BY Michelle Garcia
February 19 2010 5:20 PM ET
A member of Uganda's parliament said at a Kampala forum on human rights and sexual
orientation that he would kill his son
he found out he was gay.
MP Otto Odonga (pictured) was immediately denounced by the forum's keynote speaker, the chair of Kenya's Human Rights Commission, Makau Mutua, according to Xtra, a gay Canadian publication. Mutua said he was "baffled" by Odonga's homophobia. "Would you apply to be a hangman if the person to be hanged were your son?" he asked Odonga. When the MP nodded yes, Mutua replied, "There is something deeply wrong with you."
Another Ugandan MP, Christopher Kibanzanga, shared his outrage regarding bisexuals. "Who are bisexuals?" he asked. "What do they do? Has it just been imported into Africa?"
Rubaramira Ruranga, the director of a local HIV/AIDS organization, assured the attendees that anal sex was not something solely for gays, and that homosexuality and bisexuality were not un-African.
"When I was young, I saw men having sex with men in my small village, out in the bush, as we went hunting," he said.
Solome Nakawesi-Kimbugwe, the director of an African feminist organization, also urged leaders to focus on the country's economic status, since it is one of the poorest in the world.
"Let's put our priorities where our problems are," she said. "As Ugandans, what we want are laws that are relevant. Homosexuality is not a problem for us." Uganda's parliament is getting ready to debate a proposed law that would impose harsh punishments, up to and including the death penalty, on gay people.
The invitation-only forum was coordinated by students and staff from a Kampala university and held at one of the city's most exclusive hotels. Funding for the forum came from the Ford Foundation, a U.S.-based organization that promotes social justice, human rights, and economic fairness.
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