#OutToLunch If the youth are lured into homosexuality for financial gain, what about creating real jobs for them?

By Denis Jjuuko

A video clip of one of those so-called social media influencers surfaced on Twitter in which he claimed he was being persecuted for being gay. He claimed he was a gay sex worker! The video had the watermark logo of DW— a renowned German news agency. He later claimed that he had been given money by the DW journalists to say whatever he said otherwise he is heterosexual. Before the video went viral over the weekend, he was one of those vocal anti-homosexuality people on Twitter.

His claim that he was paid for the video in which he was seen half naked, body smeared with some oil, massaging a fellow man in some dingy room is part of the narrative that homosexuality is being promoted in Uganda. That young people are being paid to be gay by organizations and individuals from western Europe and north America. That was also one of the reasons for the anti-homosexuality bill passed by a united cheering parliament the other day.

I don’t know whether there is money to promote homosexuality but let me make the assumption that it is true. That indeed people are being lured into homosexuality in exchange for lots of money and visas to Europe and north America where they could live better lives than here — doing the same jobs they despise here!

If that is the case, then the anti-homosexuality crusade is missing a major point — the issue of lack of opportunities for mainly young people which leads to under and unemployment. One of Uganda’s biggest exports today is the externalization of labour to mainly the Arab world where young people go to become domestic workers and do all sort of jobs.

At Entebbe airport, most travelers outside of Uganda are young people in abayas and hijabs walking in choreographed formations on their way to the deserts of the middle east. Arab based airliners now send in huge planes and they go back full of passengers on their way to domestic work.

The money they are earning isn’t that high but largely better than what they can largely get here. Many wouldn’t want to actually go to become domestic workers but they have not been given a chance at home.

When are we going to see parliament in unparalleled bipartisan unity tackling unemployment? When are we going to see our leaders moving from one gathering to another like they are doing now on anti-homosexuality pushing for the creation of real jobs for young people?

If people are becoming homosexuals so that they can earn money, then the best way forward to stop them is by creating real jobs for them. But what we usually hear is the condescending of young people for not being job creators by privileged people who have never created any real job. Job creation should never be the responsibility of young people rather that of our leaders.

In fact, Ugandans cannot be blamed for lack of trying to create jobs. We are one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world. Many Ugandans have tried to create jobs for at least themselves. From roadside kiosks, boutiques in arcades to the gig economy. Even those with proper jobs have side hustles—selling handbags, perfumes, or owning a kafunda near their residences. But the majority of these businesses don’t celebrate their fifth birthdays.

Capital is too expensive; the market is too small and taxations and all sorts of fees are simply too high. Nowadays, there is a government agency that charges for all sorts of things. Look at tourism for example. A trading license, a vehicle license fee, a procurement annual fee, a local government fee if you are hotel on each night somebody spends in the hotel, a tourism operator fee, and all sorts of things in between. At the end of the day, it becomes difficult to survive and thrive.

If young people have resorted to homosexuality to earn a living as Ugandan leaders want us to believe, then the easiest thing is to create alternative sources of jobs for them. But how many real jobs are we creating a year as a country?

And it is not only jobs that we need to create. Revamping our education is also crucial so that we train people for jobs that are available on the market. Empower people with skills to adjust to emerging technologies (instead of technologies replacing them).

The writer is a communication and visibility consultant. djjuuko@gmail.com

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