Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Wikileaks, Uganda, the gays and the US State Department

The Obamas + Muscevenis
Source: El Pais

By Luis Doncel

[Google translation]

"It is true that I said we would have to cut the head of all homosexuals. But finally I cut one?" I've arrested someone for being gay? No. Senegal it does and get the support of the Millennium Development Goals. I know there are homosexuals in my country. But I am content to live in secret. As are private does not matter. But if you're talking about to be married, that will never happen. We will never accept the gay."
These words came from the mouth of the president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, in February last year. He spoke with U.S. Ambassador, who had come to deal with the president of this tiny West African country on the thorny issue of sexual freedom. "I want your government knows I'm not the monster they think I am," he said. It is true that Jammeh's speech is more aggressive than is customary among some African leaders. But, as shown by dozens of cables sent to Washington by diplomats on the continent, not far from an exception. Homophobia is rampant in the streets and government offices in Africa. And worse, it seems to be more.

The killing last week of David Kato, an activist for the rights of sexual minorities in Uganda, was the last episode of the battle that erupted in 2009 when a group of parliamentarians tried to pass a law condemning to death or life imprisonment for homosexual "repeat offenders". Finally, the rule did not go ahead, thanks largely to pressure from Western governments. But the lock does not mean that the situation now is idyllic: sexual deviance in Uganda is punishable with 14 years in prison. Four countries in Africa, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria and Mauritania, including the death penalty for men who have sex with men, according to the International Association ILGA. In total, 38 African States have laws against homosexuality.
A dozen confidential letters sent to Washington between November 2009 and February 2010 have to detail how U.S. diplomats sought to convince President Yoweri Museveni that paralyzed the processing of the law. Even the Catholic Church stepped in to show their opposition to using the Criminal Code against homosexuals, although, he said a cable sent from the Vatican views these actions as a "mortal sin." In addition, documents obtained by Wikileaks, which the country has had access, are the U.S. fear that other governments harden their legislation soon.

The ambassador in Kampala takes a meeting with Ugandan leader asked to contribute to normalizing the situation of sexual minorities. Museveni warns you not to insist too much on this issue. "No one shall be executed by their tendencies," he said. But I remember that homosexuality is seen in Africa as a disease, not as something to be celebrated and promoted. "Do not pressure us. It'll take me," he says Museveni. U.S. accepts and chooses the strategy of not stepping on the accelerator. "The embassy believes that more pressure could be counterproductive at this time," said in February last year. In this case refers to a country where homosexuality is illegal, but where the authorities tend to be tolerant. "The U.S. commitment will be more effective if targeted to encourage all African continent to decriminalize homosexuality and fight discrimination," says another cable.
One of the greatest fears that show African leaders in their contacts with the Americans is to appear before their subjects as puppets of the West. Thus, Museveni mentioned a cartoon circulating around the country in which he draws as a puppet of the Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Clinton, and the then prime minister of United Kingdom and Australia, Gordon Brown and Stephen Harper, as an example of damage that can lead to being too sympathetic to the pleas for human rights. The U.S. message is clear: it must reduce public pronouncements and thus achieve "political space" to prevent the law succeed. For the defenders of apartheid is not based only gay in the ultra-conservative values of the population. Adopt an anti-imperialist rhetoric to advance their harangues.
But the antigay crusade not only due to the defense of family values supposedly. U.S. diplomat suggested the possibility that the Ugandan leader also has personal interests: a confidential document states that Museveni may be interested in moving forward to use homophobic law against two political opponents and thus leave open the path to reelection in the elections this year, which comes after 25 years at the controls of the country. Depending on the version of the Americans, the president of Uganda pretends not to know the shameful details of the bill that later tumbaría. Like, for example, included the possibility of imprisoning or executing and not just those having relations with persons of the same sex, but those who have evidence of it and not report it to the authorities.
Perhaps most striking about reading documents sent to Washington are the arguments used by defenders to annihilate a minority group.
Perhaps most striking about reading documents sent to Washington are the arguments used by defenders to annihilate a minority group. African leaders argue that the people demand these measures. For example, a couple of men from Malawi last year sentenced to 14 years in prison and forced labor attracted the interest of the press and governments of the West. But public opinion in the country, both Christian and Muslim majority, supported the imprisonment, he claimed the embassy Malawian Minister of Justice. When called to account for this case, the president, Bingu wa Mutharika, holds a biblical and social reasons to argue why homosexuality clashes with African tradition and considered unnatural. "When citizens are fixed in nature, do not see any lions having sex with another lion," explained the representative of the U.S..
Neither is very encouraging that some of those who raised their voices against the homophobic rules they did not considering that criminalize gay violates human rights, but for other reasons. As a Ugandan opposition, suggesting that new legislation would open the door for a State to pursue other minority groups, much like what Nazi Germany did. Furthermore, relatively more tolerant countries at risk of falling down the slope of persecution.
"The Embassy of Gabon has made contact with Anne Marie Mbogo, director of Criminal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, which is preparing a draft law to criminalize homosexuality" can be read in a confidential letter last year. ambitious branded U.S. the objective it has set the highest office of the Government of Gabon. He adds that it is difficult to achieve its purpose because the project is in a very early stage, has not been consulted in other areas and lacks a defined strategy. "However, we were concerned, since the majority of citizens does not believe that attacks on gays have to do with human rights. Such a law would not find much opposition. The public apathy, rather than activism homophobic, is the most important danger in this country, "added the diplomat from Libreville.
Almost at the same time this occurred in Gabon, a Ugandan activist, gave an interview to the opposition media in which it expressed its fear of the law at that time was being processed. "For the first time, I am very scared. This is not just about us gays. It affects the whole world: my pastor, my friends. We're talking about relationships between people that do not harm anyone," he claimed. A year later, David Kato died stabbed at the door of his home after a magazine published his picture on the cover with the headline "Hang."

The homophobic, the murdered and the diplomat, in the same room

The man who a year later would be brutally murdered for defending their rights had the courage to appear before an audience that minutes earlier had erupted into applause when they heard that homosexuality is "the devil against whom we must fight." A visibly nervous David Kato was in December 2009 in a ceremony in the capital of Uganda to discuss the law that sought to legalize the murder of gays and lesbians with one of the major drivers of the standard, Rep. David Bahati. A cable from the embassy described the scene. The human rights defenders left the meeting at once for fear that the deputy had ordered the arrest of Kato.
The diplomats made a magnificent portrait of Bahati. "His homophobia is blinding and incurable. Has a terrifying ability to channel the anger of Ugandans by the country's socio-political failures and hatred make an unpopular minority, but that was once tolerated."
Bahati, meanwhile, defends the law with the need to "protect minors from sexual predators" and to eradicate homosexuality. But in this paper was not alone. One of his greatest support was the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Nsaba Buturo, behind a campaign of mass arrests in the early eighties. An embassy source points to the first lady, Janet Museveni, as the greatest defender of the law.
We also have the invaluable help of radical American evangelists toured Africa. Scott Lively, author of The Pink Swastiska, accusing gays of being the "true inventors of Nazism" - referred in a speech in Kampala homosexuals as sinners who present a serious danger to society and embody "an institution evil "bent on seizing power.

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