LGBTIQ rights in Africa

Posted on January 26, 2016 12:01 am

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer (LGBTIQ) individuals are suffering enormous abuse across Africa.Reports of violence and discrimination against the gay community are well documented by local and international NGOs promoting LGBTIQ rights in the continent, with transgender individuals being the most targeted victims, followed by lesbians and gays.Cases of violence include bullying, physical attacks, verbal abuse and murder. Instances of discrimination include exclusion in the workplace and criminalization.These cases are perpetrated by institutional and personal actors. Institutional actors include policemen and public order personnel. Personal actors include families, neighbors, vigilantes and religious-based organizations.A researcher in LGBTIQ community in Africa shared with her views recently.She told me public’s lack of knowledge on how human rights principles apply to all sexual and gender identities are preventing people from reporting cases of abuse, leading to the failure of the governments and the police institution to provide LGBTIQ individuals with protection and safety. LGBTIQ community feels different, awkward, embarrassed and alone in Africa.Some have even harbored thoughts of suicide because they were different and not accepted for who they are by rest of the public.

It’s hard enough to be a human being in Africa, but if you happen to be gay,entire life could be extremely difficult.It is well know that LGBTIQ people in Africa are targets of discrimination, persecution, violence and even murder despite hardcore scientific studies showing that homosexuality is a natural variation in human sexuality, occurring in about 10 percent of the population, and not an abnormality or perversion, let alone a disease.Nonetheless, in at least 46 African countries (out of 54, almost 90 percent), consensual, adult, same-sex relations are criminal offenses that can result in imprisonment and even a death sentence.This is not the case in some countries like South Africa and Kenya, where homosexuality is technically not illegal, but that doesn’t mean LGBTIQ people aren’t subject to discrimination. In fact, they routinely suffer all kinds of harassment from verbal, physical, sexual and face challenges in finding work. It’s an uphill battle, with a recent survey covering ten African countries revealing that intolerance of sexual minorities is increasing.Sadly, LGBTIQ community in Africa is used to cruelty and abuse.LGBTIQ Africa individuals always decided not to file a report about the abuse they experienced because of what experts describe as “self condemnation.” The logic of self-condemnation is where People say that an individual is sinful and abnormal, therefore there is no wonder that I experience this kind of violence.

Education is key to curb stigmatization against LGBT individuals.My guess is that the Africans’ homophobic attitude reflects their ignorance of the fact that gay rights are human rights. As a libertarian, I am very familiar with this. The notion that “women’s rights are human rights” has had to be constantly drummed in since it was adopted in Beijing, in 1995. Even to this day in Africa, it meets plenty of resistance including from religious and cultural leaders who believe women are secondary to male species. In fact, religion is often used as the justification for the persecution of LGBTIQ community in Africa the same way that it’s often used against other minority groups including religious ones. Homophobic African countries should know that whether they like it or not, LGBTIQ community is here forever, and the sooner it sinks in their mind the better. Next time you feel despondent and alone, it would be good time to remember that defending LGBTIQ rights is just another way of defending everyone’s human and civil rights. The latest study on abuses against LGBTIQ in Africa is the first step toward providing better human rights protection to LGBTIQ individuals and such findings should be discussed at national forum and help educate homophobic African governments and the public that LGBTIQ community is very prone to human rights abuses. Such studies should prompt the government to provide better protection to the LGBTIQ individuals.

Contador Harrison