Tag Archives: Anti Homosexuality Bill

Behind the Christian Right in Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ending the Gay Witch Hunt

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

 

President Yoweri Museveni has done it. Against widespread expectation raised by his earlier pledge, the Ugandan leader turned around this week and signed into law the contentious Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed last December by a parliament his ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), controls. The bill had been opposed locally and internationally for a record four years, since its introduction to the legislature in 2009.

It is a remarkable coincidence that Museveni’s executive action came in the week Pambazuka News has devoted to a special issue on the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LBGTI) struggles in Africa. Our decision to dedicate a special issue to this subject was informed by the alarming reality that throughout Africa, colonial era laws that criminalised ‘unnatural acts’ are now being reinforced by independent governments, pushed by powerful lobbies, under the pretext that homosexuality is ‘un-African’ and harmful: this despite the fact that the existence of LGBTI persons in Africa since time immemorial is well documented. Colonial legislators would have had no reason to criminalise homosexuality if it is the Europeans who introduced it to the continent.

Beyond repression through harsh laws, there is fierce LGBTI intolerance throughout Africa. Even in countries where the constitution proclaims non-discrimination on whatever grounds, politicians, the priestly class and other self-styled moral police are undeterred in inciting their followers against gays. Homosexual persons have been attacked and killed or injured. Many have been forced into hiding, ostracised by their families, denied employment, have been unable to rent a house, etc. In South Africa the horrific phenomenon of ‘corrective rape’ before killing has been perpetrated by men against lesbians as an alleged ‘cure’ of their sexual orientation. It is impossible to remain silent in the face of this epidemic of hate and violence against innocent people.

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

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

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

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

PURITCANICAL POSTURING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT HOMOPHOBES ARE UP TO

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

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

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

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

JOIN THE STRUGGLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Henry Makori is an editor with Pambazuka News.

Cultural and Traditional Values in Human Rights

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

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

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

Via Iranti-org

Ethiopia planning to extend homosexuality law

EthiopiaIn June 2012 a national conference “Homosexuality and its associated social disastrous consequences” took place in the Africa Union headquarters, Addis Ababa.  The conference was organizers described themselves as “Christian,  pro-life, pro [heterosexual] marriage.  The conference was attended by some 2000 people including religious leaders and government officials one who stated..

‘Recently, the US President Barak Obama, British Prime Minster David Cameron and other western leaders are trying to establish ties between aid and the rights of homosexuals, but this will never happen in Ethiopia.

‘We don’t want their aid as long as it is related to homosexuality, I assure you that Ethiopia has no room for homosexuality and our country will be the graveyard of homosexuality.’

Nearly two years later, lawmakers in Ethiopia are now set  to pass a Bill that effectively makes homosexuality, which is illegal in the country, “nonpardonable” under its amnesty law.

Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers last week endorsed a measure by lawmakers to put homosexuality on a list of offences considered “non-pardonable” under the country’s amnesty law, and is widely expected to pass the Bill when it is put to the vote next week.

In Ethiopia, same-sex acts are illegal and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A 25-year jail term is prescribed for anyone convicted of infecting another person with HIV during same-sex acts.

Ethiopia’s president often pardons thousands of prisoners during the Ethiopian New Year. When the Bill becomes law, the president will lose his power to pardon prisoners facing charges ranging from homosexuality to terrorism.

 

African LGBTIQ do not need a ‘get out of Africa’ escape route!

Gays in Africa Need Our Support” by Melanie Judge, calls on the South African government to produce a counter narrative to the “homosexuality is unAfrican” being peddled by religious and cultural fundamentalists across the continent.

Certain groups are creating opportunities for LGBTI people to escape Africa, but if the causes of the hate are not addressed, nothing will change, writes Melanie Judge.

The recent passing of the Anti Homosexuality Act (AHA) in Uganda and the South African government’s mealy-mouthed reaction to it demand attention.

South Africa sponsored and is leading the first ever UN resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity. South Africa also boasts a constitution that explicitly affirms equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender. Yet our government cannot muster the political stealth to speak against (rather than just about) homophobia when it really counts – as is the case now.

Shortly after the act’s passing, the government stated that “South Africa takes note of the recent developments regarding the situation of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transsexual and intersex persons (LGBTI) worldwide… (and) will, through existing diplomatic channels, be seeking clarification on these developments from many capitals around the world”.

What’s to clarify? This indicates a deep reluctance to name recent events in Uganda and to take a position on them.

It also implies, through the seeking of clarification, that there is some legitimate rationale for criminalisation of members of that country’s population because of their sexual or gender identity.

The SA Human Rights Commission took a bolder position and “strongly rejects the notion that the freedom to live and love without fear of violence and regardless of one’s sexual orientation is part of a rights framework from Western countries. The struggle for these and other freedoms has been at the heart of liberation struggles throughout (Africa)”.

The ANC blocked a motion in Parliament against the AHA, reflecting its ambivalence to speak out. On the contrary, the former president of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano’s open letter to African leaders is an example of the kind of leadership present persecutions demand.

The AHA and other legislation of its kind give state legitimacy to violence against people on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The AHA will prompt the forced migration of some LGBTI people.

The AHA feeds a narrative that positions citizens with non-conforming sexualities and genders as outsiders to the dominant culture of the nation. This is linked to the false notion that homosexuality is unAfrican and homophobia isn’t.

In its self-appointed leadership role on LGBTI equality internationally, the government should readily offer a counter-narrative to those who peddle prejudice in the name of “Africanness”.

Homophobia in Africa represents a set of complex and intersecting issues – deeply routed in the continent’s colonial past. Violent inscriptions of race, sexuality, ethnicity and gender took place under colonialism and are linked to present-day norms around sexuality. These historical continuities, and how sexuality is racialised, are mostly entirely absent in discussions on homophobia.

Drawing on the “savages-victims-saviours” construct of law professor Makau Mutua, the West has a keen interest in homophobia that is often framed within these sets of relations. Lurking within much of the public discourse on homophobia in Africa is the notion of the civilising mission of Eurocentric culture (and its human rights frameworks) that will save African culture, and its victims, from its barbarism and its savagery.

One example of this is a recently launched online fundraising effort initiated in the US. It is a “Rescue Fund to Help LGBT People Escape Africa” and is aimed at “Gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people persecuted and trapped in African countries that criminalise their sexuality”. The campaign states that “by contributing to this rescue fund you will help me (the initiator of the fund) to save more gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people from Africa (sic) escape terrifying persecution”.

An online counter shows the money is flowing in. If one donates to “save” an LGBTI person in Africa, one is granted a status recognition originally titled as “ultimate saviour”. There are also “prizes” for donors such as “Nelson Mandela coins” for “passport providers”.

Promoting an “escape” from Africa to “greener” US pastures, without simultaneously addressing the underlying conditions that force this migration, is dangerous and opportunistic. Dislocated from Africa-based struggles for social justice, these feel-good interventions offer no long-term solution to the systemic issues that drive homophobia. At best they are palliative and patronising, at worst they reinforce the victimhood of Africans and the saviour status of Westerners. This is part of the logic that keeps the “homosexuality is unAfrican” discourse in play.

Other more pernicious saviours are those US religious conservatives who have actively promoted homophobic ideologies across the world and are now pushing such legislation in the US. There is much to be done to challenge these religious groupings and leaders on their home soils, to expose their active undermining of sexual and gender rights.

State-sponsored homophobia serves to keep certain power relations intact. Battles over power and identity are increasingly being played out on the bodies of LGBTI people.

These battles relate to, among others: contestations around what it means to be “authentically” African; citizens’ pressuring for democracy, inclusion and leadership accountability; basic needs being met in a context of global inequality wherein rich elites govern over the poor; and women increasingly asserting their sexual rights.

In this context, South Africa’s tiptoe diplomacy on homophobia in Africa exposes the troubling underbelly of current leadership on democracy and human rights. Whilst Jon Qwelane remains ambassador to Uganda, in the face of his imminent high court appearance for homophobic hate speech, perhaps the government’s tread is more firm-footed than it might appear.

* Melanie Judge is an LGBTI activist.

The Central points of the Nigerian Same Sex Marriage [Prohibition Act] 2013

Human rights activist Joseph Sewedo highlights the main sections of the Nigerian SSMB  and points out that all Nigerians are impacted by this law.

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1.    Homosexuality between men has been illegal in Nigeria for almost a century. And in northern Nigeria (no thanks to Sharia law), homosexuality between men and women is been criminalized with penalty up to death sentence. Hence this Bill is not dealing with that.

2.    The marriage Act in Nigeria expressly allows for union between (1) Man and (1) Woman and only in the application of the customary law is polygamous heterosexual union made legal. In no way does it permit same-sex union.

3.    In my whole existence in life (26 years!), never did I hear of any Nigerian protesting to marry another person of the same-sex. Human rights groups of which I am part, only demanded for protection of the rights of persons who are gender non-conforming and those with homosexual tendencies. This is based on the fact that homosexual and other gender non-conforming persons are HUMAN by all standards.

4.    With my very modest travel experience in Nigeria (20 of 36 states), never did I hear about or by chance visit a gay “anything”. Neither a bar, nor a club!

5.    Gay association or organization? To my knowledge, none existed legally. Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) would not register any. CAUTION: NGOs serving “homosexuals” are not necessarily gay associations or organizations; they are either Human rights organizations or Health care service providers.

So what is this Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law about?

1.    Victimization will extend from just the homosexuals to every persons associated with them. This implies that anyone with the slightest appearance or show of natural affection to person of same-sex albeit related, will be liable to imprisonment under this law.

2.    Friends or relatives who- for economic hardship in Nigeria, are forced to co-habit will be victims of blackmail and extortion.

3.    Impunity perpetrated by the Police will increase. All those Lagos boys wearing skinny jeans and shagging their pant. Ah! I shake my head.

4.    Heterosexual relationships will become more pathetic as there will be increase in forced marriages and practice of a double (fake) life. Homosexuals (men and women) will be sadly engaged to persons of the opposite sex and end in a very miserable relationship, many which will have a negative impact of their children- if they have any.

5.    As the campaigns for 2015 elections approach, politicians will be hunted with this law. In no doubt, this law will be used as an instrument of political blackmail.

6.    Families will suffer emotional turbulence (to mention a few).

While in no doubt, this Law seeks to further criminalize same-sex relationships in Nigeria, it is clear it will have greater impact on non-homosexual persons who are not used to living “sexually” restrictive life. Homosexuals have always being in the closet and they will continue to do so “conveniently” but unfortunately. In essence, this (Law) is not only detrimental to those “bloody homosexuals” but to the general citizenry. Thus let’s join forces to say NO TO HATE IN NIGERIA. Please kindly follow me on twitter @sewedo_akoro and twitter #NO28in9JA: venting your concerns.

For regular updates on Nigeria see Joseph Sewedo’s blog here

Against Discrimination: An Open Letter to African Leaders

H. E. Joaquim Chissano is the former President of Mozambique and current co-chair of the High-Level Task Force for the ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development)
H. E. Joaquim Chissano is the former President of Mozambique and current co-chair of the High-Level Task Force for the ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development)

Originally posted in the Africa Report, January 14, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a transformative moment for Africa – and indeed, for the world.
Decision-makers from across the continent, under the able leadership of Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, are finalising a crucial document outlining a common position for Africa on the development agenda that will replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015.

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 – Nelson Mandela

Since the 1990s, Africa has gained considerable strength in international negotiations by sticking together and forging consensus on important issues.

It is a strategy that has empowered us in many ways. And it means that our voices will be heard when the framework that will guide governments, donors and development partners for years to come is negotiated. So we need to be careful what we ask for.

I urge our leaders to draw from the lessons of the past, but also to heed current realities. And to look ahead to what the future is calling forth – because this new development agenda will affect the lives of millions of our people at a very critical time for Africa.

I encourage leaders to take a strong stand for fundamental human rights, and advance the trajectory for basic freedoms.

This means pushing for three priorities that lie at the heart of sustainable development: the empowerment of women and gender equality; the rights and empowerment of adolescents and youth; and the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all people.

These interlinked priorities and their policy implications have been carefully analysed by the High-Level Task Force for the ICPD that I co-chair.

We have found that they represent not only human rights imperatives, but smart, cost-effective investments to foster more equitable, healthy, productive, prosperous and inclusive societies, and a more sustainable world.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular, are a prerequisite for empowering women and the generations of young people on whom our future depends.

This simply means granting every one the freedom – and the means — to make informed decisions about very basic aspects of one’s life – one’s sexuality, health, and if, when and with whom to have relationships, marry or have children – without any form of discrimination, coercion or violence.

This also implies convenient, affordable access to quality information and services and to comprehensive sexuality education.

We can no longer afford to discriminate against people on the basis of age, sex, ethnicity, migrant status, sexual orientation and gender identity, or any other basis – we need to unleash the full potential of everyone.

As an African who has been around a long time, I understand the resistance to these ideas.

But I can also step back and see that the larger course of human history, especially of the past century or so, is one of expanding human rights and freedoms.

African leaders should be at the helm of this, and not hold back. Not at this critical moment.

The international agenda that we will help forge is not just for us here and now, but for the next generations and for the world.

As I think about these issues, I am reminded of the words of our recently departed leader, who gained so much wisdom over the course of his long walk to freedom.

“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains,” Nelson Mandela reminded us, “but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Let us live up to his immortal words.

• H. E. Joaquim Chissano is the former President of Mozambique and current co-chair of the High-Level Task Force for the ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development)

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. 

Statement on President Johnson Sirleaf by LGBTI Liberians & Allies

March 22, 2012-PRESS STATEMENT / Immediate release from THE COALITION OF LGBTI* LIBERIANS AND ALLIES (CLA)  and THE INTERNATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, recently expressed in an interview opposition for LGBT rights–especially decriminalization–and was vague about support for increased criminal penalties for LGBT people, a shockwave was felt ‘round the world.  LGBT Liberians everywhere and all who have great respect for Sirleaf–a former political prisoner herself–were appalled and saddened. Such a narrow and discriminatory view from a revered and world-honored leader is unfathomable.

Currently, under Liberian penal law, “voluntary sodomy” is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine. While African nations such as the Republic of South Africa, Mauritius and Mozambique have either repealed or read down similar outdated colonial sodomy laws, some in Liberia would move backward and increase criminalization and penalties.

Liberia’s Representative Clarence K. Massaquoi (Lofa) and Senator Jewel Taylor (Bong), distracting from the nations’ urgent post-war reconstruction problems, have each submitted bills to further criminalize sexual orientation and make same sex relationships a crime punishable by imprisonment. These two anti-human rights bills introduced in February 2012, would amend the existing penal code and domestic relations laws to specifically prohibit same sex relationships and same sex marriage. Under this ‘anti-gay marriage’ guise, the bills also call for surveillance, public trials, background checks and lengthy jail terms for both LGBT people and LGBT rights activists.

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Liberia Anti-Homosexuality Bill: An open letter to Leymah Gbowee

A Piece of the Peace: Leymah, Please Speak Out for Human & Civil Rights for All Liberians

Dear Leymah,

Your courage is legendary. You are an icon in your own time for peace-building.

In answer to a question about what worries you, you said: “The safety of my children and their future. The conduct of the world.”

Your reply shows what fears tremble inside a mother’s heart.

It is said that you speak your mind without fear or favor. When appointed by President Sirleaf in late 2011 to head the Liberian Reconciliation Initiative, you said that the “LRI’s broad aim is to provide an independent and impartial platform for all Liberians irrespective of social, economic, political, and geographic orientation to collectively address past abuses, reconcile fractured relations and communities, and promote dialogue and consensus building as instruments of politics and public culture.”

I want to believe that you agree LGBT Liberians are included in this mandate. Your voice must be heard above the present uproar about LGBT rights, because there seems to be a collective dissociative fugue around the cruel ways the civil and human rights of gay, lesbian and gender-variant Liberians are violated.

You have said: “Reconciliation is like dressing a sore: You can’t bandage a sore without first cleaning it.”

LGBT Liberians live in fear, disempowered and daily imperiled. The war for them has not ended. Their lives are defined by danger and violence, persecution, hate speech and threats, discrimination and harassment. They are stigmatized, publicly rejected and almost completely abandoned by government. Their vulnerability affects all areas of their lives — church, school, employers, landlords, media, street mobs, rapists, predators, political actors, opinion leaders, family.
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Queer struggles in Uganda: No longer a silence

Kasha Jacqueline presenting on the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill to the UN Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Kasha discusses the substance of the AHB, the implications for LGBTI persons and the rights of all Ugandans. Most importantly she speaks of the many and continuing acts of resistance and legal successes by LGBTI activists in Uganda. This is evident by the fact that more and more LGBTIQ people are visible today, that discussions ARE taking place and there is no longer a silence.

Part 1 – Uganda

In Part 2 – UN: Giving with one hand and taking with the other

Kasha calls the UN to account for its failure to call those countries which violate the many Rights based treaties. Specifically the failure to recognise LGBTI crimes as hate crimes.

“Let us all be one family that Stands for Justice, Equality and Peace”

On Monday, 1st March,  a group of activists and civil society organisations in Uganda presented a petition signed by 450,000 people from across the world opposing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The Petition was presented to Edward Sekandi, the Ugandan Speaker of Parliament and called for Parliament to “enact laws that will protect people and not humiliate or kill them”. It pointed out that the Bill is unconstitutional because it encourages discrimination against Ugandan LGBTI people both at home and abroad.

One of the those presenting the Petition, Kasha Jacqueline of FARUGANDA was shocked by the response of the Speaker who is supposed to be independent.

“[The] Speaker of Parliament insists that the Bill shall not be withdrawn,”We might reduce the punishments, but it cannot be go out the way it is, it has to go through procedures and also the MP who tabled it is the only one who can withdraw it” he said . So guessing that they are insisting on just “softening” it. I cannot believe this.”

By stating the Bill shall not be withdrawn, the Speaker, who is supposed to be independent and not give opinions, is clearly showing his support for the Bill. The Bill will now go back to Parliament for a second reading and then on to the Legal and Parliamentary Committee where there will be an open discussion with the public which will include lawyers acting for the activists and civil society organisations. This will be a further opportunity to challenge the legality of the proposed Bill and to put further pressure on Parliament to abandon it altogether. It will then return to Parliament for a third and final reading and a vote.

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