Global Homophobia: The Case of Uganda


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This is social problem paper #1 from a graduate level course in social reconstruction.

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Global Homophobia: The Case of Uganda

  1. 1. RUNNING HEAD: Global Homophobia Global homophobia: The case of Uganda (Global/national/local social paper #1) by Joelyn K. Foy Presented to Dr. Kay Ann Taylor In partial fulfillment of the requirements for EDCI 886, Perspectival Philosophy: Social Construction Kansas State University September 15, 2010
  2. 2. Global homophobia Introduction American conservatives are exporting homophobia to the African nation of Uganda (Kaoma, 2009; May-Chang, 2010). Homophobia, the hatred of homosexuality, did not originate in the United States, but the social upheaval caused by homophobia in the U.S. is daily news. In addition, a student who is lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgendered (LGBT) will hear homophobic remarks in school, feel unsafe in school because of personal characteristics, experience harassment and possibly assault in school, and will miss classes or days of school because of safety issues (Kosciw et al., 2010, xv). When we ask the question, “What is school?” or “What is schooling?”, for LGBT students, school is harassment, bullying, and violence (HRC, 2009). School as the reproduction of socio-cultural values that culminated in the 1950’s (May-Chang, 2010, p. 5) may not be applicable in the 21st century to all school children (Counts, 1932/1959/1978, p. 15). I approach the social problem of global homophobia from the radical point of view (Stone, 2003, p. 108); that is, getting to the root of this problem which affects the school environment locally and nationally. The Origins of Homophobia One of the origins of homophobia is described by Michel Foucault in Discipline & Punish (1975/1995). In the 17th and 18th centuries the military and the manufactory reproduced the monastery through the creation of “docile bodies” (Foucault, 1975/1995, p. 135). By enclosing and partitioning workers, the forces of production were concentrated under one roof and carefully monitored (p. 142, 143). Enclosure, however, led to conversation, congregation, desertion, and distraction; thereby lowering worker production. Partitioning promoted supervision of individual conduct, “to assess it, to judge it, to calculate its qualities or merits” (p. 143). It was believed that “solitude was necessary to both body and soul, … they must, at certain 2
  3. 3. Global homophobia moments at least, confront temptation and perhaps the severity of God alone” (Foucault, 1975- 1995, p. 143). Even in the girl’s dormitories beds were arranged and enclosed such that “girls may rise and retire without being seen” (Delamare quoted in Foucault, 1975/1995, p. 143). The monastic tradition of celibacy was reproduced within the factory model. Homophobia in Uganda The President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, proposed an “anti-homosexuality” bill in 2009 but because of global attention, it was tabled. In its stead an anti-pornography bill has been drafted because of a belief that “pornography breeds homosexuality” (Smith & Magga, 2010). This proposed legislation “calls for the death penalty for gays and lesbians who engaged in sex and are HIV positive, have committed the offense of homosexuality more than once” (May- Chang, 2010, p. 1) and provides that any person or organization that provides “material or advocacy support to or on behalf of LGBT people (p. 1) will be prosecuted. Homosexuality has been illegal in Uganda since colonial times, but recently the influence of American conservatives and American churches have escalated the cry for genocide against LGBT citizens in Uganda. Two authors of the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda are members of a secret organization in the United States known as “The Family” (May-Chang, 2010, p. 3). Exporting Homophobia from America The Family, as it is called, began in 1948 (Sharlet, 2009, p. 2) -- the year the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was first adopted (UN, 2010). The Family is organized around cells and small groups of leaders, a kind of “populist fundamentalism” (Sharlet, 2009, p. 2). As far as I can tell, the members of The Family are privileged, White men; current members include recognizable conservatives Senator Sam Brownback (R., Kansas), Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), and James Inhofe (R., Oklahoma). Former members of The Family include: former 3
  4. 4. Global homophobia Nixon aide and Watergate fellow Charles W. Colson, the late senator Strom Thurmond (R., S. Carolina), Herman Talmadge (Georgia), Pat Robertson’s father, Absalom Willis Robertson (Virginia), and Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist (p. 2). The strategy of The Family revolves around secrecy, stealthiness, and avoiding the label of being a Christian organization (Sharlet, 2009). Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is The Family’s “key man” in Africa (May-Chang, 2010, p. 5; Sharlet, 2009, p. 4). Implications for Secondary Classrooms When a student walks into a classroom, how does the teacher respond? Does the teacher have an immediate reaction to the way the student is dressed? To the student’s affect? To the student’s voice? Having been a student most of my life, these immediate responses are noticed and felt. When that student is LGBT, the reaction is frequently negative. How will teacher education programs prepare mostly White, middle-class, females to respond to LGBT students if those teacher candidates are not LGBT themselves? How will teacher education faculty motivate teacher candidates to notice and question their immediate reactions to students unlike themselves? One answer to these questions is to include in teacher education discussion of difficult societal issues like homophobia. All teachers have biases; bias is a quality of being human. We are bombarded daily by opinion, news, and ideas that we may not have encountered in our hometowns or our immediate families. However, for LGBT kids in middle school and high school, the teacher who stops the name-calling; the teacher who will not allow “that’s so gay” to be said in their classroom; the teacher who listens when that student talks; that teacher becomes a safe person for that kid. That teacher’s classroom becomes a safe space for that child and learning (Meyer, 2010, p. 112) is more likely to occur for that student. 4
  5. 5. Global homophobia References Counts, G. S. (1932/1959/1978). Dare the school build a new social order? Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. Foucault, M. (1975/1977). Discipline & punish: The birth of the prison. New York, NY: Random House. Human Rights Campaign Foundation. (2009). An introduction to welcoming schools: An inclusive approach to addressing family diversity, gender stereotyping and name-calling in K-5 learning environments. Washington, DC: HRC. Retrieved from Kaoma, K. (2009). Globalizing the culture wars: U.S. conservatives, African churches, and homophobia. Somerville, MA: Political Research Associates. Retrieved from report.pdf Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Diaz, E. M., & Bartkiewicz, M. J. (2010). The 2009 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN. Retrieved from May-Chang, J. (September 8, 2010). Exporting homophobia: American far-right conservative churches establish influence on anti-gay policy in Africa. Boise Weekly. Retrieved from conservative-churches-establish-influence-on-anti-gay-policy-in- africa/Content?oid=1767227 5
  6. 6. Global homophobia Meyer, E. J. (2010). Gender and sexual diversity in schools (Explorations of Educational Purpose, 10). New York, NY: Springer. Sharlet, J. (November 24, 2009). The secret political reach of ‘The Family’. National Public Radio. Retrieved from Smith, A., & Magga, G. (September 12, 2010). Uganda’a anti-pornography law to fight homosexual vice. Afrik-News. Retrieved from http://www.afrik- Stone, F. A. (2003). Theodore Brameld’s educational reconstruction: An intellectual biography. San Francisco, CA: Caddo Gap Press. United Nations. (2010). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from 6