Media in Africa need to support LGBT community

November 9, 2016

There is no other continent where minority groups like lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual are likely to be killed than Africa.Members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual groups in Africa are facing discrimination and stereotyping in media coverage, say researchers who are calling on journalists to uphold their rights. Concerned over the poor quality of media coverage on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual, the researchers have over the last few months held a series of intensive workshops to educate the mass about the need to respect other people’s sexual rights.However, there is also a tendency for journalists to stigmatise the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual groups.Research indicates violations of ethics often occur when African journalists are covering controversial issues concerning the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual in this, the continent which has muslims as the largest population.The press could be in a position to give a voice to those who are voiceless and allow them to stand up for their rights as citizens of Africa.According to a research conducted by a non governmental organisation in January 2016, African media had a predilection to write news stories in a sensationalised and bombastic manner.Researchers expressed disappointment on finding that news stories stating facts of the group’€™s marginalisation and neglected rights were seldom reported. They also said that there were instances of symbolic violence depicted by the choice of diction used within the written articles.According to the research, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual issues received only a very minor portion among the wide array of news coverage across the majority of local and national media.Researcher believe such issues should receive more special attention because of the conditions that the group faces on a daily basis in which their existence tends to be ignored by the government and their rights are neglected.The right to an education is a basic human right and on a wider scope, the government’€™s objection to dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual issues is not uncommon.

Most recently, there were politicians in some African countries calling lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people to be barred from university campuses, pointing to the educational institution as a moral safeguard while branding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community members as degenerates who risk corrupting Africa’€™s moral values.The non governmental organisations supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual have received heavy criticism from the public and fellow organisations that don’t like lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual because of being depicted as being established entities that supported a growing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual population in Africa.The fact that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community existed quite comfortably and openly on some areas was not met well by several public officials who in turn voiced their disdain through the media.One non governmental organisation in Uganda has reiterated their mission statement as an organisation that moves in the scope of the study of sexuality, reproduction and sexual orientation.Another similar organisation doing such work in Nigeria said the reason to provide counselling for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people was to respond to a study that found the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual group to be more susceptible to violence, while teens were more prone to suicide as a result of the rejection and discrimination they received from society.Vulnerable groups in Africa still do not have a place and African countries government’€™s tendency to avoid the acknowledgement of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community despite its responsibility to uphold citizens’€™ rights is saddening.

The lack of an official government census of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people as an example of African countries ignorance and such refusals do not make them go away.Me think African countries have not put enough importance on international human rights principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.The good news is that there is a growing new perspective pointing toward progress on viewing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual, which has begun to understand sexual and gender identification through a more scientific pair of lenses.African countries are still very much behind in recognising the highly sophisticated and broad definitions of sexuality.Also, African media’€™s lack of research and use of the wrong terminologies as disconcerting and as potentially fuelling the shallow mindedness that could develop among members of the public, which in turn shapes widespread misconceptions and discrimination.The reality is that the landscape of same sex marriage is changing, and thus the formations of family units, are diversifying along with the explorations of sexuality and gender identities.It may be decades before we see a heterosexual family from South Africa marry a transgender man from Nigeria or a gay couple relationship thriving in Kenya. African media need to pay keen attention to societal developments and report in truth to objectively bring up the issues to the public’€™s awareness.

Contador Harrison