First up is a story that has been around for a long time but is beginning to near a conclusion.
By the time the Ugandan parliament's current session comes to an end on May 12th it is expected their will have been a vote on a controversial Anti-homosexuality bill. The bill would broaden the criminalisation of homosexuality to mean anyone convicted of homosexual activity could face life imprisonment and anyone with previous convictions, HIV positive or engaging in homosexual activities with people under the age of 18 could face the death penalty.
The bill has been met with international condemnation from all corners but it is still seeming likely to be passed; a representation of growing anti-gay sentiment in the country. One of the key proponents of the bill, an MP named David Bahati has claimed that if the committee studying the bill recommend the removal of the death penalty elements of the bill he will concede to their judgement but right now it's unclear what the judgement of the committee will be.
I find it depressing when i see this kind of legislation because i really can't understand where the hatred and fear needed to want to kill someone for the gender of the person they are attracted to comes from. For that matter i can't understand any form of homophobia; i can list some of the justifications that are often given for people's distrust, dislike or open hostility to people who are gay, but i don't understand them.
There's a petition going around on facebook which i'm sure will get plenty of signatures but i sadly don't see it making any difference. Most politicians in the West have come out with clear condemnation of the bill but it's seemed to have little effect on the overall attitude in Uganda to the bill or the statements from the politicians involved.
I really hope that this bill is defeated but i just don't see it happening, the coverage of the story seems to really suggest that there is more than enough public support for the politicians to get behind it. If it is passed it's a tragedy for the gay community in Uganda; beyond just the punishments carried out by the government it will also further entrench the idea that there is something wrong with being gay for the next generation of Ugandans.
However i'd like to think that regardless of the views of anyone who reads this towards issues of homosexuality, that they'd agree that no one should face imprisonment or death for the person they love.
The other story i want to talk about is one coming out of Syria that i read about in The Guardian over the weekend. It's an inspiring and uplifting story coming out of a country where there's been so little good news. During a period of revolution in a Middle Eastern country Amina Abdullah is perhaps the perfect heroine; half Syrian, half American, Muslim and openly gay. Here's the link to her blog - http://damascusgaygirl.blogspot.com/.
It is worth noting that homosexuality is illegal in Syria, but unlike Uganda, the authorities mostly turn a blind eye to it. She claims that when she came out to her family they were glad in that a lesbian daughter was preferable to a promiscuous heterosexual one.
When the protests began in Syria she took to the streets and documented what she experienced in her blog; it was this blog post that saw her blog really take off in terms of readership and international attention, when she wrote about the moment two security officers came to her house to arrest her but her father stood up to them in what is one of the most impressive examples of the genuine heroism which has characterised the revolutions across the Middle East and Northern Africa.
She blogs very regularly, over the past few days writing two or three separate posts each day and she offers a unique view of a country in turmoil and is a fascinating read that i would really recommend.
Today's song is quite a well known one but it's another which always makes it into any 'favourite songs' lists i try and compile.