On January 26 of this year, David Kato, a gay rights activist in Uganda, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Often the target of hatred, there was a renewed fierceness, when he won a court battle against a tabloid for publishing over 100 images of him with other gay and lesbian citizens.
The banner over the headline image read 'Hang Them'.
Though hardly a tolerant society, this loathing came about when a group of American "Evangelists", visited the country to export their own brand of hatred.
Last March , three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks. The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.Delivered with the passion of fire and brimstone, it instilled fear where there was none before.
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
Within months, a law was passed that would put homosexuals in jail for life. Stephen Harper claimed to have "privately warned the Ugandan president", of "Canada's deep concern, strong opposition and the fact we deplore these kinds of measures."
But how can he have any credibility on the subject?
In November of 2003, former Alliance MP Larry Spencer, gave an interview to Vancouver Sun reporter Peter O'Neil, in which he claimed that "... he would support any initiative to outlaw homosexuality." He stated that in the 1960s, a "well-orchestrated" conspiracy began and led to recent successes in the gay rights movement. This conspiracy, he further said, "included seducing and recruiting young boys in playgrounds and locker rooms, and deliberately infiltrating North America's schools, judiciaries, entertainment industries, and religious communities."
Stephen Harper was livid (1), but his concern was not for the marginalizing of the gay community, but that Spencer may have hurt his chances in the next election. He was suspended and replaced with Tom Lukiwski. The man caught on tape saying: “There’s A’s and there’s B’s. The A’s are guys like me, the B’s are homosexual faggots with dirt under their fingernails that transmit diseases.”
Quotes by Harper's caucus against homosexuality are numerous, but our concern should not be for what they say, but how they say it. There is a deep rooted contempt, that is fundamental.
A contempt that allowed Stephen Harper to stand up in the House of Commons, and say of NDP Svend Robinson, a gay man. "Mr. Speaker, I am sure the picture of the hon. member of the NDP is posted in much more wonderful places than just police stations." (Hansard, October 23, 2002) He was given an opportunity to retract the statement, before being officially recorded, but refused.
A contempt that allowed Jason Kenney to trivialize the debate over same-sex marriage when he "outed" two openly gay NDP MPs, to the Punjab community.
A contempt that allowed Stephen Harper to visit immigrant communities to fear monger over the implications of the bill, suggesting that the Liberals wanted to force their religious leaders to perform same-sex marriages.
And a contempt that prompted Harper to hire the homophobic Nigel Hannaford to help write his speeches and Jason Kenney to appoint an anti-gay activist to the Refugee board, where he will get to hear cases of those fleeing from sexual discrimination, sure to face harm and even death if refused refuge.
And today, in the 21st century in Canada, there is a protest against a school policy to combat discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
And those fighting against discrimination are vilified.
Our hands are not clean.
The good news is that under international pressure: Uganda lawmakers removed the death penalty clause from anti-gay bill, but it does not change the malevolence that inflicted the death penalty on David Kato.
And it will not take hammer blows to inflict the same sentence on the Canadian gay community, when we refuse to acknowledge the hostility they are subjected to on a daily basis, but instead have members of our government, who choose to inflame it.
Stephen Harper once claimed that his and and his follower's "values, are the real Canadian values".
Since when was hatred a Canadian value?
1. SACRIFICED? TRUTH OR POLITICS, By Larry Spencer, Kayteebella Productions, 2000, ISBN 13-9780978057404