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Why we must denounce negative influence

I have been working on condemning the ANti homosexuality bill tabled in Uganda last year with my fellow activists from all over the world,we have published press releases,called on international solidarity and even supported a delegation to visit Uganda and engage the Authorities there in dialogue on the irrational foundation this bill is based on,First,when Bahati talks about upholding the family unit,i am lost at which family unit he is talking about; because as An african, i know from living it and learning from my own family that we share, we believe in having enough for everyone and your neighbour being your own sister-we live in homesteads and not apartments(until civilization was forced onto us/or taught ) We till the land together and prepare the meals together....and together here stands for my immediate nuclear family and the whole extended family that exists from our bonds...aunties,cousins,friends, homeless people and everyone else who will invite themselves over for our shared meal because they know for sure-there is enough for all of us...so when Bahati says family unit with a father mother two children and a dog image in his head,i wonder which part of africa he grew up in thus whose voice he represents.

Then we also hear them say that it is ungodly/unchristian...and it triggers fury in me,before the introduction of missionaries in my continent we all had our different ways of worship that respected every other form of worship-some of us prayed facing Mt Kenya,some of us shared our wealth and some of us just lived knowing that the greatest thing in our lives is family and love...then all this religious believes were brought into Africa and suddenly we had to exclude women from the pulpit and pray in a certain way and believe in a dictated god....we distances ourselves from the positive traits of our history (unity) where difference was not used to divide but rather that diversity made us a stronger continent,and the introduction of a similar god who was seen as male and white defeated our faith in goddesses that brought richness and rain and bounty harvest and those that identified third genders and intersex persons to be a link with our spiritual world...then this god also decided that there were going to be people who were better off/or of a different class or who should receive lesser from the abundant universe as according to the intepretation of his book-and if we were searching for love and unity,shouldn't we question these same believes that advocate separation and rule frameworks?

And even worse Bahati choses the most vulnerable group to fight against,why would anyone be put in prison for loving another ...or knowing someone else who might not necessarily fit into societal prescription of safe and sane?or killed for simply being who they are-One thing we must emphasisze on is we are working as a community to ensure that sexual violence is defined and criminalised,the predators of innocent beings are dettered from preying on any one of us and especially children-rape is a hideous and degrading crime and must be addressed in all forums,defining rape and sexual violence clearly should revolve around consent-and a no means exactly that NO,and coercion and force into sexual activity is rape.But when two adults who are aware of what is going on and have consented to being sexually active with each other,how then is the state in a position to dictate what is right or wrong for both of them when it is clearly their private business?LGBTI persons have been by far the most affected by sexual violence in our societies-from lesbian curative rape,to transgendered persons being raped just to humiliate them,and gender benders being forced into certain gender roles or marriages to cure them,why would Bahati equate LGBTI people to the smae perpetrators of violence on them?
It is good news that the president will not veto the bill,but that will not be enough to save the blood of all queer persons living in Uganda and Africa by extension....the increased number of arbitrary arrests and detention,torture, murder ,rape, and discrimination on queer africans needs to be addressed! we need more awareness on sexuality issues to be able to distance ourselves from the heterosexism that has been a huge point of reference for homophobes

Pouline Kimani
"Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

Comments

philo Ikonya Gacheri's picture

pain

Pouline,

I read your pain and hear your cry on two levels that have always challenged humanity. I also feel bad that although I have been inactive on World Pulse and other media, I see no response here. It happened to me writing with a lot of passion about Aung San Syu Kyi's freedom and no one replied. Maybe we also need to know this WP better? What are expectations and so on..

Religion and sexuality. I want to share with your passion for justice for all but also to tell you that a lot of people totally misunderstand the issues you are dealing with. If you ask some Christians what Christ would do in these cases, they will even forget that He would love all people. They will tell you that he will act like Bahati! If you ask them more questions, they will look at you and say you "are one of those" truning an issue to a person is a way of intimidating people from speaking. But I like your courage. I opposed Bahati's Bill and lost a number of 'friends'.

Today I was thinking on my way to town. Why do people not like to face facts? I have been having many conversations with myself about our religions of old and the new. I remembered one time ( I had never thought our God was different from any God since I think God is one) an English woman told me about how those gods of ours traditionally.. and I got a real shock! I still remember the sensations I felt on my face. I looked at her in a way that made her examine her words but she really meant we knew no God before the preaching of Xtianity. I usually have this conversation with people about God. It is not a topic many want to broach. The last time I spoke to someone it was about us the Catholics. I asked him if all the people I saw going to communion in a church in Oslo also went to confession or how was it that almost everyone felt worthy to go to communion all the time. He is from Asia. And the people I was referring to in the church were mainly Filipino immigrants. He told me that he did his own thing. That it did not matter what the priests said..then I thought.. then why go there? He told me it was a dilemma of circumstances that made him go tochurch on Sundays and his ancestors.. because he inherited it from his parents.. the faith.. then I wondered even more. Why do we hand over something we cannot deal with or understand to other people making their lives so complicated? Welll, I will not go further because all faiths dislike investigations and questioning but I could say a lot more. Well, thanks for your courage at this level. A lot of the times in Africa, people blame God for things that could have been avoided by any sensible human being.. like asking people to hate, stone or hang sexual minorities... shame!

"Communication is the real work of leadership" Nitin Nohria

Tina's picture

Dear Pouline

Dear Pouline,
I read this and am feeling very moved by the circumstances your country and communities are facing, but more moved and encouraged by your passion and heart for change. It is so sad to me that the beauty of the unity your countries' heritage once felt for ALL peoples was lost to a religion brought by missionaries which gave God an alien face. The white male god you speak of was not the voice of Christianity. At least not in my opinion, but the voice of the white male, western patriarchy that used God, faith and religion for its own purposes. We hear of its devastating impact all over the world, in Europe as well as in other corners of the globe.

I do not have such a great knowledge of religion, the history of colonization or of missionary work or indeed the full impact of religious conquest on other cultures, but I am deeply interested in the subject and in discovering ways that we can all come together. I strongly believe that each culture and country should be worshiping and living in accordance with their own identities and hearts and not those forced upon you by people who have no right to think they know any better than you or anyone else.

I love the paragraph where you talked about how your community was family to you, and that when Bahati claims the family is a nuclear unit of man, woman and dog he must have grown up in a different part of Africa than the Africa you knew. The image you gave here of how it should be was so beautiful. To return to that, seems to be a wonderful solution to the division and hatred your country is currently suffering from.

Thank you for your inspirational and informative words.
Tina

I wish i could see the facts to which religious fundamentalism is used to justify homophobia,especially when religion should be a point of reference when we talk of belief systems that promote peace and unconditional love.I agree i have my own biases with religion,especially Christianity as a form of belief that i have had to hold for quite a number of years in growing up and trying to define myself.When i was eleven and beginning to realize my sexual identity all i heard from anyone who was offering to help was-'its ungodly,its not allowed,there is something beyond good that has possessed you'
At such a tender age,what i hear could easily have been what i believed...and for a while i did believe that the only way to overcome the shame and pain i felt for having a different sexual orientation and rebelling against the gender identity that was instilled in me from birth was to denounce the valid feelings i had within me and search for something more acceptable withing the larger society.
Like a dream,it seemed difficult to achieve and am glad that some things never change no matter what we do.Ten or more years later, am at peace with my identities,i still work hard to make myself a better human being-become conscious of the things that are oppressive to others and myself and unlearn the hate i have lived in for so long.Its a long strenuous process, to have to battle with internalized homophobia and still face homophobia from everywhere else.The effort we must put and constantly check ourselves when we relate with our being in such circumstances take a toll on our lives,most times it drains our energy and creates self doubt and other times,with the help of all the amazing people who chose to love you and support you through the process,we become better people,we learn to move past the loss and build a basis of faith and love.
When i hear all these arguments that dictate how un-welcomed i am within certain circles for proudly identifying as queer,i am filled with sadness,first because i know for a fact that i as much as all other queer people living are worthy of all the opportunities that are in these life but more so because our sexual and gender identities do not limit our contribution towards our development personally and much more generally within the communities we live in.And since we have that chance to move past the hatred and learn how to once again love ourselves and be comfortable in our own skin,what other people think or define us as should not matter.But it is not easy, these people are our families,our friends and our neighbors and we live and share the same space.To have to fight over our intrinsic being everyday breeds hate and contempt and as much as we who most of the time have not learned or are in the process of learning how to live without being apologetic for our existence try to hide these truths of our lives or paint them of gray,white and black shades depending on the risks we face in coming out.
In my own experience,our right and freedom to associate with any religion remains something that is very personal,and that which is personal is political in every sense.So i chose to ignore all these hate that comes with religious fundamentalism(and its not the best approach) often i will get drawn into a heated discussion of the same but most times or all the time ,i end up feeling drained of all my strength trying to make any logical argument on the same as the statement that seems to be rubbed hard on me is-God hates evil and being homosexual is one of the greatest sin and that is it!we cannot justify evil in any way....my reaction is-i am wasting my time with you and no matter what i tell you you will still think i am part of that evil,and unless i denounce the fact that am happily contributing towards a better world being as queer as i can be.So i storm out or the other party does and we are back to zero...with even deeper feelings of loss than before.
All in all,i feel the need for us to be flexible,be ready to embrace change that brings love and contentment and if there was a way i could reconcile the loss i feel from knowing fundamentalism and learning how to judge and condemn based on someone else interpretation of my existence and the dues i have to pay for this life,i would work towards it.I chose to let go of the painful memories and live by the lessons i have gained-I am worthy of love giving as much as receiving it and if there is going to be a better world,it starts with me....

Pouline Kimani
"Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

Tina's picture

My heart goes out to you

Dear Pouline,
My heart goes out to you. I cannot imagine the difficulties you have faced and yet I admire your courage and passion for embracing your true self and identity regardless of them. I don't understand how religious fundamentalism justifies homophobia either. Love is love and love is beautiful.

I wish you the very best in your journey. I love your mantra: " I am worthy of love giving as much as receiving it and if there is going to be a better world, it starts with me..."
Best wishes
Tina

JaniceW's picture

We stand with you

Pouline,
I stand ashamed over how we, as human beings, continue to spread hate and evil under the guise of religion, patriotism, colonialism etc.. Know that one of the highest-ranking officials of the Anglican Diocese, Sir Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town and a Nobel Peace Price winner, says homophobia is a "crime against humanity" and "every bit unjust" as apartheid. "We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins", wrote the prominent Church leader. "It is the same with sexual orientation." he added.

In a new book, "Sex, Love & Homophobia" published last week by Amnesty International UK, life stories of gay and lesbian people are reported from around the world. These include Poliyana Mangwiro who was a leading member of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe despite President Robert Mugabe's protestations that homosexuality is "against African traditions"and includes the story of Simon Nkoli, a South African ANC activist who after spending four years in prison under apartheid went on to be the face of the struggle for gay rights in the new South Africa. Further, stories of hate, fear and persecution are reported from Nigeria, Egypt and other countries, in addition to reports from the states where homosexuality punishable by death; including Sudan, Mauritania and some Northern Nigerian states.

For Archishop Tutu, these "destructive forces" of "hatred and prejudice" are an evil. "A parent who brings up a child to be a racist damages that child, damages the community in which they live, damages our hopes for a better world. A parent who teaches a child that there is only one sexual orientation and that anything else is evil denies our humanity and their own too."

These are the words that you should remember when you hear words of hate and evil. These are the words from a man of God. And these are the words of more people than you can imagine who stand with you in solidarity. For you are indeed worthy of love, and we are proud to stand up and shout that out. With deep respect,
Janice

Ralph Risch's picture

You are not alone

Pouine,

I am so sorry to hear what you have suffered, and I wish you strength to deal with this crisis.

A friend of mine realized at a young age that he was gay and tried to change himself. He tried dating girls and suppressing his feelings. His conflict grew to the point where at age 17 he decided to kill himself. Then, he says, when he made that decision he suddenly realized that he was just as God had made him. Since that time he has been at peace with his identity, even though he has had to face the initial rejection of his family and discrimination from others.

I can't understand how any religious person could persecute someone for who they are. It goes against the fundamental spiritual teachings of love and tolerance. But that is also why I am optimistic that we will overcome this prejudice, which is rooted in ignorance and fear. I am glad you continue to fight for the LGBTI people whose rights are so often violated and whose very lives may be at stake.

Ralph

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