During a visit to South Africa, Ghanaian pastor Dag Heward-Mills recently claimed that ‘you don’t find two male dogs or two male lions or two male impalas . Two male cats, even lizards, two male elephants. There’s nothing like that in nature. It’s unnatural.’
Well, pet owners, visitors of game reserves and zoos know better. The pastor sings the worn out gospel of alternative facts in his crusade against homosexuality.
In ‘Homosexuality in Africa, A disturbing love’ we have written extensively about the religious right’s obsession with animals and sex.
Here’s a section of the text:
“The word savage evokes images of fierce wild animals, untamed and impossible to control. It’s been an expedient analogy for those wishing to vilify homosexuality. In the view of the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, homosexuals should take a good look at the animal kingdom for inspiration. After all, their behaviour is ‘worse than dogs and pigs’. The president is apparently no fan of the latter, but their behaviour is certainly better than that of gays. His Gambian counterpart Yahya Jammeh, who seized power in a military coup in 1994, is in agreement. His conviction is based on his long-term study of the behaviour of chickens and turkeys. ‘I have never seen any evidence of homosexual behaviour in these animals,’ he says. His expertise extends to the field of AIDS, where he claims that it can be cured with the help of a herb massage and bananas. The former president of Nigeria, General Olusegun Obasanjo, is on record as saying that homosexuality is an abomination, on a par with bestiality, predominantly ‘sex with horses’. In a panel discussion in 2010, in which such luminaries as the former British prime minister Tony Blair, the former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan, the musician Bob Geldof and the human rights defender Graça Machel, are all taking part, it is put to Obasanjo that politicians should not interfere with what happens behind closed doors in the bedroom. It is a private matter. ‘Privacy?’ the Nigerian reacted with shock, ‘sex with a horse in your bedroom does not fall under the right to privacy.’ Kofi Annan, an ardent supporter of equal rights, sighs, and at the end of the debate is heard to say: ‘I’ll work on him.’ And while he’s at it, Annan might consider a visit to see Uganda’s First Lady Janet Museveni. In March 2014, she entertains her audience with the assertion that she has never heard of there ever being such a thing as a gay cow. There is cheering, but no mooing.
On the subject of animals, there is another line of reasoning used by opponents of homosexuality. Take Umar Inuwa Obi for example, a thirty-two year old student in Bauchi, a town in northern Nigeria. In an interview on Nigerian television he says ‘God doesn’t tolerate homosexuals; we are not animals.’ His fellow countryman Uchenna Ocheoha agrees. In February 2014, he writes an article on a Christian website that states ‘gays often use examples from the animal kingdom in an attempt to bring credence to their own behaviour, but even if an animal is doing it, it’s still not normal.’ So much for your rights activists’ extensive list of pink animal practices! The website GayUganda contains a whole gallery of them: the legendary ‘pink’ penguins, sheep, albatrosses and even cockroaches. And that is exactly what they are, cockroaches, according to the former Ugandan minister for Ethics, James Nsaba Buturo. When discussing the topic he adds that ’these are animals that don’t participate in anal sex’. The Ghanaian politician Joseph Yamin, in searching for a suitable response to the liberal views on homosexuality being shown by the new Gender minister Nana Oye Lithur, says that he is in agreement with her: gays do deserve certain rights – because ‘animals also have rights’.
But Africa is not the only part of the world that has invoked the use of the animal kingdom in its discourse over homosexuality. The United States can also be a master of the invective. In October 2010, a number of exotic animals escaped from a zoo in Zanesville, Ohio, at the same time as the campaign was heating up to nominate the Republican candidate for the presidency. The Evangelist Pat Robertson, who had thrown his name into the hat two decades before, with little success, and was now giving it another go, declares that the animals have escaped ‘with God’s help, in order that they can go and bite the gays’. It’s a statement endorsed by other politicians in the state. The extreme right Republican Michele Bachman, however, distances herself from the remarks, but proposes that the animals should be expelled from the country and shipped back to the Congo. So we are, once more, conveniently back in Africa.”
More about ‘Homosexuality in Africa, A Disturbing Love’ here