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Nov 12 2012

Write your local MP: No more Canadian aid for Uganda while they’re murdering gays

Update: Please read Melanie Nathan’s caution on what should and shouldn’t be done to fight this initiative — she strongly urges that countries not withdraw aid because of this bill, because the LGBTI community will be scapegoated and targeted as a result.

I leave the rest of this post intact because I am concerned that they are already in trouble — every activist in Uganda risks being arrested as it stands, with or without economic sanctions from countries opposed to Uganda’s declared murderous intentions. Her advice is excellent for outsiders like us looking in, though.

Uganda’s apparently delivered an early “Christmas gift” — their words, not mine– to all the homophobic Christians in their theocratic regime. Thanks to GOP members, Catholic pastors, and other outside interference by various and sundry religious bigots, Uganda’s finally built enough momentum and passed the two-year-old proposed bill that will require the death penalty for the high crime of “aggravated homosexuality”. Update: Apparently Kadaga declaring that it will become law doesn’t make it set in stone. There’s a chance this won’t be passed despite her sabre-rattling.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said the anti-gay bill will become law by December since most Ugandans ‘are demanding it’.

Referring to the law as a ‘Christmas gift’ to the population, she spoke of ‘the serious threat’ posed by homosexuals.

The law will broaden the criminalization of same-sex relationships by dividing homosexuality into two categories; aggravated homosexuality and the offense of homosexuality.

‘Aggravated homosexuality’ is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders. If convicted, they will face the death penalty.

The ‘offense of homosexuality’ includes same-sex sexual acts or being in a gay relationship, and will be prosecuted by life imprisonment.

Let me wrap my head around this. Parents and authority figures taking advantage of children and charges — that’s pedophilia, and sexual abuse. Both are already crimes, with or without a homosexual element, here at least. Are they not there? Is it only a crime there if it involves homosexuality?

And HIV-positive folks engaging in homosexual sex with informed consent (say, with protection, or with other HIV-positive lovers) could still be charged, as well as people who’ve been caught being gay multiple times (“repeat offenders”). This bill not only criminalizes homosexuality, it also does its damnedest to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia and other sex crimes. And just having consensual gay sex, or a chaste homosexual relationship, will net you a life sentence!

Canada provides a good deal of material aid to Uganda — ending that aid would send a serious message, that the wholesale slaughter of people for being slightly different just because some hairy and third-hand interpretation of your ancient holy book says you should is simply unacceptable. Several European countries are curtailing or outright suspending aid to Uganda; Obama called it “odious”, and John Baird is on record as being against it, saying it “offends decency”. There’s a popular upwelling of international opposition to this brutal and inhumane nonsense, so now’s the time for action.

Here’s how you find the contact info for your local Member of Parliament. Write them and tell them to sever Canada’s ties to Uganda until that odious bill, which legalizes religiously-motivated hate crimes against homosexuals, is repealed. Update: Please strongly recommend that this aid go instead to local LGBTI groups and other humanitarian efforts that aren’t specifically the corrupt and villainous theocratic government they have in place presently. Also, I’d recommend we ask our MPs to include Uganda to the fast-track refugee list.

I don’t much like copypasta for this sort of thing, but if there’s a greater chance that you’ll do something about this if given a sample letter, I’ll consider cleaning up the one I’m drafting now and posting it here for you to use as well. Seeing as how my local MP, Scott Brison, is openly gay, it should be a slam dunk that he’ll be on board.

59 comments

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  1. 1
    Uncle Glenny

    You realize we’ve been here before, right? three years ago?

    Just google

    richard cohen maddow uganda

  2. 2
    Gregory in Seattle

    Uganda was one of the first countries to treat AIDS as a medical problem, not as a moral failing. As a result, the country has had success in steming the tide of the disease.

    Which, of course, drives archbigots like Scott Livey and Bryan Fischer into a mouth-frothing rage. So they have been working for several years in Uganda to stir up the hate enough to get this passed. The sad thing is that the country is starting to abandon its successful anti-AIDS programs because, obviously, it is God’s judgement and you don’t interfere with God.

    If anyone is still looking for examples of the sheer toxicity of religion, I think you can find four or five such examples here.

  3. 3
    Rutee Katreya

    I’m extremely leery of denying aid to people who sincerely need it just because they’re assholes to queer people. Last I checked, retribution wasn’t the best idea.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Dunc

    I’m extremely leery of denying aid to people who sincerely need it just because they’re assholes to queer people.

    Or, for that matter, just because they happen to live in the same country as other people who are assholes to queer people. Mind you, it depends on exactly what sort of “aid” we’re talking about… I’m very leery of using humanitarian aid as a political weapon, but military or economic aid is rather different matter. Then there’s the option of trade or cultural sanctions…

  6. 6
    Sassafras

    I’m extremely leery of denying aid to people who sincerely need it just because they’re assholes to queer people.

    Don’t you think this is rather more severe than “just … assholes”? Kids on YouTube are “just assholes” to queer people; this is life imprisonment and execution.

  7. 7
    Icaarus

    Letter written. Yes Uganda has needs, and those medical needs might still be supported by great organizations like Doctors without Boarders. Our government, and others, stood idly by for years and it came to a head in a genocidal massacre. Uganda cannot handle hate well, and we need to stop it before it happens again.

  8. 8
    heliconia

    Another letter sent. While I’m leery of governments using foreign aid to unduly influence a country’s laws, this bill is an obvious and serious infraction of human rights.

  9. 9
    pramod

    I don’t know if the aid has any material impact on the lives of Ugandans but your post is just classic western slacktivism and borderline-racism rolled into one.

    Instead of threatening to make the lives of an already poor population worse, why don’t you people campaign for something positive? How about asking western governments to provide asylum for gay Ugandans? How about putting together a delegation of diplomats that actually goes to Uganda and talks with the government there to try and convince them that their laws are not a good idea? Why not do something to provide an actual support group for Ugandan gays?

    I don’t see any of that happening. Instead you’ll sit here in your cozy couches and pass judgement on Ugandans when the vast majority of Ugandan problems were created by white people thanks to their colonisation, proselytization and racism.

  10. 10
    Bruce Gorton

    pramod

    Uganda isn’t exactly doing much to solve its problems by sentencing gay people to death.

  11. 11
    Rutee Katreya

    Don’t you think this is rather more severe than “just … assholes”? Kids on YouTube are “just assholes” to queer people; this is life imprisonment and execution.

    Yes, and starvation is death as well. What’s your point? Uganda needs the help, as a poor, colonized nation.

    economic aid is rather different matter

    Why? Military aid, I agree with, but economic aid strikes me as almost as vital, long term, as the humanitarian aid.

  12. 12
    Sassafras

    What’s your point?

    My point is that referring to execution and life imprisonment as just being “assholes” is some minimizing bullshit. The argument that Uganda still needs the aid can be made without downplaying their human rights violations.

  13. 13
    Fionnabhair

    @9
    How about asking western governments to provide asylum for gay Ugandans?

    THIS. We need to do more of this. Pressuring the government to stop sending aid to Uganda is important, but I think it’s even more important to make sure that gay Ugandans know that they can find safety elsewhere if they want/need it. This is something that will save lives now.

    I recommend that people asking that their governments stop providing aid to Uganda also request that their government also offer asylum to gay Ugandans (and their allies), and/or offer them refugee status.

  14. 14
    Vlad

    lol @ “Doctors without Boarders”

  15. 15
    Rutee Katreya

    My point is that referring to execution and life imprisonment as just being “assholes” is some minimizing bullshit. The argument that Uganda still needs the aid can be made without downplaying their human rights violations.

    I have exactly three words for this bullshit: Heterosexist, bigot, and asshole. They’re on rotation, but if it makes you feel better about my discomfort with forcing poor, colonized bigots to do what I want, I can restrict myself to bigot for the thread.

  16. 16
    Icaarus

    To Fionnabhair/pramod if they can get to Canada, they will be granted asylum. That is one Hell of an IF. The average Ugandan doesn’t have the money to try and leave, nor does the average citizen have the ability. What do you suggest? We move in and collect them? That would be an act of war (no matter how subtle or civilian organized it was).

  17. 17
    pramod

    Bruce Gorton said:

    Uganda isn’t exactly doing much to solve its problems by sentencing gay people to death.

    And your point is? Ugandans don’t deserve sympathy because of this?! When did the Ugandan government become equivalent to all Ugandan people?

    One other thing. Ugandans aren’t doing much to solve “their” problems because they are poor and uneducated. The solution isn’t to say “well I’m fine here and they’re bunch of dumbasses anyway so let’s go shopping.” The solution is find out what kind of help Ugandans to make their lives better and try to give it to them.

    I’d also like you to pay attention to the double standard here. There are homophobes in the US who are pushing for similar punishments. There are homophobes in the US who despite not having governmental backing make life so miserable for LGBT folk that some of them commit suicide. I’ve not seen anybody suggesting that these people should be denied help from government programs because of their bigotry. But this behavior is OK if the recipients of support are Ugandans? How does that make sense?

    Isn’t moral of the story here that American homophobes are to be reasoned with or perhaps democratically overruled but Ugandan homophobes need to manipulated by using threats? How is this not racist?

    Iccarus said:

    The average Ugandan doesn’t have the money to try and leave, nor does the average citizen have the ability. What do you suggest? We move in and collect them?

    Let’s set up a fund to help gay Ugandans move to Canada or anywhere else they feel safe and welcomed. I live on a gradstudent stipend, but I’m more than happy to chip in.

  18. 18
    Brad

    Uganda’s population is about 35 million, North Dakota could handle anyone that wanted to leave.

  19. 19
    Jason Thibeault

    On the OTHER other hand, pramod, Western and European interference (particularly by the Catholic church and the fundies in the States rooting for this) are also largely responsible for this bill gaining traction in Uganda, as I pointed out in the original post. We absolutely should name and shame these people, stop them from their imperialism, but at the same time stop materially aiding the government who are systematically killing their people for being gay.

    I never said anything about punishing the Ugandan people. I’m all for a fund to help those that want to escape do so. And I’m all for telling the government to aid refugees — Canada has a political asylum “fast track” list, where refugees from certain countries are not hamstrung by ridiculous waiting lists. We should also be telling our MPs to add Uganda to that list.

  20. 20
    Jason Thibeault

    Also, your “slacktivism” and “racism” nonsense is nonsense. Yes, there are absolutely some people who believe their culture is better than “primitive” cultures, and who apply western sensibilities to their relations with those countries (like, say, by the Catholics encouraging bills to kill gay people).

    If my request for writing real letters to our real members of parliament is “slacktivism”, then your criticism of my efforts is the crud kicked under my slacktivist armchair.

  21. 21
    pramod

    Also, your “slacktivism” and “racism” nonsense is nonsense.

    I called it slacktivism because:

    (i) I don’t see your efforts helping the Ugandan people.
    (ii) It requires little or no effort to write a letter.
    (iii) Stopping aid fails to simplest ethical test you can apply: the golden rule. Even if you argue ethics from a utilitarian point of view, it’s not at all clear that the ethical decision is a correct one. Are there any examples of stopping aid forcing governments to produce the decision that you wanted?

    I called it racist because there’s a double standard being applied here that I expanded upon in comment #17. Why do you think that Ugandan people can’t be reasoned with? Why do you think they have to be manipulated using threats of withdrawing aid? There seems to be an implicit assumption of inferiority here.

  22. 22
    Jason Thibeault

    So let me get this straight. It’s only activism if, what, you’re on the front lines? Isn’t it more common to call internet polls and petitions slacktivism and to chastise them that they’re not writing letters to the editor and letters to their politicians?

    And if it’s racist to assume that withholding aid is coercive, then the aid itself is also racist because it also implies the very same “superiority” thing you postulate. QED.

  23. 23
    pramod

    Also, just to be clear. If instead of writing to your MP to withdraw aid to Uganda, if you want to write to your MP asking the Canadian government to write a strongly-worded letter to Uganda, I’d be all for it. If you wanted to write to your MP to provide asylum to Ugandan gays, I’d again be all for it.

    The thing I don’t understand is this. Why did this business of stopping aid enter the picture at all? It’s like nobody put any effort into thinking about the problem to see how one could really help the Ugandans affected by this law. Somebody just picked the first “solution” that came to mind and didn’t stop to think about its ethicality or its consequences. It just smacks of a lazy problem solving attitude me which is another reason I called it slacktivism.

  24. 24
    pramod

    And if it’s racist to assume that withholding aid is coercive, then the aid itself is also racist because it also implies the very same “superiority” thing you postulate. QED.

    LOL, do you seriously believe this?! Are you seriously equating economic success with the ability to reason and make ethical decisions?

    If I am a relatively well off guy and I donate some of my money to charity does that mean I believe that people who accept charity are inferior to me? Of course not! But suppose I offered my charitable contribution if only if the recipients were to vote for same-sex marriage in a referendum. Would that be ethical? Probably not but it’s debatable.

    Now suppose I went around trying to convince white people to vote for same sex marriage in the referendum but instead of talking to black people, I told them that I’d given them money only if they voted the right way in the referendum. Would that be ethical of me? Of course not. I’d be a scumbag and a racist.

    Isn’t this what you’re arguing for, though?

  25. 25
    Jason Thibeault

    No, in fact, countries are withholding aid to the country so they aren’t directly funding the corrupt regime that is willing to slaughter its own people and is probably misappropriating those funds anyway, given the country’s problems with transparency and corruption.

    Sweden and Norway both withheld funds already and have been doing so apparently since 2009, when the bill was first created. Are they just being racist?

    Aren’t any countries giving money to them racist by exactly the same token?

    To give you a totally facetious example, I am not giving Tom Cruise any money with my boycott of his movies, because I don’t want one red cent of my money to go to Scientology. I do this knowing he’s still making a shit-ton of money without me, and that my personal boycott does not affect his livelihood. I am not superior to him. Likewise, I don’t want my aid money to go to a government that is so theocratic and murderous of its own people.

    I do this knowing exactly that LGBT activists within Uganda do not want this aid money to be withheld, because despite the fact that they are now living under threat of being jailed for being slightly different, they still see the aid money as being more beneficial to society, and that the international uproar is putting this issue in the political sphere.

    Despite this, I do not want us to materially aid a corrupt theocratic government that murders its people. I’m all for, once again, charities that benefit the people without benefiting the oppressive and murderous government. I seriously doubt that makes me or anyone else racist who thinks likewise. I think you’re projecting, and it’s seriously irritating.

  26. 26
    Rutee Katreya

    Sweden and Norway both withheld funds already and have been doing so apparently since 2009, when the bill was first created. Are they just being racist?

    That’s about when Sweden’s massively racist party was in power, no?

    To give you a totally facetious example, I am not giving Tom Cruise any money with my boycott of his movies, because I don’t want one red cent of my money to go to Scientology. I do this knowing he’s still making a shit-ton of money without me, and that my personal boycott does not affect his livelihood. I am not superior to him. Likewise, I don’t want my aid money to go to a government that is so theocratic and murderous of its own people.

    Tom Cruise has quite a bit of money, and doesn’t need more except for a slightly larger TV. Should Scientologists in countries with social safety nets be denied those social safety nets?

    The analogy only holds if Uganda is as well off, relatively, as Cruise is.

    I do this knowing exactly that LGBT activists within Uganda do not want this aid money to be withheld, because despite the fact that they are now living under threat of being jailed for being slightly different, they still see the aid money as being more beneficial to society, and that the international uproar is putting this issue in the political sphere.

    So you’re calling for activism in direct opposition to the wishes of the people who your activism allegedly helps, because of a nebulous stand on ‘principle’?

    And it’s *projection* that there is anything racist or colonialist in doing this?

    Sigh. I am disappoint.

  27. 27
    Jason Thibeault

    Okay, so the solution is to keep giving money to a corrupt theocratic government that just put into place a law to kill gays, because you’ve always done it, and to stop just because a few gays are being murdered is racist?

    I am disappoint.

  28. 28
    Jason Thibeault

    Okay, here’s a better analogy for you. Let’s say Salvation Army does some real good work providing material aid to the poor. You start giving them money. Then you find out that they make that aid contingent on those poor people declaring Jesus Christ as their lord and saviour. You stop giving that money — maybe giving to another organization that would help the poor without those strings attached instead. Are you trying to hurt the poor? Is it colonialism?

  29. 29
    Fionnabhair

    Put the money Canada would have sent in aid towards helping LGBT Ugandans get asylum. Lives are saved, the money is still helping Ugandan people, and it’ll hurt their government all the more that the money they could be getting is now being spent exclusively on the people they’re persecuting, and that will continue until their hateful law is abolished.

  30. 30
    sbh

    Jason:

    Neither the source you link to nor any other online source I could find says that the law has been passed; only that Rebecca Kadaga wants the law to be passed by the end of the year.

    Also, while that didn’t come up here, media reports that the death provision has been dropped from the law appear to be incorrect.

  31. 31
    Icaarus

    After doing some research it appears the amount of aide we send is quite small. They qualified for $18 million last fiscal year and appear to be even lower on this year’s agenda, so it might be a moot point.

    http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/Eng/JUD-217125121-NXN

  32. 32
    pramod

    Couple of quick points I want to make:

    1. If you are convinced that the aid is being misappropriated, or that the aid is not helping the Ugandan people then there’s no reason to continue the aid. This is completely independent of the topic under discussion.

    Since there’s no reason to think that the aid will start being misappropriated only when this law is introduced and you are reacting to this specific law, it seems resonable to assume that you believe the aid is helping the Ugandan people.

    2. If you think the aid is helping Ugandans then I argue it’s not ethical to punish the Ugandan people for the actions of their government.

    3. Independent of #2: even if you think (a) the aid is helping Ugandans and (b) it’s acceptable to use aid as a bargaining lever to get their government to repeal this law, you should make sure that you aren’t holding Ugandans to different standards than everyone else. This is where the potential racism comes in.

    I am not trying to pass judgement on whether you are being racist. I am just asking you and others calling for the denial of aid to introspect on whether you are holding western homophobes to the same standards as Ugandans. Are you campaigning similarly to ensure American bigots don’t get government support in the form of social security, healthcare etc.? If yes, well that’s great and please show me a link or two that supports your claim. If not, why should Ugandans be held to higher standard of behavior?

  33. 33
    Bruce Gorton

    And your point is? Ugandans don’t deserve sympathy because of this?! When did the Ugandan government become equivalent to all Ugandan people?

    When the Ugandan people elected it.

    One other thing. Ugandans aren’t doing much to solve “their” problems because they are poor and uneducated.

    And that is largely down to the same Ugandan government that is pushing this anti-gay law.

    The solution isn’t to say “well I’m fine here and they’re bunch of dumbasses anyway so let’s go shopping.” The solution is find out what kind of help Ugandans to make their lives better and try to give it to them.

    And how has that worked out so far? You don’t grant those of us (I am after all, a South African) who are not in the first world agency – instead you perpetually act like you are responsible for us. The solution I propose is that instead of constantly bailing bad governments out (because that aid is going to end up propping Uganda’s government) you treat us like adults.

    If we do things you think are monstrous and that you want no hand in, then stop sending aid. You don’t owe it to us.

    Hold us accountable for our governments, just like you would hold anybody else accountable for their’s. Independence doesn’t just mean we get to run our own countries, it means we get to face the consequences for how we run our countries.

  34. 34
    Bruce Gorton

    I am just asking you and others calling for the denial of aid to introspect on whether you are holding western homophobes to the same standards as Ugandans.

    Point to a Western country that sentences people to death for being gay. Please, point to one.

  35. 35
    Rutee Katreya

    Let’s say Salvation Army does some real good work providing material aid to the poor

    If your analogy requires you to exit the realm of reality, your analogy may not be very good.

    Then you find out that they make that aid contingent on those poor people declaring Jesus Christ as their lord and saviour.

    Well that would contradict your premise anyway. But taking it in the spirit of it, there’s only about a thousand different charities that help the poor, some of which are even good. There is exactly one group that improves Ugandan infrastructure, and that tasks itself with the Ugandan people as a near-whole.

    Is it colonialism?

    Now, this is an asinine question and betrays a lack of understanding of the issues at hand. It’s extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to be colonial to your own majority group. But it is damn possible for westerners to treat colonized people as incapable of managing their own countries, because they’ve not got the white stuff.

    For fuck’s sake, you don’t think that maybe UGandan gays have a better idea of what helps Ugandan gays than you do? That maybe, just fucking maybe, if they’re saying “Hey, actually, cutting that aid on our account is a bad idea”, they might actually know better? Why can’t you just stay in the back lines and support Ugandan LGBT activists in what they do?

    Okay, so the solution is to keep giving money to a corrupt theocratic government that just put into place a law to kill gays, because you’ve always done it, and to stop just because a few gays are being murdered is racist?

    Well, doing it over the objections of the gays that you’re allegedly trying to help is actually pretty fucking racist, given that they’re black. Why don’t you do what LGBT activists in Uganda want you to do? I imagine they have a better idea than either of us what the gays of Uganda need done.

  36. 36
    Rutee Katreya

    Point to a Western country that sentences people to death for being gay. Please, point to one.

    Barbados puts them away for life,a nd a number of carribean nations have lengthy sentences for it. Jamaica doesn’t have a formal death sentence, but you’re gonna die just the same for it.

    …but really, it’s irrelevant, because heterosexists don’t need the force of law to kill people for it. Do you campaign for the roads in the neighborhood of each catholic church be torn out because the catholics are bigots? Whenever there’s a fag drag, do you advocate the area (county? State?) have all social services suspended, for everyone? Because I’m pretty sure that it is spot on to say you’re holding black people to a harsher penalty for failing to meet the same standard.

  37. 37
    Bruce Gorton

    Do you campaign for the roads in the neighborhood of each catholic church be torn out because the catholics are bigots?

    No, but I do campaign against people giving money to Catholic charities, which is far more equivalent to what is being proposed here.

  38. 38
    Rutee Katreya

    No, but I do campaign against people giving money to Catholic charities, which is far more equivalent to what is being proposed here.

    Only if you exist in a fantasy world where the church is both poor and charged with putting up roads, wells and the like for similarly poor people.

    The fact of the matter is that you are damaging the ability of thousands of people to live by denying money to the Ugandan government (Unless you have direct evidence that that government has been misusing it for *years*; but then, it wouldn’t really be in response to their bigotry against gay people). It’s not fucking comparable to not eating at Chick Filet or donating to the catholic church at all, for that reason.

    Yet when black people are heterosexist, these measures become valid? What the fuck, seriously?

  39. 39
    Bruce Gorton

    Whenever there’s a fag drag, do you advocate the area (county? State?) have all social services suspended, for everyone?

    That argument would only be valid if Uganda was the sovereign property of Canada. The responsibility to provide social services is on the Ugandan government, much as it is the responsibility of America to provide social serves to Americans.

    Other countries may choose to help in various ways, but such help is voluntary, and it is perfectly reasonable to refuse to help a country that is killing its own citizens for being gay.

  40. 40
    Bruce Gorton

    The fact of the matter is that you are damaging the ability of thousands of people to live by denying money to the Ugandan government (Unless you have direct evidence that that government has been misusing it for *years*; but then, it wouldn’t really be in response to their bigotry against gay people). It’s not fucking comparable to not eating at Chick Filet or donating to the catholic church at all, for that reason.

    The exact same fucking argument could be and was used to justify not placing sanctions on the South African government during apartheid. It was the rationale behind Reagan’s policy of “constructive engagement.”

    And it is comparable to not eating at Chick Filet or not donating to Catholic charities, because those are activities which are engaged upon on a voluntary basis.

  41. 41
    Dunc

    Military aid, I agree with, but economic aid strikes me as almost as vital, long term, as the humanitarian aid.

    In theory, perhaps, but in practice, “economic aid” is far more likely to be channelled into the pockets of power elites and those associated with them, or to be channelled back to the donor country in the form of “export credit guarantees”. It’s much less likely to be actually helping people in genuine need, and in fact, it’s often tied up with all sorts of corruption and financial scams.

  42. 42
    Andreas

    That’s about when Sweden’s massively racist party was in power, no?

    What massive racist party would that be? Sverigedemokraterna is the only one that comes to mind and they had barely enough votes to get a seat in our parliament (a bit over 4%)back in 2010 and wasn’t even in the parliament before then.

    I can’t speak for what Canada should or should not do in this situation and I wasn’t even aware that Sweden still had cut their aid to Uganda, but do I support cutting the aid. It’s a difficult decision when people that are innocent may suffer but still I think it’s right to cut aid when the elected officials of a country breaks the rules we have set for giving them that aid.

  43. 43
    Nathair

    The exact same fucking argument could be and was used to justify not placing sanctions on the South African government during apartheid.

    We are talking about freely offering money to a notoriously corrupt government which is triumphantly crowing to the international community about their efforts to completely crush the basic human rights of their citizens. Or are we?

    Canada provides a good deal of material aid to Uganda

    I don’t believe we do. Some money finds its way over via broader regional programs and NGOs, via UNICEF or the World Bank and the like but we don’t (according to CIDA) have “a significant development assistance program” in Uganda and our trade relationship is minimal. Our total aid+trade to Uganda is only about three or four hundred million, the vast majority of it indirect. What exactly we’d be cutting off here escapes me. You certainly aren’t proposing we cut our ties to UNICEF or abandon the Pan-African development program just to spite Uganda, right?

    The shame of it is that we were never really doing very much for Uganda in the first place.

  44. 44
    Rutee Katreya

    That argument would only be valid if Uganda was the sovereign property of Canada. The responsibility to provide social services is on the Ugandan government, much as it is the responsibility of America to provide social serves to Americans.

    Okay, first off, the west kind of does have a responsibility to help the people it’s spent centuries profitting off of (yes, that includes Canada; you benefit from having a periphery even if you weren’t running it). Second off, that’s an argument for ending the aid entirely. Let’s not mince words or pretend this is tied up in anything else; you’re trying to punish Uganda for its stance on gays, in direct opposition to what Ugandan gays want.

    The exact same fucking argument could be and was used to justify not placing sanctions on the South African government during apartheid. It was the rationale behind Reagan’s policy of “constructive engagement.”

    Okay. That’s not much of an argument, but hey.

    And it is comparable to not eating at Chick Filet or not donating to Catholic charities, because those are activities which are engaged upon on a voluntary basis.

    Are you trying to go well out of your way to look like a shallow ignoramus? Or are you trying to pretend that the effects of your actions don’t count in determining how ethical they are?

    In theory, perhaps, but in practice, “economic aid” is far more likely to be channelled into the pockets of power elites and those associated with them, or to be channelled back to the donor country in the form of “export credit guarantees”. It’s much less likely to be actually helping people in genuine need, and in fact, it’s often tied up with all sorts of corruption and financial scams.

    That does happen; if it’s what’s happening in Uganda, then the economic aid can safely be ended on its own merits, and not in response to the Ugandan government murdering gays.

    What massive racist party would that be? Sverigedemokraterna is the only one that comes to mind and they had barely enough votes to get a seat in our parliament (a bit over 4%)back in 2010 and wasn’t even in the parliament before then.

    Yeah, in retrospect that was sloppy writing of the highest caliber. And 2010? Alrighty then.

  45. 45
    Nathair

    Okay. That’s not much of an argument, but hey.

    Actually, it was a very apt comparison. You are adopting, almost exactly, a position and attitude that served very well in propping up for decades another corrupt government gleefully trampling the rights of its citizens. Back then such a position only served to exacerbate rather than resolve the problem, but hey.

    Yeah, in retrospect that was sloppy writing of the highest caliber.

    It wasn’t about the sloppiness of the writing, it was about the being wrong.

  46. 46
    Rutee Katreya

    Actually, it was a very apt comparison. You are adopting, almost exactly, a position and attitude that served very well in propping up for decades another corrupt government gleefully trampling the rights of its citizens.

    Let me go ahead and cut this off by reminding you of a primary factor y’all are ignoring:
    Did South Africa’s black activists for racial equality want that aid cut? I don’t know, because I don’t pretend to be omniscient and know every detail of every major social movement. If they didn’t want that aid cut, maybe you’re overestimating the effects of that aid on helping their enemies, or possibly underestimating the good the aid did on its own merits.

    Because I would drop my objections in a heartbeat if LGBT activists in Uganda wanted that aid cut. And y’all don’t seem to have the same respect for the people you allege to be interested in helping.

  47. 47
    Nathair

    Let me go ahead and cut this off by reminding you of a primary factor y’all are ignoring:

    Um, no. I don’t think so. International economic pressure can and has made a difference in similar situations. You can’t just wave that away and make us ignore the fact.

    I don’t know, because I don’t pretend to be omniscient and know every detail of every major social movement.

    Your ignorance does not somehow translate into your authority to “cut off” comparisons you don’t like.

    And y’all don’t seem to have the same respect for the people you allege to be interested in helping.

    So your argument is that since SMUG hasn’t said anything one way or the other on the issue it is therefore hypocritical to decide for ourselves what to do with our money? Sorry, I just don’t find any of this flailing around to paint us as the villains of the piece remotely compelling.

  48. 48
    Rutee Katreya

    Um, no. I don’t think so. International economic pressure can and has made a difference in similar situations. You can’t just wave that away and make us ignore the fact.

    Yeah, and economic sanctions for political effect have also meant needless death and poverty. One need look no further than Cuba. You also apparently forget, in your rush to use South Africa, that economic sanctions were insufficient, it required strong support of local movements as well.

    Your ignorance does not somehow translate into your authority to “cut off” comparisons you don’t like.

    Yeah, your lovely little comparisons mean shit-all in the face of an unwillingness to listen to actual colonized people.

    So your argument is that since SMUG hasn’t said anything one way or the other on the issue it is therefore hypocritical to decide for ourselves what to do with our money?

    If Ugandan activists haven’t taken a stand, that’s a different thing entirely; but Jason was pretty fucking clear that it didn’t fucking matter what the people who’s lives are at stake have to say. And absent a strong opinion from those activists, I counsel caution when a lot of people’s lives are at stake.

    Sorry, I just don’t find any of this flailing around to paint us as the villains of the piece remotely compelling.

    Oh for fuck’s sake, white people need to get over themselves. If you must have yourself a role in an epic, it’s as misguided do-gooders who possess the capacity to do far more harm than good.

    Yeah, the primary problems are a bigotted government and the white people who gave them that little push they needed to go into murder mode. Doesn’t mean y’all can’t fuck up or be racist in the process of helping.

  49. 49
    pramod

    White people giving themselves credit for ending apartheid has got to be the funniest thing I’ve read all week.

  50. 50
    pipenta

    Anyone suggesting evacuation of homosexual people from Uganda is just throwing it out there as a distraction and I don’t really trust them to be arguing with any sincerity. Why? Because if you could instantly remove every non-heterosexual person from Uganda today, it would not help the thousands who would be born there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and the next. It’s a bullshit suggestion from people who aren’t thinking it through because they don’t really give a shit.

  51. 51
    pramod

    @pipenta, on the contrary, you are the one being disingenuous because the existence of global economic differential that is fueled by racist immigration laws is one of the key reasons why third world governments can away with shit like this.

  52. 52
    Bruce Gorton

    White people giving themselves credit for ending apartheid has got to be the funniest thing I’ve read all week.

    That is pretty clearly pegs you as an ignorant racist, as well as being a homophobe (I think Pipenta has your number.)

    It wasn’t “white people” ending apartheid, it was the ANC’s foreign diplomatic efforts convincing other nations to not trade with people who murdered people for being black, that forced the circumstances leading to the referendum that ended apartheid. It was sanctions ultimately that ended apartheid.

    Reagan, and Thatcher were amongst a small minority of political leaders who opposed sanctions. Reagan promoted the concept of “Constructive Engagement” – which was exactly what you are promoting here.

    The idea was you don’t stop trading with South Africa, because that only impoverishes the populations that you are trying to help by ending apartheid.

    You don’t want to cut aide to Uganda because you claim that will just hurt the people Uganda wants to sentence to death for being gay.

    In 1986, in part due to the work of Desmond Tutu in his visit to the USA in 1984 which highlighted exactly how full of shit Reagan was, Reagan’s veto of the Comprehensive Anti Apartheid act was overridden. This proved a catalyst for other nations adopting sanctions.

    FW De Klerk announced the effective end of apartheid in 1990, and four years later Nelson Mandela became president.

    Your argument ultimately won’t change things in Uganda, because those gay people still need to get out of the country in order to survive.

    The concept of cutting aide, which is nowhere near as severe as cutting off trade relations altogether, is far more likely to work because it hits the bigots in their pocket books, instead of providing them with an alternative way of getting precisely what they want.

    There is no compulsion in providing aide. In a strictly legal sense, upon reaching independence no states are owed anything outside of whatever restitution deals they managed to get.

    It doesn’t matter how much the first world benefited from enslaving the third world, by reaching independence we become responsible for ourselves. That is the price we pay for having the ability to avoid being exploited in future.

    We cannot be both dependent and independent at the same time. If we are to approach you for help and aide, we are giving up a bit of our independence in the deal because whatever your money ends up helping us with, you end up partially responsible for.

    You have to have strings attached, because you could be helping the next Idi Amin and thus ending up being partially responsible for that government.

    When there are human rights abuses involved, you can’t run the risk of your money being used to perpetrate those abuses, because then it is not just that government perpetrating those abuses, it is you knowingly helping them do it.

    That is in part why America’s history of real-politik is such a dark one. America is complicit in what it helped those dictatorships do through its financial support.

    You are not responsible for what you don’t do in the third world, it is what you do that counts one way or the other.

  53. 53
    pramod

    You’ve done a good job of contradicting yourself in just a couple of sentences.

    It wasn’t “white people” ending apartheid, it was the ANC’s foreign diplomatic efforts convincing other nations to not trade with people who murdered people for being black, that forced the circumstances leading to the referendum that ended apartheid. It was sanctions ultimately that ended apartheid.

    You yourself admit that it’s the ANC’s efforts that ended apartheid. *They* asked for the sanctions to force an unjust regime out of power. Any white people trying to piggyback on this trying to make it seem like they deserve any credit for this is typical shit that white people do it.

    If there are Ugandans calling for the stopping of aid, show me who they are and *then* it’s perfectly reasonable to end the aid. But you and the rest of the dumbshits arguing here have pretty clearly indicated that you are not interested in what the Ugandans have to say. You presume that you know more than the Ugandans because of your white superiority complex (aka racism).

    It doesn’t matter how much the first world benefited from enslaving the third world, by reaching independence we become responsible for ourselves. That is the price we pay for having the ability to avoid being exploited in future.

    This is the shittiest argument I’ve heard on this website. You sound like these Paulbots who go on about personal responsibility while ignoring that privilege exists.

    Here’s a protip: Stop thinking about people as “us” and “them” and who owes what to whom. We all have a responsibility to unconditionally help those who are disadvantaged regardless of where they are born or what their personal beliefs are. This is the ethical thing to do. Gandhi says so and so does Jesus. If you don’t want to follow these ethics, do whatever the fuck you want. But the moment you do that, you open yourself to criticism.

  54. 54
    Bruce Gorton

    Rutee

    For systematic corruption there are examples like the following story:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/uganda/9644722/10-million-in-aid-to-Uganda-ended-up-in-bank-accounts-of-PMs-aides.html

    In other words, you don’t know where the money is going if you give it to Uganda. That would be tolerable to an extent (hopefully some of it does some good) except one doesn’t want it to go towards killing people.

    pramod

    You’ve done a good job of contradicting yourself in just a couple of sentences.

    There is no fucking contradiction. The ANC wasn’t right because it was black or white or whatever, it was right because its ideas worked.

    Post apartheid our government engaged in an alternative approach to the situation in Zimbabwe, we engaged in “quiet diplomacy.” The net effect was that Robert Mugabe, and in all likelyhood any further attempts to peacefully depose him will result in more rape and torture of opponents.

    This is the ethical thing to do. Gandhi says so and so does Jesus.

    Jesus, as in the largely fictional character portrayed in the Bible, was a shithead who ended up enabling centuries of violent and vicious oppression. Without Jesus a fair chunk of the very worst abuses in the era of colonialism may very well not have happened.

    We all have a responsibility to unconditionally help those who are disadvantaged regardless of where they are born or what their personal beliefs are.

    Bullshit. There is no responsibility to help one person harm another. Your ‘unconditional’ help means you are helping people harm each other.

    You have a responsibility to be responsible in the help you give – that means by necessity you have to attach conditions to it. That doesn’t make the giving and receiving of aid a bad thing, it makes the giving and receiving of aid a thing that needs to be done on a considered basis.

  55. 55
    Bruce Gorton

    Typing while angry:

    The net effect was that Robert Mugabe is still president

  56. 56
    Bruce Gorton

    And aside from all of that, when the Dutch cut aid to Uganda there was a fair amount of support amongst the Ugandan population as they felt that aid was being used to promote corrupt government.

    I have tried getting what SMUG’s actual position is on this, but their old website appears to be down:

    http://www.sexualminoritiesuganda.net/

    And there new one doesn’t appear to have been updated for a long time:

    http://www.smug.4t.com/index.html

  57. 57
    Bruce Gorton

    Having read the caution on Melanie’s blog – I accept that cutting aid may not be the correct course of action yet.

  58. 58
    ash-lyannebilstra

    this is wrong and say stop aiding to Uganda A.S.A.P!!!! people should be free to be their selves no matter what! having to be forced to be someone else is sick a wrong.

  59. 59
    bradleybetts

    “‘Aggravated homosexuality’ is defined as gay acts committed by parents or authority figures, HIV-positive people, pedophiles and repeat offenders. If convicted, they will face the death penalty.”

    It doesn’t actually say that parents and authority figures have to be taking advantage of children… I assume it’s because they are in a position to influence children and thus further the acceptance of homosexuality. That’s what the bigots fear most; that the next generation won’t share their bigotry. So any gay people in a position to further acceptance of homosexuality will be killed.

    Also, how are people supposed to repeat offend if being “caught” being gay in the first place means you get life in prison?

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