2014 has started and I can’t help but feel like the air has been violently removed from my bubble. During the past few weeks, Africa has become a less tolerant place for its LGTBIQQA citizens.
First, the Ugandan parliament passed a bill that proposes lengthy sentences for both same-sex loving people and their supporters just before Christmas. It was audaciously called an early Christmas present to the people from the parliament. The good news is that Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni, has since refused to sign the bill into law. His reasons, according to this article, don’t exactly inspire hope for the future of LGTBIQQA citizens of Uganda.
The second and similar problematic thing is the unannounced but expected signing of the Same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act by Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan early in January. The act was adopted and passed by the legislative branches of government in 2011 and 2013. Consensual sex between adults of the same sex was already criminalised in Nigeria, with punishments as severe as death in some northern states where sharia law. What this new law does is to even criminalize groups that advocate for gay rights in Nigeria.
While all this has been happening, a transsexual friend of mine who lives as a woman was arrested for using a female toilet in Bulawayo. The case was thrown out by the judge. Also in Bulawayo, a GALZ sponsored Christmas party was raided by the police and several prominent figures within ZANU PF’s Youth League were outed to the party structures. No charges have been filed but they still live in fear.
Meanwhile, South Africa, seen by many as a beacon of hope when it comes to gay rights in Africa, has remained silent. International condemnation has been loud and quick. Petitions from all over the world are littering the internet. And still South Africa remains silent. There are serious discussions about reform of the United Nations Security Council to include a permant seat for an African country. The top two contenders are South Africa and Nigeria and that saddens me. We cannot allow African countries that don’t respect or protect African LGBTI rights the privilege of representing the continent on the Security Council. The time has come for us to speak out and stand up for our rights!