On the Ugandan “kill the gays” bill and attempts to make Leviticus gay-friendly

So there’s been reports that the infamous Ugandan “kill the gays” bill might finally, horrifyingly, pass. It’s not clear what will actually happen, since the BBC report suggests only the part outlawing “promotion” of homosexuality will pass, not the actual “kill the gays” part, and Wikipedia suggests the Ugandan president may veto the bill. But if it does pass in its original form, Uganda will join (in alphabetical order) Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Somaliland, Saudi Arabia,Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen in the list of countries that have the death penalty for homosexuality.

Normally, this isn’t the sort of thing I would comment on, because I don’t really have anything to say except that, of course, it’s awful. But it just so happens that today, a few days after hearing the news about the Ugandan bill, I stumbled across this website, which makes an apparently quixotic attempt to argue that the Bible isn’t that anti-gay after all.

One argument it makes is one I’ve heard frequently before, that because the author of Leviticus probably didn’t know anything about “loving, long-term homosexual relationships,” the commandment therefore wasn’t intended to be applied to those. I was trying to think of how to explain how awful this argument this argument is… and suddenly I made the connection to the Ugandan bill.

Those who’ve followed this story may know about pastor Martin Ssempa, one of the bill’s supporters. In addition to being infamous for supporting this evil law in the first place, Ssempa is also infamous for campaigning for it by going around holding gay porn screenings… which sounds hilarious, until you realize he’s holding them on the premise that you can make generalizations about all gay people based on a porn video or two.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Ssempa doesn’t believe there’s such a thing as loving, gay relationships, and it would be even less surprising if some of his followers don’t think they exist. It wouldn’t even surprise me if some of his followers were not in denial, but just that ignorant because they live in a society where homosexuality is already illegal (just not punishable by death–yet) so of course any gay people they know are going to be closeted.

Does that mean the bill isn’t intended to apply to loving gay relationships, and therefore isn’t anti-gay after all? No.

And this is why we all need to take a step back and accept that yes, a book written more than 2000 years ago is going to have some things in it ad odds with modern liberal values.

  • MNb

    To which I’d like to add that we should not liberals get away with “but they don’t understand that book properly”. The thing is that you’re simply asking for trouble if you assume that a manmade book contains some eternal truth.
    As a consequence I sincerely hope that our ancestors after another 2000 years have made such progress that they can shake their head the same way when reading my stuff as I do when I am confronted with relidiotery.

  • MNb

    Thanks to a Dutch co-atheist I have found that at least one quote from Leviticus is gay-friendly indeed:

    Leviticus 20:13 – “if a man lays with another man he should be stoned.”
    We’ve just been interpreting it wrong all these years!

    http://www.godvoordommen.nl/2012/06/29/joe-the-plumber-wetenschap-verandert-altijd-de-bijbel-nooit/#comment-67593

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