For several years in the United States, a major item on the political agenda of the national and state
legislators has been marriage equality. Currently 17 states have officially legalized same sex marriage, meaning that it is legal in just over one third of the states. The global percentage is far more modest. While a total of 17 countries, mostly European and South American, have legalized same sex marriage, the general outcry as of late has been against these unions.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin recently caused major waves by banning the “promotion of homosexuality to minors” and Uganda has recently passed a bill that makes it illegal to “promote or recognize homosexual relations.” And this isn’t simply a matter of denying legal marriage; this is a matter of a 14-year prison sentences. Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill into law on Monday, Feb. 24. The justification for the bill has ranged from scientific to religious.
One advisor claimed that homosexuality offers huge public health risks, and is a matter of social choice. The conservative Christian front in Uganda has also been a huge advocate of the bill. Several Christian organizations from outside the country have also been accused of aggravating the anti-gay sentiment.
These new measures have put Uganda on tentative terms with Western nations. President Obama stated that if the bill passed, he feared the current relations between Uganda and the U.S. could not continue. This has also threatened the relations between Uganda and secular relief organizations.
The Ugandan president has not only supported the bill, but has also made several discriminatory comments about homosexuality. Such remarks include claiming that same-sex intercourse gives one worms and suggesting that those who claim to be gay are merely lying so that they can prostitute themselves to make money.
While the situation for the LGBT community abroad isn’t always positive, the U.S. has had several victories recently. On Feb. 26 a Texas court upheld gay marriage, and Obama’s clear opposition to Uganda’s policy is definitely encouraging. So members and friends of the LGBT community, don’t lose heart, change is coming, slow and painful as it may be, it is coming.