Police in Uganda have arrested an 8-year-old girl for “lesbianism,” All Africa is reporting.
Authorities say a “concerned neighbor” called the police because she (the neighbor) supposedly witnessed the girl “luring” other girls to her farm and then would allegedly coach them in how to perform sex acts and having “romantic relationships” with other girls.
Catherine Wobuyaga, of Uganda’s Child Family Protection Unit, says the girl was taken into custody and “confessed” to her “crimes.” She said that in addition to luring girls on her farm, she also lured girls into school bathrooms.
Wobuyaga also warned parents to watch out for adults who want to lure underage children into gay relationships.
According to LGBTQ Nation, Uganda is one of the worst nations on Earth when it comes to gay rights.
— SouthFloridaGayNews (@soflagaynews) September 7, 2016
The very act of being gay is a crime punishable by imprisonment in the African nation, and males caught having sex with each other can face life in prison. “Repeat offenders” can face the death penalty.
Surprisingly, the situation in Uganda now is better for LGBTQ rights than it was in 2012; at the time, Uganda’s parliament was poised to pass an anti-LGBTQ law that would have made being gay a crime punishable by death. Witnesses who failed to report homosexual activity would also face harsh criminal penalties. Even advocating for LGBTQ rights in Uganda is a crime.
Just last month, according to The Guardian, Ugandan police raided an LGBTQ fashion show, arresting 20 people. Fortunately, they were all released a short time later, but not before being “pushed around” and “slapped” by the cops.
— Attitude (@AttitudeMag) August 7, 2016
Though the Ugandan government may seem anti-LGBTQ, that sentiment appears to be backed up by the Ugandan people. According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, 96 percent of the Ugandan people believed, at the time, that homosexuality was an unacceptable way of life.
So how did Uganda become so anti-LGBTQ? That depends largely on whom you ask. An April 2016 Washington Blade report puts the blame squarely on two factors: a history of Victorian colonialism, combined with anti-gay American Christian preachers.
Uganda’s penal code, particularly the anti-LGBTQ portions, date back to Victorian-era anti-sodomy laws in place when Uganda was a British colony. Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) spokesperson Lusimbo notes that Uganda, like Kenya and India, continue to enforce centuries-old moral codes on citizens in the 21st century.
“We continue to deal with the colonial legacy. Even after we are no longer under the British colonial rule, we continue to administer Victorian laws.”
The real issue, say LGBTQ advocates, is influence from right-wing Western preachers sowing ant-gay sentiment in Africa. Specifically, according to Mother Jones, American preacher Scott Lively is to blame.
“Lively, a Massachusetts native, specializes in stirring up anti-gay feeling around the globe. In Uganda, which he first visited in 2002, he has cultivated ties to influential politicians and religious leaders at the forefront of the nation’s anti-gay crusade.”
As for the 8-year-old girl arrested for “lesbianism,” LGBTQ Nation writer Bil Browning notes that Uganda’s concern for the moral welfare of its girls is a little disingenuous, considering the country’s much worse problem of child marriage.
“While the legal age women can be married in Uganda is 18, a recent study found that over half of women aged 20-49 were wed before their 18th birthday. Fifteen percent of Ugandan girls are married before the age of 14.”
As of this writing, it is not clear what sort of criminal penalties the eight-year-old girl arrested for “lesbianism” will face.
[Image via Shutterstock/Marc Bruxelle]