Tag Archives: homosexuality

Haiti: Occasional Musings, 20 – Further attacks on LGBT community in Port-au-Prince

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On May 17th  I attended a public gathering of LGBTI activists and friends in a downtown hotel in Port-au-Prince as part of a weekend of IDAHO events.   There were workshops, testimonies song and dance and a short play demonstrating street harassment and violence against LGBTI people but nothing on the scale of what has taken place in a short space of 6 weeks following a faith based anti-gay protest on 19th July.  2 murders, 47 people beaten with machetes, sticks and rocks and last weekend two further attacks. 

On Saturday in the areas of Morne Lazard in Petion-Ville a private house party was attacked by unknown people carrying machete, knives and stones.   They also carried Molotov cocktails which they threw into the house where a British and Haitian gay couple were celebrating their engagement. The police did try to intervene but either they didn’t try hard enough of the crowd was too large and no one was arrested.    On Sunday in the area of Delmas,  Marjory Lafontant who is the coordinator of lesbian organisation, FACSDIS,  was harassed and attacked with stones and bottles by a crowd…..

” They said they do not wish to have an LGBT activist living in their neighbourhood – this is very serious for the community”

Although President Martelly has condemned the violence, his words have clearly not reached local police as no one has been arrested for any of the above crimes.  The attack on Ms Lafontant in the vicinity her own home is  a further escalation in the violence against the community.    And because of the relative openness in the past LGBT people are extremely vulnerable at this time leaving everyone in a state of fear and anxiety over what will happen next!

 

 

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

Dakan 1997 Guinea – A coming out story Dakan begins with the most sexually explicit opening scene in

Dakan 1997 Guinea – A coming out story

Dakan begins with the most sexually explicit opening scene in African cinema. Rather than the usual rural landscape or urban panorama locating the characters in a recognizable social or geographical context, the camera focuses on an isolated couple locked in a clandestine embrace in a sports car at night. The shot becomes even more transgressive when we recognize the couple are two young men. When one of them later tells his mother he’s attracted to another man, she replies: “Since time began, it’s never happened. Boy’s don’t do that. That’s all there is to it.” Dakan thus becomes the story of two men who by “coming out” disappear, become invisible to their families and society, because their society has no language which recognizes their love.

Single story homophobia and gay imperialism revisted

Two excellent articles by Keguro Macharia [Gukira]. The First was published on  Kenya Imagine and is a response to an article on homophobia in Africa by Madeline Bunting in which she attempts to explain “African Homophobia”.. Keguro’s criticism first points to her claim that the West should “rightly” be concerned and hugely angry about homophobia in Africa.

Being “rightly” concerned is, as far as I can tell, a full time occupation where Africa is concerned. To be western, Bunting suggests, is to have “the right” to be concerned and angry about what happens in Africa. 40 years after African’s independence from colonialism, I remain puzzled at what gives “the west” any rights over Africa. And because I am an intellectual, I wonder at Bunting’s need to posit an autonomous “west” against a knowable “Africa,” even after more than 30 years of scholarship that has emphasized the cross-hybridization of these two spaces.

Keguro goes on to question the source of Bunting’s “authoritative voice” considering  she makes no attempt to seek out scholarly voices such as his and Canadian Marc Epprecht and those of others easily accessible online with a little effort and Google.

Given the article’s authoritative tone, I would have assumed that, at the very least, Bunting would take the time to read the body of activist and scholarly work available on African homosexualities and African homophobia, much of which lives online. Had she bothered, she might have found the long-standing website Behind the Mask, which offers a range of resources and reports on Africa. She might have discovered the erudite scholar writer Sokari Ekine whose blog is a historical and scholarly resource. A little digging might have turned up Feminist Africa , which has devoted special issues to questions of sexuality in Africa, including a moving article by Uganda-based professor Sylvia Tamale .

If Bunting had cared to actually study her subject, she might have discovered scholarly monographs by South African  Neville Hoad and Canadian Marc Epprecht, both of which offer nuanced, historically grounded analyses of homosexual and homophobic practices and discussions in Africa.

In the second piece published in  yesterday’s  Guardian, he challenges the notion that homophobia in Africa  is somehow unique and that homophobia exists in continental or regional forms.  In reality there is no single story.   In answer to the question “how do we account for what APPEARS TO BE  the intensification of homophobia in Africa?” he provides two examples, one from Kenya where the first mass attack against gay men took place recently.  Unlike the usual reports in the Western media where Africans are presented as passive and unengaged, Keguro  names local activists organisations and their responses…..

So what has changed? Activist organisations such as Minority Women in Action (MWA), Transgender Education and Advocacy (TEA) and Gay Kenya have been established and run educational workshops across the country. As with other human rights groups in Kenya, their efforts have been met with mixed reactions, ranging from acceptance to indifference to hatred. Their increased visibility has led to increased vulnerability, a trajectory shared by progressive organisations across the world.

The second example he uses is the  marriage of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza and again challenges the “unique” single story…

To grasp the Malawi case, we need to understand the meaning of the engagement ceremony chinkhoswe. Chinkhoswe certifies marriages in the eyes of the law and also creates stable ideas about gender. It is worth noting that Tiwonge Chimbalanga identifies as a woman, so this case is also about transgender politics.

Notably, despite some gains in gay marriage in the west, transgender politics remain contested. Without a locally based understanding, rooted in a history of Malawi and a grasp of its cultural politics, we cannot comprehend what is at stake in the case. Discussions that frame the case as Malawians opposing westernisation tell only a very partial story.

Last week British Gay activist Peter Tatchell published HIS response to the sentencing of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza in which he, in the style of the single story, reduces homophobia in Africa to a simplistic colonialist and passive explanation.

Before the British came and conquered Malawi, there were no laws against homosexuality. These laws are a foreign imposition, they are not African at all. Despite independence, these alien criminalisations were never repealed.

Today, the minds of many Malawians — and other Africans — remain colonised by the homophobic beliefs that were drummed into their forebears by the western missionaries who invaded their lands alongside the conquering imperial armies.

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Zuma’s condemnation of Malawi – where is it?

President Jacob Zuma responds to calls for him to condemn the sentencing of Malawian couple Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza.  Apparently we must have missed the SA government statement which cannot be located but was said!    He needs to do more than condemn the sentence and he knows this – this is shallow and unconvincing.

South Africa President Jacob Zuma has condemned Malawi’s imprisonment of two gay men who publicly announced their intention to marry.

Zuma has been under fire from civic and religious groups for failing to speak out against the persecution of the two men recently jailed for 14 years for conducting a homosexual relationship in violation of the country’s anti-gay laws.

But he told MPs while answering questions in parliament that South Africa had condemned the prosecution, saying members of the national assembly must have missed the statement.

“Why are you and your government, completely silent on this despicable homophobic assault on the human rights and dignity of our brothers and sisters across Africa,” Democratic Alliance MP Dion George asked.

Zuma said South Africa had spoken out against the arrest and trial of the two men, but no such statement could be found in a quick internet search as he spoke.

“I don’t think we have kept quiet, so we are with you on this issue as representing the country and the continent. We are working hard to change attitudes and we will continue to do so.

“We have condemned the action taken to arrest people in terms of our constitution because our constitution says so. We have stated the views of this country contained in the constitution,” Zuma said.

Protests marches calling for the release of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga will be held in London and New York on Saturday 29th at 1 and 2pm respectively.  London: outside the Malawian High Commission 70 Winnington Road, London N2 OTX and NY – 866 United Nations Plaza

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The closet maybe safer but its dark and claustrophobic & not the way to have to live a life

Plus News published a country by country list of human rights violations against African LGBTI over the past three years.

Malawi – On 28 December 2009, soon after a traditional engagement ceremony, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were arrested and charged with “unnatural offenses”, which carries a maximum prison term of 14 years, and “indecent practices between males”, which carries five years.

The men deny that they have had sexual relations, but the state prosecutor has applied for them to be sent to hospital to prove they have had sex, which rights activists and their lawyers say would violate their constitutional right to dignity. The trial has been postponed until 25 January 2010.

Uganda – In October 2009, David Bahati, parliamentary representative of the ruling party, tabled the Anti-homosexuality Bill (2009), a private member’s Bill. It proposes, among other things, the death sentence for the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” when an HIV-positive person engages in homosexual sex with someone disabled or below the age of 18.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.

AIDS advocates and human rights groups have strongly criticized the Bill as violating the privacy of gay people, and after pressure from several international leaders, President Yoweri Museveni has distanced himself from it, reducing the likelihood that it will be passed in its current form.

Nevertheless, a local tabloid, The Red Pepper, routinely releases lists of alleged Ugandan homosexuals.

Tanzania - In May 2009, a local newspaper, Ijumaa, featured a photograph of two men in bed together with the headline, “Caught Live!” A report by several gay rights groups noted that the accompanying article included derogatory and discriminatory language about men who have sex with men.

An Ijumaa reporter, accompanied by three policemen, had followed the men from the street into a private hotel, where they had invaded their room and taken the photographs that later appeared in the newspaper.

According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, more than 40 gay and lesbian activists in Tanzania were arrested on charges of debauchery in 2009.

Burundi – In April 2009, President Pierre Nkurunziza signed into law a bill criminalizing homosexuality for the first time in Burundi’s history. Anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual activity faces imprisonment for two to three years and a fine of up to US$80.

Paradoxically, other articles in the same legislation take steps to protect human rights, including abolition of the death penalty and the outlawing of torture, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Senegal – In December 2008, the Senegalese government arrested nine men involved in providing HIV prevention, care and treatment services to the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The men were later sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of “membership of a criminal organization and engaging in acts against the order of nature”, but in April 2009 an appeals court overturned this verdict.

Arrests for homosexual activity are not uncommon in Senegal; in August 2008 two men were arrested at their home in Dakar and charged with “homosexual marriage” and acts against the order of nature. According to rights groups, a total of 30 men were arrested on charges of homosexuality in 2009.

Egypt - In May 2008, a court in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, convicted five HIV-positive men of “habitual practice of debauchery”, a phrase that encompasses consensual sexual acts between men.

The convictions were part of a crackdown on people living with HIV/AIDS, during which 12 men suspected of being HIV-positive were arrested; while in custody, they were subjected to HIV tests and anal examinations to determine whether they had had sex with other men. Earlier in the crackdown, in January 2008, four HIV-positive men sentenced to one-year prison terms for debauchery.

Gambia - In May 2008, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh gave gay people 24 hours’ notice to leave the country. He promised stricter laws on homosexuality than in Iran, and threatened to behead any gay people discovered in the country.

Jammeh’s statements were thought to have been in response to a number of Senegalese gay men fleeing across the border into Gambia to escape persecution in their own country.

South Africa - In April 2008, Eudy Simelane, the openly gay star of South Africa’s Banyana Banyana national female football squad, was found murdered in a park on the outskirts of Johannesburg. She had been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed to death.

Rights groups said the attack was likely to have been an incident of “corrective rape”, in which men rape lesbian women on the pretext of trying to “cure” them of their sexual orientation.

Since then there has been a spate of similar attacks on lesbian women in the country, but few ever reach the courts. According to a 2009 report by the NGO, ActionAid, there have been 31 recorded murders of lesbian women since 1998, with just three cases reaching the courts, and only one conviction.

Cameroon - In January 2008, a Cameroonian court sentenced three men accused of homosexuality to six months’ hard labour. Homosexual acts are punishable by up to five years in prison, and gay men are routinely imprisoned.

Although the penal code does not give the state the power to arraign someone unless the person was caught in flagrante delicto, rights groups say people suspected of being gay are often arrested in public restaurants and bars.

Nigeria - In August 2007, 18 men – all allegedly cross-dressers – were arrested in Bauchi State, a predominantly Muslim state in the north of the country; they were charged with sodomy, the charges were later changed to vagrancy or idleness. The men were eventually freed on bail, but in March 2009 the case was still pending.

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Criminalising homosexuality: a threat to human rights

My review of “Urgency Required: Gay and Lesbian Rights are Human Rights” published by HIVOS. Originally posted on Pambazuka News – 4th March 2010

Urgency is required at this very moment as the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 is pending before the Ugandan parliament. Same-sex relationships are already illegal in the country under sections 140, 141 and 143, with sentences running from five years to life imprisonment. The laws are based on the British colonial penal code and as such do not specifically name relationships between women, but none the less, lesbians are stigmatised and face similar aggression and malice from society and the Ugandan state. However the Anti-Homosexuality Bill increases in scope both the definition of ‘homosexual acts’ and the punishment with the death penalty for repeated offences, those who are HIV-positive and for same-sex acts with anyone under 18 years.

Similar to the now shelved ‘Same-Sex Marriage Bill’ in Nigeria, the bill extends to criminalising anyone who witnesses, supports or associates with people involved in same-sex relationships. Human rights activists and organisations working in the area of sexuality as well as HIV/AIDS organisations are in a perilous position as under the law they will all be criminalised. As the law institutionalises the discrimination of lesbians and gays, they will have no redress either morally or under law if they are physically attacked, raped or discriminated against. They will no longer be human beings but illegal beings. Women will be even more vulnerable to rape as rapists will be able to accuse the woman of being a lesbian and therefore deserving of rape. In a society where to speak out against rape is hard enough, let alone if you are going to be accused of being a lesbian — which is an illegal human being, with a five year prison sentence waiting for you. Even to touch someone in a ‘gay’ way is punishable.
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Religion and Sexuality

Bishop TutuBishop Tutu was born on 7 October 1931.

“Jesus did not say, ‘If I be lifted up I will draw some’.”

Jesus said, ‘If I be lifted up I will draw all, all, all, all, all. Black, white, yellow, rich, poor, clever, not so clever, beautiful, not so beautiful.

It’s one of the most radical things. All, all, all, all, all, all, all, all. All belong.

Gay, lesbian, so-called straight. All, all are meant to be held in this incredible embrace that will not let us go. All.”

~~ Desmond Mpilo Tutu

Urgency is now required in Uganda

In April 1994, Rwandan radio broadcast daily programmes calling on all Hutus to kill the Tutsis. The broadcasts went like this….

“Why do we hate the Tutsis? They are cockroaches…Rwanda is Hutuland. We are the majority. Tutsis are the minority. Hutus must kill all the Tutsis…Stay alert — watch your neighbours.”

In a chilling reminder of those broadcasts, yesterday Rainbow Uganda reported that two Ugandan radio stations had called on Ugandans to kill or attack any known Gay person.

Smart & NBS FM Radio Station in Uganda, has called up all Ugandans wherever they are to stand up a fight, kill or attack any known Gay person in the Country. ….. Please this is not good! It can even cause genocide

If we stand back and reflect on the past three / four years of the Ugandan Anti-homosexuality and Transgender campaign and in particular these past six months, we should not be surprised that we have now reached this point. Only last week, demonstrators marched through the streets carrying “Kill Gays” placards. Starting from 2005 – not the beginning but a good place to start. First there was the illegal raid of Victor Mukasa’s home in July 2005 following which he choose to sue the Ugandan Attorney General and subsequently spent almost a year in fear of his life and in hiding. He and Kenyan activist, Yvonne Oyoo finally won their case which took almost 3 years of sheer perseverance on the part of Victor and his supporters. In September 2007 and again in April 2009 the Ugandan tabloid, Red Pepper, published the names of gays and lesbians. In the April publication a number of Ugandan LGBT activists were also named including Victor Mukasa, Frank Mugisha and Kasha Jacqueline whose interview I published yesterday. In November 2007, a group of Ugandan LGBTI activists were evicted from the “People’s Forum” and later other activists from East Africa were physically prevented from entering the forum.
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Responses to LGBTI in Africa

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I’m writing this post in response to number of articles on the prevalence of homophobia in Africa and to try and give some perspective and historical context.     In the last six months we have seen the expression of homophobia with the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill; the arrest of gay Malawian couple, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, for getting married;  most recently the appointment of homophobic journalist,  Jon Qwelane as South Africa’s ambassador to Uganda.   All of these are well documented so I’m not going to go into detail.   What I think is important, particularly with regards to the Ugandan Bill and the homophobic campaign that preceded it, is that it has been successfully internationalised by LGBTI activists on the continent, many who have put their lives at risk in letting us know what is happening.  [For the best in depth and regularly updated commentary and analysis on Uganda, see Gay Ugandan].  The international response has been impressive,  though as this report shows not wholly reliable. Religious leaders, government ministers, international human rights organisations and bloggers condemning the Bill.  The disgust around the Bill, has to some extent forced Ugandan President Museveni to retract the worst aspects of the Bill – the death penalty.  However I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw a piece of paper and the pressure to drop the Bill completely will need to be maintained.   Fro example the  “million person Anti-Gay march” is  still planning to go ahead in Kampala next month.

Uganda’s National Pastors Task Force Against Homosexuality*, chaired by Ssempa has resolved to support the Bill with amendments that include reduction of the sentence from death penalty to 20 years for aggravated homosexuality and the inclusion of a provision of “counseling and rehabilitation  [by the church] to persons experiencing homosexual temptations.”

Ssempa maintains that homosexuality is illegal, breaks the laws of God and that it breaks the laws of nature which stipulate that a male goes with a female. According to him it is a Taboo for same-sex people to be in relationship and he basis his assertion on African culture, tradition and Religion.

The Ugandan Bill has also exposed the working relationship between some Christian fundamentalist churches in the US, in particular the organisation known as “The Family,” and religious leaders in Uganda.   The ideology behind the  “The Family” appears to be about power and influence as well as religion – and the poor will not be the ones to  inherit the earth if they have anything to do with it.

The case of the gay Malawian couple  gives us an idea of what will happen if the  Ugandan Bill is passed only it would be worse, much worse.  They have been denied bail and if found guilty could  face up to 14 years in prison.    On Friday I spoke with Cameroonian LGBTI activit, Joel Gana of “African Men for Sexual Health & Rights,  who along with Victor Mukasa of SMUG and  IGLHRC are in Malawi to give personal and strategic support to Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza.   In addition there are a number of other human rights defenders who have been arrested or whom are wanted by the police.

Although there is no doubt a long struggle ahead for the couple we were both reminded of the case of the Cameroonian nine who were arrested on 21st May 2005 on charges of sodomy.  After a 12 month campaign by human rights defenders / LGBTI activists across the continent the men were released and acquitted without charge.  The case of the Cameroon nine went along way to solidify the movement as Joel pointed out.

The case in the Cameroon helped solidify the movement and this could happen here.  The movement is not out but it could do the same.  Because you know the organisation in Cameroon came out of that movement to fight for the rights and thats how the “Alternative Cameroon” was founded and why they are so strong now.

There have been other victories over the past five years.   The two Nigerian Bills – the Same Sex Marriage Bill and the The Same Gender Prohibition Bill have both been shelved despite the backing of both bills by religious leaders such as the Nigerian Anglican Primate, Bishop Peter Akinola.   This is not to say they will not rise again especially if the Ugandan Bill gets passed but preventing both of them from being passed was a victory for Nigerian and international human rights activists.    In December 2008, after three and half years, Ugandan activist, Victor Mukasa won his case against the Ugandan attorney general

From the momentum created by the Ugandan LGBTI Human Rights Court Case, the numbers of people involved in advocating for the protection of the basic human rights of LGBTI people have continued to grow in Uganda. Although the 30-day “Let Us Live In Peace” Ugandan LGBTI Human Rights Media Campaign led by Sexual Minorities Uganda in August and September 2007 was met with great controversy and hostility, greater awareness and understanding of the need for protection of the basic human rights of kuchus was built among large segments of the general population in Uganda. Publicity around one of the key aspects of the case, inhuman treatment and discrimination based on gender identity, has helped to foster openness and courage in many transgender individuals in Uganda.

In September 2009, Eudy Simelane finally received a measure of justice after her murderer and rapist was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.   However, two other men involved in the crime were acquitted on the basis they were there but did nothing,  a judicial position which campaigners will be working towards changing.  The campaign around Eudy’s trial was not an easy one and was fought with very little resources despite the international media interest in the crime and trial.

It’s a relief for everyone — family and friends of Eudy to have finally received justice. The campaign around Eudy’s case has been central to raising awarness of hate crimes against lesbians in South Africa and for that we must acknowledge the work of The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project and it’s director, Phumi Mtetwa who worked tirelessly to make sure the case was given the highest possible profile. Recognition must also go to all the friends and supporters who attended the court hearings despite the lack of funds to transport and accommodate them during the endless postponements and delays.

Most recently in Decemeber last year,  the Rwandan government changed it’s mind on the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill with the Minister for Justice following pressure from African and International LGBT organisations declaring.

“The government I serve and speak for on certain issues cannot and will not in any way criminalize homosexuality; sexual orientation is a private matter and each individual has his or her own orientation – - this is not a State matter at all,” said Karugarama.

The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill remains in place.  it will set a dangerous precedent across the continent if it gets passed on any level let alone with the death penalty.   It could influence and encourage those behind the Nigerian Bill as well as the governments in Gambia, Senegal, Malawi, Kenya and Zambia which have all taken a draconian stance towards same sex relationships in their countries.   What I wanted to do in this post, was to also return  to and  emphasise some of the victories African LGBT activists have achieved over the years – sometimes on their own with very little resources, sometimes with the help of international human rights organisations.
Links:

Boycott the 2010 World Cup

Open Letter to President Zuma

Statement by Equality Project

Statement on Gender & Sexuality – South Africa

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Queer Black Revolutionary: Homosexuality is Un-African

Thoughtful insight into “homosexuality as Un-African” by Soul and Power

The second point leads into another grievance that I have with several people. Being gay seems to be something that is looked as if it only entails sex. Meaning that the extent of being homosexual is who you have sex with. This could not be farther from the truth. Being a gay male, I am apart of a deep and rich culture, I am someone who seeks a deep connection someone who happens to be the same sex as me, my identity doesn’t stop at where I like to put my penis. It is similar to being a person of African descent, my identity does not stop at my skin. I am growing frustrated with the inability of people who in all other areas are critical thinkers turning off their “thinking caps” when the word “gay” comes in.

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Providing inclusive HIV prevention

‘How do you convince me to come out and say I am a homosexual yet the same government that is asking me to do this criminalizes what I am engaged in? I would rather they offered the services without going into the business of knowing who we are and trying to count us.’

Kenya’s HIV prevention programme wants to incorporate men who have sex with men (MSM). However getting MSM to identify themselves is difficult and why is this necessary? Isnt the point to offer services to whoever needs them without them having to reveal their sexual preferences. Ultimately the only way to really provide inclusive HIV prevention services is to decriminalise homosexuality

Continue reading [Via Border Thinking on Migration, Trafficking and Commercial Sex]

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Uganda: no stone throwing in glass houses

In “Uganda is… Who is in our hearts of hearts” Dan Mosenberg tells us about the ANERELA movement in Uganda begun by Rev. Gideon B. Byamagusha to provide support to religious leaders living with HIV/AIDS . Rev Byamagusha was the first Anglican Bishop to declare his HIV status. There are now some 2,000 religious leaders who have taken the courageous step in coming out with HIV. Today writing in the Ugandan monitor, the Rev takes another courageous step in declaring his position on the governments proposed homophobic law which seeks the death penalty for homosexual acts.

In the present circumstances, young people and adults of Uganda need to be taught to love, treat and pray for homosexuals, hetero-sexuals, bi-sexuals, tri-sexuals and non-sexuals as they would do for any other person.

We need not be afraid of each other because our sexuality is not contagious! We don’t need to treat each other as freaks because of not understanding each other. We need not even to discuss someone’s sexuality except where the sexuality is a threat to their own and other people’s peace, health, wellbeing and prosperity.

Of course we will (rightly or wrongly) continue to argue that we cannot afford to be very permissive to lifestyles that are “unnatural” and “unscriptural”. We have the right to argue like that and be listened to! But we cannot continue to argue that we are a deeply God-fearing nation when in the same breath we continue to commit state-inspired, state-protected and state-legislated suicide, genocide and murder.

Dan also reminds us – and we do need reminding – that there are no geographical borders to attacks and murders of LGBT people. Rather than “throw stones” at Uganda it is necessary and more appropriate to look at homophobia and transphobia in a global context. The number of homophobic attacks in London are on the increase and in September a gay man, Ian Baynham, 62 was murdered in the center of London, Trafalgar Square. In Liverpool, trainee police officer, James Parkes, had his skull beaten in after being attacked by 20 people. Writing on Transgender day of Remembrance, Tara Sawyer comments that apart from being classified as a mental disorder – an act of violence in itself, it is estimated that some 19 trans people are murdered each month.

Various reports have been circulating the internet over the past week on the export of homophobia by the US religious right to Asia and Africa and anywhere they can find an entry with their doctrine of hate justified by fallacious readings of religious texts. The comments are based on the report by Kapya Kaoma “Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia“] The report is important for a number of reasons. Because it places the homophobic project of the religious right in a global context; because Kaoma makes the additional connection between the export of culture and hatred with the dumping of toxic and electronic waste etc on continental Africa; because of “Gay Imperalism” the critique of which is presently under attack by Peter Tatchell and Outrage.

Just as the United States and other northern societies routinely dump our outlawed or expired chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, and cultural detritus on African and other Third World countries, we now export a political discourse and public policies our own society has discarded as outdated and dangerous,” writes PRA executive director Tarso Luís Ramos in the report’s foreword. “Africa’s antigay campaigns are to a substantial degree made in the U.S.A.

I would go much further to add that the “dumping” of Eurocentricism has been a continuous project since the first landing of Europeans on African soil and spreading Christianity has always been central to this project. It is also worth noting that the mainstream Anglican church led by Archbishop Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamuhas have both been silent on the proposed Ugandan Bill. Sentamuhas is particularly disappointing as he has been extremely vocal about Mugabe and Zimbabwe – such inconsistency is hypocritical.

To return to Uganda and Dan’s post, the University of Makerere, organised a discussion around the anti-homosexuality bill and the impact it will have on human rights. Human right activists, lawyer and feminist, Sylvia Tamale closed the discussion with the following remarks and call to action

She concluded her remarks with an oblique return to the theme of dialogue: “Do we really in our hearts of hearts want our country to be the first on the continent to demand that mothers spy on their children, that teachers refuse to talk about what is, after all, “out there” and that our gay and lesbian citizens are systematically and legally terrorized into suicide? Ladies and gentlemen, you may strongly disagree with the phenomenon of same-sex erotics; you may be repulsed by what you imagine homosexuals do behind their bedroom doors; you may think that all homosexuals deserve to burn in hell. However, it is quite clear that this Bill will cause more problems around the issue of homosexuality than it will solve. I suggest that Hon. Bahati’s bill be quietly forgotten. It is no more or less than an embarrassment to our intelligence, our sense of justice and our hearts.”

Homophobia is a global issue and impacts on on everyone irrespective of their sexuality, gender identities / expressions and sexual preference. The doctrine which fuels homophobia is the same one which fuels all kinds of intolerance and invasions into personal spaces. It is fueled by the same intolerance around the racist campaign being conducted by the right against President Obama. It is the same one which denies Climate Change. It is both “the stepping stone and stones of violence.”

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Ugandan Civil Society statement on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The following Statement from the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, The Coalition’s first press release entitled ‘Anti-Homosexuality or Anti-Human Rights Bill?’, will be published in today’s (24 October 2009) editions of Uganda Dailies The New Vision; The Independent , The Monitor — and a local vernacular daily Bukedde Newspaper. It will also appear in the Regional Daily The East African on Monday. More will follow later.

I have so far been unable to find the Coalition’s Statement on any of these websites so if you know the exact link please leave it in a comment.

If you are in Uganda, please buy a copy and out of Uganda hit the websites to read these and distribute far and wide! And above all, we need all your energies for this campaign…. It’s our Struggle Collectively!

The Statement

Hon. Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill which was tabled in Parliament on October 14, 2009, and is currently before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament covers much more than the title alone proclaims. A much better title for this bill would have been the ‘Anti Civil Society Bill, the ‘Anti Public Health Bill,’ or the ‘Anti-Constitution Bill.’ Perhaps more simply it should be called the Anti Human Rights Bill. As a matter of fact, this bill represents one of the most serious attacks to date on the 1995 Constitution and on the key human rights protections enshrined in the Constitution including:

- Article 20: Fundamental rights and freedoms are inherent and not granted by the State
- Article 21: Right to Equality and Freedom from discrimination
- Article 22: The Right to Life (the death penalty provisions)
- Article 27: The Right to Privacy
- Article 29: Right to freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association (this includes freedom of speech, Academic freedom and media freedom)
- Article 30: Right to Education
- Article 32: Affirmative Action in favour of marginalised groups and
- Article 36 on the Rights of Minorities

Let us think for a moment of who–quite apart from the homosexuals it claims as its target–this bill puts at risk:

- any parent who does not denounce their lesbian daughter or gay son to the authorities: Failure to do so s/he will be fined Ush 5,000,000/= or put away for three years;
- any teacher who does not report a lesbian or gay pupil to the authorities within 24 hours: Failure to do so s/he will be fined Ush 5,000,000/= or put away for three years in prison;
- any landlord or landlady who happens to give housing to a suspected homosexual risks seven years of imprisonment;
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Uganda Anti-Homosexuality bill

smug

A new Private Members Bill – Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 – has been tabled in the Uganda Parliament which would allow for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”. The Bill also carries a sentence of life imprisonment for being or committing the offense of homosexuality, 7 years for attempted homosexuality and anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality or anybody who keeps a house or room for the purpose of homosexuality.

A person commits aggravated homosexuality when the victim is a person with disability or below the age of 18, or when the offender is HIV-positive. The bill thus equates aggravated homosexuality to aggravated defilement among people of different sexes, which also carries the death sentence.

Any NGO or organisation which supports LGBTI people will have it’s license revoked and the director would be liable to 7 years in prison. In short the Bill not only criminalizes same sex relations but also advocacy and public discussion in any arena whether the media, public institutions and even in the private sphere of one’s own home. There is no protection for any LGBTI person against any member of the public physically attacking them, evicting them from their home or firing them from their work. Activists with SMUG – Sexual Minorities Uganda report that already there has been increases in violence against LGBTI.

Over the recent months increased campaigns of violence have gone uncontrolled. The violence directed at Homosexual Ugandans has resulted in the unwarranted arrests of many people; there are eight ongoing cases in various courts all over Uganda of which four accused persons are unable to meet the harsh bail conditions set against them. These acts of violence have now resulted in the deaths of several homosexual people, such as
Brian Pande at Mbale Hospital as he awaited trial. This bill aggravates stigma and hatred; and renders all promised protections enshrined in the constitution for all Ugandan citizens void.

Backed by religious leaders countries like Uganda and Nigeria are increasingly dictating on morality and invading the personal lives of people whether women as in the case with the indecent dress code Bill or same sex relationships as with proposed Homophobia Bills [Same Sex Marriage Bill in Nigeria]. For the past 5 years human rights defenders in Uganda and Nigeria have been struggling against homophobic legislation, public outings by the media, harassment and arrests for being gay and lesbian. Now it is time for an human rights defenders from across the continent to work together with SMUG in Uganda to prevent this Bill from being passed. Frank Mugisha of SMUG explains in detail the implications of the Bill for all Ugandans.

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I Aint Yo Bitch by Jabulile Ngwenya

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A punchy, in your face, unapologetic and exciting novel titled, I Aint Yo Bitch by Jabulile Ngwenya, is set to keep a few tongues wagging, a must read but definitely not for the faint hearted.

Published by Paper Bag Publishing, I Aint Yo Bitch was launched at the Wits Writing Centre, on 20 August 2009.

Ngwenya said by writing this book she deliberately wanted to advocate for tolerance and initiate dialogue in the black community about homosexuality and hate crimes.

“People should talk about why a woman has to be killed because she is lesbian”, she says.

The book is about an emerging lesbian hip hop performer Tebogo and explores her relationships with her band members and female groupies.

The book also delves into the violence and prejudices women and gays are faced with, especially if they dare to be different, Ngwenya added.

Ngwenya reiterated that she wants people to feel some kind of emotion or empathy for the main character and learn whatever they need to learn from the book. Continue reading

Via Tayari Jones and Sex Gender and Body

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Coming out: Black & Catholic

A short clip from Paradise Lost – A film on belonging and what really matters!

Paradise Lost Clip from BlackmanVision on Vimeo.

A BlackManVision Blog

Senegal 9 freed

The 9 Senegalese HIV/AIDS counsellors sentenced to 8 years in prison for homosexuality have had their convictions overturned. The men were convicted on the basis of “hearsay” and anonymous tip offs so it’s not surprising that the prosecution did not question the appeal decision. The arrest of the men was part of homophobic government and media campaign following the publication of photos of a gay wedding in a local magazine, Icone. The editor who received death treats threats said he published the photos to prove that there were gay men in Senegal.

Senegalese court jails 9 for sodomy

Senegal which is one of the few former Francophone countries to criminalise sodomy has sentenced 9 men to an eight year jail sentence despite the judge’s recommendation of 5 years. The concern in this case is the violation of the rights of the men who were arrested in the home of Mr Diouf, who heads AIDES Senegal which provides HIV prevention services to men who have sex with men.

In February 2008, ten men and one woman were arrested in Dakar after a popular local magazine published photographs of a marriage ceremony between two Senegalese men. The publicity and arrests created tremendous public animosity toward LGBT people in Senegal. Statements such as “killing a homosexual is not a sin” and “they should all be well and truly eliminated from the face of the Earth!” appeared on websites. Many gay men and lesbians were attacked by mobs or driven from their homes. IGLHRC coordinated financial assistance for LGBT defenders and others at risk, and led an advocacy campaign demanding the detainees’ release.

In the current case, IGLHRC is deeply concerned by what appears to be a violation of: a) the right to a free and fair trial, b) the right to privacy, and c) the right to freedom from discrimination. IGLHRC is working with local and international partners to find more information about the case and explore options for action.

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