News / Africa

Homophobia Sweeping Africa Like a Disease, says Rights Group

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

The group Aids-Free World says there’s a wave of “homophobia sweeping across Africa.”  It’s calling on the African Union to take urgent measures to stop “a growing and insidious contagion.”

Co-director Paula Donovan says silence on the part of the AU about the issue is similar to silence during the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

“The problem is definitely getting worse.  Homophobia seems to be spreading like a contagion from country to country in Africa.  And the efforts to criminalize homosexuality…(have) been taken up by increasing numbers of parliaments and promoted by increasing numbers of African leaders, including heads of state and prime ministers.”

In the news

A number of anti-homosexual incidents have been reported recently in Africa.  Uganda has considered legislation that would impose harsh penalties for homosexual acts.  One measure even called for the death penalty in some cases.  In Malawi, a male couple was prosecuted when their gay relationship became public.  Donovan says other incidents can be found Kenya, Zimbabwe and most recently Ghana.

Paula Donovan, co-director, AIDS-Free World
Paula Donovan, co-director, AIDS-Free World

Bernice Sam, program coordinator for Women in Law and Development (WiLDAF), called for Ghana’s constitution to be amended.

“In Ghana, to our dismay, an advocate for women’s rights spoke publically about the need for the constitution to be reviewed.  She saw a loophole…that would allow gay marriage and that would not allow for the criminalization of homosexuality.  And she said publically on tape that we don’t want gay marriage in Ghana,” says Donovan.

Sam is also quoted as criticizing attempts on the continent to recognize the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders.

Donovan says, “We were shocked to hear the statements coming from her.  As I think anyone who is aware of and supportive of WiLDAF’s work would be shocked. You know, you simply can’t categorize the rights of lesbians, gays and other sexual minorities as separate and distinct from the rights of all human beings.  To hear this sort of homophobia being promoted by people who purport to be human rights activists is incredibly troubling.”

30 years later

In the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a number of African leaders stated that homosexuality did not exist in their countries, that it was a matter for Western nations.  Some 30 years later, it remains an issue.

“I’m not quite sure what happened to trigger this new wave of homophobia across Africa.  I think that it probably happens in any human rights debate.  That people who are theoretically in favor of human rights can speak in platitudes and then suddenly, when they see a particular subset of the human population about whom they’re fearful and distrustful, then they start to rethink their general support for the human rights of all people,” she says.

She says many African leaders have embraced the idea of ending stigma and discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS, but she adds the sentiment doesn’t go far enough.

“It’s been pointed too narrowly at people who are already HIV positive,” she says, “We need to understand that stigma and discrimination is what drives people into high-risk groups.  And so, as long as you discriminate against people and drive them into the margins of society, then you’re going to exacerbate your HIV problems.”

She adds that “tolerance, openness and refusal to discriminate have to apply to people before they are HIV positive, as well as after.”

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid