Category Archives: African Feminism

“Mama Machel, WE! are outraged”

Zethu Matebeni of UCT speaks at the 12th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture Dialogue Series – “Gender in Dialogue”. Zethu responds to Mama Graça Machel’s statement on the ‘lack of outrage in society’ over violence against women. Instead Zethu speaks to the many outrages she feels around women, around lesbians, and transgender people who are murdered and mutilated. Thank you to Zethu for speaking out and speaking out so powerfully.

Bernadine Evaristo – Mr Loverman

Diriye Osman interviews Bernadine Evaristo author of Mr Loverman

In a revealing interview with Salon, Donna Tartt once said, “I had a fairly well-known editor tell me that The Secret History would never be published because no successful book by a woman had ever been written from the point of view of a man, and that I would have to change it to a female narrator.”

Although it’s tricky for both male and female writers to write from the point of view of the opposite gender, there have always been a number of tremendously talented and successful female authors who have not only risen to the challenge but, in doing so, have completely demolished deeply-embedded social codes that should not have existed in the first place.

British-Nigerian novelist and poet, Bernardine Evaristo is not only a master of literary gender-bending but she’s also adroit at subverting well-worn tropes from slavery to stifled sexuality in a way that feels new, visceral, vital. Although Evaristo has always been an innovative stylist, her latest novel, the critically acclaimed, award-winning smash, Mr. Loverman, is her chef d’oeuvre; a masterful dissection of the life of a 74 year-old, British-Caribbean gay man. It is a book about secrecy and self-protection, freedom and fear, history and the future, family and faith, repression and renewal.

For Evaristo, this extraordinary act of ventriloquism was necessary. “I knew this was an explosive mix for fiction”, she says. “Not only is black homosexuality all but invisible in British fiction, but the idea that a septuagenarian is actively gay is potentially very controversial.”

“I like the challenge of writing beyond my own culture (I’m not Caribbean), gender, age, sexuality and so forth, but it does mean that I have to work hard to create authenticity with my characters. To make them totally believable and convincing.”

Evaristo, who originally trained as a stage actress, nurtured her writing talent by penning roles for black actresses “because few parts existed for us in the early 80s.” She dropped acting but fuelled the fire to keep writing. “The magic of writing,” she says, “the emotional, intellectual and imaginative connection I feel to it, is addictive. My influences are wide and varied, and certainly many writers inspired me to tell my own stories when I was very young – Gloria Naylor, Ntozake Shange, Keri Hulme, Toni Morrison, Michelle Cliff, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker.”

With the recent anti-gay legislation in Nigeria and throughout a depressingly large part of Africa, does she feel there’s been enough of a response from African writers in terms of exploring the issue of homosexuality in fiction or non-fiction?

“I’d say not,” she says. “It’s still quite a taboo subject in many communities and certainly not enough people speak out. You’re probably one of the very few writers writing black African stories with gay characters. When I chaired the Caine Prize for African Fiction a couple of years ago we shortlisted a gay story by Malawian writer Stanley Kenani. Lola Shoneyin’s super novel The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wivestouches on lesbianism, as did Monica Arac De Nyeko’s Caine Prize winning “Jambula Tree”, which won the Caine in 2007. But essentially, when you can list such stories on one hand, there is a problem. I wrote a piece for The Guardian about the long history of pre-colonial homosexuality in Africa when the recent anti-gay legislation was passed in Nigeria, my father’s homeland. We need more voices out there, gay or straight, writing stories that include homosexual characters.”

Aside from her work as a novelist and poet, Evaristo teaches creative writing at London’s Brunel University, where she spearheaded the creation of the prestigiousAfrican Poetry Prize, which offers a powerful platform for gifted poets on the rise.

Part of what makes Bernardine Evaristo such an important cultural figure is that she’s an intellectual who’s unafraid to take creative risks. Every book that she has written doesn’t feel so much a progression as a complete re-invention of style, subject matter and genre. Once you add a hearty dose of compassion and energetic forward-thinking to the mix, what you get is not only an artist who repeatedly resists status quos and shoots straight for the jugular but a bonafide literary rebel with a cause. This in itself is worthy of celebration.

Bernardine Evaristo’s Mr Loverman (Akashic Books) is out now as is Diriye Osman’sFairytales For Lost Children (Team Angelica Press).

This piece was originally published on the Huffington Post

The human security implications of anti-gay law on sexual minority in Nigeria

The human security implications of anti-gay law on sexual minority in Nigeria by Toyin Ajao

Introduction

On 7th January 2014, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed an anti-gay bill into law, with punishments including 14 years imprisonment for anyone that enters into same-sex marriage, 10 years for any organization or people that support gay rights as well as any individual who displays same-sex affection in public. This invasive law made Nigeria the 36th country in Africa to prosecute gays. Following suit, Uganda passed its own anti-gay law on the 24th of February 2014. This development is perturbing as it empowered the population and provided a common ground on which to unite and persecute sexual minority. What the law has validated is the homophobic stances of religious and cultural beliefs that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’, ‘unAfrican’ and ‘immoral’, without a critical engagement with its human rights and human security implications.

It is very germane to reflect on the Nigerian anti-gay law in the context of peace and conflict, particularly through the lens of human security. This is because the current discourse has largely captured the human rights paradigm, rather than its human security element.

The emerging paradigm of human security was promulgated in the ‘Human Rights Report’ by the UNDP in 1994.[i] The imperative components of Human Security as encapsulated by Abass are: freedom from fear and want, and the guaranteed fulfilment of individuals. ‘Human security’ has similar components to the human rights concepts, but human security has more far-reaching practical implications from the perspective of peace and conflict. The difference however is in the approaches of these two concepts. This is a shift in the traditional state-based approach to security where the rights of one group can be placed above the other to protect their political interest at the expense of the other group. Human security focuses on human crises that need practical interventions without which there will continue to be obstacles to human development. The practical components of human security include the individual protection from internal and external threats, access to food security, health care, education, environmental security, personal safety, human rights, effective governance and absence of violent conflicts.[ii] This makes it pertinent to look at the anti-gay law in the contemporary discourse from the human security perspective.

 The case of homosexuality in Africa

Many scholars have squashed claims that homosexuality is ‘unAfrican’. As Tamale argues, colonization came with draconian rules and laws that categorized many practices including homosexuality in Africa as horrendous and ‘barbaric’.[iii] Tamale further challenged the claim that homosexuality is not part of African culture with ‘culture’ in contemporary Africa being an interpretation and construction of the colonialists and patriarchs.[iv] This dilemma within African communities essentially states the white ‘other’ construction of their reality. Ilesanmi also debunks the myths of the ‘UnAfricanness’ outcry in her reflection that homosexuality existed in African society before the advent of imperialism and colonialism.[v] She argues that the multi-cultural nature of African society embraced diversity and tolerance in its practices before the importation of foreign religions, which has subsequently dominated the discourse and rhetoric of African identity and society.[vi] Furthermore, in the Amnesty International report on criminalization of same-sex conduct in sub-Saharan Africa, it was highlighted that African colonizers brought the laws that criminalize homosexual practices in Africa with a determination to expunge what is considered ‘unnatural’. [vii]

Dlamini also argues the ‘compatibility of homosexuality with African culture, cosmology and spirituality’ by reviewing selected critical texts of ‘homosexuality in Africa’.[viii] Dlamini states that western colonization imported homophobia, and not homosexuality, to Africa.[ix] This he justified by citing homosexual practices in Africa before the spread of ‘civilization’ by the West. Some of the examples are: Sango the effeminate Yoruba deity in the pre-modern history of Africa revered and worshiped with his affinity for cross dressing and ‘feminine’ hairdo; the Azande warriors in Congo, known to marry other warriors and serve as temporary wives; and lastly, the Hausa ‘Yan Daudu’ men in Northern Nigeria recognized as individuals whose gender expressions are very effeminate and displayed strong affinity for cross-dressing. These aforementioned practices were not frowned upon or criticized until Africa’s colonization.

The new waves of western missionaries have built on the homophobic rhetoric and strengthened it. This is due to the proselytization of Africans during and after colonization: a classic enabling factor for the promotion of the anti-gay agenda in Africa. With the contemporary understanding of ‘culture’ and the less well-understood pre-colonial history of Africa, many Africans’ believed that homosexuality was a ‘Western invention’. The international community, witnessing the impediment of gay rights in Africa, has been making attempts to prove that homosexuality is not their invention but a human reality. Nevertheless, Western evangelicals are influencing anti-gay campaigns in Africa as homophobic funding trickles in from Western Christian Organizations.[x]

Furthermore, the religious fundamentalist’s alignment with state power has intensified homophobia in Africa.[xi]Nigeria is a case in point. Apart from losing the rich historical culture on sexual diversity, the incessant conflict of interests between the African leadership and the West is a key area of interest influencing decisions on gay rights. Syed argues that, ‘pressure from the West only emboldens the religious fundamentalists and their political allies’[xii] to victimize the already marginalized group. Another very central reason is the leadership of patronage and the institutionalization of religious belief in Nigeria.[xiii] Consequently, the growth of Christian and Islamic fundamentalism in Nigeria has a strong impact in the criminalization of the Nigerian sexual minorities.

What then are the threats to this human security?

By passing the anti-gay law in Nigeria, the Nigerian government has strengthened the penal codes that exist in Northern Nigeria to execute, jail or punish anyone considered homosexual. This has helped widen the scourge of discrimination that Nigerian sexual minorities already endure.

 There has been a known culture of open antagonism, discrimination and hatred for sexual minorities in Nigeria, with the government legitimizing this discrimination and hatred. As a result, there are continuous incidents of gays, or people perceived to be gay, being evicted illegally from their homes, stripped naked, tortured, or beaten. A recent example was the five alleged gays stripped, beaten and paraded naked in Warri in March 2014.[xiv]

 Furthermore,the Nigerian police force that is notorious for abuse and exploitation of their citizens has now gained more legal status to continue this act as a result of the passing of anti-gay bill into law. Arbitrary arrests and detention of real and perceived homosexuals have continued to take place. This law has exponentially compromised the personal safety of Nigerian sexual minority, or those perceived or accused of being gay.

Some NGOs that render support to sexual minority are under threats because of the clause in the anti-gay law that spells out 10 years for any organisations caught supporting this group. In the wake of the anti-gay laws, a few organizations working for the defence of LGBT rights fear recriminations and have to be extremely careful about their interventions as not to risk jail terms imposed by the law. Many organizations that have done incredible work in advocacy, lobbying and service provision for the protections of sexual minorities are been forced into silence by this law. This is a breach of the constitutional and democratic freedoms of non-governmental organizations in Nigeria. With most organizations clamped down upon by this law, exploitation and illegal prosecution of perceived and real homosexuals can only rise.

Another significant threat is access to quality health care. Available statistics revealed that there are about 3.7 million Nigerians living with HIV.[xv] With this new law, homosexuals living with HIV/AIDS are likely to go underground for fear of prosecution. The likelihood of spreading HIV/AIDS with those forced underground will increase thereby leading to a greater health hazard. NGOs working on issues of sexual minorities and providing health services will have trouble delivering adequate services as well. Unfortunately, the anti-gay discrimination may fuel the African HIV/AIDS epidemic in Nigeria. Part of the ongoing efforts with the World Health Organization, ‘to eliminate health disparities across board, notably including those impacting the LGBT community’ will be hampered.[xvi]

Fuelling more threats both internally and externally is the media.As the mainstream media highlights awareness on gay rights, so also is the platform used for promoting hate and discrimination. The effect of media ‘sensationalist tabloids’ on gay rights has been negative.[xvii] Through some media outlets the categorization of homosexuality as ‘unnatural’, ‘ungodly’, ‘unhealthy’ and ‘unAfrican’, as gained high profile debate and prominent visibility.[xviii] Some Nigerian TV stations and online newspapers are culprit. Also, traditional media in so many ways have contributed to ‘witch-hunting’ of gays by ‘linking same-sex attraction with incest, paedophilia, bestiality, and adultery’.[xix] Negative reporting can only further endanger the lives of sexual minorities who are already marginalized.

 Finally, there is growth in the number of asylum seekers from Nigeria. Ilesanmi in her interview on ThisDay newspaper explained that many homosexuals have been forced to seek asylum outside their country, leading to more ‘brain drain’.[xx] This has increased rapidly since the bill became law. Sadly, many skilled individuals who were contributors to Nigeria’s economic development and growth are fleeing persecution by their government.

 Conclusion

It is unpalatable that sexual minorities in Africa are used as collateral damage in the global war of power and self-determination. We live in a global village, with opposition and support for homosexuality, which is not totally strange in human relations. However, the Nigerian government has not shown objectivity or understanding of the threats to human security in the position taken against its sexual minorities. The atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance has dimmed significantly. Both the political and religious leaders have been part of the crusade of homosexual persecution and prosecution. Nigeria needs conversations that are open to change and that demonstrate respect for human rights and diversity.

Whilst it would help for political leaders to repeal the laws that criminalized sexual minorities, a move towards evidence-based research on sexuality issues is crucial. This is an important step that will be useful in educating the Nigerian society. Until such moves are made human rights and human security will continue to suffer imminent threats and Nigeria will continue to be seen as a retrogressive nation.

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Toyin Ajao is a Peace and Conflict doctoral fellow and an assistant lecturer at the University of Pretoria. She is also an alumnus of the Africa Leadership Centre at King’s College, London and Obafemi Awolowo University. Her research focus includes: human security, conflict transformation, citizen journalism and gender and sexual rights.

NOTES

[i] See Abass, A. (2010) An Introduction to Protecting Human Security in Africa. In Protecting Human Security in Africa. 1-20.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] See Tamale, S. (2009) A Human Rights Impact Assessment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Public Dialogue.Kampala: 1-6.
[iv] Ibid.
[v] See Ilesanmi, Y. (2013) Freedom to Love for All; Homosexuality is not UnAfrican!
[vi] Ibid.
[vii] See Amnesty International (2013). Making Love a crime: Criminalization of Same-sex conduct in Sub-Saharan Africa.
[viii] See Dlamini, B. (2011) Homosexuality in the African context. Agenda: Empowering women for gender equity : 128-136.
[ix] Ibid.
[x]See http://www.voanews.com/content/lesbian_gay_rights_in_africa_hit_roadblocks/1512357.html
[xi] See Ossome, L. (2013) Postcolonial Discourses of Queer Activism and Class in Africa. In Queer Africa Reader. 32-47.
[xii]Seehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16068010
[xiii] See Sampson, T. I. (2012) Religious violence in Nigeria: Causal diagnoses an strategic recommendations to the state and religious communities. AJCR Volume 12 No. 1: 103-134.
[xiv]See http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/blog/gay-men-publicly-stripped-and-beaten-nigeria.
[xv] See http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-nigeria.htm
[xvi] See Daulaire, N. (2013) The Importance of LGBT Health on a Global Scale. LGBT Health 24 July: 1-2.
[xvii] See Johnson, C. A. (2007) Off the Map: How HIV/AIDS Programming is failing Same-sex Practicing People in Africa.
[xviii] Ibid.
[xix] Ibid.
[xx]See http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/our-senators-are-hypocrites/104344/

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Diriye Osman: Why we must tell our own stories

Diriye Osman
Diriye Osman

 

I once attended a book club in which my short story collection, Fairytales for Lost Children, was being discussed. Except for me and the acquaintance who had invited me to this event, all the members of this book club were white readers. Everyone was curious about the idea of a sexually explicit book that tackled issues of family, faith, immigration and love filtered through the very specific lens of the LGBT Somali experience.

The book club members asked me questions about the structure of the book, the use of Arabic calligraphy and illustrations and the fact that I chose to write in a lexicon that was studded with Kiswahili, Kenyan street slang, Jamaican patois, Italian and Somali. They were fine with my use of Italian phrases because they could easily use Google Translate to offer them meaning and context. But what about my pesky use of Jamaican patois, Kiswahili or Somali? They tried to use Google Translate for these “challenging” terminologies but came up short. The sting in the tail came when one reader, a middle-aged, middle-class Englishman asked me, “Who are you writing for?”

I was slightly taken aback by this question and the atmosphere suddenly assumed a hostile edge. I reached for blandishments in order to keep my cool and, ultimately, my dignity.

“I write for anyone who has an interest in the lives of others, which is all readers,” I said. The reader was dissatisfied with this response so the moderator kept the conversation moving along until it was time to go home.

As I sat on the bus, however, I gave the question serious consideration. Who do I write for? I thought about this again and again over the next few days until the answer crystalized in my consciousness. I was right the first time. I write for all readers. But my primary interest is in representing the complex but universal experience of Somalis. I do this because the media representation of the global Somali community is one that is carved out of derivative clichés crammed with pirates, warlords, terrorists, passive women and girls whose entire existence seems to be nothing more than a footnote on the primitive dangers of female genital mutilation. I write because I want to give a long-overdue voice to a community that has experienced a tremendous array of challenges but who constantly face these challenges with the most wicked sense of humour, humility and dignity. My father always used to tell me that in our culture, the done thing when you’re facing hardship and your belly is empty is to moisturize your face, comb your hair, press your clothes and step out into the sun with your sense of humanity intact. It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me to this day.

My book, “Fairytales for Lost Children”, was important for me to write as an openly gay Somali man because I was telling an untold story. I was offering a window into the lives of young people who happen to be African and gay in the midst of considerable hostility, but still managing to hang on to their identity. Who hasn’t experienced moments of despair? Who hasn’t faced rejection or unrequited love?

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Not all my future books will focus strictly on the gay Somali experience. My second short story collection-in-progress, “The Shape of Purity”, examines the lives of feisty, rebellious Somali women and girls – straight, lesbian, transgender – as they deal with the challenges of filial love, passion, heartbreak, careers, motherhood and even hardboiled, gangster shenanigans! The first story from this book is a dark, haunting fable called, “The Memory Snatcher”, which hinges on the sense of sisterhood between a troubled Somali woman and her young niece. These characters are punk rebels in hijabs and part of telling their stories is because I want to challenge the pervasive image of what the Somali community is all about. In telling these stories, I’m offering up a mirror and saying, “There are other ways of being.” That’s the beautiful thing about literature. We read in order to catch a glimpse of other lives that will ultimately reflect our own empathetic and imaginative capabilities. As writers, we must keep giving voice to the unexpressed; we must keep telling these untold stories again and again armed with the small knowledge that it is a joy-inducing, transformative privilege to be the teller of these tales. That, in itself, is something worthy of libation.

Diriye Osman is photographed by Boris Mitkov.

You can read and share Diriye Osman’s latest story “The Memory Snatcher” here and you can order his critically-acclaimed book “Fairytales For Lost Children” here. You can also connect with Diriye via his personal website and Tumblrwww.diriyeosman.com

This article was first published on Huffington Post 

Interview with Dorothea Smartt, Brit born Bajan literary activist, live artist & poet

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Dorothea Smartt is a literary activist, live artist, and an established and respected poet with an international reputation. Born and raised in London she is of Barbadian heritage. Described as a ‘Brit-born Bajan international’, her work typically bridges the islands of Britain and Barbados, effortlessly shuttling between local and global scenes as it weaves a diasporic web. With two full collections, Connecting Medium and Ship Shape [Peepal Tree Press] her twenty years of experience, includes been engaged by the British Council and travelling to Bahrain, South Africa, Egypt, and Hungary. In 2013 she was keynote speaker at the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award, the premier literary award in Barbados. She is an honorary team member and advisor to Cambridge University’s Caribbean Poetry Project. She is Co-Director of Inscribe, a national writer development programme, Associate Poetry Editor of “Sable Litmag” and guest co-editor of their LGBTQI issues, and an Advisory editor to “Scarf”, a global arts & literature magazine. In her forthcoming third collection she continues to rework standard narratives, this time examining same-sex relationships and cross-gender experiences as push-pull factors behind ‘West Indian’ émigré workers on the Panama Canal.

In this interview, Dorothea underlines her relationship to her Bajan voice as a critical medium for her poetry. She reflects on her South London birth and upbringing in a Bajan household and the process of finding her voice and creating her place in the world as a Black girl in Britain. In the course of discussing her depiction of specifically located characters and their particular voices within her poetry collections, she repurposes historical and mythological figures, from Medusa to “Samboo” whom she renames Bilal. She engages us in her practice of historical “healing, restitution, recovery, re-membering and re-calling” in the excavation of overlooked and erased voices in past and present contexts. Her philosophy as a cultural practitioner is revealed through her treatment of cultural narratives as they impact individual and collective memory and consciousness, and implicate themselves in geographical landscapes. Her work re-inscribes a gendered, multiply located, lived and mythologized individual, familial and collective healing space.

She concludes by reading the introductory poem to her latest publication, “Reader, I Married Him & Other Queer Goings-On”, which was launched in Barbados at the Bim LitFest held on May 15-17, 2014.

Kagendo Murungi is a Kenyan writer, video producer and activist with a background in international sexual and gender rights advocacy. Her writing has been featured in the Queer African Reader (2013), Kwani? 07 (2012), United Nations Days of Vesak/International Association of Buddhist Universities Conference Journal (2012), Yellow Medicine Review (2011/2010) Sing Whisper Shout Pray: Feminist Visions for A Just World (2002), Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social & Political Black Literature & Art (2002) and a range of other publications and multimedia productions.

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MAYIBUYE! iAFRICA!

In January 2014, a group of Africans from many physical, spiritual, and political locations began conversations around the deteriorating state of our Continent, the fundamentalisms that divide us and the multiple forms of violence that harm us. Initially spurred by the violent laws enacted in Nigeria and Uganda against Africans who are non-conforming in terms of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression and African women, we put this statement together to mobilise and re-engage ourselves and others around a platform to re-imagine and transform Africa in the tradition of our liberation struggles and spirit of our ancestors. We use the title Mayibuye iAfrica – a slogan from the liberation struggle in Southern Africa meaning ‘bring back Africa’ – to call for self-determination, diversity and justice and a return to our traditions of resistance. We hope you will join us.

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MAYIBUYE! iAFRICA!

On this African liberation day, we, the undersigned, note with grave concern the continent-wide deepening crisis including, growing militarism, the crisis in democracy, an expanding neoliberal economic order, deepening patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism, amongst others.

We especially note the worsening social and economic conditions of those who have been dispossessed of dignity and autonomy over their lives, bodies, lands and natural resources, and denied rights to access shelter, food, water, education & healthcare.

We call the attention of all freedom loving people across the Continent and around the globe, to the pervasive and debilitating violence faced by those who are pushed to the margins because of divisive and unjust laws and policies, and poor practices by our own governments, who do not respond to their people but to financial interests. We condemn and resist attempts to homogenise Africa‘s multiple legacies into legalised hatred and discrimination.

We rise up and come together as Africans globally, working for a continent where self-determination, as well as physical, emotional, social and economic wellbeing are guaranteed to all. We come together to condemn and resist all forms of violence and militarism, including inter-community and state sponsored violence such as is currently rife in the Central African Republic and Kenya; systemic violence against Africans based on their actual or assumed sexual orientation and gender identity, as in Nigeria and Uganda; and endemic violence against women, girls and gender non-conforming persons, as witnessed in the abductions of girls and lack of adequate response in Nigeria.

We remind ourselves of the critical contributions that Africans have made across history in defining and defending principles of justice, solidarity, liberation and diversity. We salute all Africans who speak and have spoken in defence of these principles.

We stand for a return to Africa in every respect:

Re-imagining our lives outside neo-colonial power.

Breaking free from the structures, systems and individuals who disappear our history and traditions of democratic principles and respect for humanity, and who erase our cultures of agency, resistance, creativity and people power.

Reclaiming and upholding the rich legacies and cultural norms of collectivity, freedom, self-determination and ubuntu.

Taking individual and collective responsibility to fight globally and locally against the impoverishment and dispossession of the majority of African people.

Fighting for an end to violence and militarisation that destroys and harms us all.

Fighting for an end to the greed and oppressive power responsible for the destruction of our lands and the Earth.

We recognise, affirm and insist that Africa needs:

Economic and environmental justice to claim and redistribute power, to redistribute land and put our vast resources to the benefit of our people and the healing of mother Earth.

To eradicate militarism and all forms of violence, including the violence of oppressive laws and of poverty.

Racial and ethnic justice.

The transformation of the politics of sex, sexuality and gender, the rightful access to affirming and responsive institutions and services, and the restoration of spaces free of fundamentalisms in order to practice our religions and participate in our cultures.

Africa needs Africans who are imagining and building a future of freedom. We believe that Africans, in our multiplicity, have the potential to transform the world.

We, the undersigned, recommit ourselves to working actively for the Africa we want.

Contact Persons:

Dawn Cavanagh

Pouline Kimani

Phumzile Mtetwa

Contact Address:

mayibuye.pledge AT gmail.com

Deadline: 23 May 2014

Publication date: The statement, with the list of signatures, will be published on Africa day, 25 May 2014.

It is legalized homophobia, not same-sex relations, that is alien to Africa

From Al Jazeera America, Ugandan academic,  professor of law at Makerere University in Uganda, Sylvia Tamale on legalized homophobia in Africa.  Professor Tamale is the editor of African Sexualities published by Fahamu Press.

 

During a prime time interview with BBC’s “Hard Talk” show in March 2012, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni noted, “Homosexuals in small numbers have always existed in our part of black Africa …They were never prosecuted. They were never discriminated.”

Earlier this year, confronted by internal and external pressure, Museveni reversed himself and signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the full glare of the media — declaring that homosexuality was Western-imposed. Before signing the law, Museveni asked a team of top-notch Ugandan scientists to help him make an educated decision. The panel’s report did not mince words: “In every society, there is a small number of people with homosexual tendencies.”

Museveni’s bizarre actions can only be interpreted as a political ploy ahead of presidential elections scheduled for early 2016. Having been at the helm since 1986, Museveni faces serious competition both within and outside his party, not to mention a restless population afflicted by a high cost of living, unemployment and a general disgust with rampant corruption. By the stroke of a pen, Museveni succumbed to populist pressures and condemned an otherwise law-abiding sexual minority to maximum sentences of life imprisonment.

Uganda is not alone in its anti-gay crusade. Nigeria recently passed a law criminalizing homosexuality. Several other African countries — including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon and Sierra Leone — have all expressed the desire to emulate Uganda and Nigeria. At least 38 African countries already proscribe consensual same-sex behavior.

The sad, tired but widely accepted myth that homosexuality is un-African has been valorized and erected on the altar of falsehood time after time. It is a myth that has been played out in numerous contexts, most recently over the debate on Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill. However, historical facts demand that this fable be debunked once and for all.

African sexualities

The ‘homosexuality is un-African’ myth is anchored on an old practice of selectively invoking African culture by those in power. African women are familiar with the mantra. “It is un-African” whenever they assert their rights, particularly those rights that involve reproductive autonomy and sexual sovereignty.

The mistaken claim that anything is un-African is based on the essentialist assumption that Africa is a homogeneous entity. In reality, however, Africa is made up of thousands of ethnic groups with rich and diverse cultures and sexualities. As appealing as the notion of African culture may be to some people, no such thing exists. Moreover, even if we wanted to imagine an authentic African culture, like all others, it would not be static.

African history is replete with examples of both erotic and nonerotic same-sex relationships. For example, the ancient cave paintings of the San people near Guruve in Zimbabwe depict two men engaged in some form of ritual sex. During precolonial times, the “mudoko dako,” or effeminate males among the Langi of northern Uganda were treated as women and could marry men. In Buganda, one of the largest traditional kingdoms in Uganda, it was an open secret that Kabaka (king) Mwanga II, who ruled in the latter half of the 19th century, was gay.

The vocabulary used to describe same-sex relations in traditional languages, predating colonialism, is further proof of the existence of such relations in precolonial Africa. To name but a few, the Shangaan of southern Africa referred to same-sex relations as “inkotshane” (male-wife); Basotho women in present-day Lesotho engage in socially sanctioned erotic relationships called “motsoalle” (special friend) and in the Wolof language, spoken in Senegal, homosexual men are known as “gor-digen” (men-women). But to be sure, the context and experiences of such relationships did not necessarily mirror homosexual relations as understood in the West, nor were they necessarily consistent with what we now describe as a gay or queer identity.

Same-sex relationships in Africa were far more complex than what the champions of the “un-African” myth would have us believe. Apart from erotic same-sex desire, in precolonial Africa, several other activities were involved in same-sex (or what the colonialists branded “unnatural”) sexuality. For example, the Ndebele and Shona in Zimbabwe, the Azande in Sudan and Congo, the Nupe in Nigeria and the Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi all engaged in same-sex acts for spiritual rearmament — i.e., as a source of fresh power for their territories. It was also used for ritual purposes. Among various communities in South Africa, sex education among adolescent peers allowed them to experiment through acts such as “thigh sex” (“hlobonga” among the Zulu, “ukumetsha” among the Xhosa and “gangisa” among the Shangaan)…. Continued on Al Jazeera America

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Nigeria: Chibok, A Living Nightmare, Find our Daughters

Relatives of Kidnapped Girls [Source: TheGuardian.com]
Relatives of Kidnapped Girls [Source: TheGuardian.com]
 Women across Nigeria are protesting the abduction of 234 schoolgirls from Chibok, in north east Nigeria, which took place on Monday April
the 14th. Starting from Wednesday the 30th of April, protests and rallies are planned in Abuja, Ibadan, Maiduguri, Kano, Lagos, Kaduna,
Benin.

A Living Nightmare, Find our Daughters – Statement by Women of Peace And Justice

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Since Monday 14th April 2014 when over 200 young female students from the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, Borno State were abducted by heavily armed men, millions around the world have been unable to come to terms with the loss and the implications of this loss. Today, millions of Nigerian women and men call on the Federal Government and the security agencies to find and bring back these girls currently living in captivity.

These young girls are daughters, sisters, nieces; tomorrow’s women and mothers. Those directly affected grieve, and we as Nigerians and human beings, join them in their anguish and distress. We want them back. Safe in their homes where they belong.

The trend of conflicting information about the exact number of girls who are still missing and even the operations are regrettable. The fact that as yet, no credible claim of responsibility for the abduction of these girls has been made is equally disturbing. This makes it an imperative for all Nigerians to amplify and demand of those with the responsibility for the safety of all Nigerians to ACT and CONSTRUCTIVELY engage to find and return these girls to their parents.

As citizens it is our right and responsibility to ask the following questions which have been on the lips and on the minds of millions around the world. This is even as we wait, with baited breath, to be informed about the fate of these young girls whose only crime is striving for an education:

How is it possible in the age of drones, Google Maps, and aerial surveillance that over 200 girls will vanish without a trace? Is this suggestive of the weaknesses of security operations covering soft targets such as schools even after clear indications of their vulnerability?
Why was protection for our children in schools in the N.E not intensified even after the devastation and pain of the 59 innocent children murdered in FGC Buni Yadi on February 25 2014?
How is it that security is not upgraded around institutions even when warnings of potential threat or imminent aggressions are issued? The warning after Buni Yadi that girls would be targeted or that Giwa Baracks in Madiguri are two cases in point.
What is the rational explanation that in a location (Borno State) under a state of emergency; 4 trucks and numerous motor bikes can deploy, move in convoy, unleash terror on the school at Chibok and then flee with over 200 girls to a location yet to be determined by Nigeria’s security institutions?
Where are or what has happened to the much mentioned assistance to the Federal Government or collaboration with friendly governments ?
Why, despite the massive increase in security spending, (up to N1trillion in 2013 and N845 Billion in 2014), are Nigerians not safer; while our security and military personnel are said to be under equipped and ill prepared to face the ever growing security challenges confronting Nigeria?
What support plans are being made to cater for the emotional needs and management of the trauma the parents of these girls must be going through?
The Chibok incidence is CRITICAL as well as a stark reality of the vulnerability of all Nigerians but most especially innocent children seeking to actualize their right to education towards a potential improvement of quality life. There is a need to scale up security efforts and sustain vigilance until ALL the girls are found. They cannot be abandoned and all Nigerians must share in their agony and in the anguish of their immediate families. The media must step up its act especially in reporting and constructive investigative journalism.

We recognize the complexities and dangers in security and military operations, however it is our firm belief that these institutions hold in high esteem the value of Nigerian lives as well our sovereignty being their primary mandate. The reading from Chibok is WE, ALL, including the military and security personnel are at great RISK of being consumed by the aggression of those in ambush of our peace and prosperity. Extra measures that remain within the legal limits of operations and counter insurgency/terrorism must be employed. Citizens must remain vigilant and supportive of the institutions of security at all times.

We speak out today and will do so every day until these girls are ALL accounted for. As mothers, fathers and siblings we call for the urgent and complete end to the politicization of the insecurity in Nigeria. OUR pain and solution are collective.

Updates on twitter at #BringBackOur Girls and #FreeOurGirls

No Homonationalism Resources

Radical movements and individual acts of bravery or brilliance in speaking out against injustice do not come from nowhere but are the result of collective labour and local and transnational histories of organizing. SUSPECT was initially formed in order to monitor the arrival of the racist hate crimes debates in Germany. Recognizing the importance of emancipatory peer education outside the academic industrial complex, we started off as a reading group in the rooms of a local queer of colour NGO in Berlin. In this bibliography, we would like to share some of the resources which we managed to get hold of here. We felt we needed to learn from our siblings and allies in places where the punitive turn of LGBT organizing had already happened. The work of Incite!, the women/trans of colour anti-violence organization in the US, was a particular inspiration to us. We focused on German-speaking texts and texts dealing with the consequences of relying on a criminal ‘justice’ system which disproportionately incarcerates poor people, people of colour, people with mental health problems, and gender non-conforming people – but we know there is lots more out there. Please help us annotate this bibliography and list of resources, and send us further links and references including short descriptions!

Agathangelou, Anna, Bassichis, Morgan, Spira, Tamara (2008), Intimate Investments: Homonormativity, Global Lockdown and the Seductions of Empire, Radical History Review 100: 120-143, http://makezine.enoughenough.org/prop8.html. (Also see other articles in this resource!)

Aken’Ova, Dorothy et.al. (2007), ‘African LGBTI Human Rights Defenders Warn Public against Participation in Campaigns Concerning LGBTI Issues in Africa Led by Peter Tatchell and Outrage!’, posted on MRZine.

Alliance for a Safe & Diverse DC (2008), Move Along: Policing Sex Work in Washington, D.C. A report by the Alliance for a Safe & Diverse DC, Washington, D.C., Creative Commons: Different Avenues.

Amnesty Int’l USA (2005), Stonewalled: Police Abuse and Misconduct Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the United States, http://www.amnestyusa.org/outfront/stonewalled/report.pdf

Barskanmaz, Cengiz (2009), ‘Das Kopftuch als das Andere. Eine notwendige postkoloniale Kritik des deutschen Rechtsdiskurses’, in Berghahn, S., Rostock, P., Der Stoff aus dem Konflikte sind: Debatten um das Kopftuch in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz, Bielfeld: Transcript, 361-394.

Bassichis, Morgan (2007), It’s War In Here: A Report on the Treatment of Transgender and Intersex People in New York State Men’s Prisons, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, http://www.srlp.org/files/warinhere.pdf

Bassichis, Morgan, Lee, Alexander and Spade, Dean (forthcoming), ‘Building an Abolitionist Trans & Queer Movement with Everything We’ve Got,’ in Eric Stanley and Nat Smith (eds.), Captive Genders Anthology.

Bridges, Lee (1993), The Racial Harassment Bill: a missed opportunity, Race & Class 34: 69-71.

Bourne, Jenny (2002), Does Legislating Against Racial Violence Work?, Race & Class 44: 81-85.

Castro Varela, María do Mar, and Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez (2000), ‘Queer Politics im Exil und der Migration,’ in Quaestio (ed.), Queering Demokratie: Sexuelle Politiken, Berlin: Querverlag, p. 100-112.

Castro Varela, María do Mar (2009), ‘Migration, Begehren und Gewalt’, Homophobie in der Einwanderungsgesellschaft, URL: http://www.berlin.de/imperia/md/content/lb_ads/homophobie24.pdf

Çelik, Yeliz, Petzen, Jennifer, Yilmaz, Ula? & Y?lmaz-Günay, Koray (2008), ‘Kreuzberg als Chiffre: Von der Auslagerung eines Problems bei der Thematisierung homophober Gewalt’, in Apabiz, MBR (eds.), Berliner Zustände 2008: Ein Schattenbericht über Rechtsextremismus, Rassismus und Homophobie, http://www.reachoutberlin.de/docs/Schattenbericht%202008.pdf

Chen, Ching-In, Dulani, Jai and Piepzna-Samarasinha, Leah Lakshmi (eds.) (2004), The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Partner Abuse in Activist Communist, URL: http://incite-national.org/media/docs/0985_revolution-starts-at-home.pdf

Crooms, Lisa (1999), ‘Everywhere There’s War: A Racial Realist’s Reconsideration of Hate Crimes Statutes,’ Georgetown Journal of Gender & Law, 1: p.41.

Darkmatter (2008), Special Issue (No. 3) on Postcolonial Sexuality

DeGruy Leary, Joy (2006). Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing.

del Moral, Andrea (2005, April 4), ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Funded,’ Lip Magazine, http://www.lipmagazine.org/articles/featdelmoral_nonprofit.htm

Dyer, Carolina Cordero (2000, June 12), The Passage of Hate Crimes Legislation – No Cause to Celebrate, http://qej.tripod.com/qej2/id139.html

El Tayeb, Fatima (2003), ‘Begrenzte Horizonte: Queer identity und Festung Europa, in Steyerl, Hito and Gutiérrez Rodríguez, Encarnación (eds.), Spricht die Subalterne deutsch? Migration und postkoloniale Kritik, Muenster: Unrast.

Erdem, Esra (2009), ‘Feminismus und die Integrationsdebatte,’ Hess, S. et.al. (eds.), No Integration ?!, Bielefeld: Transkript.

Erdem, Esra et.al. (2007), ‘Internationalismus oder Imperialismus? Feministische und schwullesbische Stimmen im „Krieg gegen den Terror“’, Frauensolidarität No. 100: 8-9, http://www.frauensolidaritaet.org/zeitschrift/fs_100haritaworn.pdf.

Feinberg, Leslie (1998), Interview with Sylvia Rivera, I´m glad I was in the Stonewall riot, New York: Workers World, http://www.workers.org/ww/1998/sylvia0702.php

Gosine, Andil (2009), ‘Politics and Passion: An Interview with Gloria Wekker’, Caribbean Review of Gender Studies 3, URL: http://sta.uwi.edu/crgs/november2009/journals/CRGS%20Wekker.pdf

Gosine, Andil (2009), “Speaking of sex: the heteronationalism of MSM,” in C. Barrow, M. de Bruin and R. Carr (eds.), Sexualities, Social Exclusion and Human Rights.

Gosine, Andil (2008), “Fresh Off the Boat to banana boy: Queer youth cross sex, ‘race,’ nation in Toronto, Canada,” in S. Driver (ed.), Queer Youth Cultures, New York: SUNY.

Gossett, Che (2010), ‘Che Gossett on Aids activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya’s legacy and the intersections between all movements for liberation,’ Aids and Social Justice, URL: http://aidsandsocialjustice.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/che-gossett-on-aids-activist-kiyoshi-kuromiyas-legacy-and-the-intersections-between-all-movements-for-liberation/

Haritaworn, Jin (2009), ‘Kiss-Ins, Demos, Drag: Sexuelle Spektakel von Kiez und Nation,’ in AG Queer Studies (eds.), Verqueerte Verhälnisse. Intersektionale, ökonomiekritische und strategische Interventionen, Hamburg: Männerschwarm, p. 41-65.

Haritaworn, Jin, Tauqir, Tamsila and Erdem, Esra (2007), ‘Queer-Imperialismus: Eine Intervention in die Debatte über “muslimische Homophobie”,’ in K.N. Ha, al-Samarai, N.L. and Mysorekar, S. (eds.), Re/Visionen: Postkoloniale Perspektiven von People of Color auf Rassismus, Kulturpolitik und Widerstand in Deutschland, Münster: Unrast, p. 187-206.

‘Homophobie’ (2008), Die ZAG Antirassistische Zeitschrift, 53. http://www.zag-berlin.de/antirassismus/archiv/inhalt53.html

INCITE! Stop Law Enforcement Violence Tool Kit, http://www.incite-national.org/index.php?s=103

INCITE! (2001), Critical Resistance – INCITE! Statement: Gender Violence and the Prison Industry Complex, http://www.incite-national.org/index.php?s=92

Jindal, Priyank (2004), ‘Sites of resistance or sites of racism?’, in Mattilda Bernstein (ed.), That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press.

KFPA Radio (2010), Interview by Paola Bacchetta with SUSPECT (19 July 2010)

Kohn, Sally (2002), Greasing the Wheel: How the Criminal Justice System Hurts Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered People and Why Hate Crime Laws Won’t Save Them, New York University Review of Law & Social Change 27: p. 257.

Kumari, Amita (2010), ‘Pride through Solidarity’, Electronic Intifada, URL: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11393.shtml

Kuntsman, Adi (2009), Figurations of Violence and Belonging: Queerness, Migranthood and Nationalism in Cyberspace and Beyond, Oxford: Peter Lang.

Kuntsman, Adi (2008), ‘Queerness as Europeanness: Immigration, Orientalist Visions and Racialised Encounters in Israel/Palestine’, Darkmatter Postcolonial Sexuality issue, URL: http://www.darkmatter101.org/site/category/issues/3-post-colonial-sexuality/

Lamble (2008, August), The Queer, Feminist and Trans Politics of Prison, http://www.mediafire.com/?a8kh1ullztg

Lamble (2007), ‘Retelling Racialized Violence, Remaking White Innocence: The politics of interlocking oppressions in transgender day of remembrance’, Sexuality Research and Social Policy 5(1), URL: http://www.springerlink.com/content/64l05u032u4w426m/
(Also see other articles in this special issue.) http://www.springerlink.com/content/w17450340g47/?p=d02dbfc949944f819383d8640ad7d57f?=0

Lane, Christopher (2010), ‘How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease: An Interview With Jonathan Metzl,’ Psychology Today, URL: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/side-effects/201005/how-schizophrenia-became-black-disease-interview-jonathan-metzl?page=2

Lee, Alexander (2003), Nowhere to go but out: The collision between transgender & gender-variant prisoners and the gender binary in America’s prisons, http://spr.org/pdf/NowhereToGoButOut.pdf

Long, Scott (2009), ‘Unbearable witness: how Western activists (mis)recognize sexuality in Iran,’ Contemporary Politics 15(1): 119-136.

Luibhéid, Eithne (2002), Entry Denied: Controlling Sexuality at the Border, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Luibhéid, Eithne. (2008) ‘Queer/Migration: An Unruly Body of Scholarship’, GLQ- A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 14 (2-3): 169-190.

Macharia, Keguro (2010), ‘Homophobia in Africa is not a single story,’ The Guardian (26 May), URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/26/homophobia-africa-not-single-story

Maikey, Haneen and Ritchie, Jason (2009), ‘Israel, Palestine, and Queers’, MR Zine, URL: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2009/mr280409.html

Metzl, Jonathan (2009). The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease.

Migrationsrat in Zusammenarbeit mit SUSPECT/Migration Council with SUSPECT (2010), Special: Homophobie und Rassismus, URL: http://www.migrationsrat.de/dokumente/pressemitteilungen/MRBB-NL-2010-special-Leben%20nach%20Migration.pdf (Dezember 2010).

Mitchell, Nick (2009), ‘Marriage and Military: Missing the Point of Queer Advancement,’ New American Media Ethno Blog, URL: http://ethnoblog.newamericamedia.org/author/nick-mitchell/

Morgensen, Scott Lauria (2010), ‘Settler Homonationalism: Theorizing Settler Colonialism within Queer Modernities,’ GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 16: 105-131.

Nair, Yasmin (2009), ‘Why I won’t Come out on National Coming Out Day,’ Bilerico Project, URL: http://www.bilerico.com/2009/10/why_i_wont_come_out_on_national_coming_out_day.php

Nair, Yasmin (2006), ‘The Gay Movement is Over,’ Windy City Times, URL: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=12791

Nair, Yasmin (n.d.), ‘What’s Lef ot Queer? Immigration, Sexuality, and Affect in a Neoliberal World, Immigrant City-Chicago, URL: http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/immigrantcitychicago/essays/nair_leftofqueer.html

Ndashe, Sibongile (2010), ‘Laws that criminalise same sex intimacy are making a mockery of our democracies,’ Black Looks, URL: http://www.blacklooks.org/2010/05/laws-that-criminalise-same-sex-intimacy-are-making-a-mockery-of-our-democracies/

Nisreen and Dayna (2009), ‘Palestinian Gays under the Hijab,’ Nizreen Mazzawi Blogspot, URL: http://nisreenmazzawi.blogspot.com/2009/08/palestinian-gays-under-hijab.html

Out of Place: Interrogating Silences in Queerness and Raciality, York: No Nerve Books, 2008 (Sadly this first academic collection on queer and race in Britain got axed by the publisher after homonationalist backlash in Britain).

Petzen, Jennifer (2008), Gender politics in the New Europe: ‘civilizing’ Muslim sexualities, Ph.d. Disseration, University of Washington, Seattle.

Petzen, Jennifer (2005), ‘Wer liegt oben? Tuerkische und deutsche Maskulinitäten in der schwulen Szene’, Ifade (ed.), Insider-Outsider: Bilder, ethnisierte Räume und Partizipation im Migrationsprozess. Bielefeld: Transkript.

Puar, Jasbir K. (2007), Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, Durham: Duke University Press. (The book after which this blog was named!)

Puar, Jasbir K. and Rai, Amit (2002), ‘Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots,’ Social Text 20(3): 117-148. (The first article on sexuality and the ‘war on terror’.)

‘Q&A with Jasbir Puar’, Darkmatter Postcolonial Sexuality issue, URL: http://www.darkmatter101.org/site/2008/05/02/qa-with-jasbir-puar/

Queers for Economic Justice (2010), Act Queer! Teleconference in Queer Organizing URL: http://q4ej.org/act-queer-teleconference-research-in-queer-organizing

Rage, Raju (2009), ‘Why is involving the police in our communities a bad idea?’, Race Revolt (British QpoC DIY zine) Vol. 3: 22.

Russell, Martha and Stewart, Jean (2001), ‘Disablement, Prison, and Historical Segregation’, Monthly Review Zine, URL: http://www.monthlyreview.org/0701russell.htm

Seehafer, Silvia (2003, January), Strafrechtliche Reaktionen auf rechtsextremistisch/fremdenfeindlich motivierte Gewalttaten – Das amerikanische „hate crime“ Konzept und seine Übertragbarkeit auf das deutsche Rechtssystem, Dissertation, Berlin, http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/dissertationen/seehafer-silvia-2003-04-28/HTML/front.html

Smith, Andrea (2007), Unmasking the State: Racial/Gender Terror and Hate Crimes, The Australian Feminist Law Journal, 26: 47-57.

Spade, Dean & Willse, Craig (2000), Confronting the Limits of Gay Hate Crimes Activism: A Radical Critique, Chicano-Latino Law Review 21: 38.

Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Flowchart: Disproportionate Incarceration http://srlp.org/files/disproportionate_incarceration.pdf

Sylvia Rivera Law Project (2009, April 6), SRLP announces non-support of the Gender Employment Non-Discrimination Act. http://srlp.org/node/301

Walcott, Rinaldo (2009), Queer Returns: Human Rights, the Anglo-Caribbean and Diaspora Politics, Caribbean Review of Gender Studies 3, URL: http://sta.uwi.edu/crgs/november2009/journals/Walcott.pdf

Wise, Tim (1999, August 12), Of Hate Crimes, Big and Small, Race and History, http://www.raceandhistory.com/historicalviews/08121999.htm

Y?ld?z, Yasemin (2009), Immer noch keine Adresse in Deutschland? Adressierung als politische Strategie, in Dietze, G., Brunner, C., Wenzel, E., Kritik des Okzidentalismus: Transzdiziplinäre Beiträge zu (Neo-)Orientalismus und Geschlecht (Broschiert), Bielefield: Transcript.

Young Women’s Empowerment Project (2009), Girls Do What They Have To Do To Survive: A Study of Resilience and Survival, URL: http://www.youarepriceless.org/node/190

www.yilmaz-gunay.de/koray/
www.blacklooks.org
www.deepzone.ca
www.srlp.org
http://srlp.org/hatecrimesref
www.aswatgroup.org
www.incite-national.org
www.safraproject.org
www.criticalresistance.org
https://againstequality.wordpress.com/military/
www.blackandpink.org
pqbds.wordpress.com/about/
http://queerkidssaynomarriage.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/queer-kids-of-queer-parents-say-no-to-the-gay-marriage-agenda/
queermigration.com/about.html
www.rashamoumneh.com
http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/

Sexual Rights in Zimbabwe

The Sexual Rights Centre is a human rights advocacy organisation based in Bulawayo. They work directly with sex workers and members of the  LGBTI community. They are unapologetic about their commitment to human rights for every Zimbabwean and their conviction that sexual rights are integral to affirming all human rights.
Every two weeks they organise a “creative space”. The idea behind the “creative space” is for people to have fun, and express themselves through various forms of expression. These works were inspired by a desire to have people mark their space. The prevailing theme was ‘Who Am I?’ and people worked in small groups to paint who they were.
As an organisation the Sexual Rights Centre believes in diversity and inclusivity.  Therefore they encourage people to use as many different forms of expression as possible to celebrate themselves. These paintings will remain on the walls of the Sexual Rights Centre as a testimony to the power of sex workers and the importance of their voices.

Continue reading on HOLAAFRICA

Sex workers in Bulawayo challenge the discriminatory legislation that makes it difficult for them to work.

Sex workers in Bulawayo challenge the discriminatory legislation that makes it difficult for them to work.

Sex Work Is Work

photo (1)

 

State of LGBTI Rights in Zambia

Iranti-org met with Juliet Mphande, the Director of Friends of Rainka, an LGBTI human rights organisation based in Lusaka. Jabu C. Pereira, the Director of Iranti-Org asked Juliet about the current threats facing LGBTI activists in Zambia. In October a homophobic blog in Zambia reported that LGBTI activists were in Sweden, soliticing money for the promotion of homosexuality. This was factually incorrect and clearly aimed at getting the activists arrested under the Zambian penal code.

Over the months we witnessed the increased arrests of LGBTI activists such as Paul Kasonkomona he was charged under section 178(g) of the Zambian Penal Code which provides that “every person who in any public place solicits for immoral purposes” is deemed an idle and disorderly person, and liable to imprisonment for one month or to a fine.

We urge you to support and highlight the struggles in Zambia and work todays a decriminalised state and a recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity as a human rights.

With Matsheko Acey Manik at Wits Art Museum.

Sally Gross Memorial – Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg

All Wits Art Museum Photographs by Germaine de Larch 

Sally Gross - portrait by Gabrielle Le Roux, 2013

Sally Gross – portrait by Gabrielle Le Roux, 2013

Remembering and celebrating the life of Sally Gross, our beloved friend, comrade, teacher, philosopher – a great soul who is missed by many and remembered for her role in so many struggles. Sally was a comrade in the anti-apartheid struggle, part of the ANC in exile, she was part of the Palestinian struggle and she made history writing intersex rights into South African legislation and thereby making ours the first country with a Constitution that protects intersex people’s rights……Gabrielle Le Roux

 

With Selogadi Ngwanangwato Mampane and Kezia Lewins at Wits Art Museum.
With Selogadi Ngwanangwato Mampane and Kezia Lewins at Wits Art Museum.

 

With Matsheko Acey Manik at Wits Art Museum.
With Matsheko Acey Manik at Wits Art Museum.

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Young Sally Gross
Young Sally Gross

 

 

Selogadi Ngwanangwato Mampane with portrait of Sally Gross
Selogadi Ngwanangwato Mampane with portrait of Sally Gross

 

With Carla De Bouchet
Carla De Bouchet with portrait of Sally Gross

 

Gabrielle Le Roux with portrait of Sally Gross
Gabrielle Le Roux with portrait of Sally Gross

 

Bongi covering the event in spite of not feeling well himself. Thanks Bongi.
Matsheko Acey Manik was there both as photographer representing Inkanyiso, and to mourn Sally. Here Ace’s shadow falls on the first portrait I did of Sally Gross, onto which she wrote “I am what I am” .

 

Sally Gross in the time she worked at the Regional Land Claims Commission
Sally Gross in the time she worked at the Regional Land Claims Commission

Cultural and Traditional Values in Human Rights

Some states and other actors are increasingly claiming that ”traditional values” should take precedence over universal human rights for all. In addition ”cultural practices” are used to limit the rights and freedom of women who do not given any say in the issues surrounding their right to live.

All women and in particular lesbian and bisexual women and trans people are particularly targeted by these so-called ”traditional values”.

This cross-regional panel explores the discourse around ”traditional values” and harmful cultural practices. In focus are the strategies used to fight back against the patriarchal structures aiming to limit the freedom and rights of women on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity,
gender expression and sexuality.

Via Iranti-org

Homosexuals sacrificed for political ambition in Uganda: A Statement from Freedom and Roam Uganda [FARUG]

KAMPALA: Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) with dismay and regret condemns the Anti Homosexuality Act accented to by the president of Uganda on Monday 24th, February 2014. The Act contravenes the fundamental national and international human rights standards and the constitution of Uganda which calls for the protection of the right to privacy, equality and non-discrimination. The law also denies Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.

While assenting the Bill, the President said that the country can’t be forced to do something “fundamentally wrong.”

The (AHB) which was infamously known as the Kill The Gays Bill was first introduced to parliament by Ndorwa west Member of Parliament; Hon. David Bahati in 2009 with the objective of establishing a comprehensive and consolidated legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting any forms of sexual relations between persons of the same sex. “The people of Uganda should know that they have been duped for political ambition. The debate surrounding the Act has been a diverse measure to divert attention from real issues of national concern. This bill will never solve Uganda’s real problems like lack of drugs in hospitals, poor education services, bad roads or corruption. The Act will not change how we feel or who we love. It will make life extremely difficult for us but will change nothing” Said Junic Wambya, the Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda.

This law deals a major blow to public health access and information for LGBTI persons in Uganda especially in regards to HIV prevention and care. Criminalizing the funding and sponsoring of health related activities and policies will not only affect homosexuals but Uganda as a whole. “It is very sickening to listen to the head of the State degrading the people he is supposed to protect. He has distorted the medical reports from around the world to justify his hold on to power in quest for votes from locals at the expense of lives of homosexuals. It’s really a pity that now more than ever we have to watch our backs; but maybe this is a blessing

in disguise. I see that it has now made us move faster to the much anticipated decriminalization since now we shall be heading to the constitutional court which will dismantle even the penal code. That’s my consolation from this madness.” Said Kasha Jacqueline; The founder of FARUG.

Legal implications of the Law

All laws should have a commencement date but the Anti Homosexuality Act doesn’t have a designated commencement date. That means it can only be operational after it has been gazetted which could be

anytime from the date of assent. Before that, no person can be charged under this Law. The Law cannot be used to penalize any person who committed the crimes therein before the Bill was

signed into Law. The Bill was amended to take out the death penalty for acts of aggravated homosexuality but life imprisonment for acts of homosexuality and aggravated homosexuality still stands. The law imposes a sentence of seven years for attempted homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuality and recruitment of minors into homosexuality. Any organization found promoting homosexuality stands to serve a sentence of 5 years imprisonment or pay a fine of UGX100million or both.

Call to action

In coming days many LGBTI persons will be assaulted, arrested and detained. As of yesterday, 25th February; a gay couple was attacked and one of them killed while the other is in critical condition in hospital. Many have been thrown out of their houses by landlords and yet others will continue to lose their jobs. In the midst of all this we request the general public to desist from radical and irrational acts of violence towards suspected LGBTI persons. We demand that security agencies including the police and prisons endeavor to investigate any cases of violence perpetrated against LGBT persons and refrain from making arrests based on meagre hearsay and or suspicion. Uganda during the Universal Periodic Review in 2012 in Geneva committed to:

  • ? Investigate and prosecute intimidation and attacks on LGBTI community members and activists.
  • ? Investigate thoroughly and sanction accordingly violence against LGBTI persons including gay rights activist.
  • ? Take immediate and concrete steps to stop discrimination and assault against LGBTI persons. Media organizations should also refrain from sensational reporting which is fuelling hatred and attacks on persons suspected to be homosexuals.

We demand that donors channel funds to Civil Society Organizations carrying out, Social, Economic and human rights work rather than to a corrupt institution that has no remorse in not protecting its citizens. It is very unfortunate that we have to make such a call but Uganda should be isolated to prevent this passing of laws with impunity from spreading across the continent. This is very crucial to protect other countries in Africa. Finally we urge the international community to continue supporting the LBTI community, morally, financial and technically in response to security treats and human rights violations. To contribute to FARUG security fund please donate through our PayPal on our website: http://www.faruganda.org/paypal.html .

For more information contact:

Kasha Jacqueline: 0772463161

Jay Abang: 0782628611

For more on the medical report:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2014/02/23/exclusive-changes-made-in-final-report-of-the-ministry-of-health-committee-on-homosexuality/

Museveni’s speech at signing of Bill

http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Museveni-s-Anti-Homosexuality-speech/-/688334/2219956/-/item/0/-/6t248n/-/index.html

https://pdfzen.com/c12275be8591a372.

FREEDOM AND ROAM UGANDA [FARUG], IS A MEMBER OF THE COALITION OF AFRICAN LESBIAN

Who is listening to African queers?

From Keguro Macharia – “Listening to African Queers”

 

A few weeks ago, I broke a longstanding personal rule and left a comment on a mainstream, very popular, award-winning U.S. gay blog. A long string of comments by mostly gay men (if web identities count for anything) supported the U.K.’s decision to consider sexual rights in granting aid. Many of the commentators condemned not simply homophobia and transphobia in Africa, but African governments and African citizens, the former explicitly the latter implicitly. “My tax dollars should not fund homophobia,” was a typical comment.

Against these certainties about African governments and African citizens, I pointed out the wealth of blogs and articles by African queers on the state of sexuality and rights in Africa and suggested that it would make sense if those pronouncing on Africa engaged with these sources. I also directed readers to the recent statement produced by African queer activists and organizations about aid conditionality. (But also see David Kuria’s dissent from this statement.) My attempt to suggest that African voices are worth listening to was ignored for the most part by those who considered themselves to be, variously, authorities on Africa, authorities on gay rights, defenders of gay rights, and defenders of aid conditionality.

At this particular table, there was no room for an African guest.

And because such online encounters are more common than not, this particular African guest returned to his online conversations with fellow African queers, musing about the futility of conversations with queers in the Global North who already know too much, want to save Africans but don’t want to listen to Africans, and want to cling to the (imperial) illusion that the Global North leads the way in gay rights—one wants to point out that, at least legislatively, South Africa is way ahead of the U.S. But let me not cloud the issue with facts.

I recount what is by now a tedious, too-familiar story, and adopt the position of the African in this particular story rather disingenuously. I am, after all, as much a product of the Global North as I am of the Global South. In a few short years, I will have spent as much time in one space as I have in the other. My education, my frameworks, my labor are in the Global North. And I am, for many, an unlikely person to speak for Africans or even to speak as an African. I know all too well that were my English less fluent, were my manners more diffident, were I more reliant on the salvific goodness of helpful foreigners, I would be more palatable to certain kinds of philanthropists who want stories about the awfulness of Africa and the chance to save another African.

Alas: I read Fanon at a formative moment.

Following the U.K.’s example, the U.S. has bought into aid conditionality tied to so-called sexual rights. It’s not yet clear what this will mean. But it is worrying.

Multiple blog posts from the U.S. have celebrated this “victory” for gay rights, this assertion that gay rights are human rights, universal rights: the U.S. is now on board with gay activism.

I am not celebrating.

In fact, I am disheartened by what feels like myopic celebrations that confirm, or suggest, that what is at stake in such a decision has nothing to do with helping African queers and everything to do with domestic U.S. feeling and neo-imperial machinations. I have no problem with U.S. queers celebrating this decision as an advance for U.S queer struggles; but let’s not confuse the issue and claim this decision has anything to do with African queers. Or that African queers were in any way consulted—not that we need to be, of course: knights in shining armor rarely ask whether the maiden and the dragon are engaged in an inter-species romance.

I am not suggesting that some African queers might not support aid conditionality. I am suggesting that such decisions can often accomplish more harm than good. While I am not interested in repeating tedious blather that Africans are “communal” while “westerners” are “individualistic,” I do want to emphasize that we all live deeply embedded lives. Aid conditionality based on sexual rights, and, really, gay rights, risks marginalizing the many kin-based, friend-based, and neighborhood-based networks inhabited by African queers. For the most part, African queers do not live in gay enclaves: cutting off major arteries to save tiny capillaries does not work. It simply cannot work.

More to the point, and to repeat something I’ve written before: positioning African queers as economic threats or as economic competition to other local, regional, and national projects renders us more vulnerable. In a country like Kenya where money is King, telling government agencies that money will not show up for a government project because queers are not treated well will most probably not result in better legislation or, more practically, better living conditions for queers. (Given Kenya’s strategic importance in the region and that we are happily killing Somalis for the Americans, I think our aid is safe.)

I realize that aid conditionality often has nothing to do with those populations deemed to be at risk. Or, rather, is based on information provided by “experts” who have “conducted studies” to “determine what is needed” and rarely, if ever, takes into consideration local needs and local situations, except as these are filtered through really fucked up lenses. I have sat through multiple presentations where so-called “experts” diagnosed Africans—yes, such collective terms are used too often—and heard myself described in ways I found utterly bewildering, reduced to a helpless, clueless child. When one speaks up at such meetings, one is told that one is an exception; no doubt, my U.S. education helped me grow toward civilization.

These too-frequent encounters (and once a year is too frequent for my taste) cost too much psychically for me to engage them. Thus, I skip most Africa-focused forums advertised in DC and most talks advertised by “well-known” Africanists—these are, strangely, also in short supply.

After all, how can I remain a happy African when others are so determined to infuriate me?

Who is listening to African queers? Who is listening to those who traverse local and international spaces, who understand local needs not because they spent 2 weeks on a grant-funded trip, but because they receive phone calls at 3 in the morning and spend countless hours making sure that queers find safe housing? Who is listening to those who through years of activism and study have developed methods for how to engage with political leaders?

Are efforts to save African queers ever really about African queers?

“Throughout history people everywhere have explored and experimented with their sexuality.

From the Guardian Africa Network, Nigerian / British writer, Bernadine Evaristo dismisses the mantra that homosexuality in Africa is a ‘western import’ and provides examples of  same sex relationships and multiple gender relations.  “Throughout history people everywhere have explored and experimented with their sexuality. The desire to do so has never been confined to particular geographical locations. Its reach is universal.”

 

Bernadine Evaristo
Bernadine Evaristo

Africa has 54 countries and more than a billion people. One of the most ridiculous myths about it is that homosexuality did not exist in the continent until white men imported it. Robert Mugabe is one such propagator, calling homosexuality “un-African” and a “white disease”.

Throughout history people everywhere have explored and experimented with their sexuality. The desire to do so has never been confined to particular geographical locations. Its reach is universal. Yet today the myth of a pre-colonial sexual innocence, or more fittingly, ignorance, is used to endorse anti-gay legislation and stir up homophobia and persecution in Africa. In my father’s country, Nigeria, a new law passed in January carries a 14-year prison sentence for same-sex marriage and up to 10 years for membership or promotion of gay groups. In Uganda, the Anti-Homosexuality Act can impose life imprisonment. Latter-day evangelicals from the US are partly to blame for this continuing persecution, but so are Africa’s political leaders such as presidents Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who use rabble-rousing anti-gay rhetoric to increase their power base and popularity.

While much has been written about this dangerous turn of events, little has been written about its origins. Two trailblazing studies in the field – Boy Wives and Female Husbands edited by Stephen O Murray and Will Roscoe, and Heterosexual Africa? by Marc Epprecht – demolish the revisionist arguments about Africa’s sexual history. From the 16th century onwards, homosexuality has been recorded in Africa by European missionaries, adventurers and officials who used it to reinforce ideas of African societies in need of Christian cleansing.

The Portuguese were among the first Europeans to explore the continent. They noted the range of gender relations in African societies and referred to the “unnatural damnation” of male-to-male sex in Congo. Andrew Battell, an English traveller in the 1590s, wrote this of the Imbangala of Angola: “They are beastly in their living, for they have men in women’s apparel, whom they keep among their wives.”

Transvestism occurred in many different places, including Madagascar and Ethiopia. Among the Pangwe people of present-day Cameroon and Gabon, homosexual intercourse was practised between males of all ages. It was believed to be a way to transmit wealth. The Nzima of Ghana had a tradition of adult men marrying each other, usually with an age difference of about 10 years. Similar to the pederasty of ancient Greece, Sudan’s Zande tribe had a tradition of warriors marrying boys and paying a bride price, as they would for girl brides, to their parents. When the boy grew up, he too became a warrior and took a boy-wife.

In this same tribe lesbianism was practised in polygamous households. In the 18th century the Khoikhoi of South Africa used the word koetsire to describe men considered sexually receptive to other men, and soregus was the word they used for a friendship which involved same-sex masturbation.

Homosexuality is also recorded among the Siwa of Egypt. It was considered a boy’s rite of passage in Benin, and woman-woman marriages involving a bride price existed in more than 30 African societies from Nigeria to Kenya to South Africa.

How far back can homosexuality be traced in Africa? You cannot argue with rock paintings. Thousands of years ago, the San people of Zimbabwe depicted anal sex between men. The truth is that, like everywhere else, African people have expressed a wide range of sexualities. Far from bringing homosexuality with them, Christian and Islamic forces fought to eradicate it. By challenging the continent’s indigenous social and religious systems, they helped demonise and persecute homosexuality in Africa, paving the way for the taboos that prevail today.

The main character in my latest novel, Mr Loverman, is a 74-year-old black gay man, Barrington Walker. Married with two daughters, he has been in the closet for 50 years. Soon after the book was published, a young gay man emailed me from Nigeria expressing his fear that his life would turn out like Barrington’s. I didn’t know what to suggest except that, if he wanted to live openly and legally as homosexual, he had to leave his homeland. What else could I say?

Millions of gay people living in Africa face a similar choice. If they stay, they can either repress their natural sexuality or risk losing their liberty and their lives. The legacy of colonialism is alive and well. As another character in Mr Loverman says: “It’s homophobia, not homosexuality, that was imported to Africa.”

 

Guardian Africa Network

A Word to 9Jas {Poems of Resistance}

screenshot300

Neocolo Chop Chop {A Poem to Goody Jonatenn & 9Ja Kaki Lovers} {Poems of Resistance}

Neocolo Chop Chop

As A look u so u be gay
Dis na my chance to chop &
Chop & chop sotay dem no
Go  say A no work, A no put
Food for table, A no put roof
Over ma family head, dem.
U see say a be gay wetin be
Conductor’s palava for driver?

As A look u so u lesbian
Goodoulucku don give us the
Starting point the rest dey una
Hands if u see dem make
U show dem say kaki no be
Leather; leather self no be
Kaki, no be so? Na so oh…
A be lesbian wetin na kaki
Palava for latest leather?

As A see u so u be bi
Na so na. Wetin do dem dey
Hala dem gay dem lezzy dem?
Na waa oh. Make we do some
Ting now. Sabi u dey play
Me a dey play u? Ern now.
Wetin be una lezzy gay? Na waa.
Na so oh. Na bi a be a no be
Bai, bai. “Ewo n’ti ‘e l’oro mi”?

As A see u so u be “Aparinda” (?)
Wait ma a laugh first… sey una
Na man or woman or na hala
Be dis oh make una com see
Pancake for face nna una eye-
Liner take u na bag Miss World
Na only u dey? A beg, a beg
U see say a be trans who you dey
Call “aparinda (sex change)”?
Na wetin be colomental palava for ma tori?

As A see u so u be intersex
Water do pass gaari for dis obon
Oyinbo. No bi Naija we dey?
Wetin u say u be both, oloun
Walai Chineke gaari don pass water
Mae a go come a go show una pepper
Way u dey go wait na. u dey fear?
Me a no dey oh a no sabi five prison
Chineke poku! A be intersex, so?
A send u? Make u na cool temper.

As u dey so u be queer
See me see trouble oh  una too get
Mouth. If no be dis na dat how
Person go sabi pikin for dis colo?
See me see trouble wetin god do una?
E put u for dis una life no bi so?
Ah beg oh ah no fi shout. Giv me chop
U know say a dey queer wetin na
Una own for anyting goes; amebo?

Wetin dey chop u na for ma palava?
Ah no say ah be a minority of one
Tell me how dat wan take kill u?
Na so so “a see say, a see say” u dey
Peddle; wetin dey bite u for body?
Wake up chop, wake up chop, wake up
Wetin tell u say sacrifice wey u na
Cook no go nuke u sooner or later?
A beg bo lef tori wey no be una palava.

Mia Nikasimo (c) March 2014

What is this protest about?

Via @muparutsazim
Via @muparutsazim – from Free Gender
02 Mar 14

President Yoweri Museveni has done it. Against widespread expectation raised by his earlier pledge, the Ugandan leader turned around this week and signed into law the contentious Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed last December by a parliament his ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), controls. The bill had been opposed locally and internationally for a record four years, since its introduction to the legislature in 2009. It is a remarkable coincidence that Museveni’s executive action came in the week Pambazuka News has devoted to a special issue on the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LBGTI) struggles in Africa. Our decision to dedicate a special issue to this subject was informed by the alarming reality that throughout Africa, colonial era laws that criminalised ‘unnatural acts’ are now being reinforced by independent governments, pushed by powerful lobbies, under the pretext that homosexuality is ‘un-African’ and harmful: this despite the fact that the existence of LGBTI persons in Africa since time immemorial is well documented. Colonial legislators would have had no reason to criminalise homosexuality if it is the Europeans who introduced it to the continent. Beyond repression through harsh laws, there is fierce LGBTI intolerance throughout Africa. Even in countries where the constitution proclaims non-discrimination on whatever grounds, politicians, the priestly class and other self-styled moral police are undeterred in inciting their followers against gays. Homosexual persons have been attacked and killed or injured. Many have been forced into hiding, ostracised by their families, denied employment, have been unable to rent a house, etc. In South Africa the horrific phenomenon of ‘corrective rape’ before killing has been perpetrated by men against lesbians as an alleged ‘cure’ of their sexual orientation. It is impossible to remain silent in the face of this epidemic of hate and violence against innocent people.

01 Mar 14

A dangerous new imperialism is on the rise in Africa and the Caribbean. It comes wearing a rainbow flag and dressed in pink. The recent wave of anti-gay laws on the African Continent and a two month visit to Jamaica where LGBT activists and homosexuals are in a battle for self-definition have helped to crystalize this suspicion. To be clear I am a Black, gay Jamaican male who has loved and lived for over 30 years in America. I identify myself thusly so you can understand that this is not a conclusion I come to easily. It comes from observing keenly the struggle for Gay Rights in America, Africa and the Caribbean for the past 30 years.

24 Feb 14

Coming out will not be easy or even an option for everyone, but if you do decide to come out, I wish you luck! Visibility definitely matters. The truth is, I never wanted to have a conversation about who I have sex with, but because the government and the population is having that conversation, I too am forced to. The simple fact at the end of the day is: I am human. I am Nigerian. I am gay. Now my social experiment may or may not work. What I do know is that I must try. I will attempt to change minds, tackle homophobia and let Nigerians see a real life gay person: one introduction at a time.

Bisi Alimi - http://www.ynaija.com/watch-gay-rights-activist-bisi-alimi-speaks-to-amanpour-on-cnn/
Bisi Alimi – http://www.ynaija.com/watch-gay-rights-activist-bisi-alimi-speaks-to-amanpour-on-cnn/

Nigerian gay rights activist, Bisi Alimi, who had to leave the country in 2007 out of fear for his life, spoke to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on his feelings about the law and the fate of the Nigerian LGBT community.

18 Jan 14

24 Feb 14

Kill them. This sentiment has been expressed about homosexuals in Nigeria, both in the streets and in the media, especially since the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act came into operation on January 7, 2014 – again, and again. And again.

24 Feb 14

Yet Smith fails to articulate the self-determination demonstrated on the part of LGBTQI Africans as proof against an imagined Africa where all people think negatively about queer and trans people. Even in Uganda, on the very day of the passing of the anti-homosexuality bill, queer and trans Ugandans, and their allies, are asserting their disapproval through a global media campaign aptly titled, #IAmGoingNowhere, according to Hakima Abbas, co-editor (along with Sokari Ekine) of the Queer African Reader.  That there are those placing their lives on the line, today, should be ample enough proof that not all Africans are homophobic. It should also remind us to resist the urge to cast our critical gaze upon other geographical spaces before we cast it upon ourselves.

Via @HOLAAFrica
Via @HOLAAFrica
01 Mar 14

If Kenya is not Uganda or Nigeria, why are we at the brink of legislating laws that further criminalise same sex sexualities?  Kenya will soon follow Uganda and Nigeria in enacting new anti-gay laws, my crystal ball predicts. And it might be sooner than you expect. According to several media reports on radio and TV, several lobby groups, politicians and religious associations, have come out publicly to call for stricter – read, extreme – laws against homosexuality in the country. Unfortunately, 90% of Kenyans support their decision if a Pew Research on attitudes towards homosexuality in Kenya is anything to go by. In December 2013, I highlighted 10 African countries that were going the Nigeria and Uganda way in proposing, debating, enacting and assenting new laws that targeted same sex sexualities among men and women.

Via @ShailjaPatel
Via @ShailjaPatel

Follow @holaafrica @bisialimi @denisnkioka @keguro_macharia @blacklooks

A Tribute to Sally Gross by Gabrielle Le Roux

From the Feminist Wire a tribute to the late Sally Gross by Gabrielle Le Roux.   Sally will be buried on today, Wednesday 26th February 2014 in Cape Town.

 

Editors Note: We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of radical and revolutionary South African activist Sally Gross. We can’t think of a better forum than the Audre Lorde global forum to pay tribute to another warrior upon whose shoulders we also stand.

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. ~ Audre Lorde 

Many of us around the world are grieving the passing of Sally Gross. We have lost a great soul. Sally gave her whole life to the struggles of our time – she will be remembered for her immeasurable contribution to intersex rights in South Africa, on the continent, and internationally. She is responsible for getting intersex people legally recognized for the first time. Before the changes that she fought for over a period of years, intersex people were not protected or recognized as fully human under South African law. Although South Africa’s Constitution is the most progressive anywhere and protects the rights of all persons, Sally uncovered the fact that the word ‘person’ in law applied only to persons born unambiguously male or female.

The blind spots around sex and gender and enforcement of the gender binary, like so much other ignorance and prejudice – racism and hetero-normativity for example – are often traceable in the global south to colonization. For some clarity I quote Sally:

“There is a cultural specificity about the ignorance and inability to take information about intersex on board. The traditional cultures which originated in Siberia – these include native American cultures, north and south, do not have this problem, for example, and indeed actually revere the intersex. In our dominant contexts, however, the ignorance and cognitive blindness is the rule, and I will therefore begin by explaining what intersex is.

When a baby is born, the first question customarily asked is whether it is a baby boy or a baby girl. In most cases, the question can be answered easily after a glance between the new-born baby’s legs. In some cases, however, it is not straight-forward, usually because the external genitals of the baby are ambiguous, male-like in some ways and female-like in others. Sometimes the external genitals look clearly male-like or clearly female-like, but it becomes clear later that things are not so straight-forward in physical terms. (…) This is sexual differentiation which does not follow the usual paths of male and female, but which falls somewhere in-between.

(…) In our societies, sadly, there is profound ignorance about intersex. Those found to be intersexed are deeply stigmatised, and being intersexed can have lethal consequences. This echoes attitudes which remain common in the so-called “First World”, though it is to be hoped that these are shifting. The propensity to see people who are intersexed as monsters is often considered to be something dictated by the very order of nature. It is not, any more than the North American lust for iPods is part of the natural order.  Attitudes towards intersexuality and the intersexed has differed historically in different cultural contexts and in different times. This tells us that these attitudes are a matter of culture rather than of nature.” ~ from ‘Intersex, Status and the Law in South Africa and Africa’, by Sally Gross

Sally Gross deserves to be remembered and honored, written about and paid tribute to as befits her immense contribution to South Africa as well as to intersex rights internationally. She was part of the anti-apartheid struggle here, had to go into exile when, in 1977, a document she had drafted was leaked, putting her life in immediate danger. Sally was also deeply committed to the Palestinian struggle having been brought up Jewish and having lived in Israel for a time.

This portrait of Sally Gross is part of the Queer & Trans Art-iculations exhibition at Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg until March 30, 2014. This is a joint exhibition of Zanele Muholi and Gabrielle le Roux’s work.

“I am an unmutilated, whole Intersex PERSON” Sally Gross by Gabrielle Le Roux 2013

I was lucky enough to have Sally as a beloved friend and honored that she agreed to collaborate with me on a series of portraits intended to pay tribute to, articulate and remember her work.  We had done the first two over a series of several months last year.  She had decided what she wanted to wear for the third one – a garment that needed to be made specially, akin to what she wore as a Dominican priest but in a strong shade of deep pink.  She planned to write in the background about her experience of vicious rejection and victimization by the church when she came out to them as intersex – a massively scarring experience for her.  One of her dreams was that she would share her experience with the church in a way that would make them change their policy on intersex people.  To this end she recently wrote to the new Pope as she hoped that, with a more humane world view than his predecessors, he might make some significant changes when he heard about the devastating impact on her of their prejudice.

Sadly and as a final injustice that underlined her social exclusion and marginality in spite of her contribution and the many people who knew her and appreciated her work, after a struggle to find more support for herself, and the clear sense that her life was ending, Sally died alone at home in precarious circumstances. She was last seen by her neighbors and was believed to have died on February 11 although her house was not opened and her body found till the evening of February 14.

There was a campaign that various activists, Mani Mitchell in New Zealand and Jane Bennett and myself in Cape Town, had begun from which her last months were supported.  I would like to thank all the people who managed to contribute. A decision has been made by international intersex activists to continue the campaign and use funds raised to support other activists who find themselves similarly without recourse.  Please contribute here: http://www.gofundme.com/6gc520

People are invited to share their tributes to Sally to be read out at her memorial in Cape Town on 26 February here: https://www.facebook.com/events/230280247155149/

The portrait of Sally Gross featured here is part of the Queer & Trans Art-iculations exhibition at Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg until March 30, 2014. This is a joint exhibition of Zanele Muholi and Gabrielle Le Roux’s work.