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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.

Africa

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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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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Human rights groups condemn victimization of LGBTQ+ in Zambia

“The people of Zambia, just as it is the people of the African continent, deserve an opportunity to see humanity beyond heterosexuality”

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(Photo courtesy of LGBT Zambia's Facebook page)

LUSAKA, Zambia – Human rights organizations and activists have condemned the continued victimization of LGBTQ and intersex people in Zambia.

Anti-LGBTQ and intersex sentiments have been gaining momentum in recent weeks, including Dr. Brian Sampa’s #banbeardtobeard campaign in relation to gay couples. Alick Banda, the archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Lusaka, and other Zambian religious leaders have also echoed these sentiments.

“In the last 12 months, we have witnessed an increase in the number of incidents and events that promote LGBTQ tendencies contrary to the laws of Zambia and our Zambian culture. Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of incidents of sodomy where boys and men are raped by fellow boys and men with impunity,” said Banda on Sept. 25. “We have witnessed several cases of sodomy and homosexuality on the increase in our society much to the displeasure and disapproval of the general public. Unfortunately, the law enforcement agents and the president who took an oath to protect the Constitution seems to be paying a blind eye. The question that begs an answer is, is it by design or by default.”

Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in Zambia.

President Hakainde Hichilema last month reiterated his government does not support LGBTQ and intersex rights in response to Sampa’s protest.

The Global Interface Network, a global NGO that promotes safety and inclusion for all people of faith and especially for people who suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation, criticized Banda’s comments.

“The statement by the archbishop has the potential to further escalate violence and we are deeply concerned for the wellbeing and safety of members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Zambia,” said the Global Interfaith Network in a statement it released on Sept. 26. “Religious leaders are the shepherds of their flocks and have a responsibility to provide guidance, care and support to the faith community. Although we understand that for the Archbishop of Lusaka, same sex sexualities and non-normative gender identities are unfamiliar, we do not believe that it is appropriate, especially in a context in which people are already marginalized and subjected to violence and discrimination, for the archbishop to put his stamp of approval on further violence.”

The Global Interfaith Network in its statement encouraged Banda and the country’s Catholic Church “to enter into a process of fellowship and discernment alongside 2SLGBTQIA+ people of faith and skilled dialogue facilitators in Zambia and to collectively grow in the mission to offer compassion, care and love to the most vulnerable.” 

“The people of Zambia, just as it is the people of the African continent, deserve an opportunity to see humanity beyond heterosexuality,” it said. “That opportunity has the potential for a reclamation of the African people’s history of dealing with diversity, an opportunity of understanding beyond the common narrative of dehumanization.”

Mino, a Zambian LGBTQ and intersex activist, said Sampa has been sharing misleading information on his social media platforms that has influenced religious leaders and others across the country.

“The leader of this ban homosexuality movement has jumped from one cause to the other without success and unfortunately, this has seen him get heavy backing from people who share similar religious views. The whole thing has not been objective, the information he is disseminating is highly inaccurate, and full of untruths about 2SLGBTQIA+ persons. Sadly, the church and in a way the State has also jumped on this bandwagon,” said Mino. 

“Nevertheless, despite the current situation facing the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Zambia, it is my hope that this opens a balanced dialogue of issues of sexuality and gender,” added Mino. “People must have accurate information on who we are as people and begin to see us as human beings with lives, families, interests, jobs, struggles, just like any other person as currently the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has been reduced to being only sexual beings and cannot be seen beyond that.”

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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Kenya seeks to ban LGBTQ+ movies on Netflix

Prohibition expected to take effect by end of year

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Netflix logo (Public domain photo)

NAIROBI, Kenya — The streaming of LGBTQ+ movies on Netflix in Kenya is set to be restricted as the country tightens the noose on same-sex sexual activity. 

The Kenya Film Classification Board, which is charged with the classification and regulations of films for public consumption, is in final talks with Netflix to restrict same-sex content that violates the country’s laws.

Acting Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Christopher Wambua confirmed that official discussions with Netflix Africa began in October 2021, while noting that access to LGBTQ+ movies will be restricted before the end of this year. 

“Already we have developed a draft agreement that defines how to conduct their (Netflix) operations in the country after another discussion in April this year,” Wambua said. 

The Kenya Film Classification Board is supposed to share the agreement with Netflix Africa this week for further scrutiny of its provisions before implementing it. The company’s content manager for the continent is a Kenyan based in Nairobi. 

The board has classified LGBTQ+ content under the “restricted category,” meaning it is not allowed for broadcast, exhibition and distribution to the public. 

The agreement allows Netflix to self-classify movies streamed in Kenya by limiting offensive content that glorifies, normalizes, promotes and propagates homosexuality. 

Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized under Section 165 of Kenya’s Penal Code while the Films and Stage Plays Act gives the board the power to regulate the exhibition, distribution, possession, or broadcasting of content to the public. Its content classification exempts live programming and news.    

“Netflix will have to develop an intelligence safety-worth classification pool that is consistent with the film classification guidelines for Kenya so that the system’s output is aligned with our local laws and regulatory provisions concerning content classification,” stated Wambua.   

The move to permit Netflix and other streaming services to self-classy movies for Kenya will only allow the board to monitor compliance.

“Netflix has indicated a commitment to operate in the country within the purview of the existing laws,” he said. “By the end of October this year we should have finalized the agreement so that by November we pilot the new framework.”

Kenya is the second African country to demand Netfilx ban the streaming of LGBTQ+ movies.

Egypt’s media regulator this month warned Netflix, Disney+, and other streaming services against broadcasting content that breaches its “societal values” and threatened to take action if not curbed.  

The first Netflix film, “Perfect Strangers,” released earlier this year targeting the Arabic audience sparked criticism in Egypt and the Middle East for having scenes that depict homosexuality. One Egyptian lawmaker even called for Netflix to be banned in the country.

Egypt is among the countries in the Arab World that do not condone homosexuality. 

Egyptian authorities usually prosecute gay men on charges of “immorality” or “debauchery.” Police regularly raid private parties, restaurants and bars to arrest them. 

Egypt’s warning on Sept. 7 came a day after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman demanded Netflix to drop “offensive content” from its local streaming platforms as it “contradicts Islamic and societal values and principles.”

Egypt and Kenya have the highest number of Netflix subscriptions in Africa.

Kenya in September 2021 banned a gay documentary, “I Am Samuel,” produced by a local filmmaker.

The Kenya Film Classification Board said was “blasphemous” because it promoted “values that are in dissonance with our constitution, culture, values and norms.” The same film, however, has been screened at more than 25 film festivals globally and streamed on iTunes, Vimeo and other international platforms. 

Filmmakers and groups opposed to the government’s LGBTQ+ films restriction criticized the decision as an abuse of the freedom of expression the Kenyan Constitution guarantees. Courts have dismissed challenges to it.

Apart from the Kenya Film Classification Board reaching a deal with Netflix to restrict LGBTQ+ content, Wambua disclosed that a new law has already been approved by the outgoing Cabinet to help the board effectively classify and regulate content in this digital era.        

“The new digital platforms allowing streaming of movies make it difficult hence need to do some readjustments in the law to give companies powers to self-classify their videos-on-demand films that apply on auto-visual content. The existing law was for the analogue era,” he noted. 

The proposed law, dubbed the Kenya Film Bill 2021, has yet to be introduced in the Kenyan Parliament, which reconvened on Wednesday after August’s general election.    

The bill would recognize Kenya Film Classification Board key mandates of regulating the creation, broadcasting, distribution, possession and exhibition of films through the issuance of licenses to filmmakers, distributors and exhibitors. The bill would also recognize the Kenya Film Classification Board’s role in classifying films under various categories such as films that are either restricted or prohibited.  

The Kenya Film Classification Board is engaging with other regulatory government agencies to have minimal adjustments on self-classifications through miscellaneous amendments to restrict LGBTQ content to avoid any delay in enacting the proposed law.   

“If this is done even before we overhaul the existing law, we would have the requisite provisions that are necessary to allow us to accommodate the business model of videos-on-demand (VODs) which are on digital demand,” Wambua said. 

The Washington Blade has reached out to Netflix for comment.

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Zambia president reiterates opposition to LGBTQ+, intersex rights

Hakainde Hichilema made comments in response to anti-LGBTQ+ protest

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Dr. Brian Sampa has organized protests against LGBTQ+ and intersex rights in Zambia. (Photo via Dr. Brian Sampa's Facebook page)

LUSAKA, Zambia — Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema on Monday reiterated his government does not support LGBTQ+ and intersex rights.

In a video posted to his Facebook page on Monday, Hichilema said Zambia is a country deeply rooted in Christianity and therefore does not support same sex relations. The president’s remarks came after Dr. Brian Sampa on Sept. 15 held an anti-LGBTQ+ rights protest.

The police stopped Sampa’s protest, which was to have taken place at the State House in Lusaka, the country’s capital. Officers said he did not have the necessary permits and told him and the handful of other protesters to instead approach the country’s Gender Ministry.

“Zambia is a Christian nation it’s clear! We all agree, but sometimes we want to extract sections of our communities and say these are not Christians. Religion in diversity. Churches in diversity but one body of Christ and I want to say it is not right,” said Hichilema in his video. “I have been following what is happening in the country and to say that the new dawn government is promoting lesbian rights or gay rights that is not right. We have said it before in opposition and now in government that we do not support gay, lesbian rights as a government.” 

“The records are there,” he added. “The media houses carry those records from years back but now in the last recent days people are propagating in churches preaching about lesbian rights that is divisive you know, the new dawn government this and that it’s not right let’s focus on unity, let’s focus on materiality, things that matter for this country, our children keeping them in school matters more than the peripheral petty side of a divisive behavior.” 

Sampa, meanwhile, has said he will be leading another anti-LGBTQ+ protest under the banner #BanNdevupaNdevu (#BanBeardonBeard) on Sept. 28. He said he plans to deliver a letter to the State House pertaining to what he labelled “the rise in unnatural acts like homosexuality.”

“Our fight is non-political. It’s for Zambians regardless of your color, creed, religion or political affiliation,” said Sampa on Facebook. “The president needs to be making it clear to those ambassadors from some countries our stance about homosexuality. Here we chase ambassadors who support homosexuals because it’s criminal under our constitution. The government has got power to end all this, but we are lacking political will against homosexuality. Use the law to the latter.”

“Parents make time to talk to your children and visit them in boarding schools,” he added. “Male boarding schools are no longer safe. The homosexuals are sodomizing children as they initiate them into this bad vice.”

Sampa also posted to Facebook a picture of a bed with what appears to be human feces on sheets. Sampa said it was a result of too much anal sex and cautioned that heterosexuals should be concerned if their partner wants to engage in it.

“Before you join them no matter the amount they will offer you, remember this picture. This is a picture of a bed used by a person with fecal incontinence due to anal sex what you are seeing are feces leaking from the anus because the sphincter muscle is destroyed due to anal sex,” he said. “This is an example of a male-to-male relationship. Don’t be deceived; the anus is not a sexual organ. Would a normal person be happy to dip their penis in feces? Nobody enjoys the smell of feces unless there is some psychological problem.”

“For ladies, how to know that you are dating a homosexual,” added Sampa. “If the guy keeps demanding for anal sex make sure you report him to the police.”

Zambia criminalizes same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.

A court in 2019 convicted two gay men of engaging in same-sex sexual activity and sentenced them to 15 years in prison. They received a presidential pardon in 2020 amid international pressure, but reports of discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ and intersex Zambians remain commonplace.

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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Kenya president-elect says LGBTQ+, intersex rights ‘not a big issue’

Homosexuality remains criminalized in former British colony

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Kenyan President William Ruto (Screen capture via Citizen TV Kenya YouTube)

NAIROBI, Kenya — The president-elect of Kenya last week told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that LGBTQ+ and intersex rights are “not a big issue” in his country.

“We don’t want to create a mountain out of a molehill,” William Ruto told Amanpour during a Sept. 7 interview. “This is not a big issue for the people of Kenya. When it becomes a big issue for the people of Kenya, the people of Kenya will make a choice.”

Ruto spoke with Amanpour days after the Kenyan Supreme Court declared him the winner of the country’s Aug. 9 presidential election. Ruto’s inauguration will take place in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, on Wednesday.

The Children Act 2022, a law that granted equal rights and recognition to intersex people in Kenya, took effect in July. Consensual same-sex sexual relations nevertheless remain criminalized in the former British colony.

Amanpour noted to Ruto that outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta previously said there is “no room for homosexuality in Kenyan society.” 

Ruto said his predecessor “was spot on.” Ruto also noted youth unemployment and hunger are his top priorities.

“That is my concern. That is the focus of the people of Kenya at the moment,” said Ruto. “When the issue you have discussed about homosexuality and the rights of LGBT (people) will come, the people of Kenya will make a choice and we will respect the choice of the people of Kenya. For now, Christiane Amanpour, let us focus on the real issues that affect our people.”

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Africa

Rwanda criticized over exclusion of LGBTQ+, intersex people from Census

National count scheduled to end on Tuesday

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(Graphic courtesy of Pan Africa ILGA)

KIGALI, Rwanda — Activists in Rwanda have criticized the government over the lack of inclusion of LGBTQ+ and intersex people in the country’s national Census.

The current Census does not specifically count LGBTQ+ and intersex people or include them in the questionnaires. Activists have criticized this exclusion, especially with the fact that Rwanda does not criminalize homosexuality.

“2SLGBTQIA+ people, like other minorities and vulnerable groups, face disparities in economic status, health and housing,” said Human Rights First Rwanda Association, an organization based in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, that promotes the rights of LGBTQ+ and intersex people and other marginalized groups. “The government normally plans its long-term policies more especially in health matters and other issues depending on the vulnerability and marginalization from the number of its populace and also through conducting surveys including census. Thus, collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity helps identify what those specific disparities are, which is a crucial first step in addressing those disparities in the long run and that’s why some 2SLGBTQIA+ community members in Rwanda allude to the importance of this exercise and their inclusion.” 

The Human Rights First Rwanda Association said the Census questionnaires were broad, even though the government recognizes the LGBTQ+ and intersex community faces specific issues.

“The government recognizes the fact that 2SLGBTQIA+ issues exist but they did mention that the census questions had been tested to include issues of health and housing to a specific group but rather said continuous surveys would be conducted to collect data on particular groups like persons living with disabilities including those with intellectual disability, hard of hearing and other vulnerable groups including the 2SLGBTQIA+ groups who are different from others,” added the Human Rights First Rwanda Association.

The group acknowledged same-sex couples will not receive marriage rights in Rwanda anytime soon, but it did note it remains engaged with various government agencies to ensure people who are LGBTQ+ or intersex receive the same rights and protections that heterosexuals receive.

“The Rwanda Family Law only recognizes marriage of a man and woman and also does not provide for any other types of marriage,” said the Human Rights First Rwanda Association. “Same sex relations to be legalized may take time through the Rwanda law reform commission and advocacy on changes of laws, it could eventually allow and remove that clause that only recognizes marriage to be of a man and a woman and maybe include other forms of consensual relationships and marriages. This calls for a long-term advocacy agenda from civil society organizations and in particular the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.”

“Nevertheless, change comes gradually,” added the organization. 

Human Rights First Rwanda Association since 2006 has joined other NGOs in opposition of efforts to criminalize homosexuality in Rwanda. Rampant discrimination and abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity forces many LGBTQ+ and intersex Rwandans to remain in the closet.

“The process of reducing victimization on 2SLGBTQIA+ requires concentered and continued efforts and engaging various stakeholders such as the Ministry of Justice, (the) Rwanda Human Rights Commission; Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender and Family; (the) Gender Monitoring Unit; international development partners; faith leaders and including mainstream NGOs and 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations working together to change the mindset of the populace,” said Human Rights First Rwanda Association. “This can be done through dialogue meetings and continuous sensitization campaigns and also empowering sexual minorities to be their own self advocates.” 

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Africa

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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