Category Archives: QAR

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.

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

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

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

www.yilmaz-gunay.de/koray/
www.blacklooks.org
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https://againstequality.wordpress.com/military/
www.blackandpink.org
pqbds.wordpress.com/about/
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queermigration.com/about.html
www.rashamoumneh.com
http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/

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.

Namibian lesbian musician Shishani

Via We Are Queer

Review of Queer African Reader

From The Feminist Wire a review of the Queer African Reader edited by Sokari Ekine and Hakima Abbas

By Rita Nketiah and Rose Afriyie

QAR Cover

In the past decade, African sexual minorities have received increasing attention. 2013 alone saw numerous headlines most notably around  the murder of activist Eric Lembembe in Cameroon and the passage of  the “Anti-Homesexuality” and “Same Sex Marriage Prohibition” bills in Uganda and Nigeria respectively. But there is much more to Queer rights in Africa than murder and policy advocacy.  For example, most mainstream media outlets have been reluctant to include: accounts from queer Ugandans in their own words about the root of African homophobic policy in the Western evangelical movement; the lack of sustainability of lesbian-led nonprofits in Kenya; the marginalization of intersex and trans folks in Uganda; and the fearlessly captured lives of Queer South Africans through photography, to name a few.

For better or worse, there has been much debate and controversy about the place of queer people in African societies. The most heinous of these opinions has been that homosexuality (a term often used to generalize the much more complex sexual experiences of queer-identified people) is an “un-African” ideology superimposed by former colonial powers. In response, many queer Africans and allies have sought to challenge the deeply ingrained gender and sexual norms that continue to threaten the quality of life for non-straight Africans.

Amidst these debates comes a bold new anthology called the Queer African Reader, published by Pambazuka Press, and co-edited by Sokari Ekine and Hakima Abbas. Indeed, the very idea that one places “Queer” and “African” side by side radically challenges the notion that these identities are mutually exclusive. Understanding LGBTI Africans holistically, not just as newsworthy after vicious murders or after the passage of discriminatory laws, but in their everyday resistance against sexual identity oppression seems within reach. This resolution arrived at in Queer African Reader is especially relevant now as we embark on a new year and new possibilities of envisioning LGBTI Africans and it is important to call out the notable contributions to this effort by name

Standpoint: A Journal of the Coalition of African Lesbians

A new exciting journal celebrating our lives as lesbian, bisexual women and trans-diverse people across Africa and the Diaspora

CALbanderoll

Standpoint: A Journal of the Coalition of African Lesbians – Invites contributions to a brand new Journal

The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) invites all our members, partners and friends to submit contributions for our brand new journal, the first of its kind. Our Standpoint Journal celebrates collective feminist resistance, resilience, revolution and power as lesbian and bisexual women and trans-diverse people across Africa through our association with CAL at various times and in different spaces of our intersectional movements in Africa.

We welcome critical and reflective articles; anecdotes, memories and photographs of particular moments of our herstory; poetry, stories, letters, speeches, conversations, diary and journal entries, media reports, book, art and other reviews; electronic media submissions (cellphone, facebook, twitter, blogs, etc); and creative visioning of the continent we want to live in.

Let’s surface our pain and pleasure, our fears and courage, and document our resilience and resistance, our challenges and victories.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 22 November 2013 at 19h00 UTC/GMT. Please send your submissions to standpoint@cal.org.za . We will confirm receipt of all submissions, and correspond further with the authors/creators of submissions selected for publication. Do please contact the Editorial Collective at standpoint@cal.org.za for any queries related to this call.

Appreciatively & in solidarity,

Bernedette Muthien, Fikile Vilakazi, Ingrid Lynch
On behalf of the Editorial Collective
Standpoint: A Journal of the Coalition of African Lesbians
Email: standpoint   AT  cal  DOT org DOT za
__________________________________

Fairytales for Lost Children

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Publisher’s Note:

FAIRYTALES FOR LOST CHILDREN is narrated by people constantly on the verge of self-revelation. These characters – young, gay and lesbian Somalis – must navigate the complexities of family, identity and the immigrant experience as they tumble towards freedom. Set in Kenya, Somalia and South London, these stories are imbued with pathos, passion and linguistic playfulness, marking the arrival of a singular new voice in contemporary fiction.

Praise for FAIRYTALES FOR LOST CHILDREN

‘Fantastic writing. I am most highly impressed. I’ve read some of the stories more than once and saw in each one of them plenty of talent everywhere – in every sinew and vein.’ - NURUDDIN FARAH

‘There is nothing more humbling than good writing except when the author is fiercely beautiful and ferociously generous of heart. That Diriye Osman should possess so much talent is only fair in light of his goodness. Read this book.’
MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO

‘The characters in these fairy tales are displaced in multiple, complicated ways. But Osman’s storytelling creates a shelter for them; a warm place which is both real and imaginary, in which they find political, sexual, and ultimately psychic liberation.’
ALISON BECHDEL

‘East Africa. South London. Queer. Displaced. Mentally Ill. My excitement over Osman and his writing comes, in part, out of delight at the impossibility of categorisation.’

ELLAH ALLFREY, The Telegraph

Fairytales For Lost Children is out now and available here and here.
 

Mandela’s Queer Legacy

From the Mail & Guardian, Phumi Mtetwa discusses Nelson Mandela’s role in facilitating LGBTI rights in South Africa through encouraging dialogue. However his contribution fell short as failed upset the social and economic structures at the  core of inequality.

“Oliver Tambo thetha noBotha akhulul’ Mandela / u Mandela azobusa… [Oliver Tambo speak to Botha to release Mandela to rule!"]

Many anti-apartheid activists of my generation sang this song, along with others. I can still feel the yearning for freedom, which we believed Nelson Mandela’s ascent to the presidency would bring.

And so, on the eve of his release, we marched and danced in the streets of KwaThema; the next day we watched on big screens as he walked out of prison, raising his fist. For many of us that was the first taste of how freedom felt — and our struggles seemed closer to an end.

On April 27 1994 we voted for the ANC and for Mandela as South Africa’s first democratically elected president. In May that year, on the occasion of the opening of Parliament, Mandela said: “We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens.”

Encouraged by many calls to build a new South Africa, about 70 lesbian, gay and human rights organisations launched the South African National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality (NCGLE) in Johannesburg in December 1994. This new formation had the objective of guaranteeing equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation, in the country’s new Constitution and legislation. The coalition’s strategy was informed by the diversity of its constituency and in recognition of all forms of oppression. It thus campaigned for equality for all.

This significant moment in the history of gay and lesbian organising in South Africa had its roots in the anti-apartheid struggles, in which many openly gay and lesbian people were active. It was also a moment for the majority in South Africa collectively to define the nature of the way  we relate to each other as a people, informed by a past filled with exclusion, oppression, discrimination and violence.

Discriminatory conditions
The wider ANC movement, at home and abroad, had been challenged to discuss homosexuality openly and explicitly, and to adopt policies that protected lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

The 1993 interim constitution had the equality clause, which recognised a range of discriminatory conditions and identities by means of which South Africans were excluded. Sexual orientation was one of them.

The coalition saw the significance of the ANC’s commitments to human rights, and of what Mandela implied in his presidential address in 1994: that the Bill of Rights, as endorsed by the ANC in 1990, encodes principles that “speak of a [an] … order in which, regardless of colour, gender, religion, political opinion or sexual orientation, the law will provide for the equal protection of all citizens.”

A coalition delegation (Simon Nkoli, British actor Sir Ian McKellen and myself) met President Mandela in February 1995, at the ANC’s then headquarters, to acknowledge the organisation’s commitment to equality, and to reiterate the importance of ensuring that it lived up to that commitment and presented the aspirations of many lesbian and gay people, organised as the NCGLE.

Mandela’s presidency was one of constitutional and legal reform. In 1996, when the final Constitution was adopted, we could continue to celebrate the equality clause and the Bill of Rights.

The NCGLE, until it was disbanded in 1999, then the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, and then the LGBTI Joint Working Group and their member organisations, worked on legal reforms such as the recognition of same-sex partnerships and marriage. This latter campaign was successful in 2006, when Parliament passed the Civil Union Bill. That is one instance of widely celebrated processes and results attributable to Mandela’s vision of South Africa as the “rainbow nation”.

Basis of sexual orientation
At the ANC’s 50th congress, in 1997, the party adopted a resolution opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This resolution drew on the party’s 1993 “Ready to Govern” document, which had included support for equality for LGBTI South Africans, committing the ANC to public representation of LGBTI people, and calling for ­programmes to counter anti-gay prejudice and to promote equality in the organisation.

The importance of these victories was huge. Many people came out. The oldest Pride march in Africa (Johannesburg’s) no longer included faces hooded with brown paper bags!

The legal gains helped to reverse discriminatory practices. Mandela became an important icon of the movement, in contrast to homophobic leaders such as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Namibia’s Sam Nujoma and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.

Mandela came from a political tradition that encouraged debate, and provided leadership of a kind seldom seen now in Africa. He lived up to his name, Dalibhunga — “convenor of the dialogue”. He courageously listened and positioned his views according to the principles he stood for, even if they were unpopular.

He knew there were threats to freedom and equality. He knew legislative changes would not eliminate social and economic oppression and exclusion. He did not, however, upset the political and economic structure at the core of inequality and, in turn, of rising homophobic and other violence, misogyny and other forms of scapegoating of the impoverished by the impoverished.

These are issues the ANC should address urgently to rectify the contradiction of advancing a sociopolitical vision such as Mandela’s without reconstructing the political-economic structure.

As a queer activist I will remember uTatu Dalibhunga for the dreams of freedom he symbolised. This, for me, offers renewed inspiration to continue to challenge neocolonialism and capitalism. I will defend South Africa’s Bill of Rights and struggle to make the government deliver on its promises. I will struggle against the hate waged against LGBTI people and nationals from other African countries who are living here. I will struggle against inequality, patriarchy, misogyny and racism. I will struggle against tribalism, nationalism and fundamentalism.

Many LGBTI people across the world celebrate Pride on the last weekend of June. In several South African cities and townships, Pride happens throughout the year! I hope that at all such events, with rainbow flags flying high, we celebrate one of the freedom movement’s greatest icons, and that we reflect and build on Mandela’s insight: “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Phumi Mtetwa is a co-founder of the NCGLE and former executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project

Queer African Reader

It started as a one year project and ended up taking us three years but finally Hakima and I are able to announce the publication of the  Queer African Reader published by Fahamu Books.

QAR1REVIEWS

A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorizing ourselves, making our movements visible. This is a book we have hungered for. – - Shailja Patel award-winning Kenyan poet and activist, author of Migritude

All too often we read about African queers as monolithically victimized or as passive recipients of modernity from the West. What a great antidote The Queer African Reader provides to that narrative, with its diversity of styles, stories, memoirs, scholarly theory, art, photography, and deliciously combative polemics and petitions as rich as the diversity of Africans themselves! Listen to the poetry, feel the passion — love, rage, sadness, pride — admire the beauty, grow from the insights of Africans speaking directly to us about their struggles to be true to themselves, to their families, their lovers, their nations. This brave volume should be essential reading for all human rights activists far and wide in Africa and the Diaspora. Professor Marc Epprecht, Department of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University

The Queer African Reader serves as an amazing anthology documenting the struggles faced by African LGBTI people both in Africa and in the diaspora.  From personal narratives written by individuals like the late human rights defender, David Kato, to in depth academic and feminist analysis of the discourse concerning sexual orientation and gender identity in traditional African contexts, this publication contains a wealth of knowledge that can act as a starting point for various discussions concerning queer Africans around the world.  Hopefully this book will allow others from all walks of life to share their unique African LGBTI experiences. – “Victor Mukasa, Ugandan human rights defender and long term LGBTI activist”

QAR is a revelatory, path-breaking collection of writings drawn from across the continent and its diaspora. Ekine and Abbas have achieved  a huge task in compiling and editing 38 contributors who courageously share what it means to inhabit the precarious space that opens up between the patriarchal heteronormative regimes of the past and the radical possibilities heralded by so many personal-political struggles for sexual freedom.  QAR offers timely testimonies, a bold and defiant cacophony of voices that variously subvert the sexual-political despotism that relies on normative fear and hatred to resist radical nonconforming ways of being and enjoying sexuality and desire. The first of its kind, QAR offers a rich festival of material includes analytic and expressive prose, theoretical discussions, erotic fiction, journals, documents and representations from visual and performance artists, that work to share the disquieting realities of LGBTQI experiences, contradictions and political perspectives to life. QAR is a rich resource – a milestone in the self-narration of Africa by people who will be silent no more. Essential reading for the twenty first century!  Amina Mama, Professor & Director, Women and Gender Studies, University of California, Davis

Long awaited and overdue, written amidst burnout and premature death, in the front lines of Empire and gender violence, this first collection by queer Africans is no quick or easy read. The Queer African Reader demonstrates that urgency was never an excuse to leave anyone behind: unlike the depressingly streamlined movements of the global/izing north, they have ample space for impossible subjects that complicate the single story and expand who belongs in the movement and what it demands, from transgender to disability to healing. Written by and for Africans, this assembly of leading and emerging activists, artists and academics from the continent and its diasporas takes a leadership in sustainable, accountable community building that non-Africans, too, should learn from — while hearing the signal that queer and trans African have always been able to represent themselves. Jin Haritaworn  PhD, trans/queer of colour activist, York University (Toronto), author ofThe Biopolitics of Mixing and co-editor ofQueer Necropolitics.

 

Various launches will take place in the UK, South Africa, Kenya and the US and we will announce these as they happen.

South Africa: Two years have past yet still no justice for Noxolo Nogwaza

From Inkanyiso – Two years have past yet still no justice for Noxolo Nogwaza who was raped and murdered in  KwaThema, Gauteng on the 24th April 2011..

Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee (EPOC) together with Amnesty International hosted a commemoration service on Wednesday, 24th April 2013. The day coincided with the period when she was killed in 2011.  Inkanyiso documented the whole funeral of Nogwaza in 2011 and continued to do so even at the commemoration on Wednesday.

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A little girl in front of the banner is Lindiwe, the late Noxolo Nogwaza’s daughter.
She was only 4 years old when her lesbian mother was brutally murdered in 2011.
Photo by Nqobile Zungu (24.04.2013)

The 24 year old lesbian’s body was found in a ditch in Tsakane, East of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni. Her face crushed with bricks, it was also alleged that her pants were pulled down and she was raped in what is described as a hate crime.

photos taken during Noxolo's commemoration in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni. Johannesburg. (c) Inkanyiso media

photos taken during Noxolo’s commemoration in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni. Johannesburg.
(c) Inkanyiso media

bashin looking at da crowd_9657

Wednesday’s event was a far cry from the attention and support that Noxolo’s story generated from the media and politicians.
Mayor Mondli Gungubele and Premier Nomvula Mokonyane attended separate memorial services in 2011 and made promises not yet fulfilled.
The local Ward councilor known as Ivy also couldn’t come on Wednesday and sent a representative. The Police have never bothered to attend any of the events, even when they were on the programmes as main speakers.

Speaking for EPOC, Media and communication officer Bontle Khalo says they have been to the police station on numerous times. “We have never received positive feedback from police, trying to inquire over the phone is an even bigger nightmare.
We handed over a memorandum to the safety MEC at the Kwa-Thema police station in 2011, there has been no response since” says Khalo. Her experience is no different from that of Dikeledi Sibanda, from the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) who is working on Nokuthula Radebe’s case. In March 2011, Nokuthula, a 20 year old lesbian was killed in a neighboring township (Thokoza) less than a month before Noxolo Nogwaza in 2011.
The sentiments of loss and continuous grief were shared by both families.
They tried to do follow ups hoping for some justice to be done. The memorial was hosted next to where Noxolo’s body was found.

Luyanda Mthembu who attended previous commemoration said it’s sad to see no changes had been done. “The politicians promised to clean this area, erect a tombstone but now they have all disappeared”, concludes Mthembu.
Most of the people I spoke to remember the promise of a tombstone, and nothing about working towards apprehending the culprits.

Balloons and messages of solidarity were written on Wednesday. Khalo admits that as an organization more radical action is needed from EPOC not forgetting organisations who are working on LGBT and human rights issues.

evidence of solidarity

evidence of solidarity

Messages of support written on a hard painted wood

Messages of support written on a hard painted wood

One cannot forget the incident of another lesbian former Banyana Banyana player Eudy Simelane, was killed on the same weekend as Noxolo Nogwaza on the 27th April 2008.
The two murders happened about 5km from each other, under similar circumstances. Asked about the support or assistance given to Nogwaza’s family. Bontle talks about lawyers, who have agreed to work pro bono and the lawyer’s success in preventing the case from being an informal to formal inquest.

As South Africans prepare to celebrate 19 Years of Independence since 1994Freedom Day on Saturday the 27th April 2013.
The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex (LGBTI) community of Ekurhuleni and allies, is preparing to bury yet another lesbian.
Patricia Mashigo (28 Feb. 1977  to 21 April 2013).
She was callously body murdered in Daveyton, Johannesburg on the 21st April 2013.

This latest incident again raises the question of freedom, and when will the LGBTI community see and enjoy this freedom.

An African Lesbian Makes U.S. History (Part 2): Fire

Fire burns; it also purifies. Count my words as fire, burning embers that purify an unspeakable truth spoken at last.

Two lesbians of African descent abandon fear for risk and decide to marry in New York City, breaking social taboo in Africa while making U.S. history. But did their struggle for equality pay off in their homeland? In other words, are Kelebohile Nkhereanye and Renee Boyd any more equal to those who matter most to them? To be more precise, is this married lesbian couple of African descent celebrated in Africa by family, tribe, church, government, nation, and continent? Or — and this is a no-brainer — do they have the same status as lesbians who never married or made history, women with very strong sexual stirrings for other women who face death by execution or rape because of being African lesbians? Even though Kelebohile Nkhereanye and Renee Boyd made history in the U.S., in their beloved Africa such a couple couldn’t exist, and when just such a couples does, they can be murdered, tortured, or gang-raped, because they have no equality.

What I’m asking is simply this: what does equality look like when you matter to those who matter most to you? It looks like love. And what does love look like when you’re accepted, not merely tolerated, by those you hold dearest?

It would look like your wedding is celebrated, which means you are affirmed, which means you need not hide, which means you are not invisible, which means you are visible, which means you can be protected, which means your government can’t kill you because the law allows for it, which means you are safe, which means you’re free to walk the streets, which means you can look for work, which means you might find meaningful work, which means you can be a productive citizen in your beloved country, which means you could be promoted, honored, respected, which means you’re less judged, which means you gain a voice, which means you’re not silenced, which means you can be heard, which means you have value, which means you’ve earned your humanity through dignity, respect, and value in the eyes of your community, those closest to you.

Celebrated, affirmed, visible, unhidden, protected, safe, free, productive, promoted, honored, respected, less judged, not silenced but a vocal, heard, valued human being. This is love. This is not who gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer folk are, not in Africa. If it were, if LGBT people were loved, those closest to African LGBTs — their mother, father, sacred community, tribe — would not stand idle or silent when they get married, when they are gang-raped, when they are murdered, when they have HIV or AIDS.

African lesbians Kelebohile Nkhereanye and Renee Boyd made U.S. history, true. They walked to Brooklyn’s Municipal Building on July 24, 2011 and were among the first same-sex couples to receive a marriage license in New York on that historic day. But what they really wanted, what means more to them than breaking barriers, overturning social taboo, or making U.S. history, what means more than the legal weight of U.S. law in their marriage, is the love of those who mean most to them. Isn’t that at the core of any struggle for equality? Not U.S. history, but the love of those who mean most to you.

If only Kelebohile Nkhereanye’s and Renee Boyd’s parents invited their friends to their wedding; not one was invited. If only someone offered to prepare a meal; nobody did. If only glasses were raised in their honor for a celebratory toast. If only their African parents treated their African wedding like an African wedding, talking about it nonstop with endless, beaming pride to the point of bragging; gossiping within their inner circles; planning for days on end; celebrating endlessly for days; inviting their religious core or sacred community to it; paying for an advertisement in the local, village newspaper to announce the big day in America; and buying a special, knockout traditional outfit that African women of a certain generation love to flaunt. But for their parents to do all this, for their parents to treat their wedding like an African wedding, Africa must treat lesbians like equals.

My question is simple: can we Africans fully appreciate or even celebrate any U.S. law that accepts gays while blinding ourselves to the love our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children hunger for? Can’t equality translate overseas so that our parents abroad are happy for us? Does it make our African parents any less African when they celebrate their gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, or transgender children who are as African as they, maybe even more African because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, or transgender? Mothers, fathers, tribe, church, government, nation, my beloved from my beloved African continent, I’m asking you.

Nick Mwaluko is a Tanzanian playwright and journalist.  Nick’s latest play, “Are Women Human?”.  Retitled “S/He”, the play is published in “Plays and Playwrights 2009″ edited by Martin Denton. Nick is a member of the inaugural EWG (Emerging Writers’ Group) at the Public Theater, the U.S.’ largest non-profit theater. Other plays include “Asymmetrical We”, “Trailer Park Tundra”, “Brotherly Love

Homosexuality is Halal

From “Homosexuality is Halal – The Fatwa [Part 1 - Essay - Chapter 1]

 Was I suffering from a demonic possession? Or was it the evil works of a dark spell? These were the questions that led to my exorcism-session in the Jordanian city of Aqaba in fall of 1999. The session was loosely organized by some family members and conducted by a Shiekh-exorcist. Having ventured unsuccessfully into all other possibilities in the hopes of ameliorating my predicament, the following was the most viable of explanations: either I had become possessed by demons or fallen victim to dark spells and witchcraft. The symptoms were clear: I was gaunt, desolate, sad, irritable, unable to keep up my schoolwork, and always in a state of isolation. Why else would I fail high school after having been the top student for almost all of my prior academic years?


I was born in Amman, the capital city of Jordan, in 1981 to a Muslim Palestinian family from Lifta, a small village on the north-west approaches of the Holy City of Jerusalem. From early on in my life, almost as soon as I became cognizant of my surroundings, I realized that I was intrinsically different; in particular, there seemed to be a clash between my biological male identity as a young child and what had been ingrained in me as the norm within our gender-social structure. I was attracted to feminine things regardless of being a boy and that was not “natural” and did not make sense. I remember the countless times when I “borrowed” my sister’s make-up and took it to the bathroom with me and put it on my face. I hated rough play and was not interested in aggression, streets, cars and sports. I favored tradition, it was a revelation of a latently natural and beautiful truth within my own existence that neither I nor those around me were in a position to understand. I was not able to share such behaviors with anyone either; a boy should never act like girls, talk like them, dress in their clothes, play with their dolls, or walk like they do. But the older I became the more I realized that there are serious contradictions and fallacies between what I was led to believe as “irrefutable” social truths and what I was innately feeling as a child who was different from those around me…….Continue Reading Chapter 1

And on Facebook:  Homosexuality is Halal

Homosexuality is “unAfrican” in pre-colonial history

Such a thing did not exist in the African jungle…or not

When I read a paper by an African researcher that insinuates that Africans learnt homosexuality from Europeans (and/or Arabs), I do not go to my happy place where only thoughts of first love and first kisses rule. Rather I think about waking up in the dead of the night to a ghostly white female figure hovering over my bed. The white woman that all African lesbians, bisexual women and women who sex with women know intimately, because after all we learnt this from Europeans. In this cult of gayness that the Europeans started, we are taught our colonial heritage and to venerate Margherita dos Santos, the first very bored, very gay Portuguese colonist wife who successfully seduced a young African woman in the 16th century thereby making homosexuality an African identity.

The above sound ridiculous? Well ridiculous is what I find Africans who go out of their way to argue how “unAfrican” homosexuality is. Africans who write lengthy “logical” papers, disputing various sources and references, all while ignoring the real lives of LGBTIQ Africans today. Their efforts are not only silly but dangerous to me and I probably wouldn’t spit on them if they were on fire. I recently read one such paper, but this one left me totally disheartened because I initially thought it was pro-African queers. The paper in question is “A name my mother did not call me: Queer contestations in African Sexualities” by Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju. Perhaps when I saw this title I zoned in on the “queer contestations in African sexualities” part and for some reason believed that it was arguing for the presence of homosexuality in pre-colonial African history. Little did I know that the paper was written by someone who finds it “agonising that disputation about the status of homosexuality in Africa is often equated with “homophobia” even when some of the disputants have close and friendly relations with known homosexuals” and who believes that “the imputation of homosexuality as an African identity must of necessity generate [antagonism]”.

I happily settled down to read the paper, and it started innocently enough but the more I read the paper, the more my face fell and now days after reading it, I find that I am still angry with it. But I can’t stop thinking about it and need to let my jumbled thoughts out in this post.This paper evoked all sorts of feelings in me so this post may be lengthy, I’ve broken it down to sections based on what I found problematic in the paper, so you can leave and return easily. If I sound angry, I most likely am.

Africa as a monolith

Africa is such a big country, and what happens in one part of Africa happens in the other part. So you come from an ethnic group that has apparently never known what homosexuality is yet manages to somehow consider it an abomination, this must be the same all across the village that is Africa. It does not matter that your ethnic group numbers in the millions, and that different regions have always had different customs in spite of sharing a similar language (which turns out is not so similar considering dialects). In one corner of the continent, homosexuality is considered a deviance so this must be the same across the African continent. This ignores the diversity in which disparate African philosophies viewed homosexuality, while in some societies gays, lesbians and transgendered people were key to society’s psychic balance (as among the Dagara of Burkina Faso), in others there were witches who were exiled (see Izugbara O. Chimaraoke, “Sexuality and the supernatural in Africa”, pp. 533-558, in African Sexualities: A Reader, ed. Sylvia Tamale). The antagonists towards homosexuality as an African identity will do well in remembering this.

Western terms and African sexualities

When the antagonists argue that homosexuality did not exist on the African continent before the advent of the Europeans and/or Arabs, do they mean same-sex love or same-sex sex. Were Africans waiting to learn how to develop feelings for a member of the same sex from the European and/or Arab gay bogeyman? Or did queer Africans never practice any form of sexual activity before the foreigners taught them to? Then again the Europeans and/or Arabs supposedly taught our ancestors a lot, they civilised us, they brought complex religious systems and the One True God, they taught us manners, they taught us how to wear clothes, they taught us how to build civilisations, they taught us how to maintain personal hygiene, they taught us medicine…and they taught us how to develop feelings for the same sex and how to sexually act on these feelings.

Truth is many Africans today are disconnected from the sexuality our ancestors knew. We do not know our philosophies, or argue that African philosophies do not exist. In the paper, the issue of “woman-to-woman marriage” is brought up, and Oloruntoba-Oju argues (rightly so) that this institution was not necessarily proof that the pre-colonial African societies that practiced them accepted homosexuality and lesbian marriage. The institution was probably not created to facilitate lesbian marriage, although it did develop for varied reasons depending on region. Western scholars and researchers have no right to impose their ideas of gay marriage on a society where a woman marrying another woman was a show of wealth. But who is to say that one lone African woman did not use this institution to her advantage and to be with a woman she loved? Maybe the antagonists have the ability to read through the minds and memories, and look into the houses and bedrooms of the female husbands and their wives. Apparently no researcher is yet to have asked women married to other women if there had ever been a sexual component to their “social” arrangement (see Amory P. Deborah, ‘“Homosexuality” in Africa: Issues and Debates’).

There is still not enough research into African history outside of Egypt

The majority of African history remains shrouded, under-researched, in the shadows or honestly ignored. Majority of us do not know history outside the racist colonial lens and are surprised to read that our ancestors engaged in complex medical procedures or evenwrote in indigenous script. Without this knowledge of pre-colonial African history, along with the reality that there is even less research on African sexuality in history, how can someone know for sure that “homosexuality” was not practiced before the Europeans and/or Arabs introduced it? That it wasn’t an identity?

Linking to the point below, the fact that most of African histories are oral as opposed to written makes no difference. How many Arabs, for example, would argue that homosexuality is a “Western deviation” today despite the fact that there is written evidence to the contrary. The activities of medieval Arab lesbians were well documented in studies from the 9th century by philosopher al-Kindi and physician Yuhanna ibn Masawayh. Written history can be destroyed and silenced just as oral histories can.

The role of colonialism

Africans tend to dismiss the ways in which colonialism (both European and Arab) damaged institutions and our view of self and history. Most of what we insist today as “tradition” is in most cases not, and I sometimes imagine our ancestors being shocked at some of the things we claim as tradition. For example, views on marriage, years ago I read a paper that argued that homosexuality would be strange to Africans because we have always placed a high value on marriage. I am sure I cannot find that paper now, in my recent readings on Igboland I’ve seen that there were actually several people in this pre-colonial African society who never married. The sex workers, the priests and priestesses (all wives of Gods and Goddesses), the slaves. I will not be surprised if there were more societies like the pre-colonial Igbo in this respect, it may be more accurate to say that high value was placed on children or that emphasis on marriage was reserved for certain classes of people.

There is no way one can discuss pre-colonial Africa, or in fact pre-colonial Asia, the Americas, Australia, while belittling the role of colonialism. One cannot ignore that colonialism drastically changed mindsets, as people adopted Victorian mindsets and mannerisms eschewing the “barbaric” ways of their ancestors.

The role of language

Oloruntoba-Oju is Yoruba, in the paper they argue that Yoruba people have no words, sayings or proverbs that indicate that they knew what homosexuality was. Yoruba is a colourful language, and can be quite explicit in detailing heterosexual sex emphasising the penis and the vagina, so Oloruntoba-Oju believes that it should have been the same for homosexual sex. At the same time, a saying “apparently” hidden deep within the Yoruba divination cult was produced by a Nigerian scholar and says obinrin dun ba sun ju okunrin lo (“it is easier to sleep [have sex] with a woman than with a man”). This saying is dismissed as an isolated example, Oloruntoba-Oju drives home their point by demonstrating how metaphorical Yoruba is, something that all Yoruba speakers know. In praising twins, one says “twins, kindred of Isokun, born of an ape” however this clearly doesn’t mean twins are apes or monkeys. Perhaps this “isolated” saying refers to something else entirely, yet somehow the sayings which reference penises and vaginas are not metaphorical. Not to mention this widely popular saying, okunrin o se ba sun bi obinrin (“you cannot sleep with a man as with a woman”) which is to be taken at face value because it is “more established”.

Context is ignored, the former saying seems to be coming from the perspective of a woman, while the latter from a man. If a Yoruba woman who has sex with other women, says “okunrin o se ba sun bi obinrin” is it not impossible that her next sentence would be “obinrin dun ba sun ju okunrin lo”.

It seems the antagonists prefer to find a term that directly translates to “lesbian” in Yoruba language. However what happens if this term is vague or unrecognisable, it could have been simply “witch” as in a recent Yoruba film I watched, Enisoko Soja, in which a man’s mother was branded a “witch” after his wife dreamt she “made love” to her. Most terms associated with lesbians in other languages are from the action of tribadism. In Arabic, the roots of words linked to “lesbianism” and “lesbian” (s-h-q) means “to pound” or “to rub” (see Amer Sahar (2009), “Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women”, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 18, No. 2). And in Urdu words which refer to female homosexual activity are rooted in words like chapta which means “flat”, chapatna “to be pressed flat” and chipatna “to cling to” (see Vanita Ruth (2004), “Married Among Their Companions”: Female Homoerotic Relations in Nineteenth-Century Urdu RekhtiPoetry in India, Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 16, No. 1). African languages may be unique and different, or they may be similar, some antagonists may be searching for words they expect to clearly spell out L-E-S-B-I-A-N while ignoring words other words like “pounders” or “clingers” or even “witches”.

In addressing the difficulties of investigating lesbian women in history Judith Bennett introduces the term “lesbian-like” to cover those women who in the past lived lives that may have offered opportunities for same-sex love, or lived in circumstances where they could nurture and support other women. Rather than referring to such women outrightly as lesbian, Bennett suggests “lesbian-like” to extend over those women in the past who felt emotions towards other women, even if they never acted sexually on this; women who never married; women who cross-dressed or assumed masculine roles and mannerisms; as well as women who resisted established cultural norms of sexual propriety (see Bennett M. Judith, “Lesbian-Like” and the Social History of Lesbianisms).  “Lesbian-like” recognises that not all societies had constructed terms for women who had feelings for or had sex with other women.

Oloruntoba-Oju mentions ‘yan ludu, a term that means sodomy in Hausa and is derived from Arabic. ‘Yan ludu literally means “people of Lot” and apparently the fact that Hausa people refer to sodomy with this term “exposes its modern and post-contact origin”. But what exactly does it expose? That the word is not indigenous to the Hausa, or that sodomy isn’t? Considering the tone of the paper, I’ll go with the latter. Notice the assumption that all gay men engage in anal sex, there is also no mention of language appropriation. Today some Yoruba people call milk, miliki, a term that clearly has roots in English, so I guess Yoruba people did not know what milk was before Europeans introduced it. Moving farther yet closer to the topic on hand, in Japan today, lesbians are referred to as レズ (rezu) fromレズビアン (rezubian) which of course comes from English, lesbian.  レズビアン is a foreign word in every way, even down to the characters that form it, this must mean that that there were no lesbians in Japan before European intervention, an estimation that is laughable considering how well documented same-sex relations are in Japanese literature and art history (although the bulk is on men loving and sexing men because this is HIStory).

What constitutes “gay behaviour”?

When I was growing up, it was a common to see two men holding hands while walking down the street in parts of Nigeria. Now, maybe a decade later, this scene has become rare because two men holding hands is “gay”.

Oloruntoba-Oju states “it is true that even in contemporary times, a good number of Africans go through an entire lifetime without coming into contact with gay behaviour either in the rural areas or even after having passed through such “high risk” urban locales”…with nothing to back his claim except for this footnote; “A colleague reading this article recently drew my attention to a forum observation by an apparently gay white fellow who had been in Nigeria and had noticed that straight Nigerians apparently do not have what he called a “gaydar”, hence a lot of gay sex does take place without them being aware. If this observation is true it may well be a further curiosity that these Africans seem not to have developed a gay sensitivity over the centuries”. This falls back to several of my points above, especially the one on imposing Western definitions on Africans. Oloruntoba-Oju argues elsewhere in the paper against Western hegemony but fails to see how contradictory it is to then attach relevance to this “white fellow” who believes that Nigerians do not have a gaydar. There is no consideration that what constitutes gay behaviour in Nigeria and how gay Nigerians single each other out may be different from what this white man is used to. I mean how many straight people in the country this white person comes from possess a gaydar? Does this suggest further curiosity that these white people seem not to have developed a gay sensitivity over the centuries?

Oloruntoba-Oju then continues, “many may have “heard stories” but these are mostly about gayness being a “foreign import” and occurring in proximal geographical locations where foreign contact has occurred over the centuries”…again with no references. Oloruntoba-Oju mentions “logical” reasons in being an antagonist to this preposterous idea that homosexual identity is African but it is really debatable whether their paper exhibits logic.

Conclusion

Oloruntoba-Oju argues that it is speculative to debate that there was “homosexuality” in pre-colonial Africa. In my humble opinion, it is just as speculative to argue that there was no “homosexuality” in pre-colonial Africa. While majority of these African researchers do not like stating whether they are talking about same-sex emotions, or same-sex sexual activity, I am referring to both. I am not speculating when I state that some of my African female ancestors must have developed feelings of attraction to other women. Whether my female ancestors acted on these feelings may be speculation, yet in societies were initiation ceremonies and sexuality training schools involved women touching, massaging and pulling breasts and vulvas, usually under the guise of “training” in order to please future male partners, it is not inconceivable that my female ancestors physically loved the women they adored. Maybe they did this secretly, maybe they were in the open and society did not mind because it recognised that these things happen (getting speculative here).

Albeit confusing, the paper was at times well written and even convincing, I can agree that Western hegemony should not be imposed on queer African identities but every other point was like someone inserting needles in my skin. I suggest that heterosexual African researchers leave criticisms of homosexual labels and identities to African queers themselves. We are not as close-minded as you, and this is not an insult, a privileged heterosexual worldview is limiting.

Homophobic African antagonists, yes homophobic, fail to realise that part of their antagonism is attempting to wipe the thousands of Africans who engaged in same-sex relationships, whether sexual or not, from history. Oloruntoba-Oju positions as being largely for queer Africans stating that “a synchronic focus on today’s sexuality realities in Africa may well offer safer grounds of analysis of queer representation…” but then rounds up  with “…than the frequently strained colonial imaginaries on pre-contact African sexualities”! This is someone who finds the pain of being labelled as a homophobe (because homosexual friends!) greater than the pain of LGBTIQ Africans who have to face homophobia daily. Oloruntoba-Oju, in this paper, completely ignores and, pardon the colourful language, shits upon the feelings, thoughts and experiences of queer Africans. It could be that the paper is addressed to the West and Western scholars, hence the mention of “colonial imaginaries”, but this further emphasises my point on Oloruntoba-Oju completely ignoring that queer Africans will find their presented historic picture problematic.

 

I would like to end with a call to the queer African women reading this, especially if you have a link to histories in some way, even if it is access to the elders or ancestors. We need to gather the stories and voices, keep them in a safe space where people can access this information. Perhaps now or in the future, one woman will appreciate that there was a woman who loved another woman in 13th century West Africa.

Amer Sahar (2009), “Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women”, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 18, No. 2 Vanita Ruth (2004),

Married Among Their Companions”: Female Homoerotic Relations in Nineteenth- Century Urdu Rekhti Poetry in India, Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 16, No. 1

 

This article was first published on HOLAAfrica! by Cosmic Yoruba

QAR Weekly News

* Second hate crime in a week. Modise Hamiliton Mosweu was stabbed to death in Westonaria, South Africa

Modise Hamilton Mosweu

A gay West Rand man has been brutally murdered, and possibly raped, in Westonaria in an apparent hate crime.

The body of 34-year-old Modise Hamilton Mosweu was found in a pool of blood in a neighbour’s yard, three houses away from his home, on Sunday 11 November.

According to a witness, who wishes to remain anonymous, he had been stabbed. It is possible Mosweu was also stoned as there were rocks around his body.

His underwear was found nearby, leading to speculation that he may have also been raped, although this has not been confirmed by the authorities.

Cameroon: UN Concerned Over Reports of Arrests of Suspected Gay and Lesbian People

The United Nations human rights office today expressed its concern over reports of people in Cameroon being harassed, intimidated, arrested and imprisoned because they were suspected of being lesbian or gay – and called for an end to such practices.

Article 347 of the current penal code in the country criminalizes ‘sexual relations with a person of the same sex’ and provides for a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a fine, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Addressing a news conference in Geneva today, an OHCHR spokesperson, Rupert Colville, said that the law breaches Cameroon’s international human rights commitments and violates rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination.

Nigeria moves to pass Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Lawmakers moved a step closer Tuesday to approving a bill that would harshly crack down on gay rights, including banning same-sex marriage and public displays of affection between homosexual couples.

The bill which has already been approved by the Senate passed a second reading in the House of Representatives with an unanimous vote and will now see a clause-by-clause review in the chamber at an undetermined date.

“It is alien to our society and culture and it must not be imported,” House majority leader Mulikat Adeola-Akande said during debate, referring to same-sex marriage. “Religion abhors it and our culture has no place for it,” she added. [Sign Petition]

Uganda’s anti-gay bill will be passed before the end of 2012 despite international criticism of the draft legislation, the speaker of the country’s parliament said Monday, insisting it is what most Ugandans want.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told the Associated Press that the bill, which originally mandated death for some gay acts, will become law this year.

Ugandans “are demanding it,” she said, reiterating a promise she made before a meeting on Friday of anti-gay activists who spoke of “the serious threat” posed by homosexuals to Uganda’s children. Some Christian clerics at the meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, asked the speaker to pass the law as “a Christmas gift.”

“Speaker, we cannot sit back while such a destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation,” the activists said in a petition. “We therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring this matter to your attention as the leader of Parliament … so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation.”

Documents:  Nigerian Same Sex Marriage Bill,  Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

QAR Weekly News

  • Another South African Lesbian MurderThis morning (10/11/2012) I received a call from Ndumie Funda the founder and Director of Lulekisizwe a project that nurses, supports and feeds the lesbian bisexual and trans woman (LBT) in townships who are victims and survivors of “corrective rape”, whom I had just seen the day before and we were just talking about the current situation facing the LGBTI community in Cape Town especially in the townships. Funda sounded stressed and in shock over the phone when she asked me to get the word out about the murder of Sihle Skotshi (19) who was an active member of Lulekisizwe. Later I met up with Funda and  had an opportunity to interview the two survivors of the attack who were with Sihle when she died.tags: Queer Politics, LGBTI Africa, South Africa, Sexual Violence

 

  • Malawian Anti-Gay Laws under review, suspendedGoing against a trend in Africa, Malawi’s government is moving to suspend laws against homosexuality and has ordered police not to arrest people for same-sex acts until the anti-gay laws are reviewed by parliament.Human Rights Watch called the decision “courageous” and said it should inspire other countries that criminalize homosexuality.Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara last week told a public debate on minority rights that the police have been ordered not to arrest anyone suspected of engaging in homosexuality. Anyone convicted under Malawi’s anti-gay laws, some of the toughest in the world, can get up to 14 years in jail with hard labor. Kasambara said parliament will soon discuss the laws. 

QAR: Weekly

  • JOBURG PRIDE MARRED BY SCUFFLES | Mambaonline.comThe group of activists, from the 1 in 9 campaign, ran out from behind the Goodman Gallery building and set up an impromptu blockade. A number of life-size dummies and activists were stretched out on the road, representing LGBT victims of hate crime, backed by banners that read “Dying For Justice” and “No Cause for Celebration”
  • .tags: LGBTI+Africa Pride SouthAfrica Johannesburg
  •  
  • The ‘L’ word: An evaluation of corrective rape in South AfricaEvery 26 seconds a woman in South Africa (SA) is stripped of her dignity and becomes a contributing statistic (2) to one of the greatest instances of sexual violence in the world.(3) In this post-apartheid country where historic deprivation and economic blight prevail, socio-political challenges disproportionately affect poor, non-white women.(4) Men exert their authority through rape, with most acts undocumented, underreported, and left without legal recourse.(5) Despite making provisions for vulnerable women, the SA Government fails to recognise the subset of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community that is continually challenged by corrective rape, a novel form of gender-based violence. Corrective rape exists to ‘cure’ lesbians of their nonconforming sexual orientation and is motivated by the traditional belief that homosexuality is a colonial import.(6)tags: south africa LGBTI+Africa CorrectiveRape 
  • Why the African LGBTI community should be concerned over US policy in Africa and AFRICOMSomething momentous happened this past week in Uganda – the first ever PRIDE celebration [organised by ] which included the showing of the film “Call Me Kuchu” and a march through the streets of Entebbe. It was truly a proud defining moment for all African LGBTI people. If Ugandan Kuchus could march through the streets then so could we all – Nigerians, Liberians, Cameroonians and well the whole continent!tags: LGBTI+Africa Uganda AFRICOM gay_imperialism 
  • The Love That Dares |On the projector screen in this Kampala bar, the news now focuses on footage from local events, like when cops used a pistol to smash out the window of a car, unleashed a torrent of pepper spray into the faces of its passengers, including opposition leader Kizza Besigye, and then dragged them off to custody. We watch subsequent crowds of protesters being dispersed by tear gas and live rounds, wince as men get beaten mercilessly over the head with batons.tags: LGBTI+Africa Uganda 
  • Erotic As Power  THERE ARE MANY KINDS OF POWER, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives.tags: Audre_Lorde QueerPolitics Power Erotic Black_Feminism 
  • Man defending his transgender girlfriend slashed by 350-pound man at Greenwich Village McDonald’s – NY Daily NewsMan defending his transgender girlfriend slashed by 350-pound man at Greenwich Village McDonald’s A McDonald’s in Greenwich Village, notorious for previous acts of violence, was the scene of yet another attack when A 350-pound man used gay slurs to berate a 24-year-old then used a razor to slash the victim across the face and neck.tags: transgender Transphobia USA 
  • The Problem with the LGBT Movement Coming Out Obsession « Radically QueerThere was some discussion on Twitter yesterday about the idea of #invitingin rather than coming out.  I’m reminded again of Hasan El-Menyawi’s brilliant piece, “Activism from the Closet,” in which he argues for coalition building in Egypt and elsewhere that focuses on bringing those with similar interests into the “closet” (envisioned as a safe space for community-building), rather than forcing queers out into a hostile public space.  He describes an “expanding closet,” where unlikely coalitions form between all sorts of issue-focused groups until the closet encompasses most of society.tags: LGBTI Organising Movements Coming_out

 

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