Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill appears to have sparked a renewed interest in persecuting LGBT people across Africa, sometimes with violent consequences. Here are five stories of shocking persecution and anti-LGBT rhetoric that cannot be ignored.
1. Tanzanian Officials Want a Bill to Stop Gays “Recruiting”
Tanzanian Member of Parliament Ezekiel Wenje has said that he believes that the country’s current laws do not adequately prevent gay people from “recruiting” younger citizens. Currently, Tanzania criminalizes homosexuality under Section 154 of its criminal code, which states that any person who has “carnal knowledge” of another that is “against the order of nature” can be given 20 years to life in prison.
However, Wenje has said that the law doesn’t stop gay people supposedly inducing others or promoting gay “behavior.” Wenje therefore intends to introduce legislation that would penalize said perceived offenses with 20 years to life sentences.
The legislation as described is concerning because it would appear to give the government a broad tool-set to hound and punish people for offenses that could be as small as recommending books with LGBT themes, while at the same time effectively stifling all attempts at LGBT-positive human rights work and sexual health outreach.
2. Ugandan Men Imprisoned and Subjected to Dehumanizing Medical Tests
Reports say that two Ugandan men, Maurice Okello, 22, and Anthony Oluku, 18, were recently arrested under Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law. What’s more, reports say the pair were then subjected to dehumanizing anal screenings to “prove” that they had repeatedly engaged in homosexual sex. These so-called medical tests have been heavily criticized for violating an array of international human rights standards, and carry absolutely no medical authenticity whatsoever.
3. Ghana Official Say Gays are Satanic Attack on the Country
Ghana’s Former Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mike Ocquaye, who still holds considerable influence in the country, recently said that “We consider this [homosexuality] an abomination. We don’t want a [mustached] man marrying another bearded man and it is the right of the children to call a man father and a woman mother. … Indeed the family is under satanic attack and we should take great care to protect it.”
With many nations emboldened by Uganda and Nigeria’s anti-homosexuality legislation, Ghana may feel it can also now proceed to further terrorize the LGBT community. Ghana has repeatedly flirted with enacting stronger anti-gay legislation, and this kind of rhetoric seems to validate fears that some kind of legislation might not be far away.
4. Ugandan President Leads Anti-Homosexuality Celebration
If there was ever any doubt that Museveni’s original hesitance to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was a political farce, his recent actions more than serve to dispel those feelings. On Monday, March 31, Museveni presided over what essentially was a party with 30,000 in attendance celebrating, among other things, the passing of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Said Museveni at the event, “There is a fundamental misunderstanding between us and the liberal west. They say that homosexuality is sex. But it is not sex.” This speaks to the way Museveni and his supporters have manipulated rhetoric around the bill to recast this battle as that of Africa standing up against the tyrannical West.
5. Gay Men Allegedly Tortured and Burnt to Death in South Africa
Reports say that a 21-year-old South African man named David Olyn was tied up with wire, beaten and then burned to death by a suspect who has now been arrested. Add to this the fact that several teenagers were reportedly at the scene and did nothing to stop the accused from setting Mr Oly alight, nor did they run for help. The incident, which happened on Saturday, March 29, has been called a hate crime by LGBT rights groups as Olyn was a well known gay man. The killer is also believed to have used anti-gay epithets while attacking Olyn. The police have yet to formally characterize this as a hate crime, however.
This atrocious crime has happened despite the fact that South Africa has firm constitutional protections for gay people whom it recognizes as equal to heterosexuals in almost every respect. However, there has always been a question about a lack of willingness to enforce these constitutional protections. This is incredibly concerning, and not just for South Africa. Human rights groups have previously stated the importance of South Africa and how it is probably only through South Africa’s outreach that North African countries might be challenged on their anti-gay laws and, in time, decide to change their stance.
Meanwhile international commentators, while always cautious about being alarmist, are concerned that the anti-LGBT crackdown in North Africa is snowballing, and that we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.
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