I’m embarrassed to confess that I had no idea of this. I knew about homophobic and transphobic legislation in Africa– the Ugandan death penalty proposal, for example. But I assumed those were products of their local cultures.
“Just as the US and other northern societies routinely dump our outlawed or expired chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery and cultural detritus on African and other third-world countries, we now export a political discourse and public policies our own society has discarded as outdated and dangerous,” said Tarso Luis Ramos, executive director of Political Research Associates…
It wasn’t always like this. A decade ago Uganda was at the forefront of a liberal renaissance sweeping Africa. Then, Angela, a Ugandan transvestite, led a dance troupe that regularly played to packed houses. Now she fears for her life. “This is the worst it has ever been; they say we are evil and blame us for everything,” she said.
Claire Finch tells the story of her brothel— “a group of six older women selling sex”– in the Guardian’s Experience feature. The most important part of it is her discussion of British law, which forbids brothels:
Legally, one woman can sell sex, but not two or more working together. It’s crazy that you could have a row of 20 houses with one woman in each selling sex, but if you have two in one house, you’re breaking the law. I told the truth at court – technically, it could be thought I had broken the law, but the jury used their common sense and cleared me of brothel-keeping. I was elated. Now I’m campaigning with the English Collective of Prostitutes to get the law changed so that a small group of women can work together for safety reasons.
One thing that’s striking about her story is that she seems pretty happy with her life, and for reasons most of us can appreciate: she has friends, community, safety and economic security. And it’s very clear that the reason for that is that she is able to work safely with a group of other women. Which is of course precisely what the current laws strive to prevent.