Sexual Liquidation & Responsibility to Protect

The Rise of Sexual Liquidation by Joseph Sewedo

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Today, laws are being promulgated to heighten sexual liquidation in several parts of the world. The last few months have been very challenging for human rights activists/ advocates globally, especially activists committed to addressing homophobia in the world. Over the years, homophobia has been identified to be perpetration of hate crimes against persons who do not conform to certain sexual and gender norms: thereby challenging what is claimed to be traditional values including cultural and religious practices.

In the last decade, the promotion and protection of persons who have so far being identified as sexual minorities have face several ups and downs- from legalization of same-sex unions in several countries to now what is understood to be State-Sponsored homophobia, where persons engaged in any form of same-sex relationship might suffer imprisonment from 5years to life imprisonment and worst still death. Activists and advocates for rights on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity are facing great challenges globally, where they have to deal with institutionalized homophobia from Nigeria to Russia to Uganda, whose President (Museveni) recently signed into law an Act that will send all homosexual into imprisonment for life.

Human rights diplomacy, which involve discussing protection and promotion of sexual minority rights globally, policy advocacy and lobbying seem to have met a defiance in States that proudly discuss tradition as an excuse not to discuss the rights of homosexuals or even attempt protecting their homosexual citizens. States like Gambia and Zimbabwe have perpetually sponsored violation of the rights of their homosexual citizens and render this minority group to stable fear in their own homeland. Given my very active involvement in the promotion and protection of human rights of sexual minority groups (precisely homosexuals) in Nigeria, “back door” or “quiet” diplomacy is a strategy I have supported and implemented but unfortunately remained inutile given the “vested interest” associated to this advocacy. This “vested interest” not only includes politicians but also countries in the international community whose economic national interest is prioritized over the promotion of human rights. Often, this “back door” or “quiet” diplomacy has left the SOGI (Sexual orientation and Gender Identity) movement in Nigeria invisible and even considered non-existing. No wonder Ojo Maduekwe (former Foreign Affairs Minister) mentioned in 2009 at the United Human Rights Council that there was no group advocating for the rights of homosexuals in his country. Furthermore, this strategy has created a friction amongst local activists who feel going radical in advocacy is best to claim the rights of homosexual citizens.

From the experience of countries like China and India, human rights diplomacy usually depends on two factors: the national interest at stake and the benefits to or interest of the community-at-large. In addition, Japan who have always maintained and refrained from incorporating human rights consideration into its foreign policy but nonetheless engaged “off the scene”. Apparently, human rights diplomacy is an inevitable dilemma to which many States are exposed and that which manipulates the strategic planning of human rights advocates/activists.

From an African perspective, it is very challenging to objectively discuss human rights protection and promotion without having to sound culturally non-conforming or worse still, intellectually colonized by the West. Human rights situation in many countries in Africa is often regarded as an internal issue and one that challenges the sovereignty of a State when being discussed at international fora. Given the international law policy of non-interference and State sovereignty to which States quickly refer to when being challenged for the deteriorating human rights situation, it is difficult to communicate to States that regardless of these policies, there is the “Responsibility to Protect” norm that is expected to be implemented by each State. RtoP- although not a law but a norm invested in international law- is a relatively new mechanism to ensure that States protects the rights of their citizens and prevent them from non-state human rights abuses as well as state-sponsored violations. Although RtoP precipitated into international discussion of human rights to prevent “Genocide, Crime against humanity, War Crimes and Ethnic cleansing”, it is apparently becoming necessary to add a new term, given the trending issue of human rights abuses and violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. This term could be referred to as “Sexual liquidation”.

One of the three foundation “pillars” of RtoP provides that, if the state manifestly fails to protect its citizens from Genocide, Crime against humanity, War Crimes and Ethnic cleansing and peaceful measures have failed, the international community has the responsibility to intervene through coercive measures such as economic sanctions. Military intervention is considered the last resort. While this is very delicate measure to consider, it is important to begin to think along this direction before the situation of sexual liquidation gets worse.

The similarity in the new laws in Nigeria and Uganda as well as the propaganda law in Russia is to liquidate sexual acts that are considered homosexual and/or un-natural, what can be likened to ethnic cleansing. This also brings the melancholy of the Rwanda genocide- a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi and Hutu majority as well as the South African apartheid- the worst situation of racism in world history.

While it is important that States protect their sovereignty and maintain their political autonomy, it is pertinent that they adhere to RtoP norm that ensure that their citizens are protected from all forms human rights violation, especially those affecting human dignity and life. Homosexual citizens are becoming victims just as citizens became marginalized and discriminated against because of their color, ethnic and tribe. The international community should not wait for another round of genocide in the world before considering that sexual citizenship is an important discourse in promoting world peace. It is time to promote the implementation of the responsibility to protect and prevent “sexual liquidation”.

Article was originally published on Joseph Sewedo Akoro