Category Archives: Queer Politics

“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.

FOR COLORED BOYS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW WAS NOT ENUFF

FOR COLORED BOYS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW WAS NOT ENUFF

BY DIRIYE OSMAN

 

There’s a revelatory Lauryn Hill song called “Little Boys” , in which she sings, “What happens to young men/ Disappointed once again/ When they find out they’re not supposed to grow?/ Do their lives become a lie?/ Should they wither up and die/ When they find out they deserve more than they know?”

As a young, gay, African man living in the west, these lyrics always hit me in the heart because I know what it’s like to feel an earth-deep sense of disconnect from who I am, where I’ve come from and, crucially, where I’m headed in relation to the wider culture.

When I was a kid growing up in Kenya, I imagined that one day I would step out of the closet and find a sense of brotherhood and belonging in the beautiful, rainbow-flag-waving LGBT community. But the reality differed a great deal from my dreams.

In Somali culture, like the majority of the African, African-American and African-Caribbean communities, there’s a premium placed on masculinity. Any deviation from this ideal is frowned upon and homosexuality is considered not merely unpalatable but unacceptable. This lack of familial and communal support seeps out into feelings of unworthiness in the still-developing minds of young LGBT men whether they’re from Kinshasa, Kuala Lumpur or Kansas. Such psychic damage manifests itself as a corrosive form of self-hatred that often results in self-medication with illegal drugs and alcohol, unsafe sex, body dysmorphic perceptions taken to the point of anorexia and bulimia, and suicidal ideations.

When these young men eventually step out into the wider gay community in search of acceptance and companionship, they’re confronted by a mainstream gay culture that prizes whiteness, muscularity and the hypervalorization of a particular narrow construction of hypersexualized masculinity. Individualism on a visceral scale is deemed an unattractive quality and clone-culture the epitome of desirability. It’s a situation that creates a Russian Doll-like effect of otherness, a series of lacquered layers that give the impression of wholeness but are either empty or contain only other, smaller, frightened selves. Considered alien by kin and unappealing by both sides of the cultural coin, one’s sense of difference as an LGBT man of color is often felt in an intense and harrowing way.

I get emails every day from young, black gay men who tell me about their painful experiences as survivors of suicide attempts, mental illness, heartbreak and ostracism from first their families and then the gay community where they dreamt they would find kinship. These emails are threaded together by a sense of sadness spiked with hopefulness. “Maybe it will get better?” seems to be the subtext of each email. “Maybe I’ll be okay.” My heart breaks every time I read these emails. They’re beautiful and overwhelming testimonies that knock the air out of my lungs and leave me feeling helpless. As a minority-within-a-minority who happens to be a writer, I know that I have a sense of responsibility to my readers, most of whom are young and vulnerable. When they write to me, I often forget to say the things that these young men need to hear the most: “You are valuable”, “You are wanted”, “You are necessary and you matter”.

So I’m saying it now.

This is for colored boys who have considered suicide when the rainbow was simply not enuff. You are valuable. You are worthy and wanted. You are necessary and you will always matter.

***

FAIRYTALES FOR LOST CHILDREN is available via the following links:

UK: http://amzn.to/12nRtp7?

US: http://amzn.to/13p8PGk?

CAN: http://amzn.to/1ePjj6u

Diriye Osman is photographed by Boris Mitkov.

An intimate portrait of Somalian trans-woman

 

From Inkanyiso.- An intimate portrait of Somalian trans-woman by Abdi Osman


Labeeb is an intimate portrait of Sumaya, a Somali trans-woman.
The project consists of large-scale colour photographs, and a double-projection video. Some of the photographs are studio portraits where Sumaya sat for the artist; others depict Sumaya in her daily life. One video also documents aspects of her daily life, while the other portrays Sumaya performing a Somali ritual usually reserved for women. This practice is one that Somali women undertake when preparing for a special occasion or ceremony. The practice itself is a hybrid: traditional and religious. The double projection is meant to add texture and complexity to Osman’s attempt to engage with questions of gender, sexuality, and culture. The videos speak to the hybrid cultural expressions of Sumaya and other persons like her.
These images place African-born trans-people directly within the traditions of their African/black cultural heritage.

While posing questions concerning gender, culture, and religion, the videos examine how the body can move into new states of being. They are themselves “trans-ing” practices, crossing the traditional with the new all-in-one body. This work pushes back against claims made by some African leaders that there are no African queers in their countries.

Osman’s work puts African/black trans-people on record. It questions how we understand the various roles bodies play or perform, and which bodies or genders are understood to perform them—in particular, assumptions we make about female, black, queer, and trans bodies.

 

 

 

About the photographer, Abdi

Abdi Osman is a Somali-Canadian multidisplinary artist whose work focuses on questions of black masculinity as it intersects with Muslim and queer identities.

Osman’s video and photography work has been shown in Canada and internationally in both group and solo exhibitions. He holds an MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University, and B.A. in African Studies from the University of Toronto.

Previous work has been supported by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. His photographs are also in private collections and the Art Bank of the Canada Council for the Arts. Some of his work was in the year-long group show DiaporaArt: Strategy and Seduction by Canadian Artists from Culturally Diverse Communities at Rideau Hall.

Abdi was a 2010 artist-in-resident at the McColl Centre for Visual Arts in Charlotte North Carolina. Most recently in 2012, he was a fellow at The Interdisciplinary Center for Culture and Creativity (ICCC) at the University of Saskatchewan.

 

 

 

Mr Loverman – portrayal of a gay, British-Caribbean late bloomer

 

Review of Bernardine Evaristo’s ‘Mr. Loverman’ by Diriye Osman

James Baldwin once stated that “love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” This is a sentiment that applies equally to anyone who has ever experienced a profound sense of difference, a secret identity that is both a source of comfort and corrosion.

One of the many challenges with settling for “living in Narnia” — the closet — is that it invalidates half of your existence without you realizing that you have consented to such a huge degree of self-erasure; and what is left is a half-life teeming with anxiety, paranoia, shame and fear. This is where the love that Baldwin discusses so eloquently retains both its balm-like and burning qualities.

Stepping out into the sun requires strength. Although the majority of us who do come out of the closet increasingly do so at a younger age there are also those late-bloomers, those beautiful, older LGBT men and women who have spent a lifetime with one foot in the shadows and the other in a state of strenuously cultivated emotional paralysis, a seemingly sunlit space peopled with straight spouses, children and grandchildren.

This concept of double-identities, of secrets and consequences, forms the crux of British novelist and poet Bernardine Evaristo’s latest work of fiction, Mr. Loverman, a dazzling, gorgeously textured portrayal of a gay, British-Caribbean late bloomer and his infectious zest for life, language and love. In fact, one of the most remarkable feats of the novel is show how a septuagenarian can possess the kind of sizzle and sexual passion that would make most millennials look like poor relations of Mary Poppins.

The septuagenarian in question is Barrington Jedidiah Walker Esq, an Antiguan-born dandy based for decades in East London, who’s deeply in love with his childhood sweetheart, Morris Courtney de la Roux. The caveat is that Barrington is married to Carmel, his wife of 50 years. Carmel suspects that Barrington, or Barry as he’s also known, is having an affair, but assumes it to be with a woman. What Evaristo does so well is not only depict the strain that Barrington’s justifiable deception places on his marriage but she also deepens the narrative to include Carmel’s side of the story. One uses the term “justifiable” deception entirely accurately here. Homosexuality is still illegal in most parts of the Caribbean and Antigua is no exception. As evinced by the attitudes of Barrington’s grandson, Daniel, this stigma has seeped from generation to generation, from one continent to the next, creating a virulent animus against gay relationships within Britain’s collective black community, and the consequence of coming out of the closet is immediate rejection or violence.

So if Barrington’s deception can be considered justifiable — even for a minute — what about Carmel’s reality? A 50-year marriage is a lifetime’s investment, and Evaristo depicts Carmel’s disappointments with earth-deep empathy, showing us her vibrant youth, her pursuit of spiritual sustenance through the Church, and her struggle with post-natal depression. It is a beautiful, touching portrait of a woman pushed to the edge of her parameters. There is no victimhood here, and that sentiment extends to Barrington’s circumstances as well. The plot fizzes in a way that enables Barrington to confront his fears and face up to the truth of his “down-low” lifestyle with results that are poignant and cathartic in equal measure.

It must be noted that by writing directly in the voice of an older, gay Caribbean man, Bernardine Evaristo, who’s British-Nigerian and a woman, has executed an extraordinary act of ventriloquism that crosses gender boundaries as well as racial, cultural, sexual and linguistic differences. The fact that she accomplishes all of this with lyricism, authenticity and compassion is not only an act of bravery and confidence but a testament to her virtuosic capabilities as a writer. If the novelist’s job is to make sense of the world, Bernardine Evaristo’s entire oeuvre attests to her desire to upend preconceived notions of what is and isn’t impossible and reflect that mirror right back at her readers. Mr. Loverman is a powerful, morally rigorous and joyful novel and Bernardine Evaristo is a writer at the height of her imaginative powers.

Mr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo is published by Akashic Books. You can purchase the book here.

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.

______________

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 

African LGBTs Speak For Themselves in June 13-15 Pride Month Activities

African countries passing harsh laws against LGBTs and our allies have been much in the gay press over the past year. But all too often African LGBTs have appeared as mute objects of repression, rather than people organizing to win their own freedom.
A consortium of Chicago area groups is working to change that by featuring African LGBT activists speaking out in a long weekend of activities about issues facing LGBTs on the continent, and how allies elsewhere can help improve conditions.  The Friday, June 13th through Sunday, June 15th activities include forums, a film showing, a television program, a wine and cheese reception with activists, and a worship service:
Friday, June 13 – Free symposium on “Theological Resources for LGBTI Liberation,” 2 PM to 4 PM at the Broadway United Methodist Church, 3338 N. Broadway Avenue, Chicago with South African activists Judith Kotzé and Ingrid Schoonraad from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries.  Participants will explore the intersections of North American liberation theology and South African post-apartheid theology as they relate to the liberation for LGBTI people.Friday, June 13 – “LGBTI Solidarity in Africa”  Rev. Judith Kotzé joins the Gay Liberation Network‘s Brent Holman-Gomez to discuss issues of LGBTI solidarity in Africa, and preview the Saturday and Sunday events in Chicago.  6:30 PM to 6:55 PM, cable channel 21 in Chicago.

Saturday, June 14 – Free “Chicago Forum on LGBTI Solidarity in Africa” featuring a panel of African LGBTI activists from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries and CLASP (Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program) discussing how to provide advocacy and support.  Breakout roundtables will allow everyone to get involved in discussing U.S. policy, worldwide/church advocacy, pathways to safe haven, and Chicago re-settlement.  2 PM to 5 PM at the Episcopal Church Center, 65 E. Huron Street, Chicago.
Reception Fundraiser and Film Screening of “Call Me Kuchu” – Join African LGBTI activists for a wine and cheese reception and the screening of the acclaimed film, “Call Me Kuchu,” about martyred Ugandan activist David Kato.  Reception at 5 PM, film screening at 6 PM, also at the Episcopal Church Center, 65 E. Huron Street, Chicago.  Suggested donation: $25.
Sunday, June 15 – Worship Service of Solidarity and Welcome for LGBTI Activists from Africa – 10:30 AM to 12 Noon at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church Logan Square, 2649 N. Francisco, Chicago.
The Global Interfaith Network for People of all Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions.  Representatives from Inclusive & Affirming Ministries will introduce the new interfaith network which was inaugurated this past January with an international conference in South Africa.  2 PM to 3:30 PM, also at St. Luke’s Luther Church Logan Square, 2649 N. Francisco, Chicago.
Featured participants in the weekend’s activities include:
Victor Charles Aweke, a 31-year-old Nigerian who worked openly as a volunteer HIV and human rights advocate in his home country until recent threats of violence forced him to flee.  Mr. Aweke previously worked with Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights as an Outreach Coordinator, Center for the Right to Health as the diversity program officer, on HIV Prevention Intervention Program for most-at-risk persons, Institute of Human Virology as the liaison officer on the trust research for most at-risk persons within the Abuja metropolis in Nigeria.  An experienced public speaker in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States, Mr. Aweke currently working with the Center for Integration and Courageous Living and the Chicago LGBT Asylum support program (CLASP).
Rev. Judith Kotzé, is a lesbian from South Africa who in 1995 qualified as one of the first woman ministers in the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC). She served the DRC from 1996 to 2000 in the multi-disciplinary ministry regarding prostitution. She has a Master’s degree in Missiology, working on Interreligious Dialogue as a model for the Intra-faith Dialogue around sexual orientation. Rev. Kotzé became Director of the Inclusive & Affirming Ministries in 2011, having served in IAM in various capacities since 1997, and has traveled widely in southern Africa as part of her activism.
John Adewoye is a Nigerian/American gay man resident in Riverdale, IL. He came to the United States in 1999 as a Catholic priest with a secret agenda of pursuing anti-gay “conversion therapy” but discovered it to be false. This discovery and the U.S. environment emboldened him to accept himself and come out as a gay man, but at the cost of his homeland and by choice, the priesthood.  He is the founder of Courage Nigeria and the Center for Integration and Courageous Living, and a co-founder of CLASP. Despite his exile, Mr. Adewoye is an active member of two coalitions working hard to overturn the “Same-sex Prohibition Act  2013” signed to law in Nigeria January 2014. He is a Chaplain at the University of Chicago Medicine, a member of Chicago Gay Men Chorus, the Arch-diocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach and Adodi National. He became a US citizen on April 7 of this year.

The Chicago “LGBTI Solidarity in Africa Weekend” is a joint effort of several organizations, including the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming ChurchesCLASP – Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program, the Gay Liberation NetworkInclusive and Affirming Ministries - South Africa, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church Logan Square, and Truth Wins Out. Endorsed by World Can’t Wait-Chicago.

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Twitterview with Bisi Alimi – Living Positively with HIV for 10 Years

Via Elnathan John

Transcript of a Twitter interview conducted by Elnathan John on May 7, 2014 with Bisi Alimi.

Bisi Alimi, a human rights campaigner and health advocate who rose to notoriety when he first came out as gay on NTA. He started his advocacy work at the height of the HIV epidemic within the Nigerian MSM community in the late 1990s. In 2004, Bisi’s open declaration of his sexuality, caused a turning point in the discussion on sex and sexuality in Nigeria. In July 2012, he was invited to the White House by President Obama for his work with black gay men in Europe. On May 7, 2004, Bisi was diagnosed with HIV. He continues to passionately do his advocacy work from his base in the UK. This interview marks 10 years of Bisi living ‘positively’.

I first interviewed Bisi in November 2012

Bisi Alimi

EJ: My first question Bisi, what was your first reaction when you got the test results saying you were positive?

 

BA: Honestly, considering the number of friends I had lost before then, I was sure it was going to be positive. Still, I was shocked and upset when I was told I was HIV positive. It was like a big cloud of a broken dream.

 

EJ: Were you in Nigeria at the time?

 

BA: Yes I was in Nigeria. Actually I was tested at the National AIDS Conference in Abuja in 2004.

 

EJ: What was the climate like at the time with regard to access to HIV care? Where did you first receive treatment?

 

BA: You see prior to that time, I didn’t even know much about treatment at all in Nigeria. I was so naïve. Also because of the fear, shame and guilt, I didn’t even tell anyone about my status apart from people present. I was waiting to die. I had seen friends dying, so I was like, well it’s a matter of months until I am gone.

 

EJ: Many people link HIV to homosexuality. However health sources cite over 80% of HIV transmission from heterosexual sex. How, in your experience does ignorance about HIV affect stigma?

 

BA: You see the conversation that HIV is homosexual disease is right and wrong and I will try to explain. HIV as we now know it was first discovered among gay men in America in the late 1970s to early 1980s. So it was kind of okay to link the virus to that community, however further digging around found that it is not so true. Scientists had found out that a similar virus had wiped out a community in the Congo around the late 1960s to early 1970s. So then the global interest started. However depending on who is telling the story the answer is different. The good thing about ownership of the virus by the gay community is that it brings the right sentiment. I guess you can only face one stigma at a time. So they [gay people] wanted to remove the HIV stigma as a pathway. But in the context of Africa, it is a different story. Heterosexual couples are driving the virus. [About ignorance and stigma], this is multilayered. First there is the image of HIV you see on TV. You know the skull and the two bones – it is scary. Then there is the religiosity or morality around the whole sex thing. HIV is seen as being a punishment.

Continue on Elnathan John

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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WE ARE QUEER AFRICA by None on Record

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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

The ‘Diversity Test’: Is the London LGBT Film Festival a white-only affair?

The ‘Diversity Test’: Is the London LGBT Film Festival a white-only affair? by Christina Fonthes

Rag Tag (2006) directed by Adaora Nwandu
Rag Tag (2006) directed by Adaora Nwandu

Now in its 28th year, the highly-anticipated London Lesbian Gay Film Festival returned to the Southbank this year boasting a new name:  BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival.

The festival, which is headed by the British Film Institute (BFI), is one of the longest running festivals of its kind in the world, and is much-loved by Queer folk and cinephiles alike. This year’s festival-goers were treated to three gala films -Hong Khaou’s Lilting; Sophie Hyde’s 52 Tuesdays; and Antonio Hen’s The Last Match -, over 50 feature films from 20 countries, as well as a number of expositions and panel discussions.

The head of BFI’s Cinemas and Festivals, Australian-born Claire Stewart, said the rename was to

“reflect the increasing diversity of the programme and the people who identify with and embrace it”.

Alarm bells immediately set off whenever I hear that one of our formidable British institutions decides to be more ‘diverse’. The term diversity’ is usually followed by words such as ‘multicultural’, ‘celebrate’, ‘embrace’, ‘heritage’, ‘inclusive’, ‘equality’and other mundane and unoriginal terms and phrases that have been recycled so much by politicians, the media and arts organisations that they have become meaningless.

The festival received criticism for removing the words ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’ from the name, and has been accused of appealing to a straighter and younger audience. As a black queer woman, the biggest qualm, for me, remains the issue of race. From the organisational structure to the audience that attend the screenings, the festival is, and always has been, a celebration of white Queer culture.

The ‘Diversity Test’

Out of the 122 features, shorts and archive films that were screened at the festival, only six have two or more (named) main characters that are black:

  • The Abominable Crime – a documentary exploring homophobia in Jamaica
  • Veil of Silence – a documentary exploring homophobia in Nigeria
  • Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles – a moving document of a community vigil for Islan Nettles, a victim of transphobia
  • Born This Way – a documentary about homophobia in Cameroon
  • Fashion Girls – a documentary about a group of gay men and transwomen in Brazil talking about their lives and their dance troupe
  • Big Words – a feature film about a group of black American men who used to be in a hip-hop band

And of the six films, four are about black homophobia/transphobia, and two are about black people singing and dancing.

From this short list, it is safe to say that the BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival is inline with the mainstream media’s agenda to keep black faces invisible. And like with all the other media organisations in the UK, when it comes to the representation of black people on screen – the representation we have become so accustomed to it seems, at times, futile to challenge it – we are presented with the same one-dimensional images of black people who are either engaged in violence and criminal activity or entertaining (through the mediums of sports and music) – the latter usually being within the form of dancing or singing/rapping to Hip Hop and/or RnB music accompanied by images of hypermasculine men and over- sexualised women.

The LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community are not exempt from racism (be it institutional or otherwise), and the conversation about stereotypes and the limited narrative of black people must also include them. To me, it comes as no surprise that less than five per cent of the festival’s films featured black people; but is worth noting that the invisibility of black queer faces and voices within LGBT spaces fuel the stereotype that black queers do not exist and that all black people are homophobic.

Film is a powerful medium for raising awareness of social and political issues, and whilst it is extremely important to highlight the homophobic and transphobic violence that occurs within black communities, it is just as important to ask why it is that the only narratives about black queers are centred around black homophobia/transphobia and violence.

The under-representation of black people at the festival, and within the wider context of queer cinema, says that black queer lives are not significant enough to document. I ask: where are the short films about our first same-sex school crushes? Where are the comedies about our coming-out experiences? Where are the dramas about being turned away from nightclubs because the bouncers do not think black people are gay? Where are our biopics? Where are our films about suicide, depression, sex, love, romance and friendship? Where are the insights into bisexuality, polyamory and gender-non-conforming identities?

Difficult Love by Zanele Muholi
Difficult Love by Zanele Muholi

Funding and the ‘White Saviour Complex’

The lack of representation and the misrepresentation of black queers can be attributed to two key factors: first, the lack of funding and fiscal sponsors; black filmmakers (both queer and non-queer) struggle to secure funding from sources that are easily accessed by their white counterparts. Of the few films that are out there, the majority have a black cast and a white production. The recent wave of cutbacks from the government and arts organisations will no doubt contribute to this problematic situation.

The second factor is the White Saviour Complex - although the term was originally used to refer to white Americans, its characteristics can also be applied to white British people. The white saviour complex allows the white LGBT community to view black queers not as equals facing homophobia but as an ‘other’, an oppressed people who need to be saved. This is illustrated in the news and media coverage of the anti-LGBT laws and policies that were recently introduced by Nigeria and Uganda, which differed immensely to the coverage of the draconian laws introduced in Russia. The latter is presented as a modern country whose harsh laws call for international support and solidarity with Russian LGBT people, whilst the other nations are presented as barbaric, backwards and in need of help.

As Britain and America continue to hold themselves up as the beacons of civilisation and the LGBT voice of reason, we ought to remember that same-sex marriage was only made legal last month in the UK. And, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina and several other states in America have always had anti-LGBT laws and policies identical to those recently introduced in Nigeria and Uganda.

The need for collaboration and solidarity

In twenty years time when black queer youth are trying to find images and representations of themselves, they will Google ‘black gay films’, and the only thing that will come up will be films about violence and homophobia/transphobia. They will not know about studs and femmes; they will not know that Angela Davis and Bayard Rustin, two great leaders of the civil rights movement, were queer. They will not know about the plethora of black queer night clubs in the streets of London; they will not know of the work of fine art photographer Ajamu or his ‘Fierce: Portraits of young black queers’

Nor will they know of the music of Angolan transgender artist Titica and American rapper Leif.

Audre Lorde’s revolutionary phrase:

“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change”

should be the mantra of all black writers, creatives and activists. It would be irresponsible of us to leave it up to organisations like the BFI, who deemed it appropriate to host a prison-themed after party, to have more representations of positive black queer and non-queer experiences. At best, all they can offer is tokenistic gestures. The only real way to challenge the absence of black queer stories and the over-representation of white male narratives is by pooling resources and collaborating and supporting one another in order to create, publish and distribute our own stories.

 

Christina Fonthes is a Manchester-based translator, and Afrofeminist blogger. Born in Kinshasa, Congo and raised in London, she is an advocate for LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer) rights. She is  a founding member of Rainbow Noir, a safe space created for and by Queer People of Colour in Manchester. Christina is a regular contributor at Black Feminists Manchester She can be found on Twitter at @CongoMuse and Musings of a Congolese Lesbian blog .  Also see her article British Film and Television: Where Are All The Black Gays?

 

***This article is published with the permission of the author and was first published on Media Diversified

Call Me Kuchu, Victor Mukasa Speaking Out Against Misrepresentation of African Activists

Victor Juliet Mukasa

Victor Thick Skin Mukasa speaking at Dartmouth College,US, criticises western activists and organisations for misrepresenting and disrespecting African activists.

African LGBTI Human Rights Defenders – Public statement of warning!

QAR: An essay David Kato Kisule

This is the first in a series of extracts from the Queer African Reader
David Kato submitted this short essay to the editors of the Queer African Reader just a month before he was murdered on 26 January 2011. David Kato was a teacher and prominent LGBTI activist in Uganda who served as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). Just weeks before his death, David won a landmark case against a Ugandan tabloid newspaper that published pictures of 100 people, including David, in an article calling for the hanging of lesbian and gay Ugandans. This essay is published here, with very few edits, in remembrance of David Kato and all those who have fallen in the struggle for LGBTI equality.

In this country, it is absurd that as the LGBTI community strives to liberate its community to attain not special rights but equal rights like others, they are caught up in a dilemma. Having sodomy laws and oppressive laws (which have long been repealed at their countries of origin!), the massive investment by foreign religious groups in African communities, the recent spread of homophobia promoting sustained hatred and the global reproduction of homophobia institutionally by American Evangelicals, has made matters worse for the survival of the LGBTI community in such countries.

In the name of protecting a traditional family, the Evangelicals recently prompted the drafting of the anti-homosexuality bill in the Ugandan parliament as a private member’s bill which affects not only the LGBTI community but, if passed, will have global repercussion to the entire community. This is why there is need to approach and confront the bill as a global problem with global repercussions. There is also need to use vibrant and outspoken ways to speak about the bill not simply as ‘expressing homophobia’ but as promoting sustained hatred and violence. There is a great need to raise debate about global systems that currently work to reproduce homophobic authoritarianism throughout the world.

In Uganda, as the LGBTI community has become more visible in regard to demand for inclusion in government health strategies, in the fight to close all gaps of HIV spread, legislators have come up with legislations of criminalising even consensual same sex proposing a death penalty!
This has made many return to the closet and made more vulnerable to the scourge. Some have been arrested, harassed, detained and some have died in the process. Many thrown out of homes, houses, schools and others humiliated (canned in public, raped) like there is institutionalised homophobia since fueling it is by policy makers and the perpetrators have gone on with impunity! Lesbians raped by family members and others in the name of curing them from lesbianism and in process catching HIV!

Such allegations have been made once at Mbale court where Late Brian Pande and Wasukire Fred were charged with carnal knowledge against the order of nature and the police surgeon had this to tell court:
He found one of them with no STD but on second test he found both with STDs.
He found one with a wound at his anus
He found one bleaching his face
So with this concluding that the two guys had had sex together.

In response as the magistrate asked for sureties to give the two court bail, one prominent advocate in court asked the magistrate not to bail the two since within a week the whole town of Mbale was to be full of homosexuals and so the two should die in prison! No wonder Pande died weeks after getting out of Maluku prisons where we had been refused to see them when we visited. Contradicting reports from hospital, his death certificate saying he died of meningitis, which they had not checked for yet, and police surgeon saying that, with a well nourished body, he died of anemia!

It is strange that as we followed up the Mbale case and had not known who Fred was, as we asked for Fred as we had seen in the media, we were told that the person we wanted was a man but has always lived looking like a woman! One wonders if he had lived in the same community up to more than 30 years, what harm had he done! Only fuelling of hate in public by religious fundamentalists and policy makers have sparked off such hate!

Legislation created without the inclusion of the marginalised community is undemocratic, the bill itself is unconstitutional since advocates for discrimination, has not followed or respected the international principles and not followed Ugandan law.  Generally the state and situation is alarming and much there is a great need to fight to deter the bill which is complicated since any civil society to lay a hand in this fight is taken to be promoting homosexuality which is to be criminalised according to the last communication by the minister of foreign affairs!

Thanks to the efforts, courage and struggle of the LGBTI community in Uganda, activists, artists, religious leaders, allies and policy makers across Uganda, Africa and the world, the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda has not been passed at the time of writing. However, the danger and threat still looms as more and more countries across the continent continue to threaten similar legislation and incite violence and persecution of those perceived to be of non-heteronormative sexualities and transgressing gender identities.

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

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queermigration.com/about.html
www.rashamoumneh.com
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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)

 

Behind the Christian Right in Africa

From Foreign Policy in Focus,”It’s Not Just Uganda: Behind the Christian Right’s Onslaught in Africa” by Nathalie Baptiste

In Uganda, being gay can now earn you a lifetime in prison.

Last month, the East African country was again thrust into the international spotlight after President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a draconian bill that criminalized homosexuality. The high profile, on-and-off battle over the so-called “kill the gays” bill has drawn headlines for years as the most extreme example in a wave of antigay legislation on the continent. But homophobia in Africa is not merely an African problem.

As the gay rights movement has gained traction in the United States, the more virulently homophobic ideologies of the religious right have been pushed further out of the mainstream and into fringe territory. But as their influence has waned at home, right-wing evangelists from the United States have been flexing their sanctimonious muscles influencing policymakers in Africa.

For years now, evangelical activists from the United States have been injecting themselves into African politics, speaking out against homosexuality and cheering on antigay legislation on the continent. The influence of these groups has been well documented in Uganda. The now-defunct Exodus International, for example, sent Don Schmierer, a board member, to Uganda in 2009 to speak at a conference alongside Scott Lively, a pastor who was later sued by a Ugandan gay rights group for his role in promoting human rights violations against LGBTQ people. The two participated in a disturbing anti-gay conference, where speakers blamed homosexuals for the rise of Nazism and the Rwandan genocide, among other abhorrent acts. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a hard-right Christian group that is active in U.S. politics as well, similarly supported anti-gay laws in Uganda. At the peak of controversy over the “kill the gays” bill, Perkins praised the Ugandan president for “leading his nation to repentance.”

But such groups aren’t just active in Uganda. They have promoted antigay legislation in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, just to name a few other places. The support ranges from popular agitation and sideline cheerleading to outright intervention.

In 2010, for example, when Zimbabwe began the process of drafting a new constitution, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)—a Christian law firm founded by evangelist Pat Robertson—launched a Zimbabwean counterpart called the African Centre for Law and Justice. The outpost trained lawyers for the express purpose of putting a Christian stamp on the draft of the new constitution.

The African Centre joined forces with the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), an indigenous organization, to promote constitutional language affirming that Zimbabwe is a Christian nation and ensuring that homosexuality remained illegal. These and other hardline views are outlined in a pamphlet distributed by the EFZ and ACLJ. Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of ACLJ, announced that his organization would lobby for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in political and religious circles in the event of any controversy over the provisions, despite the fact that the Zimbabwean president has been sanctioned by the United States and the European Union for violating human rights. Last year, Zimbabwe’s new constitution, which includes a ban on gay marriage, was approved by an overwhelming popular vote.

ACLJ’s Kenyan-based offshoot, the East African Center for Law and Justice (EACLJ), made an effort to lobby against Kenya’s progressive new constitution as well. In April 2010, a report on the group’s website called homosexuality “unacceptable” and “foreign” and called for the Kenyan constitution to clearly define marriage as between a man and a woman, thus closing the door on future laws that could attempt to legalize same-sex marriage. In this case the ECLJ was unsuccessful, and the new constitution was approved without any language regarding same-sex marriage.

Pat Robertson’s entanglements in Africa go well beyond Zimbabwe and Kenya.

In 1960, Robertson created The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which broadcasts through cable and satellite to over 200 countries. Robertson is a co-host on the 700 Club, arguably CBN’s most popular show. From his perch on the show, Roberts has made a seemingly endless variety of inflammatory remarks about LGBTQ people and just about everyone else that does not fall in line with his own religious thinking.

In the United States, Robertson’s vitriol can be brushed aside as the antiquated ravings of a fringe figure. Not so in much of Africa. A survey conducted in 2010 found that 74 million people in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, had watched at least one CBN show in the previous year. That’s a remarkable reach considering Nigeria is home to over 80 million Christians…….

Robertson’s influence plays into an increasingly hostile political climate for gays in the country. Last January, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which provides punishments of up to 14 years imprisonment for a gay marriage and up to 10 years for membership in or encouragement of gay clubs and organizations. The enactment of the law was followed by a wave of arrests of gay men—and widespread denouncement from the international community. Continue Reading

 

Ending the Gay Witch Hunt

From Pambazuka News, Henry Makori calls for an end to the persecution of LGBTI people across Africa which goes beyond laws to a fierce intolerance by society at large.

 

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.

And now with the stroke of a pen at a ceremony witnessed by state officials and journalists on Monday, President Museveni has left no one in any doubt about his personal approval of the flaming hate and violence meted to LGBTI persons in Uganda and Africa. Quite poignantly, Museveni’s Uganda is the home of David Kato, the iconic gay rights defender who was brutally murdered on 26 January , 2011. One can only imagine the gleeful smiles on the faces of Kato’s killers and other homophobes. The new law has surely emboldened them.

Uganda’s sweeping Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 is draconian, no question about that. Among other provisions, a person convicted of the offence of homosexuality, which includes touching, faces life in prison. Conviction for same sex marriage earns one life imprisonment. Attempted homosexuality attracts seven years behind bars.

A Ugandan occupying premises where a homosexual affair takes place could be jailed for five years. Directors of media houses and organisations, property owners or bloggers convicted of promoting homosexuality will be jailed for up to seven years. Ugandans abroad can be charged with homosexuality and extradited to face the law at home.

Reading through the new law, one can not escape the impression that a disaster of apocalyptic proportions was unfolding in Uganda solely because of homosexuality, hence the need for such a ruthless legislative action to save the nation. But where is the evidence?

PURITCANICAL POSTURING

Explaining his decision to assent to the bill, President Museveni did not point to a national catastrophe but instead cast himself as the paragon of African culture and anti-imperialism. It is a tired line of reasoning. ‘It seems the topic of homosexuals was provoked by the arrogant and careless Western groups that are fond of coming into our schools and recruiting young children into homosexuality and lesbianism, just as they carelessly handle other issues concerning Africa,’ he said. Museveni further accused Western organisations of ‘recruiting normal people’ ‘to get money’.

Very well, Mr President. ‘Normal people’ are being recruited into homosexuality for money. Who has complained? What problem does that cause Uganda? Prior to the new law, it was already a crime to be gay in Uganda, the penalty being seven years in prison. Are Ugandan prisons teeming with homosexuals and their foreign recruiters? How many people from the West has Uganda prosecuted for recruiting children into homosexuality?

Scientists from within and outside the country, ‘after exhaustive studies’, had found that no one could be homosexual ‘purely by nature,’ Museveni claimed. Yet the president cited a study done on identical twins in Sweden (Sweden is not part of the West, right?) that showed that 34 percent 5 – 39 percent were homosexual on account of nature and 66 percent were homosexual on account of nurture.

The ‘Scientific statement from the Ministry of Health on homosexuality’, dated 10 February , on which Museveni claimed to have based his decision makes interesting reading. It deserves quoting at length.

‘Homosexual behaviour has existed throughout human history, including Africa’, the statement, signed by 11 top government-appointed Ugandan scientists, affirms. ‘Homosexuality existed in Africa way before the coming of the white man. However, most African cultures controlled sexual practices be they heterosexual or homosexual and never allowed exhibitionist sexual behaviour.’

‘Studies in sexology have shown that sexual phenomena exist on a normal distribution continuum like most human attributes e.g. height – most people are in the middle but others may be taller or shorter. Thus also in sexuality there are spectrum of sexual behaviors. Some people are less fixed in one form of sexuality than others. Thus sexuality is a far more flexible human quality than used to be assumed in the past, demonstrating the biological variability within the human race.’

Significantly, the experts state that, ‘Homosexuality is sexual behaviour (not a disorder) involving sexual attraction to people of the same sex. It is not clear whether this differing physiological response exists at birth or [is] developed after homosexual experience later in life. The conclusion from the current body of scientific evidence is that there is no single gene responsible for homosexuality and there is no anatomical or physiological data that can fully explain its occurrence…In summary, homosexuality has no clear cut cause; several factors are involved which differ from individual to individual. It is not a disease that has a treatment.’

There you have it. But Museveni is not only opposed to homosexuality. At the signing ceremony on Monday, he fulminated against oral sex and public displays of affection, pontificating that ‘Africans are flabbergasted by exhibitionism of sexual acts’. He then advised the nation on the appropriate ‘Ugandan’ way to get intimate. Etc, etc…One could simply dismiss the President of Uganda as being obsessed with sex! Except that his views now have grave implications for gay people’s enjoyment of the fundamental right to personal dignity and the freedoms of expression, belief and association enshrined in the Constitution of Uganda and in international conventions to which Uganda is a state party.

Museveni’s puritanical and anti-imperialist posturing fools no one, of course. First, the truth is that there are – and there have always been – homosexual persons in Uganda, Africa and elsewhere in the world, existing quite independently of Western or other influences – a sexual minority which Museveni’s own experts affirm. Why he and his ilk refuse to accept this reality is beyond reason.

Second, even if homosexuality was a Western influence, so what? What qualifies Museveni and other African elites to determine which cultural borrowings are good or bad, where the matter concerns individual private choices that harm no one?

Third, isn’t it astounding that, in a continent witnessing so much bloodletting caused by fundamentalist groups such as Boko Haram and Al Shabaab who claim to oppose Western influences, parliaments can pass – and presidents assent to – draconian laws on the same grounds?

And fourth, LGBTI persons pose no threat to anyone whatsoever by the mere fact of being gay. A person’s sexual orientation can never be criminal. Punitive laws targeting LGBTI persons are therefore entirely unjust. What problem in society is an anti-gay law supposed to cure? How, for example, would Ugandans benefit from the imprisonment for life, or even the violent death, of a hundred gays?

WHAT HOMOPHOBES ARE UP TO

If homosexuality threatens no one and is a natural phenomenon, why are gays being hunted down everywhere in Africa? One, there is fear of difference, arising from ignorance. There are many persons who have spent all their lives believing in exclusive heterosexuality and who have no knowledge about the existence of other sexual orientations. Their narrow view of sexuality, often based on religion, cannot countenance difference. Two, as veteran Uganda journalist Charles Onyango-Obbo writes, politicians use homophobia as a tool to divert public attention from pressing national issues, or to win support in conservative societies. Three, ultimately the war on homosexuality is about maintaining male dominance in society. Certain articles in this special issue ably argue this point.

And four, there is imperialism, which homophobes claim to be fighting. Behind the anti-gay crusade in Uganda – and many African countries – lurks a powerful American evangelical lobby out to ostensibly protect Christian values and traditional family life in Africa – yet another evidence of the colonial notion of the white man’s burden. Museveni’s wife Janet, who is also a Cabinet minister and an NRM member of parliament, is an ardent evangelical. In the 21st century, Western do-gooders must still paint Africa as the dark continent to justify continued imperialist intervention, in this case disguised as missionary work.

A month before the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill was drafted, three American evangelicals had held a conference in the country on homosexuality. Thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and politicians listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how ‘the gay movement is an evil institution’ whose goal is ‘to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.’

Uganda’s anti-gay law follows a similar one signed by Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan early last month, to the great jubilation of the Catholic bishops there. These two developments have certainly poured fresh petrol onto the fire of homophobia raging across Africa. There will surely be more attacks on gay people and more egregious violations of their rights with impunity. Harsher legislation or more aggressive enforcement will be demanded in countries where the so-called anti-sodomy laws already exist since the colonial times. Already in Kenya a group of members of parliament have launched a caucus against homosexuality, vowing to ensure strict enforcement of existing laws.

JOIN THE STRUGGLE

It is not all gloom, though. Despite widespread repression, the struggle for LGBTI rights as human rights is gathering pace in Africa as homosexual identifying persons refuse to be silenced. Throngs of enlightened Africans from every village and town should pour out in solidarity. You do not need to be gay to defend the rights of gays to live as free persons, anymore than you need to be a child or parent to champion children’s rights, or disabled to fight stigma and discrimination of disabled persons. Moreover, many heterosexual persons in Africa are going to suffer harassment under the harsh anti-gay laws, as eminent Kenyan scholar Prof Calestous Juma experienced.

In South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu helped launch Africa’s first gay political party in January called the Democratic Religious Alliance Against Minority Antagonism (DRAAMA). The new party will champion minority human-rights issues the current ruling party, ANC, has failed to address since coming to power twenty years ago. Archbishop Tutu, an indefatigable LGBTI campaigner, has previously stated that he would not go to heaven if God is homophobic. ‘I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven… No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to hell… I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this,’ he said.

Archbishop Tutu is not alone. Weeks ago, the Southern Cross, a weekly published by the Catholic Church in Southern Africa, carried a bold editorial condemning homophobic laws in Africa and calling upon the church to speak out in the defence of LGBTI rights. The paper deplored the fact that ‘the church has been silent, in some cases even quietly complicit, in the discourse on new homophobic laws.’

‘The Church cannot sponsor the criminalisation of matters of private morality, and much less the advocacy of human rights. Prejudice and the persecution of homosexuals are in defiance of Catholic doctrine,’ the editorial stated. ‘While the Church’s teachings prevent her from standing with homosexuals on many issues, especially same-sex marriage, she has an obligation, mandated by Christ, to be in solidarity with all those who are unjustly marginalised and persecuted.’

‘African bishops especially ought to speak out, as loudly as they do on same-sex marriage, against the discriminatory legislation and violence directed at homosexuals, many of whom are fellow Catholics. Where is the prophetic voice of the church in condemning the general homophobia in society?’

In Kenya, Rev John Makokha responded to this challenge ten years ago by establishing Other Sheep-Africa, a faith-based organisation to fight religious homophobia. Last year, the organisation won in the ‘Dini’ (Religion/Faith) Category of the Kenya Upinde Awards for promoting dialogue on faith, gender, sex and sexuality. Upinde Awards are organised annually by the yet to be registered National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

The virulent homophobic campaign sweeping Africa must be stopped. It is unacceptable that innocent citizens of independent African nations who should enjoy equal rights and protection under the law are targeted for criminal prosecution or wanton violence, merely because of their sexual orientation. Africans need to understand that homosexual persons are normal human beings who experience their sexuality differently. Any laws, policies, attitudes and practices that criminalise or stoke hate against adults engaging in consensual same sex sexual relationships are irredeemably unjust. Every reasonable person should resist them. Vigorously.

* Henry Makori is an editor with Pambazuka News.

“When the internet arrived, the homosexuality deamon went digital”

a brief scientific history of deamons.

Binyavanga Wainaina on the scientific history of African deamons

Ivan Forde

Image by Ivan Forde

When the internet arrived, the homosexuality deamon went digital, and was able to climb into optic fibers. Homosexuality deamon learns fast. Full of trickery. Read a lot and decided to convert from simple analogue deamonhood, to an actual ideology. Homosexuality demon is by this time quite African, a middle class one, likes old colonial houses, comfy hotels, really likes imported things. Homosexuality deamon decided to occupy son of a pastor to a scholarship in the Netherlands where they ate cheese, wore clogs and smoked bang. While smoking bhang and at tenting philosophy they came up with a Homosexual ideology. They called it Gayism and Lesbianism. Homosexuality deamon and son of Pastor knew that Africans would never accept them unless they were imported and western. So they bought skinny jeans and balanced trousers.

Flight back to Nairobi (first class with NGO money), they were attacked overflying Sudan, by a chariot of male African homosexuality deamons. It was very traumatising – a bunch of Wolof speakers afro-deamons, some Azande, some refused to say. Two Kings. Shaka and Kabaka Mwanga. So. they were hijacked and taken to a hotel in Entebbe. They were taught many things, secret Baganda things, warrior-like Zulu things. Kabaka Mwanga said he really liked young boys, pages. He liked girls too. Actually he liked a feast of flesh.

So, deamon of Homosexuality (French mum, English dad) and Pastor’s Son were very well educated. Shaka, they learned was into pain: thorns, shot spear stabs, soulful war cries. He taught them geopolitics and how to shield their websites. Shaka was not into women. Hated lesbians. Kabaka mwanga hated white people, kept trying to poison Imported Homosexual deamon. He really hated Catholic priests. They killed his lovers. The things they did in the Cathedral!Over two weeks in Entebbe, they used social media to spread Afro-homosexualism everywhere with a few dutch techniques…………Continue on Brittle Paper

 

I can’t honestly say what this is. Really. You just have to read and make of it what you will. Looks like Binyavanga was possessed by Marechera’s spirit or something. The most I can say is that when storytelling tips over the edge of prophecy, you get this.

#BrazeYourself

Ivan Forde

So the deamon for homosexuality, is it French? Coz many Pentecostals say it is not African. Now, the deamon of homosexuality—I’m thinking it came on a ship, coz deamons must be hosted by a body. They just can’t arrive by teleporting. Bible Scientists who know the field very well have deeply researched ALL African knowledge and are sure Gay deamon DID indeed come from the West. Scientists and experts on Bible Africa are sure Homo deamon was imported. I’m not sure though whether by plane or ship. Container number? Homosexuality deamon could very well have arrived, not in a container (carrying Friesian bulls maybe?), it could have come with passengers. Homosexuality deamon must have sat around bored for a long long time occupying one or two people, until the internet arrived.

When the internet arrived, the homosexuality deamon went digital, and was able to climb into optic fibers. Homosexuality deamon learns fast. Full of trickery. Read a lot and decided to convert from simple analogue deamonhood, to an actual ideology. Homosexuality demon is by this time quite African, a middle class one, likes old colonial houses, comfy hotels, really likes imported things. Homosexuality deamon decided to occupy son of a pastor to a scholarship in the Netherlands where they ate cheese, wore clogs and smoked bang. While smoking bhang and at tenting philosophy they came up with a Homosexual ideology. They called it Gayism and Lesbianism. Homosexuality deamon and son of Pastor knew that Africans would never accept them unless they were imported and western. So they bought skinny jeans and balanced trousers.

Flight back to Nairobi (first class with NGO money), they were attacked overflying Sudan, by a chariot of male African homosexuality deamons. It was very traumatising – a bunch of Wolof speakers afro-deamons, some Azande, some refused to say. Two Kings. Shaka and Kabaka Mwanga. So. they were hijacked and taken to a hotel in Entebbe. They were taught many things, secret Baganda things, warrior-like Zulu things. Kabaka Mwanga said he really liked young boys, pages. He liked girls too. Actually he liked a feast of flesh.

- See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2014/01/african-homosexual-deamon-binyavangas-treatise-demonology/#sthash.gL5YBZ0u.dpuf

I can’t honestly say what this is. Really. You just have to read and make of it what you will. Looks like Binyavanga was possessed by Marechera’s spirit or something. The most I can say is that when storytelling tips over the edge of prophecy, you get this.

#BrazeYourself

Ivan Forde

So the deamon for homosexuality, is it French? Coz many Pentecostals say it is not African. Now, the deamon of homosexuality—I’m thinking it came on a ship, coz deamons must be hosted by a body. They just can’t arrive by teleporting. Bible Scientists who know the field very well have deeply researched ALL African knowledge and are sure Gay deamon DID indeed come from the West. Scientists and experts on Bible Africa are sure Homo deamon was imported. I’m not sure though whether by plane or ship. Container number? Homosexuality deamon could very well have arrived, not in a container (carrying Friesian bulls maybe?), it could have come with passengers. Homosexuality deamon must have sat around bored for a long long time occupying one or two people, until the internet arrived.

When the internet arrived, the homosexuality deamon went digital, and was able to climb into optic fibers. Homosexuality deamon learns fast. Full of trickery. Read a lot and decided to convert from simple analogue deamonhood, to an actual ideology. Homosexuality demon is by this time quite African, a middle class one, likes old colonial houses, comfy hotels, really likes imported things. Homosexuality deamon decided to occupy son of a pastor to a scholarship in the Netherlands where they ate cheese, wore clogs and smoked bang. While smoking bhang and at tenting philosophy they came up with a Homosexual ideology. They called it Gayism and Lesbianism. Homosexuality deamon and son of Pastor knew that Africans would never accept them unless they were imported and western. So they bought skinny jeans and balanced trousers.

Flight back to Nairobi (first class with NGO money), they were attacked overflying Sudan, by a chariot of male African homosexuality deamons. It was very traumatising – a bunch of Wolof speakers afro-deamons, some Azande, some refused to say. Two Kings. Shaka and Kabaka Mwanga. So. they were hijacked and taken to a hotel in Entebbe. They were taught many things, secret Baganda things, warrior-like Zulu things. Kabaka Mwanga said he really liked young boys, pages. He liked girls too. Actually he liked a feast of flesh.

- See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2014/01/african-homosexual-deamon-binyavangas-treatise-demonology/#sthash.gL5YBZ0u.dpuf