Thursday, December 10, 2009
Some Ugandan politicians want to kill gays because homosexuality is 'not natural in Uganda'. In this, they appear to have been encouraged by American advocates of conversion therapy. Both the Ugandans and Ahmadinejad in Iran, where being gay is a capital crime, identify homosexuality with Western influence. Leaving aside the savagery of the application of such ideas, what is striking is the sheer weirdness of the ideas themselves. Homosexuality is normal in the sense that a consistent and quite high proportion of the population has always been gay. What has also been consistent is persecution. Homosexuality was illegal here not so long ago. The new element here is the idea that it is a colonial import. At one level, this will be a cynical, neo-Nazi attempt to direct popular discontent towards a clearly defined minority group. (In this context, it is significant that in the video clip conversionist Richard Cohen goes to such lengths to gloss over the fact that he suggested in his book that race was a factor in homosexuality.) But real conviction does seem to be involved, a belief that there is some specifically national state of heterosexual purity which is in danger of being polluted by Western influence. It is, I suppose, the very concept of purity of any kind which causes people to kill.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 9:12 am