Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yet another homophobic article in Rwanda's NEWTIMES

So I was at work, right? Bored out of my mind and I decided to browse Rwanda's NEWTIMES (the newspaper provides valuable information as to what's happening locally and for a homesick fellow like myself, this can sorta ease up the pain). So I stumbled upon yet another homophobic article from March 08 and I decided, yet again, to respond. The ridiculous article can be found here.

Of course I was all hot and bothered and immediately fired off an e-mail to the editor and cc'd both authors of said article. I have yet to hear from them. I'm not holding my breath though, since they never bothered to respond to an earlier similar letter that I had sent to them. My e-mail follows:

Sent: May 29, 2008 3:44 PM
To: ''; ''
Subject: Re: Homosexuality in Rwanda? Yes, it lives

Good day,

I’d like to challenge some of your claims in an article in your March 2008 issue, and I dare you to read the entirety of my argument.

You claim that “…Homosexuality however, goes against nature and African culture. No wonder it has received enormous condemnation in most African countries especially in black Africa. And various African heads of state have condemned it.”

I’ll start with homosexuality being “unnatural”

This is an argument that many bigots like yourselves have used for decades now. I don’t know if any of you are well read in matters of human sexuality. You obviously aren’t since you apply “choice” to human sexuality and gender identity.
This is no more true than choosing your ethnic background, your race or even the color of your eyes. For you to suggest otherwise you need hard evidence to support your claim. And by hard evidence, I mean, scientific research done preferably in the last couple of years. Not some outdated religion-based “research”. I will go ahead and post two links (there are countless online if you cared to do some research) proving my point and I suggest you do the same if you are to be taken seriously.

Here they are:

The websites referenced are both the work of world renowned psychologists and sex experts. Their reports are published regularly by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). So before you go ahead and grossly dismiss them, you need to read and understand their work. They extensively explain how human sexuality, from infancy to puberty to adulthood, evolves and how we all individually develop our own orientation based on various factors. And how, no one’s personal “taste” is similar to the next person. If you understand this bit then you will have no trouble understanding the fallacies in your next argument:

Homosexuality being un-African

Your first mistake was to quote two heads of state; Museveni and Mugabe, as the moral authority as to what’s acceptable by ALL Africans. This claim in and of itself is ludicrous. No one person decides what’s moral for the rest of his/her peers. Also need I remind you that Mugabe shouldn’t be quoted on anything with a track record of corruption, human rights abuse and fraud? Do you really want such an individual to write a moral code for fellow Africans? As for Museveni who “mocks” European leaders for their support of gays and lesbians rights, where’s the mockery when he’s courting the European Union and Common Wealth nations for a push on better relations between the two? For the record, an International Monetary Fund report from 2005-2006 ranks his government as one of the most corrupted on the planet. The report can be found here:

How is it that every time instability seems to rise within a nation, magically the president has THE answer off the top of their hat and tries to scapegoat a certain faction of society? If it isn’t “witches” in Kenya, it’s Tutsis in Rwanda (Kayibanda and Habyarimana division tactics ring a bell?) or gays in Muslim countries (Nigeria and Gambia come to mind) and now Rwanda? Did we not learn anything about discrimination?

Most scientists and sex experts agree that sexual orientation isn’t a personal choice. And by this logic, humans across the board are the same. So what would lead you to believe that Africans are any different? Is it fair and just that we -Africans- claim justice and dignity in how the West treats us as a people but yet turn around and treat our fellow Africans with second class status simply because we do not agree or in this particular case, understand them?

The religion argument

This argument in itself contradicts the one you made about authentic African customs. Surely you are aware, I assume, that Christianity as well as Islam are both fundamentally un-African? There’s nothing inherently African about these two Abrahamic religions. Period! This isn’t an attempt to give you a history lesson by any means, but anyone with half a brain knows these basic historical facts. They were both imported by European colonizers and Middle Eastern merchants with no intentions other than subdue Africans and exploit their lands. So if you’re going to root out every thing un-African, begin with your names, clothing apparel, hairstyles, music played on the radio and in clubs, etc. And I’m pretty certain you see how ridiculous such a task is.

If you’re going to use some biblical verses to back your claims, then go ahead and condemn everything the book deems “impure” or “unnatural”, from shaking hands with a woman in her menstrual period, to wearing clothing made of different fabrics to eating shell fish. While you are at it, why don’t you stone to death every single person caught in adultery?

I will not spend much time on this particular argument as it’s self destructive and quite frankly laughable.

You also claim that somehow criminals responsible for the 1994 genocide, rapists and the likes are the only ones practicing homosexuality in prison. Really? Would you be willing to do some research and publish your findings? If you can prove to your readers that homosexuality happens mostly in prison and boarding schools for boys, and that female homosexuality is unheard of in Rwanda ( by your logic this shouldn’t be hard to prove), then I’m willing to retract my statement and acknowledge that I was wrong. If you can prove that this NEVER happens in military camps, clergy retreats, etc, again do us all a favour and prove it to be so.

You proved absolutely nothing by mentioning it in your article and failed to demonstrate how these are isolated incidents. And again you contradicted yourselves a few paragraphs later by mentioning the practice happening everywhere else such as boarding schools for boys. And again I fail to see any mention of female homosexuality.

I could go on and on and try to refute all your claims but that would take time and quite frankly most of your arguments are so ludicrous that I can’t honour them with a reasoned response.

I will mention one thing though. For a country that suffered decades of state sanctioned bigotry, extremism and other social injustices, your memory sure is selective. Making such inflammatory claims and failing to back them up with valid evidence does nothing but alienate your readers but also hurts young gays and lesbians who are growing up in such a hostile climate. If the genocide and the climate that led to it are any indication, your article is just as divisive as Journal KANGURA, the only difference is that your target is gays and lesbians.