Connect with us

Africa

Africa reeling from gender-based violence scourge

The pandemic, poverty has exacerbated problem

Published

on

Africa, gay news, Washington Blade
(Social media photo from NASA)

PRETORIA, South Africa — The effects of gender-based violence in Africa are now being reverberated throughout the continent and have been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

A country like South Africa, according to Public Works and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, has the highest rate of gender-based violence in the world, a sentiment which was recently echoed by Police Minister Bheki Cele, who cited that over 1,000 cases of gender-based violence are recorded on a daily basis in South Africa.

However, regardless of South Africa being a hotspot of gender-based violence, it is not the only country on the continent that is witnessing a surge in the cases. Relatively all the countries in Africa are now seeing an increase in the number of gender-based violence cases.

Although cultural and religious norms have been seen as the major contributing facets to the issue of gender-based violence, unemployment and poverty have also been highlighted as among the major reasons of the scourge and as a matter of fact, Africa is regarded as the poorest continent by organizations such as the U.N., the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund with millions surviving on less than $1 per day.

As a result, the anger associated with hunger, unemployment and lack of financial stability is in most cases channeled towards the “weaker gender” as Nicola Rodda, a victim and gender-based violence activist from South Africa who I interviewed aptly states.

“My view of the cause of GBV is that the abuser feels a lack of power in some situation and regains the sense of power through abusing the weaker victim whether be it sexually, physically, emotionally or financially with male on female and male on child violence being the most common but they are not the only forms that occur but the two I have mentioned are the most prevalent,” said Nicola.

With that being said, I also took up the cause by interviewing Knowledge Chuma from Zambia, the founder and chairperson of the Zambia Wushu Kungfu Federation, a non-profit organization that focuses on the issues of gender-based violence and he also shared the same sentiment as Nicola citing poverty and cultural norms as the root cause of GBV in Africa.

“The causes of GBV are deeply rooted in discriminatory cultural beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate inequality and powerlessness, in particular of women and girls. Various actors such as poverty, lack of education, livelihood opportunities, impunity for crimes and abuse also tend to contribute and reinforce the culture of discrimination and violence based on the gender. Such factors are frequently aggravated in terms of conflict and displacement as the rule of law, as societies and families are torn apart,” said Knowledge.

So now that the root cause of gender-based violence has been established one would now ask how then can the continent rid itself from such a heinous act? Rest assured this is the follow-up question I also brought before Knowledge and Nicola which they tackled immaculately and not only that but they both came out with ways a victim of gender-based violence can be able to get assistance from law enforcement agents and how friends and family members can help in the journey to recovery.

“The best way for the continent to tackle gender-based violence is multifactorial. In Africa, we tend to have patriarchal societies in which men hold greater power than women so it is easy for a conflict to degenerate into a situation where a man exerts his power over the woman either physically or sexually. So the solution to that is not just changing patriarchal roles although education can play a large role of understanding gender equality and equal gender rights, however, in the broader context the sense of helplessness and powerlessness created in the abuser can often be the result of poverty, unemployment, feeling powerless in the face of economic or other social pressure so uplifting the continent as a whole in terms of job availability, quality of life, quality of services would help in bringing out gender-based violence in addition to a strong element of education on gender equality and the right of a female or child not to live in fear of their abuser.

Moreover, if one reports a case of gender-based violence to the police and no action is taken then the victim should approach the head of the police and if there is still no action then the victim has to approach the courts directly for perfection and the best way family members and friends can assist a victim of gender-based violence would be to help the victim, remove herself or himself from the circumstances because by and large it is true that an abuser who abuses once will abuse again so the best way is not to allow the victim near the abuser.

In addition, a victim can also approach trauma counsellors that can be accessed through the police or gender-based violence organizations free of charge and also to find further recourse of being able to defend herself or himself be it physically or financially through organizations like Legal Aid or religious organizations because that can protect the victim and provide support for the victim in the longer term from being re-abused either by the original abuser or another person who might perceive him or her vulnerable. Gender-based violence is one of the biggest scourges that is being faced on the African continent,” said Nicola.

Moreover, Knowledge cited that education is the most important factor and also shared some words of wisdom on how friends and family can be able to approach and engage with a victim of gender-based violence that does not show apathy.

“What the African continent must do to avert the issue of GBV is to educate youths and adults about this serious issue. We need to give the youths the arts, sports or academic skills that they might need in future to avoid lack of employment that leads to depression and anxiety because that also contributes to the causes of GBV.

If friends or family are approached by the victim the best way is by responding in a soothing manner such as, I believe you! I am here for you! You can tell me as much or as little as you want! It is not your fault! I am glad you told me! I am glad you came to me! So we need to support them because if we do not it becomes discriminatory,” said Knowledge.

The onus is now upon every African to do their best in lynching off gender-based violence as on a daily basis it leaves someone with a mental or physical challenge and catastrophic challenges for the bereaved.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Africa

South Sudan refugee camp is ‘not a safe haven’ for LGBTQ+ residents

Gorom Refugee Settlement is outside country’s capital of Juba

Published

on

Michael Adler visits the Gorom Refugee Settlement on Oct. 25, 2023. The camp's LGBTQ+ residents remain marginalized. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in South Sudan)

GOROM REFUGEE SETTLEMENT, South Sudan — LGBTQ+ people who live at a refugee camp in South Sudan say the mistreatment they are suffering because of their sexual orientation and gender identity has left them even more marginalized.

The U.N. Refugee Agency runs the Gorom Refugee Settlement, which is roughly 16 miles from Juba, the country’s capital, in partnership with ACROSS and other South Sudanese NGOs.

UNHCR says more than 20,000 refugees live at Gorom, with the Anyuak people from Ethiopia making up the largest group. They have been there since 2011 when South Sudan became its own country after it broke away from Sudan.

Although this is not the first time the plight of LGBTQ+ people has been raised; the challenges seem to continue unabatedly and grow worse as each year passes. They are denied employment opportunities, with some of their children unable to access education.

Yaga Piuson, an LGBTQ+ activist for Gorom, says the situation has become even more dire.

“The immediate challenges faced by LGBT persons within the camp are severe and pervasive,” said Piuson. “They endure daily attacks, lack of police assistance, death threats, stoning, abuses, discrimination, bullying, denial of medical care, and the inability for their children to access education. Many are also deprived of proper shelter, leading to health risks such as pneumonia.” 

Piuson added UNHCR and ACROSS have done little to address these challenges, while the South Sudanese government has turned a blind eye.

“As of now, both the UNHCR and ACROSS have not provided a durable solution,” said Piuson. “While they have initiated interviews with LGBTQIA+ individuals, the options presented, relocation to other camps within South Sudan or urban areas, pose significant risks due to the country’s stance against homosexuality.”

“Unfortunately, the South Sudanese government and civic organizations have yet to offer any substantial assistance in alleviating these challenges,” added Piuson.

Piuson added some of the refugees have fled Gorom because of the continued persecution they face. Piuson said the settlement was no longer safe for LGBTQ+ refugees who include Anyuak, Darfurians from Sudan, Congolese and Burundians.

“Many of these nationalities have fled because of wars,” noted Piuson. “However, LGBTQIA+ individuals have fled solely due to persecution based on their sexual orientation.”

“Resolving the plight of LGBTQIA+ persons within the settlement requires providing them with a safe environment to freely exercise their rights, including freedom of movement and access to basic needs such as shelter and education for their children,” added Piuson. “It’s crucial to emphasize that the Gorom Refugee Settlement is currently not a safe haven for LGBTQIA+ individuals.”

ACROSS Executive Director Elisama Daniel in response to the Washington Blade’s request for comment said the organization did not have the mandate or jurisdiction to answer questions on the plight of LGBTQ+ people at Gorom, and directed questions to UNHCR. The agency did not respond to a request for comment.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations in South Sudan remain criminalized with up to 10 years in prison, although there is little to no evidence that anyone has been charged with homosexuality. The South Sudanese government, however, is contemplating an anti-homosexuality bill that is similar to those pending in neighboring Kenya and other countries.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in May 2023 signed his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act that prompted worldwide outrage.  

South Sudanese Minister of Information, Communication, Technology and Postal Services Michael Makuei Leuth ahead of Pope Francis’s visit to the country last year said marriage is between a man and a woman and added any form of same-sex marriage violates the constitution. The government spokesperson also emphasizes there would not be any discussions around LGBTQ+-specific issues. 

Continue Reading

Africa

Kenyan advocacy group offers safety tips to LGBTQ+ hookup app users

Blackmail, kidnappings and assaults are commonplace

Published

on

(Bigstock photo)

MOMBASA, Kenya — The growing cases of queer people in Africa becoming victims of blackmail, physical and sexual assault from online hook-ups have compelled a Kenyan LGBTQ+ rights group to work with the community to help it stay safe when using digital platforms.

Upinde Advocates for Inclusion held a 3-day training from May 11-14 to teach queer people about unsafe social media and dating app hook-up practices that suspected homophobes exploit.

The Mombasa-based group of which Lizzie Ngina is executive coordinator noted lesbian, bisexual and queer women, and gender non-conforming people are the most frequent targets online and on Grindr and other dating apps.

 “LBQ women and GNC persons confront major challenges in terms of digital security and data protection, freedom of expression, assembly, association, speech, privacy, protest and online organizing,” Upinde Advocates for Inclusion stated.

Although the digital platforms were seen as convenient meet-up places for LGBTQ+ people in overcoming physical anti-gay attacks, Upinde Advocates for Inclusion said anti-gay discrimination, marginalization, gender-based violence, misinformation, and disinformation limits LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming people from accessing the social media services.    

Queer people while using dating apps and social media for hookups were, however, urged to first trust their intuition before deciding to have a physical meeting with people with whom they chat online.

“If it does not seem like someone you are messaging is using their true identity, they probably are not. In this case, do not agree to meet them in person,” Upinde Advocates for Inclusion warned. 

It asked LGBTQ+ users to ensure the first in-person meeting with someone they met online is in a public place that is queer-friendly and known to them. Upinde Advocates for Inclusion also advised queer people to inform their trusted friends or family about their meeting plans, the place, and how long they expect it will take place in order to ensure someone can intervene if something goes wrong.

“Organize your own means of transport to and from the meeting, and do not accept a free ride from a stranger,” the group warned. “Also, do not move to a secondary location if you feel unsure during the meeting.” 

Upinde Advocates for Inclusion also warned queer app users to remain sober during the meeting and cautioned against leaving their food or drinks unattended in order to avoid any potential risks associated with spiking.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Ishtar-MSM and other Kenyan LGBTQ+ advocacy groups that offer legal aid to queer people last year reported about 100 cases of blackmail, extortion, physical and sexual assault against their members by suspected homophobes they met on dating apps and social media.

The two organizations this month noted 10 of the cases are expected before courts soon, although they said most victims of anti-gay attacks don’t report them to the authorities because they fear further stigmatization and discrimination. Consensual same-sex sexual relations also remain criminalized in Kenya. 

Targeting the LGBTQ+ community on digital platforms and dating apps is not unique to Kenya.

The Washington Blade last month reported it is still risky for queer Nigerians to search for a partner or to use gay dating apps infiltrated by homophobes who lure them to meet in-person and then rob or assault them. South African authorities last year arrested four men in connection with the targeting of Grindr users.

LGBTQ+ Kenyans urged to protect themselves at protests

Upinde Advocates for Inclusion in their workshop taught participants about the signs that suspected homophobes or their associates have compromised their devices. They include unusual activities on their cell phones that include calls with untraced history, disappearing blank messages, blinking screens, high data consumption, devices that overheat when not in use and echo when picking calls and quick battery depletion with minimal use.

“If you suspect your device is compromised, do not format or reset it, log out all the accounts, find an alternative device to use, change the password for the accounts on the device, and do not connect the gadget to any other devices,” Upinde Advocates for Inclusion warned. 

The group also taught queer people about how they should conduct themselves when taking part in street protests amid anti-gay attacks. Upinde Advocates for Inclusion advised them to always to identify safe alternative routes to and from the protests, wear comfortable running shoes, and always carry a spare outfit that is not LGBTQ+-specific.

“If you are in a group, always strategize on having a meeting point should there be any danger or should you get separated,” the group stated. “Also, try to split up responsibilities among the group so that one person can’t be targeted.”

Upinde Advocates for Inclusion also urged queer people to always leave a protest before it ends, to have an emergency contact on speed dial or memorize it for immediate help in case of danger and to always to keep in touch with a trusted contact who is familiar with the protest but not attending it. 

Continue Reading

Africa

Uganda’s president meets with US ambassador

Unclear whether William Popp raised Anti-Homosexuality Act

Published

on

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni meets with U.S. Ambassador to Uganda William Popp on May 10, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Museveni's X account)

Editor’s note: This article has been updated.

ENTEBBE, Uganda — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on May 10 met with U.S. Ambassador to Uganda William Popp.

Museveni in a post to his X account described the meeting, which took place at his official residence in Entebbe, as “productive.”

“We discussed key issues, such as the upcoming Census, regional peace, and socio-economic development. I emphasized the need for an inclusive census for informed decision-making,” said Museveni. “I also shared my views on fostering peace and security in the region. Additionally, we discussed opportunities in transitioning our population from a rural-based pre-capitalist society to industry and services.”

statement the Ugandan Foreign Affairs Ministry released noted Popp “conveyed his appreciation for the president’s valuable time and wise counsel.” 

“He also acknowledged President Museveni’s extensive knowledge and experience, underscoring the importance of their continued dialogue in fostering a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and Uganda,” said the statement.

The statement further notes Foreign Affairs Minister Jele Odongo; Defense and Veterans Affairs Minister Jacob Oboth-Oboth; Rosette Byengoma of the Defense Ministry; and Lt. Gen. Samuel Okiding, who is deputy chief of the Ugandan defense forces, attended the meeting.

The meeting took place nearly a year after Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act that, among other things, contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.”

The U.S. has sanctioned Ugandan officials and removed the country from a duty-free trade program. The World Bank Group also suspended new loans to Uganda in response to the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The Ugandan Constitutional Court last month refused to “nullify the Anti-Homosexuality Act in its totality.” A group of Ugandan LGBTQ+ activists have appealed the ruling.

It is not clear whether Popp raised the Anti-Homosexuality Act with Museveni during their meeting.

“We do not discuss the details of private diplomatic engagements; however, we have regularly raised with the highest levels of Ugandan government U.S. government concerns about democratic space, rule of law, and respect for human rights for all Ugandans, including members of the LGBTQI+ community in relation to the 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Act,” a State Department spokesperson told the Washington Blade on Wednesday.

Continue Reading

Africa

South African president signs hate crimes, hate speech law

Advocates largely welcome new statute

Published

on

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during a campaign stop speaking with attendees at the ANC Party Rally on May 10, 2024 in Tshwane, Gauteng, SA (Office of President Cyril Ramaphosa/Facebook)

PRETORIA, South Africa — South African LGBTQ+ organizations have welcomed a new law that seeks to combat hate crimes and hate speech.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on May 9 signed the Preventing and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill that had been introduced in 2018.

According to the new law; the direct or indirect unfair discrimination against anyone on the grounds of age, albinism, culture, disability, ethnic or social origin, gender, HIV status, language, nationality, migrant, refugee status, asylum seekers, occupation, trade, political affiliation, conviction, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, sex characteristics or skin color is a criminal offense punishable by a fine or up to eight years in prison.

“A hate crime is committed if a person commits any recognized offense under any law that is motivated by prejudice or intolerance based on one or more characteristics or perceived characteristics of the victim, as listed in the legislation or a family member of the victim,” said the president’s office. “The law also makes it an offense when speech material is intentionally distributed or made available in electronic communication, and the said person knows that such electronic communication constitutes hate speech.”

Crimen injuria, the unlawful and intentional impairing of dignity or privacy of another person under common law, was in place before the new law. Crimen injuria, which to extent protected some forms of hate against the LGBTQ+ community, is still active.

The Preventing and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, however, is more comprehensive in the sense that it particularly focuses on hate speech and hate crimes, and therefore makes it easier to seek legal recourse than under crimen injuria.

“As Out, we commend President Cyril Ramaphosa on the move that he has made in making sure that the rights of LGBTQ+ persons are protected. We, as Out, also hope that other African countries can learn from this historic milestone that all people are equal and that their rights should be protected,” said Out LGBT South Rights Human Rights Coordinator Sibonelo Ncanana. 

Ncanana specifically applauded Deputy Justice and Constitutional Development Minister John Jeffrey and the working group that helped secure the bill’s passage.

“We hope that all government departments will enforce the mandate of the act,” said Ncanana. “We also hope that it will help in decreasing the amount of hate crimes that are happening in South Africa, create safer communities, and that LGBTQ+ people will find themselves safe.”

Ruth Maseko of Umndeni LGBTI Group and the Triangle Project said the new law creates a precedent of what constitutes hate crime and the repercussions.

“We are delighted at the passing of the bill after so many years, as it creates a legal definition of hate crimes,” said Maseko. “This now puts in place mechanisms for authorities to collect and report details about these incidents of hate for the effective monitoring, analysis of trends, and appropriate interventions that are needed.”

Maseko added that although the new law will aid in giving the courts a framework to work in when handling cases of hate, it will not really deter people from committing those crimes.

“The new law will provide quantitative and qualitative data as currently we have no way of telling how many of these crimes are committed. The only way we know, is when they are reported to a civil society organization or are reported in the media,” said Maseko.

“Although it will do nothing to change the attitudes of people who act out in these ways, the law does send out a message that hate crimes will not be tolerated in South Africa and will provide additional tools to investigators and prosecutors to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions,” added Maseko.

The law, however, does not consider actions undertaken in good faith as part of hate speech. They include artistic creativity, performance or other form of expression, academic or scientific inquiry fair, and accurate reporting or commentary in the public interest. 

It also excludes interpretation and articulating or espousing of any religious conviction, tenet, belief, teaching, doctrine or writing that does not advocate hatred or constitutes incitement to cause harm. The law also contains directives on training and other measures to be undertaken by the South African Police Service and the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure effective processing of the newly defined crimes. 

Continue Reading

Africa

Senegalese NGO claims new president discussed LGBTQ+ rights with top EU official

Jamra Ong Islamique demands government expedite anti-LGBTQ+ law

Published

on

Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye (Screen capture via Reuters/YouTube)

DAKAR, Senegal — A Senegalese NGO has called on the government to expedite the process of enacting an anti-LGBTQ+ law after the country’s new president met with a top EU official.

Jamra Ong Islamique made the call during a press conference last Wednesday after newly elected Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye met with European Council President Charles Michel.

Mamae Makhtar Gueye of Jamra Ong Islamique claimed the meeting between the two dignitaries involved an acknowledgment of LGBTQ+ rights in Senegal. Gueye said Michel is an LGBTQ+ ally who wants to change Senegal’s cultural customs that do not condone LGBTQ+ rights.

“His ardent proselytism for the expansion of LGBT ideology could not leave Jamra indifferent,” said Gueye. “Countries including Gabon, Central African Republic, and Mauritius, amongst others, that underestimated the nuisance of these propagandists of homosexuality paid dearly for it because these global lobbyists ended up legalizing this abomination, so beware.” 

Gueye, however, has received a lot of backlash and has been accused of not raising the same sentiments during the tenure of former President Macky Sall, who also met with Michel.

“Did he come as a defender of the LGBT cause or as a European official? Did he come to talk about LGBT rights or partnership agreement between the European Union and Senegal?,” asked Ahmadou Diaw, a Senegalese academic. “Mr. Gueye should know when to alert and when to shut up.”

Cheikh Maï Niang, a social commentator, described Jamra as a “useless organization” that is focused on restricting the freedom of the Senegalese people.

“They are absolutely good for nothing apart from eating the taxpayer’s money,” said Niang. “Where is the democracy we cry about everyday? Seems like they are here to restrict the freedom of the Senegalese people.”

“Not everyone is interested in religion,” added Niang. “We wasted too much time with these useless things. Let’s talk about developing the country. People should live their lives in the manner they want.”

Jamra has previously made proclamations against the LGBTQ+ community.

The organization in February — before Senegal’s presidential election that took place on March 24 — accused the EU Electoral Observation Mission to Senegal of wanting to indoctrinate Senegalese people with their pro-LGBTQ+ narrative.

Senegal does not have a law that specifically criminalizes those who identify as LGBTQ+ or advocate for them. Article 319 of the country’s penal code criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations with a fine and between one and five years in prison.

Some Senegalese lawmakers have sought to increase the prison sentence to 10 years for anyone convicted of engaging in homosexuality. These efforts thus far have not been successful.

Samm Jikko Yi (Together for the Safeguarding of Values), an Islamic lobby group that includes many organizations, in 2022 organized an anti-LGBTQ+ demonstration in Dakar, the country’s capital. Protesters called for harsher penalties for Senegalese who identify as LGBTQ+ and/or advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

The Washington Blade in 2022 noted LGBTQ+ people have suffered physical and sexual abuse while in prison.

Senegal’s deep religious roots, which are largely Islamic, have contributed to the lack of tolerance of LGBTQ+ people in the country. This reality has prompted LGBTQ+ Senegalese to either flee the country or remain in the closet.

Media reports indicate there are fewer bars, clubs and other places where LGBTQ+ people can freely socialize.

Continue Reading

Africa

Kenyan court bars anti-gay protests

Mombasa High Court to reconsider case on July 24

Published

on

Kenyan flag and court gavel (Image by Bigstock)

MOMBASA, Kenya — The queer community in Kenya can breathe a sigh of relief after a Mombasa court on Monday ruled clerics, politicians, and anti-LGBTQ+ groups cannot hold homophobic protests or engage in incitement.

The Mombasa High Court’s ruling, however, is temporary until July 24 when the court in Kenya’s second-largest city determines a petition on the issue.

Two petitioners — Mr. JM and the Center for Minority Rights and Strategic Litigation — last October sued Police Inspector General Japhet Koome for allowing religious leaders and lobby groups to hold homophobic protests whenever a court rules in favor of the LGBTQ+ community.

The petitioners’ effort to demand a ban on anti-LGBTQ+ protests in Kenya was in response to a series of homophobic demonstrations, particularly in Mombasa, after the Supreme Court last September affirmed an earlier decision that allowed the National Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission to register as an NGO. 

Mombasa High Court Judge Olga Sewe in her Monday ruling also directed the petitioners and the respondents, who include Koome, two anti-LGBTQ+ activists and a national lobby group dubbed the “Anti-LGBTQ Movement” that organized protests, to file their witness lists and counter statements within 14 days of the July hearing. 

“Pending the hearing and determination of this petition, this Honorable Court (does) hereby issue a conservatory order restraining the 2nd and 5th Respondents from calling on or inciting members of the public to carry out extra-judicial killing, lynching, punishing, stoning, forcible conversion, or any other means of harming LGBTQ+ identifying persons and their homes,” Sewe stated. 

She also stopped the “Anti-LGBTQ movement,” Koome and any state agency from any attempted “expulsion from Kenya or any party of Kenya of LGBTQ+ identifying persons or closure of organizations serving LGBTQ+ identifying persons.” 

The court’s directives come after the Center for Minority Rights and Strategic Litigation led a protest on April 11 against the “anti-LGBTQ Movement”‘s invasion of Mvita Clinic in Mombasa that “hateful misinformation” reportedly sparked because the facility also serves queer people.  

“Mvita Clinic, like all healthcare providers, serves the entire community,” CMRSL stated. “Targeting them for LGBTQ+ inclusion is discriminatory and an attack on the basic right to health. Everyone deserves access to healthcare, and we urge an end to the spread of lies. Let’s promote inclusivity and ensure Mvita Clinic remains a safe space for all.”

CMRSL in response to Osewe’s ruling said it was a “major win for safety and equality in Kenya” because it allows the LGBTQ+ people to live with “greater peace of mind.” 

The Initiative for Equality and Non-Discrimination, an LGBTQ+ rights group, meanwhile lauded the court’s decision as a reprieve to homophobic attacks on the queer community. 

“There is some reprieve given the security incidents we witnessed during the protests on Sept. 15 last year,” INEND Communications Officer Melody Njuki told the Washington Blade.

“We had rescued LGBTQ+ folks in Mombasa, Kilifi, and Lamu, due to security incidents caused by the hatred the ‘Anti-LGBTQ movement’ mongered and the calling of violence towards people associated with the queer group and those identifying as members,” she added. 

PEMA Kenya, a Mombasa-based gender and sexual minority organization, also applauded the court’s temporary injunction, describing them as timely in protecting the LGBTQ+ community against all forms of homophobic attacks. 

“We welcome the ruling and we believe it will impact our members who for some time felt robbed of the freedom to express themselves,” PEMA Kenya director Ishmael Baraka told the Blade. 

The Nature Network, a rights organization for refugees living in Kenya, also welcomed the Monday ruling which it termed “a positive step showing the courts’ commitment to upholding human rights for all.”

“Anti-LGBTQ Movement” Chair Salim Karama, however, declined to respond to the Blade’s questions about the ruling until determination of the petition’s status. He noted the organization is waiting for their lawyer to speak with them about the decision and the filing of counter statements that Sewe ordered.

As LGBTQ+ rights groups seek the queer community’s protection in Kenyan courts, parliament, on the other hand in is set to consider a petition that notes what it describes as the proliferation of homosexuality in the country.

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula on Feb. 27 referred the petition to the relevant parliamentary committee for inquiry after MP Ali Mohamed, a member of the ruling party and a vocal LGBTQ+ rights opponent, presented it in the National Assembly, the lower house of the Kenyan parliament, on behalf of a group of more than 70 Kenyans and religious organizations opposed to homosexuality.    

Continue Reading

Africa

For queer Nigerians, being on gay dating apps is still risky

Homophobes target users for violence

Published

on

(Bigstock photo)

By Elvis Kachi | LAGOS, Nigeria — Gay hookup apps like Grindr, and dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have managed to proliferate queer communities in countries like Nigeria. 

Those who seek one night stands find what they want while those looking for love equally find what they seek. These platforms have managed to position themselves as safe spaces for queer people in anti-gay Nigeria. In recent times, however, it is proving to be unsafe, as homophobic people are quickly learning about the apps, and opening accounts that either seek to outrightly threaten queer people, or pretend to be queer, have long chats with gay people, invite them over, and inflict violence on them.

Take the case of Biodun, a queer Nigerian man who joined Grindr to meet up with guys like him. 

After Biodun had built a connection and agreed to meet with someone whose display name was “Mamba,” they decided to meet up only for him to be met with violence. Apparently, Mamba ran a catfish account. 

“I’ll never forget that day,” Biodun, who asked the Washington Blade not to use his last name because of safety concerns, said. “I still think about it, and sometimes blame myself for being very careless, even though Grindr was supposed to be our safe space.” 

Biodun’s experience isn’t peculiar to him. 

In Nigeria, draconian laws that criminalize same-sex relationships exist, making queer people turn to the digital realm to explore their identities and seek connections beyond the confines of societal oppression that comes with the physical environment. Gay dating apps such as Grindr, therefore, have emerged as virtual sanctuaries, offering spaces for queer Nigerians to forge friendships, find solidarity, and pursue romantic or sexual relationships. Spaces like this, however, have morphed into a landscape fraught with danger, as homophobic people have weaponized these platforms to perpetuate hate and violence. 

“Sometimes, I often wonder how they learned about these platforms,” Daniel, which is not his real name, told the Blade. “You would think that it is just us in the platforms, until you find out that the accounts are rooted in homophobia.” 

One time, someone’s bio read, “I’m only here to deal with the gay people. I know all of you, and I will find and kill you. We no want una for here (translates to “We do not want you here,” in English.)” It was a stark reminder that these spaces are no longer LGBTQ+-friendly for Nigerians. In 2014, there was the passage of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act by former President Goodluck Jonathan, which not only criminalized same-sex unions, but also imposed severe penalties on anyone involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy or support. 

This law catalyzed a surge in discrimination and violence against queer Nigerians; emboldening regular civilians, religious extremists, and even law enforcement agencies to target individuals perceived as deviating from traditional gender and sexual norms. Again, amid this hostile environment, gay dating apps emerged as lifelines for many queer Nigerians, offering avenues for discreet communication, community building, and the pursuit of intimate relationships.

The very anonymity and freedom these apps provided, however, became double-edged swords. 

The advent of screenshot and screen-recording capabilities on these apps, for example, reduced the risks of exposure, strengthening the safety and privacy of users. However, this also comes with its own lapses, as queer people using Grindr have often relied on screenshots and screen recordings to confirm the identities of potentials with their friends, before accepting to meet. 

“Before the removal of the screenshot option, I usually shared photos of others with my trusted friends,” Biodun shared. “But since that was taken off, there was no way for me to do that.” 

Although, according to Grindr’s terms and conditions, the removal came with privacy concerns, as it was to facilitate a safe dating experience.

This erosion of digital safe spaces is depriving queer Nigerians of vital avenues for self-expression and affirmation, and is exacerbating the psychological toll of living in a society that continues to systematically demonize their identities. Moreover, the normalization of homophobic rhetoric and violence in both physical and digital realms has perpetuated a cycle of fear and oppression, and is reinforcing this notion that LGBTQ+ individuals are inherently unworthy of dignity and respect. Despite these challenges, though, the resilience of queer Nigerians continue to persist, as they defy societal norms and assert their right to love and be loved.

*****************************************************************************************

Elvis Kachi is a Nigerian fashion and culture journalist. He’s had in pieces featured across platforms like BBC, Thomson Reuters, Essence Magazine, Condé Nast’s Them, etc. www.elviskachi.com

Continue Reading

Africa

Ugandan Census will not count intersex people

Advocacy group report documents rampant discrimination, marginalization

Published

on

Uganda Bureau of Statistics graphic

KAMPALA, Uganda — Uganda’s national Census next month will not count intersex people.

The revelation about the exclusion of intersex Ugandans in the 9-day Census exercise that will begin on May 10 has been confirmed to the Washington Blade by the head of Uganda’s Bureau of Statistics.

UBOS Executive Director Chris Mukiza in response to the Blade’s questions on the issue said the agency has “no business with intersex.”

Their counting could have made Uganda the second African country and the third globally after Australia and Kenya to collect an intersex person’s data in a Census. 

Kenya’s 2019 Census determined there were more than 1,500 intersex people in the country.

Uganda had a population of 34.8 million, according to the country’s last Census that took place in 2014.

Intersex people in Uganda are among marginalized groups, subject to stigma and discrimination. The government has yet to recognize them as the third sex and consider them among other minority groups, such as people with disabilities, who enjoy special treatment.

Intersex people cannot be exclusively categorized as male or female for having a biological congenital condition with unique sex characteristics due to inherent and mixed anatomical, hormonal, gonadal, or chromosomal patterns that could be apparent before, at birth, in childhood, puberty, or adulthood.

Mukiza’s position of excluding intersex people in the Census, however, comes amid the prime minister’s office’s demands for inclusivity and equality for all the population. (The Constitutional Court on April 3 refused to “nullify the Anti-Homosexuality Act in its totality.”)

“We recognize that much work remains to be done particularly in addressing the needs of the marginalized and vulnerable communities, promoting inclusive economic growth, and combating climate change,” said Dunstan Balaba, the permanent secretary in the prime minister’s office.

Balaba spoke on April 18 during the National Population and Housing Census prayer breakfast meeting the UBOS convened. Religious leaders and other stakeholders attended it.

President Yoweri Museveni has noted that data from the country’s sixth national Census will be crucial towards achieving the nation’s Vision 2040 and help the government, non-governmental organizations, and donors in providing services to the diverse population.

“It will also provide the basis for planning the provision of social services such as education, health, and transport, among others at the national and local level,” Museveni said as he urged citizens to fully support the Census and provide accurate information.

Uganda has an intersex rights organization, “Support Initiative for People with Atypical Sex Development (SIPD),” which activist Julius Kaggwa founded in 2008 with the support of groups that advocate for children, women, and other marginalized populations.

Some of SIPD’s work as a non-profit, grassroots organization includes community outreach and engagement, sharing reliable information with the society for the protection of intersex people’s rights, and championing the need for organized medical and psychological support.

The organization, through its numerous reports, has decried human rights violations against intersex people that include surgery without consent, discrimination in homes, schools and medical centers, parents abandoning intersex children, and stigma due to lack of legal protection by the government.

Uganda’s Registration of Births and Deaths Act allows a parent or guardian of a child under the age of 21 to change the name or sex at the local registration office. The SIPD, however, maintains this law is discriminatory to intersex people over 21 who want to change their sex characteristics, and want parliament to repeal it. 

The intersex rights organization wants the Health Ministry to establish a central registry to register intersex children after they’re born in order to receive support in terms of healthcare, social and legal by the government and other stakeholders as they grow up. 

SIPD particularly wants the government to enact a policy that would allow a gender-neutral marker on birth certificates for intersex children to ease any change of sex in the future. The organization also wants the government, through the Education Ministry, to adopt a curriculum that also considers intersex issues in schools and creates a friendly environment for intersex children to learn and graduate like their non-intersex peers.

These demands follow SIPD’s findings that disclosed many intersex children were dropping out of school because of the stigma and discrimination they suffered. The organization has further called on the public-funded Uganda Human Rights Commission to live up to its constitutional mandates of defending human rights by leading the promotion and protection of the rights of intersex people across the country.

SIPD has also challenged religious leaders, who play a key role in Ugandan society and are influential at the local and national level, to promote acceptance of intersex people and to end discrimination against them.

Continue Reading

Africa

Ruling that upheld Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act appealed

Country’s Constitutional Court refused to ‘nullify’ law

Published

on

Uganda’s Constitutional Court (Photo Credit: Amnesty International)

KAMPALA, Uganda — 22 LGBTQ+ activists in Uganda have appealed this month’s ruling that upheld the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The Constitutional Court on April 3 refused to “nullify the Anti-Homosexuality Act in its totality.”

President Yoweri Museveni last May signed the law, which contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.”

The U.S. subsequently imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan officials and removed the country from a program that allows sub-Saharan African countries to trade duty-free with the U.S. The World Bank Group also announced the suspension of new loans to Uganda.

Media reports indicate Sexual Minorities Uganda Executive Director Frank Mugisha and Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesara are among the activists who filed the appeal.

Continue Reading

Africa

Congolese bill would criminalize LGBTQ+ people

Constant Mutamba’s measure seen as distraction from country’s long-standing problems

Published

on

Congolese MP Constant Mutamba (Photo courtesy of Mutamba's X account)

KINSHASA, Congo — A member of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Assembly who is a leader of the country’s opposition party has introduced a bill that would criminalize LGBTQ+ people.

Part of the bill that Constant Mutamba, leader of the Dynamic Progressive Revolutionary Opposition platform, has put forth states anyone who “commits a homosexual act (including acts and gestures) will be liable to a 5- or 10-year prison sentence.”

The country in recent years has seen government leaders and civic society target the community with anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments.

The Superior Council for Audiovisual and Communication, Media Regulatory Authority last June cautioned the media against showing LGBTQ+-specific conversations. Several activists have criticized Mutamba’s bill, saying it seeks to move attention away from governance, service delivery and other pertinent issues in the country.

Sirius Tekasala, a human rights activist, said a person’s sexual orientation does not impact issues of governance.

“The proposed bill does not go in the direction of improving the socio-economic life of the Congolese people,” said Tekasala. “It’s not homosexuals who prevent you from doing your job well or from breathing. This is a violation of human rights.”

Mbuela Mbadu Dieudonné, a social analyst and trade unionist, said the bill is just a way of deviating people from the pertinent issues.

“He should suggest how to get the Congolese people out of this precariousness of life which is growing on a daily basis,” said Dieudonné. “When we don’t know the real problems of the Congolese people, he sets himself up as the great director of scenes to distract the Congolese people.”

Many Congolese, however, seem to support the bill and have applauded Mutamba for drafting it.

This is not the first time that such kind of a bill has been drafted.

An anti-homosexuality bill introduced in 2010 would have sentenced people who engage in consensual same-sex sexual relations to between three and five years in prison. The measure, however, did not become law.

Mutamba’s bill, however, may pass with Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act in effect. The country’s Constitutional Court earlier this month upheld it. Burundi, Tanzania and other neighboring countries are also considering similar measures.

Many Congolese people view LGBTQ+ rights as a Western phenomenon that disregards their religious and cultural beliefs. LGBTQ+ Congolese are among those who have fled the country and sought refuge in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and other places.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations are not criminalized in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but Congolese law does not recognize same-sex marriages.

Continue Reading

Popular