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US hypocrisy on homosexuality exposed

By Hebert Zharare and Albert Chavhunduka
THE United States government's hypocrisy of pressuring African governments to embrace homosexuality in exchange for aid has been exposed amid revelations eight of the country's 50 states have anti-gays and lesbians laws.

Seven other states Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and North Carolina are in the process of promulgating anti-gay "religious freedom" legislation. The US has been vocal against Uganda's recent antigay law, and made a lot of noise about Russia's anti-gay legislation in the run-up to the justended Winter Olympics while also taking exception to President Mugabe's stance against gays and lesbians whose behaviour he described as worse than that of dogs and pigs.

In the wake of the US outcry, the World Bank withheld the release of US$90 million development fund to Uganda in protest over the anti-gay law. The Anglo-Saxon alliance that brings together the United States, Britain and their European allies have made pro-gay legislation a precondition for development assistance for the developing world.

However, speaking to the Herald yesterday, political and social analysts argued that it was now time for African states and governments to assert their sovereign right to govern themselves and determine their destinies by enacting laws that shape their countries' morals and societal values. They slammed US president Barack Obama who criticised African countries that passed laws that condemned homosexuality and of late the Russian government that said no to same sex unions.

While President Obama lashed out at Russian laws that prohibit advocacy of homosexuality, it emerged that about eight US states had laws that ban same sex unions, while several others were in the process of promulgating such laws.

Mr Obama attacked Russian president Mr Vladimir Putin for allowing his country to have clauses that read among other issues; "(a) Materials adopted by a local school board . . . shall . . . comply with state law and state board rules . . . prohibiting instruction . . . in the advocacy of homosexuality, and (b) Propaganda of homosexualism among minors is punishable by an administrative fine."

The law also states that no district shall include in its course of study instruction which; (1). Promotes a homosexual life-style. (2). Portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style. (3). Suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex."

Instruction on sexual education or sexually transmitted diseases should include emphasis, provided in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense. Ironically the US state of Utah prohibits "the advocacy of homosexuality."

Arizona prohibits portrayals of homosexuality as a "positive alternative life-style" and has legislatively determined that it is inappropriate to even suggest to children that there are "safe methods of homosexual sex." Alabama and Texas mandate that sex-education classes emphasize that homosexuality is "not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public."

Moreover, the Alabama and Texas statutes mandate that children be taught that "homosexual conduct is a criminal offense" The spokesperson for the US embassy in Harare, Ms Karen Kelley, had still not responded to the Herald's questions by the time of going to Press despite receiving the questions on Monday morning.

"Your boss cannot dictate how I do my job at the (US embassy) public affairs section. I will give you the responses tomorrow," said Ms Kelley. Speaking to the Herald yesterday, analysts urged African countries to stand firm and defend their position against homosexuals. They accused the US of being abusive and seeking to impose foreign values on other countries.

"The US violates human rights by wanting every nation to be like it. African countries should stand up against such forms of cultural imperialism and ensure governance that serves the interest of their own people and not others," said Mr Goodwine Mureriwa. Former public prosecutor, Mr Dumisani Mthombeni, said African countries should rely on their own resources to avoid being pushed to adopt Western values.

"Uganda just like any other country is a sovereign state therefore the US should not try to infringe values of other countries simply because they control humanitarian aid. Be that as it may, there are no human rights abuses in condemning homosexuality since there is nothing humane in same sex marriages. The World Bank should refuse to be abused by America," he said. Mr Jim Kunaka, said the US was bullying other sovereign states by threatening to withdraw their assistance adding the approach was bound to fail in many countries.

"The United States is trying to take advantage of the state of many African countries. They are attacking countries which do not honour allegiance by enacting the gay laws. This is inappropriate because they are threatening these countries with withdrawal of financial aid," he said. Seven US states, several cities and counties have versions of what they called "no promo homo" provisions. Georgia has the "Preservation of Religious Freedom Act," while Arizona's new bill seeks to outlaw homosexuality when passed into law.

Idaho drafted a law to protect "free exercise of religion," after a Mexico wedding photographer was sued for refusing to work at a same-sex wedding. There is also a law that bars government or licensing boards from denying, revoking or suspending licenses or certifications for people who refuse service to others based on "sincerely held religious beliefs." The Kansas House passed a bill, which aims to "protect religious freedom with respect to marriage." The bill, which has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, allows people to refuse to "provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, privileges, adoption, foster care, other social services or employment benefits" related to same-sex marriages or civil unions.

"Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was approved 48-0 by the state Senate last month as a measure to insert "In God We Trust" into the state seal. But critics claim the measure, which includes provisions drafted to protect the rights of religious people, is even broader than Arizona's rejected bill and amounts to a "license to discriminate" homosexuals. Missouri lawmakers have just introduced a law that seeks to sponsor and "protect Missourians from attacks on their religious freedom" by allowing businesses to turn away any potential customers for religious reasons.

Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act, would allow business owners with deeply-held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays and others who violate those beliefs. The bill, which is similar to Arizona's, is currently being redrafted in the wake of the controversy surrounding that state's unsuccessful bid to legalize religious-based discrimination. North Carolina is currently considering whether to go forward with an Arizona-style "religious freedom" bill.

However, other states, including Hawaii, Maine, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee, have rejected similar bills.





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