At the start of last week, the provincial president of Mothers Union Uganda caused an uproar after she made remarks suggesting that conversion therapy must be introduced in schools to help ‘cure’ homosexuality.
While she advocated for students who were suspected homosexuals to be retained in school, she advised schools to build a foundation for counseling children involved in homosexuality-related behavior instead of expelling them.
Ms Sennyonyi made these remarks during a gathering organized by the ministry of gender and cultural affairs in commemoration of the International Day of the Family.
“We cannot keep sending children away from schools because of lesbianism. We have to deal with the problem, because they chase you from Nabingo, they chase you from Gayaza and what do they do? They send them to me; ' talk to them, we have expelled them' Then where are they going? So, we need to deal with that problem in the schools. We are working yes, we don't want lesbianism, we don't want homosexuality but we need to prevent it from happening rather than just chasing away", she said.
It is no secret that most schools in Uganda are extremists when it comes to dealing with LGBTI identifying students. The system and policy makers have also rejected all efforts to have comprehensive sexuality studies introduced to students. In fact, they have termed these efforts as attempts to recruit students into homosexuality.
In the last couple of years, several students have been sent away from school after being labeled homosexuals. While many believe that educating young people about sexuality is probematic, sexuality education in itself focuses chiefly on the negative consequences of young people engaging in sex as well as create a broader understanding of gender and a person’s physiological properties.
It is important to note that gender and sexuality are centrally important forces that shape every aspect of our lives and handing down the right information will not only demystify all the myths and societal beliefs that surrounds sexual and gender minorities but will also be a starting point in breaking the stigma and accepting one another regardless of one’s orientation or gender identity.
Human sexuality is a very complex behavior that is affected by many facets of our lives including our physiology, cognition, and learning. The point here is that human sexuality, like us, is multi-dimensional and one can only begin to get a sense of what it is by the inclusion of many perspectives and ideas. And until we start to rethink everything society and religion have fed us in regards to sexuality, we will continue to face homophobia, discrimination, prejudice and have people advocate for corrective therapy.