tell some of the churches to broadcast the gay right view, this whole thing will change around. Because the majority of people listen to the church or the higher ups and the higher ups listen to “money”. I think and believe this is the forces that driving it from behind curtains!

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