From time to time I take a-look at works from the small screen, often telling documentaries of the like of Afraid to be Gay and
Inside Sport - The Last Taboo that offer a reality check as to the state of homophobia in today’s modern world. Well this is another such occasion. Only here, openly gay Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills' recent visit to Uganda is cause for concern when in seeking the arms of gay acceptance, he found instead those that rejoiced in a shocking campaign of hatred.
For this is a land where the outrageous propaganda of the Church is starting to shape the very law itself, in the form of an anti-homosexuality bill led by Ugandan MP David Bahati. It is a bill that includes the death penalty for consenting adults who are serial offenders, life imprisonment for intimate touching and even jail for anyone, including friends or family, who don’t turn homosexuals over to the authorities. Challenging Bahati on the bill itself, Mills was instead greeted by a man who views it as a "wonderful piece of legalisation." Little surprise then that after outing himself as gay, Mills found the interview abruptly cut short and the police thereafter instructed to seize the programme tapes. Thankfully they arrived at the wrong hotel, before Mills and company wisely made a swift exit to safer shores.
For whilst Uganda remains the vibrant heart of Africa, home to almost 33 million people, its macho culture has given birth to the alarmingly rise of extreme homophobia, blaming as-it-does Western influence for acts of abomination, ones that are subject to arrest, torture, imprisonment and in certain cases, even death. It is a country that as Mills discovered finds no-one with a good word to say about gays, a reflection on the intense wave of sexual intolerance that is crossing Africa; a continent where homosexuality is still illegal in 37 countries.
Thankfully into such a depressing scenario, Mills’ offers some light relief by way of a visit to seemingly the sole Ugandan gay bar, together with undergoing a supposed cure for homosexuality; witch doctor style. Yet the true style lies with the courage shown by those willing to not only stand up for their rights, but to take to the radio, or to the courts. Gay rights activist David Kato was one such brave individual, having remarkably won his case to prevent the vile Ugandan Rolling Stone newspaper from then publishing the names of homosexuals, pre-Stonewall fashion. Weeks later, he was found beaten to death in his home. Friends were rightly appalled. But with the majority of its citizens in support of some form of anti-gay law, is it any wonder that countless decent men and women find themselves forced to live in constant fear of their lives, just because of their sexuality.
They say that the future of any society lies with the next generation. But with the Ugandan youth of the same homophobic mindset as their parents, the Church, let alone the bigoted voice of newspaper editors and prejudiced politicians, sadly change does not appear to be on the horizon. If anything and going by the evidence on show here, the situation is getting worse. All of which makes this disturbing documentary one that all too tragically lives up to its title, given the rights and freedoms that we take for granted in the West, are but a dream for all too many gays and lesbians living in other parts of the world. An informative, yet equally harrowing work on a country that since 1962 has stood proud as a member of the Commonwealth. Need more be said?