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Director of LGBTQ+ rights group in Ghana kidnapped, held for ransom

Rightify Ghana said incident took place Aug. 20

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The Ghanaian flag (Public domain photo by Jorono from Pixabay)

KUMASI, Ghana — An LGBTQ+ and intersex rights group in Ghana on Saturday said a group of men kidnapped its director and held him for ransom before they released him.

Rightify Ghana in a series of tweets said a group of seven “homophobic men” in the country’s Ashanti Region on Aug. 20 held its director “hostage.”

“He was beaten and threatened with a knife by the men who demanded for a ransom to (be) paid before releasing him,” said Rightify Ghana. 

Rightify Ghana said their director “was taken hostage” at around 11:20 a.m. on Aug. 20 “while doing a follow-up on an alleged abuse case which turned out to be a trap by a notorious violent and organized anti-gay group.” Rightify Ghana on Twitter said one of the men who kidnapped their director held a knife to his throat and told him that “we will kill you and bury you here and no one would know.”

“While attacking him, it emerged that they knew his work as an activist, asked questions about his organization and even brought a screenshot of a recent interview he did,” said Rightify Ghana. “While doing this, they demanded a ransom to (be) paid and only released him after they had withdrawn a large sum of money.”

Rightify Ghana said “a lot of information about the homophobic group was gathered during this attack, as they also detailed their operations, locations and their threat to their primary target, the LGBTQI+ community, and the general public.” Rightify Ghana further noted the group “also shared how other groups target queer men in alleged murder for money ritual.”

Rightify Ghana said it has contacted the Ghana Police Service about the incident.

The State Department’s 2021 human rights report notes “extortion attempts” against LGBTQ+ and intersex people have taken place in Ghana.

Ghana is among the dozens of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

A bill that seeks to criminalize LGBTQ+ and intersex identity and allyship in Ghana was introduced in the country’s Parliament last year. The State Department in May 2021 urged the Ghanaian government to protect LGBTQ+ and intersex rights after police arrested 21 activists in the city of Ho.

A man who now lives in Massachusetts on Saturday told the Washington Blade that he fled Ghana after he was “caught with my boyfriend” who later died by suicide. The man said he has asked for asylum in the U.S.

“We were blackmailed and harassed (until) it became too much and my boyfriend committed suicide,” the man told the Blade. “I tried committing suicide myself and was treated by a discreet gay doctor who hid me and bought tickets for me to flee to the United States.”

“What happened to the director (of Rightify Ghana) is common in Ghana right now,” he added.

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Report documents continued persecution of LGBTQ+, intersex people in Cameroon

Country’s penal code criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity

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The Cameroonian and Pride flags (Photo courtesy of Our Wellbeing Cameroon)

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon — A 2022 Human Rights Watch report shows LGBTQ+ and intersex people in Cameroon continue to suffer persecution and abuse.

The Penal Code of 2016 criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity for both men and women. It carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine. Cameroon’s first penal code, which was adopted in 1965, did not criminalize homosexuality, but a 1972 amendment made consensual same-sex sexual activity illegal.

“In 2022, armed groups and government forces committed human rights abuses, including unlawful killings, across Cameroon’s Anglophone regions and in the Far North region and the persecution of LGBT people and mob attacks against members of the LGBT community intensified,” notes the report. 

The report notes security forces from March to May 2022 “arbitrarily arrested” at least six people and detained 11 others “for alleged consensual same-sex conduct and gender nonconformity.”

Human Rights Watch indicates a crowd of eight men armed with machetes, knives, sticks and wooden planks attacked a group of at least LGBTQ+ and intersex people in April 2022. Cameroonian police detained and beat at least two of the victims, according to the report. 

Tembeng Eli-Ann Anwi, a Cameroonian gender rights activist, said religion also plays a pivotal role in the ostracization of LGBTQ+ and intersex people.

“Identifying as 2SLGBTQIA+ is still a crime in Cameroon as per our Penal Code. Even though we are rectifying laws on gender equality, our government still finds it a criminal offence because it is still a crime and doing it publicly is bad, as any crime in Cameroon with evidence is a punishable offense,” said Anwi. “Moreso, if we look in the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed partly because this was practised there and for Christians, we know just the relationship between a man and a woman and not people of the same gender. 

“So to protect the people of this rainbow nation, they have to go to where it is being accepted, if you think it is right, come out and advocate for your beliefs, but do not forcefully engage people in your circle,” added Anwi. “However, not everyone or every society goes with every belief so to be safe you have to practice yours in your closet till the day it is legal, but people should not judge people for who they are.” 

Blaise Chamango, director of Human Is Right, a Cameroonian NGO, said the police use the Penal Code to justify the arbitrary arrests of LGBTQ+ and intersex people.

“Section 346 of the Cameroon Penal Code condemns homosexuality in Cameroon so the police officers use this as a pretext to keep harassing LGBT persons and subjecting them to illegal detention,” said Chamango. “As a result, those who identify as LGBT are constantly under attack from the community because it is something which is new and strange to many here, in some communities which are still very traditional it is even a taboo to mention that as some people are hostile to LGBT and do not want to associate with them.”

Chamango, like Anwi, noted religion in Cameroon “is strongly against the LGBT community as most religious leaders here abhor the practice and discourage believers to associate or accept identifying as LGBT as being normal.”

“Nevertheless, we need to empower civil society organizations to carry out sensitization campaigns to promote a culture of tolerance and coexisting with LGBT persons and the rest of the society,” said Chamango. “It is also important to provide technical and material support to such organizations so as to provide legal support to LGBT persons who are victims of abuses.”

The State Department’s 2021 human rights report notes numerous cases of authorities arresting LGBTQ+ and intersex Cameroonians and abusing them while in their custody. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV status were also commonplace in the country.

“The constitution prescribes equal rights for all citizens; however, the law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons in housing, employment, nationality and access to government services such as health care,” notes the report. “Security forces sometimes harassed persons based on their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, including individuals found with condoms and lubricants. Fear of exposure affected individuals’ willingness to access HIV and AIDS services, and several HIV positive men who had sex with men reportedly were partnered with women, in part to conceal their sexual orientation. Anecdotal reports suggested some discrimination occurred in places of employment with respect to sexual orientation.”

U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon Christopher Lamora is openly gay.

The Washington Blade has reached out to the State Department for comment on the Human Rights Watch report.

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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LGBTQ+ advocacy groups in Zimbabwe fight gender-based violence

GALZ study found majority of survivors don’t report abuse

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LGBTQ+ and intersex rights groups in Zimbabwe have joined forces to fight gender-based violence. (Photo courtesy of TIRZ)

HARARE, Zimbabwe — President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s 2018 inauguration was seen as a new dawn not only for the country’s political and economic elite, but for LGBTQ+ and intersex Zimbabweans and other groups. The LGBTQ+ and intersex community nevertheless continues to reel from intimidation, harassment and ostracization five years after the late-President Robert Mugabe, who ruled the country with an iron fist, left office.

The 2013 Constitution that is currently in use does not outlaw consensual same-sex sexual relations, but same-sex marriages if one is found engaging in sexual activity that is regarded as illegal. The Zimbabwean government, in other words, does not have a problem with anyone who is part of the LGBTQ+ and intersex community as long as they do not get married or have sex in public.

Even though the Constitution may appear to tacitly protect LGBTQ+ and intersex Zimbabweans, their everyday experiences, especially when it comes to the issue of gender-based violence, is vastly different.

“Mainstream dialogue of GBV (gender-based violence) in Zimbabwe has predominantly given salience to the experience of cisgender category of women over LBT women. Little to no conversation has been facilitated on the experiences of LBT women, who are disproportionally affected by GBV. GALZ (Gays And Lesbians of Zimbabwe) has recorded extreme cases of correctional rape, sexual assault and physical assault and intimate partner violence (IPV),” said Samuel Matsikure, programs manager for Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, an LGBTQ+ and intersex rights group.

According to a study conducted by GALZ in 2021, at least one in three lesbian, bisexual and Transgender women experienced violence inflicted based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Gay, bisexual and Trans men have also experienced heightened emotional and physical violence, and a lack of accountability exacerbates these experience.

GALZ has also documented cases of intimate partner violence, but the restrictive environment in which it works perpetuates silence around them. Other factors that contribute to this inaction include an unresponsive police force and judicial system and a patriarchal society that does not acknowledge violence between partners of the same sex and ridicules men who report they are survivors of intimate partner violence.

At least 65 percent of people who GALZ interviewed for their 2021 study said they never reported the abuse they experienced for fear of double victimization. 

“This is primarily due to the fact that law enforcement is relatively lux to take action and investigate same-sex partner violence and general violence perpetrated on LGBTI people and society at large also turns a blind eye to this calibre of violence. Such attitudes in turn, discourage victims to speak out and report GBV,” said Matsikure.

Matsikure also described the government’s commitments to protect LGBTQ+ and intersex Zimbabweans through its National Development Strategy as nothing more than lip service.

“The government has indirectly made considerable efforts to protect LGBTI people from all forms of harm and abuse,” said Matsikure. “However, government is yet to fulfill such commitments creating challenges such as, hesitancy of law enforcement agencies to crack down on GBV experienced by LGBTI persons and hesitancy of LGBTI persons to report or speak out against GBV due to fear of blackmail, homophobic backlash, stigma non-recognition of females as perpetrators of IPV. Lack of political will and leadership to address GBV against LGBTI persons. Delays in seeking treatment, there can be significant delays between GBV and presentation to medical care.” 

“Moreover, constant threats of deregistration of organizations working on the protection of human rights and LGBTI rights by the State limits the interaction of communities with the law enforcers as same-sex conduct is still criminalized,” added Matsikure. “The perception that the current Constitution outlawed homosexuality hinders some government entities from openly assisting LGBTI persons where GBV or IPV has been reported yet the Constitution only mentions same-sex marriage.”

Trans and Intersex Rising Zimbabwe also said they were working on establishing a safe environment for LGBTQ+ and intersex Zimbabweans in which they will coexist with the heterosexual community.

TIRZ says it’s working through a an initiative that focuses on three areas: Family and friends, sensitizing people on LGBTQ+ and intersex issues and building an educational and informational support system that focuses on creating lobby, advocacy, religion and cultural programs. TIRZ hopes these efforts will create common ground and allow dialogues with heterosexual Zimbabweans.

TIRZ Program Director Chihera Meki said LGBTQ+ and intersex Zimbabweans still face major challenges, despite these efforts.

“Challenges such as gate keepers as well as religious and cultural beliefs have affected the program to reach out to the various communities, to help close the gap on information,” said Chihera.

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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Kenyan activist brutally murdered, body stuffed in metal box

Freelance photojournalist arrested in connection with Edwin Chiloba’s death

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Edwin Chiloba (Photo courtesy of Edwin Chiloba's Instagram page)

ELDORET, Kenya — Kenyan police have arrested a freelance photojournalist believed to have been involved in the brutal murder of Edwin Chiloba, a prominent LGBTQ+ and intersex activist and fashion designer.

Zacchaeus Ngeno, a regional deputy police commander in Uasin Gishu County in western Kenya where Chiloba’s murder took place, confirmed to the press that investigators are pursuing two other suspects who are on the run. 

The unnamed freelance photojournalist who has not been publicly named because the investigation continues was last seen with Chiloba on New Year’s Eve at a popular nightclub in the region where the victim lived.   

The suspect in custody is expected to be arraigned early next week.

Chiloba arrived at Tamasha Place nightclub at around 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 and left after 1 a.m. after watching the New Year’s fireworks with friends, according to Melvin Faith, the deceased’s sister who works there and happily ushered in 2023 together.  

Faith noted her family was later worried about Chiloba’s indefinite unavailability on his cell phone and in his rental house where he lived alone until the shocking discovery of his body on Wednesday inside a metal box that had been dumped on a rural street. A commuter on a motorbike first discovered it. 

Chibola, in addition to being an LGBTQ+ and intersex activist and a model, and was finishing his undergraduate studies at a local university. Chibola was widely covered in local newspaper for his outstanding fashion designs as one of the country’s young emerging entrepreneurs. 

The arrest and heightened pursuit of the two suspects comes amid pressure from the LGBTQ+ and intersex community, and local and international rights groups on Kenyan authorities to swiftly investigate and prosecute those who killed Chiloba.

Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director Davis Malombe in a press statement described the murder a “disgusting act of homophobic violence.” He added it violates the Constitution; which grants the right to life, dignity, and freedom of expression for all regardless of gender, sex and any other status.

“The killing is reprehensible and unjust. We demand the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to take swift and due action in investigating this murder, booking and prosecuting the perpetrators,” Malombe said.

He raised concerns over the recent increase in cases of threats, assault and murders of LGBTQ+ and intersex people in Kenya with little effort from the police to address them.

“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. LGBTQ rights are human rights. We demand justice for Edwin,” he said. Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard via Twitter condemned Chibola’s murder as “heart-breaking” while demanding a “full and independent” probe by the authorities. 

Ned Price, the openly gay spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, echoed Callamard.

“Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of prominent Kenyan LGBTQI+ community member Edwin Chiloba,” tweeted Price. “We call for full accountability for his death.”

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LGBTQ+ rights org pushes for workplace protections in Mauritius

Collectif Arc-en-Ciel insists more needs to be done to ensure LGBTQ and intersex people are treated the same as heterosexual people

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Collectif Arc-en-Ciel is an LGBTQ and intersex rights group in Mauritius. (Photo courtesy of Collectif Arc-en-Ciel)

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius – An LGBTQ and intersex rights group in Mauritius continues to work to protect LGBTQ and intersex people in the workplace.

Although there is an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law in Mauritius, Collectif Arc-en-Ciel insists more needs to be done to ensure LGBTQ and intersex people are treated the same as their heterosexual counterparts.

“We do awareness sessions within firms about the importance of equality in the workplace but there is one thing that we are coming up with which is business inclusion of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in workplaces to raise awareness within organizations,” explained Collectif Arc-en-Ciel’s Jean Danie. “Since 2008 we have an inclusive Workers Right Act so the law prohibits workers from being discriminated based on their sexual orientation and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has been included from that. So if you feel like you have been discriminated you can file a complaint at the Equal Opportunity Commission so that the Commission can try to mediate between the employee and the employer and if they fail the matter is taken to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal.” 

Danie, however, stated that although same-sex relations are regarded as legal, sodomy remains criminalized. Various LGBTQ and intersex activists have asked the Mauritius Supreme Court to overturn the law.

“Same-sex relations are not illegal but the one direct law that was inherited from the British era is the criminalization of sodomy under Section 250 of our penal code but this penal code has been challenged by more than three 2SLGBTQIA+ activists at the Supreme Court of Mauritius so right now we are awaiting judgement as the Supreme Court will be giving its verdict soon because sodomy is practiced by different people regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Danie.

Danie said Collectif Arc-en-Ciel, had conducted a survey to find out if Mauritians support or oppose LGBTQ and intersex people. 

The survey found 60 percent of respondents said that they had nothing against LGBTQ and intersex people, as long as they are not part of their immediate family.

“We did a survey on the perception of same sex relations and we found out that 60 percent of the people we surveyed don’t have a problem with same-sex relations, but Mauritius is deeply rooted in religion and tradition and these two have an impact in our everyday lives,” said Danie. “So what we discovered with the survey is that the 60 percent who were okay with same-sex relations based it on as long as it’s not their immediate family member who is into same-sex relations so people who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ tend to migrate to other countries that are more inclusive of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community but slowly and surely we are getting there.”

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Lesbian, Transgender women across Africa forced into heterosexual marriages

Poverty, lack of government recognition contributes to problem

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Africa, gay news, Washington Blade
Africa (Photo by NASA)

DAKAR, Senegal — Lesbian, queer and Transgender women across Africa are still forced into heterosexual marriages, and many of them have to keep their sexual orientation and/or gender identity a secret because they are afraid of being victimized or even killed.

Guadalupe Dansokho, a lesbian woman from Senegal, was forced to marry a man. The couple divorced in 2019 after they were married for three years.

“I was forced to marry Magatte at the age of 23, someone who ignored me as much as I ignored him at first. It didn’t last and after two months we separated in March 2016. He quickly understood that I was not interested in men and he soon complained about it to my parents, so that they would cure me,” said Dansokho after the Washington Blade was able to make contact with her. “The rest was only moral violence and psychological pressure from my relatives, following the failure of this marriage in 2019, we formally divorced. The worst part of my story is that this project of marriage with Magatte was already in the cards since my early childhood, because often the arrangements between families take place several years in advance.”

“The issue of forced marriages is not uncommon,” said Dansokho. “In general, it happens when parents discover the homosexuality of their daughters as they are married in the hope of changing their sexual orientation and to guarantee a certain social respectability of the family.” 

“Boys also experience and live forced marriages, especially when they are gay. Nevertheless, social pressure seems to be stronger towards lesbian girls,” she added. “Young girls who are not ready to take on this life do not always feel well, but the social pressure is there. Recently, a lesbian acquaintance of mine took her own life to escape this life.”

Vanilla Hussein, the director of Entrepreneur Empowerment and Advocacy-Health, an LGBTQ+ and intersex rights group in Kenya, said traditional beliefs and a lack of government acknowledgement of LGBTQ+ and intersex issues are among the reasons why forced marriages of queer, lesbian and Trans women are still rampant across Africa.

“Marriage is a legal institution both at local and national level and therefore, requires parties involved to have consensus when fulfilling this contractual obligation or agreement for both the male and female, male and male-male as well as female-female, respectively,” said Hussein. “Forced marriages still exist in urban and rural areas and communities because of social and economic factors. The economic factors such as unemployment, poverty rates and poor welfare has forced queer, Trans women and lesbians to get married to those with better jobs, lifestyle and money.” 

“However, forced marriages within the queer, Trans women and lesbian communities can be stopped by creating education and sensitization within various African communities, sharing of educational resource materials and the creation of a fund to support poor queer, trans women and lesbian communities as well as supporting organizations through their advocacy work campaigns,” added Hussein. “Moreso, governments and organizations should carry out campaigns against forced marriages, creating empowerment programs to improve the welfare and economic conditions of young men and women, offering free educational programs to improve on the capacities, knowledge as well as creating research and data collection on queer, Trans women and lesbian forced marriages across Africa as this data will be used to create awareness that will help in raising voices and helping victims of forced marriages.”

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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Kenyan LGBTQ+ rights groups honor Transgender refugees, asylum seekers

Event coincided with the Transgender Day of Remembrance

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The Refugee Trans Initiative and Entrepreneur Empowerment and Advocacy Health used the Transgender Day of Remembrance to honor Transgender refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya. (Photo courtesy of Entrepreneur Empowerment and Advocacy Health)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Two LGBTQ+ rights groups in Kenya this month used the Transgender Awareness Week and the Transgender Day of Remembrance to honor transgender refugees and asylum seekers in the country. 

The Refugee Trans Initiative and Entrepreneur Empowerment and Advocacy Health on Nov. 20 hosted an event in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. It did not take place in the Kakuma refugee camp; but former residents who now live in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa attended. 

“The event was to celebrate Trans Awareness Week for Trans refugees and asylum seekers and we invited other individuals who are part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ refugee community,” Entrepreneur Empowerment and Advocacy Health Director Vanilla Hussein. “We had time to reflect on the memory of our friends we have lost and most recently Francis, who was murdered in Uganda.”

Hussein said the conditions in Kakuma made it unsafe for the group to hold an event in the refugee camp.

Two gay men in March 2021 suffered second-degree burns during an attack on Block 13 in Kakuma, which the U.N. Refugee Agency created specifically for LGBTQ+ and intersex refugees. One of them died a few weeks later at a Nairobi hospital. 

A report the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration and Rainbow Railroad released in May 2021 indicates nearly all of the LGBTQ+ and intersex people who live in Kakuma have experienced discrimination and violence because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. UNHCR in a statement after the March 15, 2021, attack noted Kenya “remains the only country in the region to provide asylum to those fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression,” even though consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

“Trans refugees continue to live in appalling conditions due to poor welfare, lack of access to jobs, affordable healthcare and opportunities in Kenya,” said Hussein. “Currently, some trans refugees and gender non-conforming refugees lack proper documentation.”

Hussein further noted NGOs “are not funded by the donors adequately because of bureaucratic hurdles and requirements to access funding such as bank statements, which have made it hard to get access to funds that can provide food, shelter, and relief emergency assistance.”

“To sum up, Kenya remains a threat to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community due to transphobia and homophobia,” said Hussein.

Alvin Mwangi, a reproductive rights activist, stressed Trans people simply want basic human rights.

“Basic human rights are not special rights, the right to get and keep a job based on merit is not a special right, the right to be served food in a restaurant is not a special right, the right to have a roof over one’s head is not a special right, the right to walk down a street and not be attacked because of who you are and whom you love is not a special right,” said Mwangi. 

“The government of Kenya should ensure its laws and systems protect Transgender persons just like any other citizen of Kenya against all forms of violence and discrimination,” added Mwangi. “The government of Kenya should commit to end all forms of violence and discrimination against Transgender persons, by publicly condemning any major instances of homophobic and transphobic violence that occur in the counties and in the country in general.”

Mwangi also stressed Trans people are “beautiful” and “deserve love.”

“We all have the right to live with dignity and respect,” said Mwangi. “As we just marked and celebrated the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which memorializes victims of transphobic violence, and as we continue to celebrate Transgender Awareness month until the end of November, we remember those in the Transgender community who have lost their lives due to violence brought by hate and ignorance and we honor, celebrate and advocate for the respect of the rights of Transgender and gender diverse communities.”

“All Transgender persons have a right to equality and freedom from discrimination of all forms. All Transgender persons require equal protection against any form of violence,” added Mwangi. “The right to equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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Uganda lawmaker says international agreement has ‘hidden clauses’ to promote homosexuality

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Deputy Uganda Parliament Speaker Thomas Tayebwa (Screen capture via Next Media Uganda YouTube)

MAPUTO, Mozambique — Several LGBTQ+ and intersex rights groups in Uganda have sharply criticized Deputy Parliament Speaker Thomas Tayebwa’s assertion that an agreement between the European Union and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States has “hidden clauses” designed to promote homosexuality.

Tayebwa made the remarks during the 42nd session of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) — EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly that took place in Maputo, Mozambique, from Oct. 29-Nov. 2.

“We have discovered that with the Cotonou Agreement — an agreement between the EU and OACPS based on three complementary pillars: Development cooperation, economic and trade cooperation and the political dimension — there are hidden clauses concerning human rights,” said Tayebwa. “Clauses to do with sexuality, promotion of LGBT or homosexuality and clauses to do with abortion. We are a society that is not ready for homosexuality and we are a society that is not ready for abortion. It can never be accepted in Uganda.”

“It’s not a surprise to me and most of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community at large in Uganda that the deputy speaker of Parliament made such homophobic comments because the government he represents is homophobic too,” said Happy Family Uganda Executive Director Iga Isma. “According to me, he has no right to think about our own lifestyle. Everyone lives a life that they naturally want. If someone doesn’t eat meat, it does not mean that everyone doesn’t. I am in full support of donor countries to stop funding African countries that fail to legalize same sex relationships however, we might be affected too.” 

Pastor Ram Gava Kaggwa from Adonai Inclusive Christian Ministries, who is the executive director of Wave of Legacy Alliance Initiative Uganda, said sexual orientation does not have anything to do with whether one is African or not.

“Sexual orientation totally differs based on personal desires and wishes, it’s time to change the biased perspective on our sexual differences, just because you are practicing a different sexual narrative does not necessarily mean the other is wrong otherwise we are bound to see the spread of gender-based violence due to differences in sexual identity which may and can arise from hate speech spread through the heteronormative narrative which is taught in a manner that does not create room for respect of sexual differences,” said Kaggwa. “It is important to acknowledge the differences, variations and diversities of the community and modern-day society and respect each other regardless of such differences for we are all human and this is what exactly bonds us regardless of the different beliefs and values embodied in us.”

Kaggwa further encouraged lawmakers in Uganda and across Africa “to let and affirmatively acknowledge the rights and existence of 2SLGBTQIA+ persons and their rights at a common law level.” 

Buwande Anthony, executive director of the Uganda Youth Society for Human Rights, said Tayebwa does not speak for Africa since African countries are sovereign states with different legal systems.

“The remarks by the deputy speaker of the Parliament of Uganda can only be attributed to hypocrisy that is normally exhibited by government officials during overseas tours, if not, it was an act of ignorance of the provisions of the Constitution of Uganda,” noted Anthony. “Article 24 of the Ugandan Constitution and the Article of the African Charter on Human and Peoples rights provides against inhuman and degrading treatment. The above provisions have laid a foundation against any enactment by the state or individual initiatives against violation of individual human rights of citizens and non-citizens in Uganda.”

“Furthermore, Hon. Thomas Tayebwa cannot purport to speak for Africa since African countries are sovereign States which are governed by different legal dispensations, and whereas some African countries have moved a notch higher to respect their citizens’ human rights, others are still slow and struggling,” he added. “Therefore, it can only be fair that he speaks for Uganda where he is deputy speaker of Parliament.”

Uganda is among the African countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

President Yoweri Museveni in February 2014 signed into law a bill that sought to impose a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts. The Obama administration subsequently cut or redirected aid to Uganda and announced a travel ban against Ugandan officials responsible for human rights abuses. The World Bank also postponed a $90 million loan to the Ugandan government after Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The Ugandan Constitutional Court subsequently struck down the law. 

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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Ghana: Anti-LGBTQ bill will pass before presidential election

The anti-LGBTQ bill has received significant support from within Ghana, including from the Ghana Catholic Church

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Ghanaian Parliament Speaker Alban Bagbin (Screenshot/YouTube CiTi TV)

ACCRA, Ghana – Ghanaian Parliament Speaker Alban Bagbin on Oct. 28 told reporters a bill that would criminalize LGBTQ and intersex identity and allyship will pass before the next presidential election in 2024.

A cross-party group of MPs led by opposition MP Sam George, who is one of the country’s most prominent anti-LGBTQ and anti-intersex figures, first introduced the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill in March 2021. Lawmakers in August of that year considered it for the first time.

The bill, if passed, could see Ghanaians who identify as LGBTQ or intersex sentenced up to five years in prison. The measure would also criminalize cross-dressing, public affection between two people of the same sex, marriage among same-sex couples or the intent to marry someone who is the same sex.

The measure would criminalize corrective therapy or surgery for intersex people. 

Any person or group seen as promoting identities or prohibited acts in the bill or campaigning in support of LGBTQ and intersex people would face up to 10 years in prison. Any person who does not report consensual same-sex sexual acts could also face charges.

“The sexual rights and human values Bill that is being handled by the (Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs) Committee will be passed before the next elections. We will pass it. That will go through,” Bagbin told reporters. “When we talk about sexual rights, we are talking about things that will add value to human beings by way of creating opportunities, of creating an equal playing ground of giving some privileges and rights to each and every one of us, of removing all the restriction and hurdles to make you more free. “

“That is what we call human rights. Anything negating that cannot be a right and don’t forget that rights go with responsibilities and duties go with obligations,” added Bagbin.

Abdul-Wadud Mohammed with LGBT+ Rights Ghana dismissed Bagbin’s comments.

“The statement from the speaker isn’t something new. He previously mentioned the passage of the bill by the end of 2021 and that didn’t happen,” said Mohammed. “Clearly, this is an attempt to divert attention from the current economic situation of the country. We already know the process for which the bill has to go through before it is passed and we are nowhere near the end of the process. We are following the bill closely. However, the situation of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Ghana is getting worse with this bill being discussed. We as LGBT+ Rights Ghana are putting in all the work and effort in making sure the bill is not passed.” 

The bill has received significant support from within Ghana, including from the Ghana Catholic Church.

The Ghana Anglican Church has described the bill as too severe. It has also been widely condemned around the world, including from NGOs and Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ and intersex issues, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations are currently prohibited in Ghana under the Criminal Code 1960. This provision carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and only men are criminalized under this law.

The law was inherited from the British during the colonial period, in which the English criminal law was imposed upon Ghana. The West African country then retained the provision in its first Criminal Code upon independence, which remains in force, and continues to criminalize homosexuality today.

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent

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South Africa cities install continent’s first Pride crosswalks

One installation is located near Apartheid-era buildings in Pretoria

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A Pride crosswalk in Pretoria, South Africa. The city, along with Cape Town, are the first cities on the continent to install Pride crosswalks. (Photo courtesy of Bruce Walker/Pretoria Pride)

PRETORIA, South Africa — South Africa has become the first country on the continent to install Pride crosswalks in its major cities.

Pretoria on Oct. 20 installed the crosswalks. Cape Town followed suit two days later.

Pride crosswalks have been installed in several European and American countries to promote the inclusion of LGBTQ+ and intersex people. Some activist groups in South Africa have long called for them to be installed in the country.

“Church Square is where most of the Apartheid buildings are situated and in the shadow is the father of the Afrikaans nation, Paul Kruger. This is the heartland of Apartheid, by having this, the first in such a conservative city is groundbreaking,” said Bruce Walker of Pretoria Pride.

“By showing that 2SLGBTQIA+ rights can be accepted here we can move forward and show the world that we are moving in the right direction and can be a beacon of light to conservative Africa,” added Walker. “With South Africa building up the bid to host World Pride here in Africa this shows that the population is moving forward in tolerance, but we have a long way to go to break down all the old conservative ways of thinking.” 

Cape Town Councilor Rob Quintas, who is on the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Mobility, said the Pride crosswalk, which is located along the busy Somerset Road between Alfred and Dixon Streets in Green Point, is meant to make all to feel welcome.

“You cannot miss the Pink Route, it is about 20 cm. wide, and painted on the sidewalk. This is a fun way for visitors to get to know the area and a great addition to our tourist offering soon before the peak holiday season. It is also intended to create awareness and celebrate Cape Town as an inclusive city,” said Quintas. “This exciting place maker precinct activator is the first of its kind in Cape Town and is aimed at re-invigorating the buzz of the 2SLGBTQIA+ district using road markings.” 

“There are many more spaces in the city that can be looked into in the future and where heritage or unique attractions can be amplified by using sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. I am calling on visitors and residents to look out for this crossing, and to follow the Pink Route as they explore this part of our City,” added Quintas.

Cape Town Councilor Frances ‘Phranki’ Lombard said the Green Point crosswalk was a fantastic statement for Cape Town and the world.

“This crosswalk is a fantastic statement to the world and Cape Town that 2SLGBTQIA+ rights are not something to be hidden but in fact, that we celebrate the freedom and rights of all people in this city of Cape Town,” said Lombard.

“When we contrast this with the reality that are in some parts of South Africa where hate crimes against Lesbians are a common phenomenon and when governments make such bold statements it sets a symbol to society of what is right and what is possible,” added Lombard. “Cape Town continues to push what is possible in an open liberal society, something I hope spreads throughout South Africa.” 

Ruth Maseko of the Triangle Project, however, said the location of the crosswalk in Green Point was more exclusive than inclusive.

“We feel this needs to be questioned. For us, how much money did it take to do this and it’s very particularly placed,” said Maseko. “It’s in Green Point, the same place Cape Town Pride is held. This speaks of exclusivity and how the city of Cape Town shows up for a particular segment of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.”

“What is done for those communities of 2SLGBTQIA+ people whose lives are at risk, are unemployed or unhoused and live in the city and are harassed by law enforcement?” asked Maseko.

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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Catholic group in Africa to boycott Netflix over pro-LGBTQ+ content

CitizenGO Africa objects to same-sex kiss in ‘Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous’ episode

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Los Angeles Blade graphic/Netflix logo

NAIROBI, Kenya — CitizenGO Africa, a Catholic activist organization, has launched a boycott campaign against Netflix over its pro-LGBTQ+ content.

The boycott comes two months after its parent organization, CitizenGO, which is based in Brazil launched out a similar campaign.

CitizenGO Africa, which is based in Kenya, says the boycott stems from “Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous,” a 2022 series which is currently showing on Netflix. In the 9th episode of the program’s final season, Yazz reveals to Sammy how she feels about her and they end up kissing.

“As you can imagine, the issue has unleashed a wave of outrage around the world. If we parents can’t have peace of mind when our children watch a series inappropriate for them, we are simply not going to take that risk anymore,” said CitizenGO Africa in a statement. “A Netflix children’s series has included a lesbian kiss in a series aimed at 7-year-olds! Have we gone crazy? Betting on the LGBT agenda doesn’t seem to have gone very well.” 

CitizenGO Africa has also demanded Netflix CEO Reed Hastings choose between promoting family values and LGBTQ-specific content.

“Mr. Reed Hastings, decide whether you want to pursue the LGBT agenda or the family agenda. They are not compatible. Lesbian kiss is absolutely inappropriate for 7-year-olds. As long as he doesn’t back down on LGBT indoctrination in children’s series, we will support this boycott campaign,” said CitizenGO Africa. “The ball is in Netflix’s court. It has to decide whether to follow the LGBT agenda or the families’ agenda.” 

CitizenGO Africa and its parent organization intends on collecting 500,000 signatures for the petition they plan to submit to Netflix.

The petition is titled “Netflix: A lesbian kiss in a series for 7-year-olds?”

Att. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix.

I am writing to you with concern after learning about the Lesbian kiss in episode 9 of the children’s series Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous.

Not only do they settle for the lesbian kissing scene, but they subsequently use the scene to validate the lesbian relationship of two teenagers among their friends and family. Not the kind of messages suitable for 7-year-olds which is the age you recommend for the series and it’s certainly not the kind of messages I want for my kids.

I want to know that I can put on a children’s series for them knowing that they won’t try to indoctrinate them with LGBT ideology. If not, I don’t want either the uneasiness or the risk for my kids.

Thanks to these kinds of decisions, Netflix is at pre-pandemic trading levels, a third of what it traded at last November. Do you want to keep losing customers?

I ask you to immediately remove the indoctrinating content from Netflix’s children’s section or I will campaign for outraged users to massively unsubscribe from your channel.”

The Gulf Cooperation Council last month asked Netflix to take down programming that it says violates Islamic values.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, the six Arab States that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council published a collective statement that condemned the “Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous” episode.

“Pay a monthly fee to Netflix, and your child gets to watch this immoral content,” said a voice-over in one of the segments.

The United Arab Emirates, which is home to a large number of expatriates and is one of the most liberal Gulf States, was among the countries that banned the Disney movie “Lightyear” over a scene where two same-sex characters kiss.

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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