Christians against human rights

Muslim countries are notorious for their limited conception of human rights. But conservative Christian Uganda is now about to put in a very Old Testament approach to homosexuality into law, possibly including a death penalty.

Humans rights agreements are no barrier.

In a interview with the Guardian, James Nsaba Buturo, the minister of state for ethics and integrity, said the government was determined to pass the legislation, ideally before the end of 2009, even if meant withdrawing from international treaties and conventions such as the UN’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and foregoing donor funding.

“We are talking about anal sex. Not even animals do that,” Butoro said, adding that he was personally caring for six “former homosexuals” who had been traumatised by the experience. “We believe there are limits to human rights.”

I guess all this is understandable, if you actually take the sort of Christian morality they believe in seriously.

It’s also interesting how some Ugandans defend such laws in terms of the democratic will of the people. And I have no doubt that this is so. It’s not that hard to come up with examples where secular and democratic politics come into conflict.

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • Nick

    This isn't a particularly religious issue, this is a weakness in deontological/Human Rights theory in general. Positing particular things that people are owed simply by virtue of being human (i.e. freedom, life, the right to a sexual orientation) is extremely problematic, not in the least because there must be an "escape" clause in any such list of rights, whereby a person can be denied such rights if the cost is too high (i.e. if other "rights" or cultural values are violated). This is precisely the judgment of the Ugandan conservatives in question, and there is no way to prove them wrong from within the framework of the UN Declaration.

    It is also somewhat misleading to map a Ugandan issue on to any kind of western debate over religion or christianity. The form of religious life practised there is utterly alien to most of us, suffused as it is with older cultural ideals and beliefs. Some of these beliefs are "alien" in the most negative sense:

    I think the correct response here is to focus on the empirical claims made by such people about homosexuality, claims which are demonstrably false.

  • DM

    First of all: Nostradamus demolishes "atheism"

    __________________________________________________ __
    wait, wait…

    I forgot something…

    you little shits even talk about me….



    Sing from the rooftops:

    "Atheism is dead!"


  • Mikko

    i see troll infestion in the comments section

  • Ryan

    Well, Nick, I'm not so sure we can just chalk this up to the "alien" culture of Uganda. Besides the fact of human rights being a global issue, there are some (albeit nebulous) links to the American Congress. Maddow pointed these links out, and although no one should take the investigations as gospel, is it not intriguing that this guy was holding up AMERICAN anti-homosexuality propaganda to reinforce his case for this legislation? He used this filth to make the case that homosexuality is a choice, since it can be "cured." Therefore, gays are making a conscious, criminal act. This is a crucial tenet that the law is based on.

    Also, I think you denigrate the work that was being done in Uganda only 10 years ago. There was a great push for condom use that had reduced the HIV rate dramatically. But when that was abolished by the Bush administration, we saw the rate go up, and the blame was placed squarely on the gays. This isn't a society you can just safely write off because, look, they also have other weird traditions and they just can't be helped.

    So, as you see, our international actions have consequences… and our silly hate-mongerers here in the states have a measurable effect on the fragile egos of idiots around the globe.

  • Nick

    Hi Ryan,

    I was not taking issue with America's involvement. I was taking issue with the fact that it was being painted in simplistic religious terms (see title of post). I was also not "writing off" Uganda. I was trying to draw attention to two things: one, the cultural forces at work here are enormously more complex than the standard "America and Christianity made things bad" story that American leftists love to tell. Two: the framweork of "human rights" is enormously problematic insofar as it must allow for local cultural "escape clauses", even ones which reflect abhorrent cultural values (like homophobia).

    Instead of pointlessly going on about Human Rights, we can easily attack the simple empirical claims made by the homophobes: it is abundantly clear that homosexuality is not a "choice" in any sense. The whole case thus falls apart without any need to demonize religion or to refer to rather flimsy systems of "rights".

  • Ryan

    Well, I was simply responding to the following:

    "It is also somewhat misleading to map a Ugandan issue on to any kind of western debate over religion or christianity."

    This was simply a misguided statement on your behalf. My post was merely connecting the dots for you in order to prove the above statement wrong.

    In other words, this IS related to religion and the west, even if you have to take a couple of steps of well-supported logic in order to do so. This article, therefore, is indeed relevant at the Secular Outpost.

  • Nick

    Wow Ryan, amazing that your comment connected the dots on the "religious" issue without ever once using the words "God" "religion", "faith" or even "christian". How did you manage to do that?

    OH, wait, you didn't discuss religion at all. Instead, you oddly seem to think that I was saying "Western involvement has nothing to do with this issue." Which I never said. In fact, I never said anything remotely like it.

    So not only did you not respond to my point about religion, you responded to a point I wasn't making. Well done, Captain "Logic"!

    A tip for the future: read more carefully. It will really help.

  • Ryan

    Nice projection, Nick. That's all I can say.

    It is interesting you will use cultural relativism when it benefits your agenda. I already showed you why this article belongs here, yet you seem to want to question my reading comprehension. I guess you know better than the blog editor and I!