"Falzon’s accessible and jokey paraphrasing, complete with footnotes that alternate between informative and comedic (though sometimes both) makes the Bible's inglorious parts impossible to ignore." -- The Front Page Online
The nice thing about homosexuality is that it transcends political borders, stirring up and unifying Christian bigots on all continents. On African Human Rights Day in Zambia, according to the Zambia Daily Mail, President Rupiah Banda condemned not gay people directly, but people who support gay people, who are nearly as bad!
Naturally, Zambian Christian churches have applauded Banda’s condemnation of well-to-do people who donate to non-profit organisations and then have the gall to say that gayness is a human right. Bishop Peter Ndhlovu (no, I’m sorry, I can’t help you pronounce that) of the Bible Gospel Church says gay stuff is ungodly and more of a human wrong than a right.
Ndhlovu cites the biblical book of Leviticus in support of his oh-so-righteous views, and he’s completely right. Pay no attention to the fact that the bishop is clean-shaven with a closely trimmed hair-cut, in contravention of the no-hair-cutting rule on the self-same page...
“No-one can come and tell us what human rights are,” said the bishop, forgetting, of course, that Zambia has already been told what human rights are. Twice. A long, long time ago, in a continent far, far away, the United Nations drafted a very special document that they called the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” In it, they declared what human rights were, and that they were universal.
For example, and I’m just selecting some random articles here:
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Obviously, Bishop Peter is acting in this “spirit of brotherhood” when he says that gays are, by definition, cursed. It’s for their own good, you see. If you belittle and persecute them enough, they’ll repent and either turn straight or commit suicide. Either is fine for Christian Zambia.
Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Hmm, well this might get hairy for the bishop, because he also condemns churches that “practise” homosexuality – I’m going to presume he means “permits.” These churches, of course, are religious establishments whose only crime seems to be that their belief differs from the bishop’s. But hey, that should be enough to shut those gay-loving Bible-bashers down.
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression: this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Obviously, it’s the collective view of President Rupiah and Bishop Peter that this clause only applies to donors whose opinions are agreeable with the status quo. I cannot agree more. Where would a country be if people were allowed to disagree willy-nilly with its government and churches? I think Zambia is completely justified in following Iran’s lead on this.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, while ratified by the UN in 1948, is not legally binding, even if it is highly influential in international law.” Or words to that effect.
So let me introduce Exhibit-B: The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. I haven’t checked recently, but a few years ago, Zambia was still in Africa, somewhere near the bottom, and a member-state of the African Union.
I don’t really need to go passed the preamble’s penultimate paragraph to illustrate the link to the UN declaration:
“Reaffirming their adherence to the principles of human and peoples’ rights and freedoms contained in the declarations, conventions and other instruments adopted by the Organisation of African Unity, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and the United Nations;”
So let’s look at some of the clauses in the Africanised definition of ‘human rights:’
“Conscious of their duty to achieve the total liberation of Africa... and to dismantle aggressive foreign military bases and all forms of discrimination, language, religion or political opinions;” (Preamble)
Hmm, not off to a brilliant start for Zambia’s Christian right(eousness). C’mon, they can’t possibly mean all forms of discrimination, can they??
Article 2. Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or any status.
Article 20.1 All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
Article 22.1 All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind.
Um, well, okay, point made, but this declaration must surely be like the UN’s in that it’s not legally binding, no?
Article 1. The Member States of the Organisation of African Unity, parties to the present Charter shall recognise the rights, duties and freedoms enshrined in the Charter and shall undertake to adopt legislative or other measures to give effect to them.
Shit. Okay, I give up. Sorry Rupiah, Peter. You guys are on your own.