Public Law and Private Morality in Uganda

Following my last post about The kiss of the Moon, I notice that in Uganda over the last week or two, debate has been reaching fever pitch on the new Anti-homosexuality law which has received universal support from Ugandan religious leaders and most politicans. The country's president has been pressurised (by the US) into promising to veto the bill, but this move would likely lose him his job, so this seems unlikely.

It seems that the bill is largely in response to encroaching 'alternative lifesyle' propaganda from UNICEF and other international organisations (this has been getting into their schools for years) plus recent revelations about child abuse, similar to the recent Report in Ireland. There is also, in the popular imagination, some link with HIV, although this disease is now very much a heterosexual phenomenon in Africa.

The finer points of the argumentation, and the sanctions, which go as far as the death penalty (for active 'recruiters' among the young) are all reasonably up for argument, it seems to me. One wonders if perhaps they aren't going a bit too far ... But the key point is that there must surely come a time when certain choices of private morality become a public issue, with the potential to damage a whole society. This is the position that Ugandans have arrived at. I think that they are right and ought to be loudly congratulated.

Although the bill is supported by Muslims too, I don't think that this is a question of Shariah law. Shariah law starts from the principle that everything immoral ought to be illegal. That has never been the Christian position. But this legislation is not so much about private choices as about the common good, just like Mrs Thatcher's much-maligned Section 28 of the Local Government Act.

It seems to me that in the coming years Europe and America will have to start listening to Africa, which is something they have never done before.


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