Social media impact on domestic violence and LGBT rights in Africa

Posted on December 7, 2012 02:08 pm

In continuation of best and worst cases that I came across this year, the acceptance of an individual’s rights to change their sexual identity is my topic for the day.The practice is not widely accepted in Africa despite the progressive attitude on civil rights across the continent. There is no doubt there is an increasing high number of people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) in Africa although they are clearly under represented in business, government and the traditional media. In most African countries, transgenders are categorized as mentally divergent when it comes to enlisting for services in public domain. Since the famous Beijing conference in September 1995, women in Africa are better off with regards to political, economic and social representation as well as both legal and human rights although they still suffer from discrimination from their male counterparts. Uganda was the trendsetter in political field when President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni appointed Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, a surgeon as his Vice president in 1994 until 2003. In 2005, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf went a notch higher by becoming the first ever female head of state in Africa. Africa also has women business leaders like Nigerian respected economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who recently unsuccessfully vied for World president post and the late Prof Wangari Maathai,a respected global environmentalist from Republic of kenya among others. However, despite all the gains made over the years, sex discrimination is still rampant in Africa. A study released last year, claimed that violence against women is accepted as part of some African tribes.

LGBT activists in Africa have found it rough with some countries broad requirements of being a member of any LGBT group.Being a member of Gay groups in Africa and most other conservative societies, one is associated with all evil that include prostitution, sexual abuse of non-spouses, children, youths and women, and incest and arousing graphic details of sexual intercourse materials yet that is not the case. Specifically in African countries, the only time public is exposed to the gay community is when their anti-LGBT media carries a story involving a member or group of LGBT. Most of the stories are either politically instigated hatred towards gay community or through the media outlandish caricatures of gay community members. In one country I visited this year, I was shocked to see a national newspaper carry a front-page headline of a minister criticizing a gay community meet up in a local hotel.Because that is the image most mainstream media outlets promote, it is not a surprise to me that there is no public backing for gay community to officially transact their business or meetings legally as there are loathed by public watchdogs-read the media and public on the other side. Africans prejudices do not stem from religious dogma or tribal attitudes brought on by a history of European colonization or a fear of change.

It is a continent which is tat peace with men boxing their wives and illiterate politicians suppressing LGBT community because they are considered to be immoral and un-African and of course it’s the easiest topic politicians in African are using to divert attention from the day to day problems affecting their population. Some are very happy appearing on national television for banning a gay community meeting and trigger a controversy for whatever reason well known to them. In Contador Harrison’s opinion, lack of education, selfishness and a stupid attitude is the cause of all problems affecting gay communities in Africa. With the exception of Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, other African countries lack the ability to fully implement changes on sexuality because very few are willing to gamble and speak out on issues affecting the LGBT like the way they deal with women issues. Most countries only a few people sit and pass a law and at times challenge social norms that Africans have been made to believe is brought about by western countries backed LGBT community and it will take a country to make those changes the rule rather than the exception. In conclusion, I think anonymity of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter will help Africans to voice their opinions on LGBT community.

Contador Harrison