Push back begins: Africans protest barbaric anti-gay lawsAround the World, Online Only, Top Highlights Thursday, March 6th, 2014
As the industrialized West looks on with horror as a variety of new laws aimed at squelching the rights – and in some cases lives – of members of the LGBT community in places like Nigeria and Uganda are enacted, opponents are gathering the speed and courage to speak out against them.
““Homosexuality is as Ugandan as any other behavior; it has nothing to do with the foreigners. Homosexuality has been documented in Uganda long before any foreign interference with our country,” observed opposition leader Kizza Besigye. Besigye, who is one of the first people not from the country’s gay community to criticize Uganda’s punitive new laws, argues that they are a ruse being used to divert attention away from the country’s real problems which are mainly economic and political. Last week, President Yoweri Museveni signed a bill which threatens to jail “repeat homosexuals” for life, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires people to denounce gays. Museveni—in power for 28 years—faces re-election in 2016.
“All we want is for recognition of two consenting adults to exercise their rights based on their sexual orientation,” Hudson Tucker, coordinator of Dignity Association, a gay rights advocacy group in Sierra Leone, said at a recent film screening.
In Nigeria, which has passed an equally draconian anti-gay agenda, leaders are speaking out as well. Jackie Kay, a Scottish-Nigerian poet warned, ”It is dangerous for any country to legalize a witch-hunt of an already oppressed minority; it will lead to unprecedented hysterical homophobia that will set the clock back to the fearful past … It will lead to people fleeing for safety, to informers, to pitting one African citizen against another.”
Prize-winning Nigerian novelist Helon Habila said, “The Goodluck Jonathan administration is trying to distract attention from the situation at home … Instead of talking about the $20 billion (in oil revenues) which is missing, they are happy to persecute gays, to stone them, in some places, and to harass them.“
But, perhaps, the largest living voice in Africa to take a stand has been no less that retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa who stated recently, “”We must be entirely clear about this: the history of people is littered with attempts to legislate against love or marriage across class, caste and race. But there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. There is only the grace of God. There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever. And nor is there any moral justification. Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, among others, attest to these facts.”
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