Amnesty International suggests being gay is a “choice,” in story about Uganda “kill the gays” bill

An odd quote from Amnesty International in response to the increasing furor over Uganda’s effort to pass legislation mandating the death penalty for gays, for anyone who rents a room to them, for anyone who doesn’t report them to the police, and more.

(And don’t believe for a minute that they’ve dropped the “death penalty” from the law – they’ve claimed that reportedly over the past few years, and each time it’s been a lie.  And in any case, life in prison for being gay, in a Ugandan prison, marked as someone ay, is probably worse than death.)

But my bone to pick is with Amnesty International, and the weird quote they gave CNN.

This is from CNN’s coverage today:

Choice by Shutterstock.

“Although Amnesty International has been informed that some provisions of the bill have been amended, the content of these amendments have not been made publicly available.

“This bill violates the principle of nondiscrimination as guaranteed under international and regional treaties to which Uganda is a party.”

“We are outraged,” said Noel Kututwa, the rights group’s director for southern Africa. “This goes beyond the principle of nondiscrimination. It goes against the principle of privacy of individuals. And sexual orientation is really a question of the right of an individual to choose how they want to live their lives.” [emphasis mine]

Uh, no, it’s really not.

Sexual orientation has zero to do with “choice.”

You have a given sexual orientation at a given time, period. You didn’t pick it. And you don’t unpick it. I didn’t choose to be gay, and I haven’t chosen to live a “gay lifestyle” (which is where the rest of his quote appears to be heading).

No one chooses to be straight. And no one chooses only be attracted to the same gender (no man looks at another man and says “I’m not physically attracted to him or any other men, but today I will it so, so now I am” – you simply are wired that way or you’re not).  And for that matter, no one chooses to be bisexual.

Maybe for some people their sexual orientation is fluid (they like boys and girls), and maybe for others it’s fluid over time (today they like boys, tomorrow – for whatever reason – they like girls). But no one’s sexual orientation involves “choosing” what gender they’re generically going to be attracted to on any given day (“today I choose to find men attractive, so I will!”). Sexual orientation simply is, through no choice of our own.

I’ve written about this error in speech before. It’s sloppy. It’s incorrect. And it’s a harmful message, especially in a region, Africa, where they think homosexuality is some bizarre, immoral white western import that society can choose or un-choose to commit. So having Amnesty International repeat the “choice” verbiage seems extremely unhelpful.  And rather early 1990s, to boot.

Is race “really a question of the right of an individual to choose how they want to live their lives?”  No.  It’s a question of some people choosing to hate you simply because of who, and what, you are.  Ditto with your sexual orientation.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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88 Responses to “Amnesty International suggests being gay is a “choice,” in story about Uganda “kill the gays” bill”

  1. Ugandan Politician: I want to imprison or kill Gays
    You: You can’t because it’s innate
    Ugandan Politician: Okay then I’ll imprison or kill Atheists
    You: You can’t
    Ugandan Politician: Why not? Atheism is a choice.
    You: (insert your real argument as to why you can’t imprison or kill people purely based on the fact that they have made choices, and not what the choices are, but that it is a choice)
    Ugandan Poltician: But you said earlier that the reason I couldn’t kill or imprison gays was because it’s innate, now you’re giving me this other argument as to why I can’t imprison or kill Atheists who made a choice. Which is the real one?
    You: (I don’t know how you’d respond at this point, but the unreasoning illogical unobjective religious person just blew first earlier innate defence out of the water,)

    You’re right. This is getting tiresome.

  2. I’ve never once argued that sexual orientation is a choice. I have been trying to show that there are many more important things in determining what is justified in the way that it is acceptable to treat other people and by insisting that it is important you open the door for the justification for unacceptable behaviour against people based on things that are a choice. If there is a principle that opposes treating people in an unacceptable way that works for everybody and not just gay people and others with innate characteristics then that is more preferable, less discriminatory than what you are focusing on.

    I have not chosen Atheism as an example by accident, not just because I am one, but because of the very real bigotry and oppression that exists today against it, even in allegedly enlightened places. By arguing that it is unacceptable for religious people to treat people badly based on innate characteristics you sending religious people the message that it is okay to treat people badly based purely on chosen characteristics, even peaceful characteristics such as Atheism, which will do Gay Atheists no favours, since I’m sure you’ll aware of the passages in some holy texts that say non-believers should be killed.

    As for you claim that I will fail trying to be objective with religious people, how is the argument that sexual orientation is innate not an objective argument?

    But the choice thing is also a red herring. I hold the Atheist position, and while I can change based on new information or arguments it is not a purely random position either. I do not pull a random belief out of a bag every day to decide what I choose to believe. Right now as I type this I could no more not be an Atheist than I could stop being male, and at this point the likelihood that I will change from this position during my life is so close to being zero that it for all practical purposes indistinguishable from zero.

    So in this moment you are opening the door for bad treatment by religious people against me for something that in this moment I could no more change than a gay person could. Oh sure I could lie my ass off if facing persecution, pretend to be religious and remain a closet atheist, but why should I have to? Hmm I wonder why that sounds familiar, perhaps because you just argued against the closet issue in response to Amnesty International response below? This is the point Amnesty was trying to make that you and everybody else focusing on the choice/innate argument are missing badly.

  3. WMcLane says:

    roll your eyes at this then: John Aravosis Moderator WMcLane • 3 days ago−

    Well, yes we should fear the word “choice” when it’s routinely used by our enemies to harm us.

    Please don’t waste my time with a kiss-up post. Contribute something or zip it!

  4. Digitonal says:

    Anyway, you appear to be an internet troll and you will relentlessly keep arguing so I shall comment no more. Good day to you :-)

  5. Digitonal says:

    Amnesty explained what the comment meant, you should give it a rest. Surely what they wrote on here you agree with?

  6. Digitonal says:

    But John has admitted he thinks it was just a bad choice of words! You need to read the comments more extensively.

  7. Sweetie says:

    Disqus bugs… posts never came up

  8. Sweetie says:

    What are you talking about? Admitted what?

    That you think this is “silly” is contradicted by your continued investment in this topic, particularly to the point of posting ad hominem.

  9. Sweetie says:

    ad hominem nonsense.

    “Deep down” I continue to agree with John, because he remains correct.

  10. Sweetie says:

    Sounds like you wish to excuse the blunder. Please show us where John suggested making Amnesty into an enemy (eye roll).

  11. Sweetie says:

    What are you talking about? Admitted what?

    John was right about the statement and still is. Amnesty is refusing to concede the point, to admit that it was a misstatement. You are defending that choice by posting ad hominem.

  12. Sweetie says:

    ad hominem nonsense

    “Deep down” I continue to agree with John’s logic. If you want to smear him, too, go ahead. It will be just as pointless.

  13. Sweetie says:

    I don’t think it’s acceptable for any society to force citizens to live according to irrational rules (religion). However, what matters in this case—what we were actually debating—is whether or not there’s a substantive difference between homosexuality as a chosen behavior and homosexuality as an innate orientation. There are many reasons for why there is a substantive difference.

    One thing you’re missing is that you’re not looking at things from the proper perspective for this context. It doesn’t matter so much how an objective (rational) person views this matter. What matters more is to see it from the point of view of a religious person. A religious person, by being religious, rejects the objectivity that you are using to make your case. From their point of view, it is generally more acceptable to discriminate against behaviors than against innate (“God-given”) orientation.

    Also, from an objective point of view, it is simply much easier to control one’s behaviors than it is to control one’s innate feelings/attractions/identity. Your position suggests that there is no difference between switching from day to day your sexuality. One day you’re gay the next you’re not. Everyone’s supposed to treat that as being equivalent to an unchangeable identity? Obviously the former is more of a whim. The latter is more serious.

    Because sexual orientation is not chosen and is fixed, there are classes of people: heterosexual, homosexual, and possibly bisexual. Because those classes exist and are fixed, we can’t have, for instance, a definition of marriage as being “between a man and a woman — one in which anyone can choose to take part”. In your choice paradigm, it’s possible to pretend that gay people don’t exist by simply telling them to make the choice to either get married or not, where marriage is defined as exclusively heterosexual in character. In reality, though, gay people exist. As a result, marriage must be made available to them in the form of same-sex marriage.

    This is really tiresome. There are simply too many substantive explanations for why it’s important to recognize that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice. I don’t have the time to educate you further.

  14. Digitonal says:

    You obviously havent watched Amnesty that hard then…

  15. Digitonal says:

    Couldnt have put it better :-)

  16. Digitonal says:

    It looks like Sweetie is on a mission to disagree with anyone or anything said in defence of Amnesty. It seems pointless to argue, but i think deep down you know it was just bad wording and not an offensive comment at all.

  17. You still haven’t answered the question. Do you think it’s acceptable for an Atheist to be harmed in any way for being an Atheist?

  18. Digitonal says:

    Yes, it would be great if you could give the proof of this. Somehow I doubt this is true…and by spreading these lies, what do you hope to achieve? Have a world where there are no organisations fighting for human rights? That doesnt sound quite right to be honest.

  19. Digitonal says:

    It was just a poor choice of words. He so obviously wasnt referring to being gay or not being a choice, but being allowed to express oneself within society.

  20. Digitonal says:

    But why should they need to change their stance? Its just a misinterpretation of what he originally meant and you have admitted that now. It feels very much like people are trying to shoot down an organisation that stands up for them just over a silly choice of words.

  21. Sweetie says:

    It doesn’t look like they’re going to change, since they defended the quote.

  22. Sweetie says:

    The closet is a red herring in this context. He misspoke. John’s point is spot on.

    Gay people are persecuted and killed whether they’re closeted virgins or openly in public in a context like this.

    America, which is hardly as bad as Uganda, is a place where I was harassed, attacked, and marginalized (unequal “justice”, etc.) in school for being gay. I was a virgin until 19 and never told anyone I was gay. I was also not flamboyant. But, people could tell I was gay anyway and I suffered because of their bigotry. Now, take that and place it into a context like Uganda with this legislation. Closet or no closet, gay people will be killed en masse.

  23. Sweetie says:

    Antonio. You are apparently critical thinking impaired if you can’t see the important difference between innate orientation and chosen behavior. A virgin has a sexual orientation just as much as a prostitute does. Does that mean a virgin and a prostitute are the same? No, they aren’t. They exhibit very different behaviors.

    If Uganda decides that it’s a theocratic country, and its laws/constitution reflect that, it has the right to demand that its people are members of that specific religion. It doesn’t have the right to kill atheists. No country has the right to demand that gay people not exist, or pretend they don’t exist. If the country’s religion demands that gay people be virgins or pretend to be straight, then the country should make it easy for gay people to emigrate to a better place.

  24. merrill says:

    Looks like they did respond on this very blog. And the response is what you’d expect: the Uganda bill doesnt criminalize identity, it criminalizes practice. So to “choose” to live in a civil society in accordance with your identity–which, certainly for orientation, is *not* a choice–is what is at issue in the Ugandan bill. It may be a nuance that is lost on the casual reader, but Amnesty’s statement is correct. It is about choice–choice to live in accordance with your identity, or to cower in fear and the dark. It is not a choice anyone should have to make. I appreciate the discussion, and it was nice that Amnesty responded, but the goof was the failure to read in context, or have a good grasp of the bill.

  25. Amnesty International USA says:

    Thanks everyone for their concern about this comment. To clarify, here’s our response:

    In an interview with CNN on Friday regarding the
    Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill, an Amnesty International representative said
    that “sexual orientation is really a question of the right of an individual to
    choose how they want to live their lives.”

    He was referring to the difficult choice that lesbians, gay men, bisexual and
    transgender people are forced to make when they face violence, discrimination and
    persecution: the choice to either live in the closet or to be visibly out in
    their communities. As was evident in the program, too many people have paid
    with their lives when they have made the courageous choice to be out.

    Amnesty International is horrified by the Ugandan bill which looks set to
    impose life imprisonment for consensual same sex conduct and is calling upon
    the parliament to vote against it. The bill represents a huge step backwards
    for the Ugandan parliament which has made important strides on human rights.

    Amnesty International believes that this bill violates the principle of non-discrimination
    as guaranteed under the Uganda Constitution and international and regional
    treaties to which Uganda is a party.

  26. So if in Uganda they decided to put atheists to death or send them to jail you would not object to that?

  27. Sweetie says:

    There is also the critical issue of orientation vs. behavior. Behavior is more in line with choices. Orientation is not. What is not acceptable is to demand that people of gay orientation not be able to experience the same range of loving behavior as heterosexual counterparts. Unless, though, people understand that orientation is innate and separate from behavior—not a matter of choice, then people will continue to pretend that gay people don’t really exist and that all that all there is is “homosexual acts”.

  28. Sweetie says:

    “If it WAS a choice would that make it okay to make it illegal? Clearly not”

    It’s not nearly as clear as you claim. There is a profound difference between something that is chosen and something that is innate. It is more acceptable for a culture to demand that people make choices that correspond with cultural preferences, choices they can make. Gay people cannot chose to not be gay. That’s the big difference. A culture may demand that everyone be of a certain religion. That can be chosen. Or, they can demand that everyone do some sort of ritual or observance. Those things can be chosen, but who a person is attracted to is another matter.

  29. rebel_sf says:

    While I don’t think any harm was meant here, a lot of our political allies, even people close to us personally, actually still believe homosexuality is a choice. It’s going to take more than passing marriage equality and employment laws to change this mind set, unfortunately.

  30. karmanot says:

    Gay Pride is a political choice to be gay. Gay is also an organic determination to be authentic, recognizing the complexity of nature, rejecting absurd arguments about some fantastic sky father who is a displeased wrathful divine asshole, and become self realized as individuals and communities. John is right to understand that our enemies use ‘choice’ against us for the very reasons listed above—which they fear and hate. Notice that Uganda’s christian Nazis use the term “homosexuals.'” The term homosexual was invented by two German criminologists and was conceived as a negative, punishing and pejorative term. That’s why I have always hated it. I’m gay and damn well ‘choose’ that way over a life of closet darkness whose confinements are determined by genocidal enemies. Our way is gay and we choose a path that requires courage to live our lives as free GLTBQs. Bring down Uganda by any means is part of the universal battle for emancipation. Monsters like Inhoff , Rick Warren and the like promote genocide and need to be constantly exposed for the dangers they are..Our process of coming out is never secure and the war never ends.

  31. FunMe says:

    I just posted in the facebook page of Amnesty International and they removed my post. I am going to keep posting with the link to this post from Americablog.

  32. rmthunter says:

    (1) There’s a lot of evidence that it’s wired. There’s no evidence that it’s a “choice.” (2) Why should we?

  33. FunMe says:

    Comments here are great. But to make an impact, let’s start educating Amnesty International of their wrong ways and posting our comments in their Facebook:

    I think they will get it with the pressure just like organization “Susan … for the cure”
    PRESSURE does work!

  34. FunMe says:

    Education is the key. I think they will get it eventually. We just NEED to put the pressure on them.

  35. FunMe says:

    Does Amnesty International read Americablog? If not, this NEEDS to be send to them.

    Great post by the way.

  36. FunMe says:

    That’s really sad. Great to get straight allies, but really, don’t they know gay people to be careful about the words they choose?

  37. rmthunter says:

    My reading of that quote is rather different, although it’s so badly worded as to be nearly incoherent. What I think they tried to say is that laws like this bill take away one’s right to live honestly and openly as who one is — the fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To use “sexual orientation” as the subject just throws the whole thing into the realm of nonsense. Sexual orientation as we understand it today doesn’t mean how you live your life, it means how you identify yourself as an individual. (And there is an element of choice in how you live, if not who you are.) I wonder if it’s a matter of English as a second language — it has that wrong word choice, non-English syntax feel to it.

    At any rate, I guess the bottom line is the same — people are going to get the wrong message from this, although I think they didn’t say what they meant to say. I suspect it’s clumsiness, not malice or ignorance.

  38. There’s taking someone’s word at face value and then there is deliberately assuming the least favourable and most unreasonable interpretation. This is a red herring argument. If it WAS a choice would that make it okay to make it illegal? Clearly not

  39. “And it’s a harmful message, especially in a region, Africa, where they think homosexuality is some bizarre, immoral white western import that society can choose or un-choose to commit.”

    No, what’s really harmful is sending the message to people the world over, including Africa, that it matters a damn for human rights whether something is a choice or not. These laws are not wrong because homosexuality is not a choice, but because they are aggression against people. Sure, it may make it easier to win this battle on gay rights in Africa, but it’ll be a pyrrhic victory if you lose the war on human rights in general because of it.

  40. A reader in Colorado says:

    They “choose” to behave themselves

    I have noticed that people who rag on gay people for not “behaving themselves” also seem to nearly universally oppose gay marriage.

    How are gay men supposed to behave themselves? Because last I looked, any form of sexual expression by a gay person is not behaving himself. Arguing that gay people should not have any form of sexual expression wherein they can “behave themselves” is the edict of a bigot.

  41. Zorba says:

    I donate to Human Rights Watch. From their LGBT Rights program statement:

    “Human Rights Watch promotes and protects the rights of lesbian, gay,
    bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide. Some 76 countries
    have laws against same-sex sexuality. We research issues like the arrest
    and torture of gay men in Egypt, violence against lesbians in South
    Africa, and the murder of transgender people in Honduras. We document
    discrimination faced by LGBT people in employment, health, and
    education, and the abuses they experience, including rape, murder, and
    arbitrary arrest. LGBT people are often denied the rights to freedom of
    assembly, expression, and association. We fight for a world free from
    discrimination and violence against LGBT people.”

  42. goulo says:

    A few days ago when you wrote “he” about the married transgender MTF person and someone corrected you (that “she” was the right pronoun to use), you seemed somewhat offended and retorted to the effect that people shouldn’t nitpick the specific wording of allies like that, and that they should appreciate the support instead of complaining and reproaching about specific details in the expression of support. (The comment and your reply seem to be deleted now, or at least I can’t find them.)

    I can’t help but notice the irony that you “have a bone to pick” with AI now in this post, with no appreciation or thanks that they are on the same side as you in this Uganda issue, you’re taking them to task for using the hot-button word “choice” about people living their lives as they want.

  43. karmanot says:

    Thanks John.Let’s see if they have enough integrity to respond. This reminds me of the Komen contretemps over abolishing Planned Parenthood. Amnesty has never been a protector of the GLTBQ community. The Iranian fiasco is a perfect example. Amnesty seems to avoid religious pogroms directed against us.

  44. karmanot says:

    The idea that sex drive is ‘God driven’ is absolutely absurd. Using the God language simply feeds into the bigot loop. Stick to a telology of science.

  45. karmanot says:


  46. Nancy Green says:

    Jeff Sharlett wrote in Harper’s about how American evangelical ministers and politicians are working with Ugandan politicians to blame homosexuals for all the country’s ills….

  47. karmanot says:

    Amnesty International—absolutely outrageous!

  48. WMcLane says:

    Yes, I agree and I have no wish to excuse or ignore his blunder. But let’s choose our battles and not treat every misstep as an excuse to expand our list of “enemies”. Rather, let’s expose the American backers and, in some cases, authors of the policies of this regime (evangelical Christian organizations, Family Research Council, right wing Republican politicians).

  49. Quilla says:

    Yup. Agree with both of you.

  50. Bill_Perdue says:

    Call the WH (202-456-1414) and demand that Obama rescue GLBT folks from Uganda and other nations where their lives are threatened by the actions of Lively and Obama BBFs McClurkin and Rick Warren.

    Also demand that the US end military aid ($82 million so far this year) to Uganda. The money will be used to kill gays, feminists, anti-cultists, unionists to increase the power of the rich and the cults.

    The US should offer asylum and social services for as long as needed.

  51. Sweetie says:

    We’ll know if they did if they correct their error. Otherwise, we can assume they didn’t.

  52. Sweetie says:

    I’d donate to them after they fix the mess they made.

  53. Sweetie says:

    His “example” is logically broken. He doesn’t understand the basic difference between orientation and behavior.

  54. Sweetie says:

    Hogwash. Your example is nonsensical. It has nothing to do with orientation.

  55. Sweetie says:

    He’s a professional, speaking for a large international organization. He has no excuse. We can only take his words at face value.

  56. Sweetie says:

    The US corporate/government folks sent them there to convert the leaders to evangelical Christianity so Exxon could get a nice oil deal. Gay baiting is used as a ruse to keep everyone distracted from the handshaking.

  57. Sweetie says:

    With friends like these…

  58. I’m pretty sure they got the message by this being posted. That’s why I posted it.

  59. I wouldn’t go that far. They’re a fine group. Keep donating. They just need a little education on this fine point.

  60. I pick on them because there’s no one to contact over there, and if I simply sent an email or called the front desk, the message would never change.

  61. But their orientation has nothing to do with a choice. It either is or it is not. My sexual orientation is not defined by who I sleep with, it’s defined by who I am attracted to.

  62. Well, yes we should fear the word “choice” when it’s routinely used by our enemies to harm us.

  63. Oh I’m sure he meant it in a good way, as he’s with Amnesty International. But it seems like an odd way of putting it, considering how generally our enemies call being gay a choice, and some kind of lifestyle choice, and his quote seems to suggest the same thing. It’s not about how you choose to live, it’s about who you are.

  64. goulo says:

    Can you give a link to that? I find plenty of links about Amnesty International opposing Iran’s mistreatment of gay people, but not about what you’re saying they did.

  65. James Stone says:

    So “behaving themselves” means going through life alone without someone that you love just because other human beings tell you that is the way to live your life? Sorry pal..I did that until the age of 30 and it was horrible. My partner (not husband-can’t get married here in Ohio) and I have been together for 21 years. I could never go back to that phony life of lies living in a closet…

  66. robertw says:

    I stopped contributing to Amnesty International when they decided that executing 15,000 gay men by Iran’s fundamentalist government was not a “human rights abuse” because it was done on the basis of a religious practice. For shame.

  67. Naja pallida says:

    That’s how I took it to mean, but I can also understand how it could be easily misconstrued… by either side.

  68. Naja pallida says:

    Indeed. It isn’t tacit. C-Street House Republicans just would prefer you didn’t mention it… but they’re directly involved.

  69. Naja pallida says:

    They did… Rachel Maddow has covered the topic a few times on her show, and even tried to confront James Inhofe on it, who promptly lied about it. Jeff Sharlet’s book on the Family covers how they have taken numerous trips to Uganda, and funneled millions of dollars to evangelical causes there. Plus, invited members of their government, including the guy who wrote this bill, here.

    As for what legal actions, I can’t imagine what would apply. We allow our Congresspeople overseas trips making use of their government position for influence, as well as making use of government resources, despite going there for personal, non-government, related reasons. Our best hope is to expose them, shame them at any opportunity, and then try to vote them out.

  70. amageingrace says:

    I think his is minor. Why pick on our friends? I think the intended meaning was probably that nondiscrimination laws are about the right to live out one’s sexual orientation as one chooses. That is to say that while orientation itself is not a choice, whether or not to live openly is. It’s worth clarifying the ambiguity, but I don’t think there is a big story about Amnesty International here.

  71. Don Chandler says:

    Ask “almost all men” if they walk down a sidewalk and a hot guy walks past them on the right at the same time a hot gal walks by them on the left, do they a) stop and consider both guy and gal for an instant? Or b) they simply rubberneck to the left? “Almost all Men” in your survey will answer b, following the hot gal. They don’t make a choice, they follow their instinct which is their sexual orientation. Now if you consider the remaining “almost no men”, some will answer they rubberneck to the right following the hot guy–strict homosexual orientation. And some will answer a, they consider both male and female—the Bisexual orientation. It’s a partition of the male population by sexual orientation. Straight Dudes will take exception to your assertion that it’s a choice: “WTF, bro, no, I’m not making a choice. this is what is right for me!”

    Further, there are studies out there that show structural differences in the Brain that suggest hard-wiring. But hey, take it from me, some of us have never ‘successfully’ fantasized about a girl or woman in our lives–it’s called the science of experimentation ;)

  72. Drew2u says:

    But they still get to have sex with women. An equivalency to your point would be straight men can’t have sex with women.

  73. leliorisen says:

    That was a good catch John. Nice job. Now we just need to get someone from Amnesty International to change their language.

  74. WMcLane says:

    There’s no need to be afraid of the word “choice”. Although my sexuality was not chosen, the way I choose to lead my life is clearly a series of choices, most of which I am proud of. Are we really all that bothered that a group that has had our backs for years says that “the right of an individual to choose how they want to live their lives” should not be infringed upon?

  75. Quilla says:

    Wow. Oh, wow. Never expected this of Amnesty International. No donation for you!

  76. zorbear says:

    Tacit backing? Last time I checked, members of the GOP was helping write those Uganda laws…

  77. Indigo says:

    Over the years I’ve watched Amnesty International, I’ve never noticed that they expressed active concern about the gay population or equal rights for all people. They focus on their golden list of selected political prisoners and others, regardless of issue, take a back seat if they even merit mention. The fact that AI chose to even mention the “gay issue” is a signal that someone in their smoke-filled ( ! ) backroom took notice. That they defined (ah-hem) “gay” as a “choice” in good old-fashioned 70’s disco style is an even clearer signal that they have their head up their proverbial ass. But that’s not news, ’twas ever thus. Don’t donate, not to that gaggle of tired old geese.

  78. HeartlandLiberal says:

    Email to Amnesty International contact address from their web site:

    Your statement on Uganda is reported to include the following:

    “It goes against the principle of privacy of individuals. And sexual orientation is really a question of the right of an individual to choose how they want to live their lives.”

    I am not at all sure what universe or century you are living in, but let
    me point out to you that at this point science a and psychology and
    sociology have clearly demonstrated that being gay or transgender is NOT
    A CHOICE. It is a manifestation of the inborn
    nature of an individual expressing itself.

    Your statement is not only not helpful, it is reactionary and backward.
    What, are you now going to support the totally discredited ‘cure the gay’
    or ‘pray the gay away’ movements? Because, as you say, it is just a

    I do not know who at Amnesty International is responsible for this, but
    fix it. Fix it now. I have always supported your organization, but not
    after something as pathetic as this.

  79. samiinh says:

    There is no scientific evidence that you “choose” your sexual orientation. There is scientific evidence that many species on this planet display homosexual orientations.

  80. Adam H says:

    I agree with anonymousryan’s comments. In context, the ‘objectionable’ sentence concerns a person’s right to live their life how they wish – which necessarily includes the right to express their sexual orientation – without fear of discrimination or violent reprisals.

    It’s a far cry from saying that sexual orientation is a choice. I highly doubt a person in Mr Kututwa’s position would hold such offensive views.

  81. BeccaM says:

    I concur: Amnesty’s way of phrasing their opposition is entirely the wrong way to do it. I’ve been following the posts on and if anything, these proposed Ugandan laws are worse than people think.

    Literally — if a straight person touches a person of the same sex in a way this second person interprets as homosexual in nature, regardless whether it actually is or not, this can be grounds for charges and a conviction of the crime of homosexuality. The punishment for which can be life in prison.

    Rent a house or apartment to someone who is gay? You can go to prison for life. Do it twice and you can be executed.

    But hey — this is, so far, just a law the Ugandan government has been kicking around for years, the same way Republicans in the U.S. keep kicking around proposed laws to outlaw abortion in all instances (threatening to come close to passing, but for some reason not quite making it). The reality is the situation in Uganda is already horrific for LGBTs. They already have life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of having gay sex — all they’re doing now is adding the death penalty.

    What I’m saying is the status quo alone ought to be enough for Uganda to be labeled a pariah nation, subject to boycotts and sanctions. Yet as has been pointed out, the Ugandan army is practically a proxy now for the American empire in the region. They receive nearly half a billion dollars in U.S. aid, a large proportion of that for military support. This needs to stop. This genocide needs to stop.

    People: I urge you, do not be satisfied with signing useless online petitions. Write, fax, and call your Congressional Representatives and Senators. Call and write the White House. Write to your local newspapers and TV stations’ news departments. Help bring an end to the tacit U.S. backing of this murderous, monstrous, genocidal regime in Uganda.

  82. Angst says:

    rulesreason……..Anyone can suppress sexuality but you cannot suppress sexual orientation . Sure both heterosexuals and homosexuals can suppress sexual activity but why should they?? The sex drive is God given so if one choose to have sex one choose to have sex. Having sex per se should never be a crime, having IRRESPONSIBLE sex is a crime!!

  83. mirror says:

    John, I agree. This is not good. Any info on where to send feedback?

  84. JozefAL says:

    So. You want to take a second and figure out how your idiocy applies to lesbians? Or bisexuals of either gender? Your whole notion about “fantasizing” is just that–it’s FANTASIZING. I’m sure thousands of straight men check out the Playboy centerfold and FANTASIZE about fucking her, but they’re fully aware their chances of turning that into reality are virtually nil. As for all those “young, beautiful women,” don’t forget that THEY also have a choice. I’m sure most “young, beautiful women” aren’t spending much time on any of those “middle-aged straight men” when they have their pick of “young” straight men.
    Now. Here’s a bit more for you to mull over. Those “middle-aged straight men” ARE still wired to lust over young women, regardless of their chances of actually acting on that lust. Unless, you’re willing to believe that any “middle-aged straight man” is suddenly going to start checking out gay porn sites to check out the bevy of guy-on-guy action and then stop and think, “Hmm, you know. That really doesn’t look so bad. I think I’ll see if I can find some other guy so I can suck his dick.” I have no idea of your sexual orientation, but if you’re straight, I want you to tell me–in all honesty–that you could FANTASIZE about having sex with Brad Pitt or Denzel Washington or Manny Pacquiao and fully enjoy it. I’m not familiar with too many gay men who can fantasize about having sex with Angelina Jolie or Beyonce or Sofia Vergara and really enjoy the fantasy, so I doubt that there are that many straight men who could fantasize about having sex with another man.

  85. rulesreason says:

    (1) There’s no scientific evidence that it’s “wired.”. (2) Even if it is wired, one can choose to suppress it. For example, almost all men have strong sex drives and almost all middle-aged straight men fantasize about having sex with a variety of young, beautiful women. It could be argued that they are “wired” that way. But they don’t act on it. They “choose” to behave themselves.

  86. anonymousryan says:

    To give the spokesperson the benefit of the doubt it might just be poorly phrased, he may be talking more broadly about the right of individuals to live their lives free from government oversight, the right of self-determination, rather than explicitly about sexuality. Especially since the previous sentence is about the right to privacy.

  87. Drew2u says:

    Did or did not K-street and the christian evangelicals from the U.S. spread the slanderous lie that “homosexuals prey on children” in Uganda? If so, what are the legal actions that can be taken against them?

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