Monday, November 12, 2007

The Challenges That African LGBTI People Face

The Challenges That African LGBTI People Face And How They Differ From The Challenges In America.

By Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, November 2007

Black Sexuality In The 21st Century: Change.

Hoover-Leppen Theatre
Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted,
Chicago Illinois USA

Date & Time:
November 10, 2007, 12:30 to 3:30pm.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights...Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse.

There is a pervasive view that homosexuality is a sign of western sexual corruption and immorality. Some African families even believe that homosexuality is a result of occult activities. Leading Africans and politicians have claimed that homosexuality is un-African and that the Western world is spreading a concept of immorality amongst her citizens.

“If it were possible to determine the homosexuality of a child before birth many African parents would repudiate their homosexual child before they have the chance to live”.

Same sex relationships are totally frowned upon and are not accepted within the general African cultures. This attitude is reinforced by the use of legislation. The majority of African countries still legislate against homosexual activities and those found guilty can expect a long prison sentence, with the exception of South Africa.

Over the years LGBTI people in Nigeria, Somalia, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, Cameroon and elsewhere in Africa have come under attack because of their sexual orientation and sexual identity.

In Nigeria, Sharia law is applicable in any Islamic ruling states, if a person is convicted of sodomy and any sexual practice they can be sentenced to death.

In January 2006, the government of Nigeria announced the proposal of a new law to ban homosexual relations and same sex marriage. The bill would make engaging in homosexual relations and entering into same sex marriage offences punishable by five years imprisonment. Priests or other cleric or anyone helping to arrange such a union would also be subjected to a five-year jail sentence. The law would also ban movements, associations or organisations that campaign for lesbians and gays rights.

The legislation goes further to make it a criminal offence to impart information of HIV/AIDS to gays and other sexual minority group.

The Anglican Bishops in Africa held a meeting in 2005, determined that they would break away from the parent Church of England unless the denunciation of the ordination of gay bishops such as in the case of Bishop Gene Robinson here in the USA and marriage for gays and lesbians are rejected.

The Ugandan government’s latest call for arrests based on sexual orientation is a grave threat to basic freedom, this call is supported by the president.

Church leaders of the Uganda House of Bishops called on the government not to register any gay and lesbian group. A church statement accused the gay organization of serving as a front for U.S. gays and lesbians to set up a base in Uganda.

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe claimed homosexuals were "worse than pigs and dogs." He has compared homosexuality to bestiality, police persistently raided the offices of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ).

Members of Parliament in Rwanda want a law against homosexuality enacted.

In Nigeria 18 men are waiting to stand trial for offences of sodomy, attempted gay wedding, impersonating women and cross dressing.

Two women in Somalia were sentenced to death for "unnatural behavior."

In Egypt, three men accused of setting up a gay web site were charged with violating the Egyptian legal code.

President Sam Nujoma announced "the Republic of Namibia does not allow homosexuality or lesbianism”. Police were ordered to arrest and imprison" Nujoma described homosexuality as "against God's will" and called it "the devil at work."

In Tunisia homosexuality is presented as a myths, an undesirable behavior described as “perverted, abnormal and tragic”.

In Cameroon, fifteen gay men, and two lesbians were in jail for over one month, after being arrested in a bar known to be frequented by homosexuals. Cameroon's Roman Catholic Bishop Victor Tonye Bakot also criticised European countries for legitimizing homosexuality.

Two South African lesbians were killed in Soweto, some were raped for what is termed a corrective measure.

African homophobia are not much different from the homophobia in the United States, but what makes them noticeable is the assertion that homosexuality belongs solely to other cultures, it is said to be western sexual corruption infiltrated on the innocence of Africans by foreigners and also through the internet.

There have been limited voices and/or faces that represented the crisis of LGBTI people; those who dare to do so are either scared off or dispelled from the society. It is time that we all ask our governments to show more concerns and inclusion of LGBTI people.

The African Charter on Human and People Rights stipulates and makes provision for addressing many issues affected by LGBTI people in Africa, however African LGBTI are too afraid to bring any charges, allegations or complaint against their government or local authorities.

May 2007 more than 60 lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex activists from 15 African countries gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss ways they could consolidate their movement and further progress in self organizing on a regional level. This group is called the Pan Africa ILGA.

A new tool was developed November 2006, called the Yogyakarta Principle.

The Yogyakarta Principles are a set of principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. These Principles promise a different future where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights can fulfill that precious birthright. Without the protection and fulfillment of these principles, it will be impossible for many people like myself to live a happy and healthy life in Nigeria.
The prevalent crime against LGBTI people and their family is blackmail. They are subjected to unnecessary exorcism by religious communities, ostracised from the society and family.
Aggravated rape and/or sexual abuses, crimes motivated by homophobia.
A major case of loneliness, rejection, isolation may often result or culminate into mental disorder or suicides. Death, Homophobic violence, Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, unfortunately, this is the sad case for homosexuals in Africa.

Why Should Americans Bother?
European-American Evangelistic Crusades said the appointment of Bishop Gene Robinson was encouraged by motivating power behind perversion, namely homosexuality. This has had a ripple effect on the nature and brand of Christianity in Africa and in the hands of Peter Akinola.

Barack Obama may choose to align with those who malign sexual minorities, this relationship seek to marginalise the already marginalised in the society, it would have been better if he speak with a new voice and represent a new dawn of inclusion and progress.

Decision to promote abstinence until marriage favored by George W. Bush, President of the United States, in 2003, when the US Congress authorized President George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to 15 countries, created a catastrophe. Abstinence programs convey a message that there is no safe way to have sex, it undermines same sex relationship and deny them information that could save their lives. Funds devoted to abstinence-only education are funds taken away from prevention programs that could address the health and sexualities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. .

Events and decisions made here in America and in Europe have in many cases affected outcomes in Africa, mostly positive. They differ because America has a solid back bone to support human rights and constitutional courts that addresses issues at a judiciary process.

Americans can work side by side with African activists, Americans can help Africans by supporting the implementation of the Yogyakarta Principles. Intensified campaigns against the breach of human rights and rule of law in Africa.


No comments: