Uganda’s pending passage of the anti-homosexuality law is in the news these days, so I thought I’d post a link to the article I wrote for Tikkun magazine about how U.S. LGBT activists and allies are engaging in the whole controversy and what they could be doing instead.
The Uganda Controversy: Solidarity vs. Imperialism in LGBT Organizing
by Emi Koyama
Tikkun magazine, July/August 2010
Also, below is the text of the flier I handed out at the Beaverton, Oregon rally against the anti-homosexuality bill which I talk about in the article above.
North-South Disparities Kill More Gay Ugandans Than Anti-Gay Legislation Ever Could.
Many of us rightfully feel angry and scared about the proposed legislation in Uganda that would prescribe punishments up to death for the “crime” of homosexuality. But when activists and politicians begin calling for economic sanction against the country of Uganda, we must consider its consequence on Ugandan people, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender Ugandans.
Uganda’s economy (like our own) is dependant on foreign trade, and an economic sanction could result in more gay Ugandan casualties than the proposed legislation could ever match: is it truly worth the cost? Who decides? Who put the U.S. in the position to impose its values on others by military or economic force?
And if there were such an outpouring of support for gay Ugandans, where were they when much of the country was (and still is) struggling in poverty, partly caused by the enormous international debt? Where were they when gay Ugandans needed medical treatment and educational opportunities? Or the right to migrate to the (relative) safety in the United States?
In short: are we truly concerned about the rights and lives of our brothers and sisters in Uganda, or are we simply playing our part of the imperialist U.S. foreign policy? If we are, consider the following:
- Support elimination or deep reduction of unpayable international debt.
- Support continuation of international aid and economic exchange.
- Support the expansion of fair trade.
- Confront American conservative groups that spread hate here and abroad.
- Strengthen international human rights standards by holding the U.S. government accountable to them (death penalty, overreliance on prisons, etc.)
- Promote respectful engagement and dialogues with countries whose policies we find objectionable.
- Expand cultural exchanges (including Southridge High School’s sister school program).
This message is not endorsed by the organisers of today’s rally. We are a small group of activists, students and scholars and we speak only for ourselves. We welcome your responses and opinions at emi AT eminism DOT org
Support Engagement, Not Sanction.