In a documentary broadcast recently on the BBC, the British DJ Scott Mills travels to Uganda and reports on the rampant homophobia there. (That’s Mills, above, in a still from the film with Ugandan gay rights activist, Frank Mugisha.) Technically, Uganda may not be the very worst place to be gay. Homosexuality can get you beheaded in Saudi Arabia for example, and there are several other places with similar policies. Nevertheless, Uganda’s pretty bad.
Mills’ film is depressing viewing as he discovers the breadth and depth of rabid homophobia in Ugandan society. Perhaps because he’s a DJ and not a journalist, I found Mills annoying at times, as he tends to focus on himself and his own reactions a bit too much. But at other times his naive and good natured manner is quite endearing.
At one point, Mills comes out of the closet to Ugandan MP David Bahati, the sponsor of the notorious anti-homosexuality bill. After that, things turn rather sinister.
The documentary does a good job of highlighting the dire situation in Uganda, but I found myself wishing Mills had confronted some of his subjects with something a little more intellectually challenging than simply the fact of his own gayness. For example, interviewee after interviewee insists homosexuality is un-African, and then goes on to quote the Bible. But Mills never asks any of these people just what is so African about Christianity – a religion introduced by colonialists.
Mills does mention the role of American evangelists in whipping up anti-gay fervour but I think that deserved a lot more emphasis. The film also leaves one with the false sense that nobody besides a handful of gay men is trying to do anything about the situation. Many Ugandans are in fact against the anti-homosexuality bill, and a number of strong civil society organisations continue to speak out against it.
The documentary forms part of a BBC series, focusing on various places that are the ‘worst places to be…” I see there’s another on the DRC, as the “worst place to be a woman.”
Here’s Part 1: