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The African Commission for People and Human Rights (ACPHR) has declined to give observer status to the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL). Outraged LGBTI activists have described the decision as a huge setback by the highest body supposed to promote and protect human rights on the continent. This week’s blog roundup focuses on LGBTI news and issues. the Mask publishes a statement by the CAL in which they demand an explanation from the ACPHR:

‘CAL asserts that there is a “myriad” of actions that have been taken to demonstrate to the Commission that there is punitive violence going on against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people on the continent and that it must be stopped urgently.

‘“In order to do that, it is important for the Commission to build a formal relationship with organisations like CAL to work together towards the protection of sexual orientation and gender identity rights in Africa. One way of doing that is to grant observer status to organisations working on sexual orientation and gender identity rights”, says CAL.

‘CAL further added “It is important to have the African Commission as an African Union human rights instrument to take a stand and create mechanisms to protect and promote rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to end violence to this effect. One way to demonstrate that would have been to grant observer status to the Coalition of African Lesbians.”’ Looks publishes a statement by Sokari Ekine and Mia Nikamiso on the denial of observer status to CAL by the African Commission on People and Human Rights:

‘We are angry at the grotesque indifference exercised by these charlatans whose misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, lesbophobia, transphobia due to heteronormativity whatever the origin, is being unleashed against us. Acting with hysterical fear in the face of a simple request by CAL to hold observer status, the ACPHR, as it represents and discusses issues of importance to all African citizens, is the mark of irresponsibility and shameful viciousness. And of course it is in violation of the treaties and international agreements to which it and its member countries are signatories.

‘The questions here are immense, ‘on what grounds does the ACPHR’s act on?‘ “In whose interest is it acting’? How is it that this small group of people are able to hold power over millions of African people and put their lives at risk? Or are they merely dancing to the sick orgy dictated by religious and political warlords back home? Or is it their post colonial heritage which makes them feel justified in exerting quasi powers of exclusion in this way? What progress do they hope to make piggy backing deeply held indifferences and prejudices in a bashful lack of transparency? When will all this hypocrisy end? Have they considered any of these or are they just too intransigent to fully consider what is meant by, “human rights?” “Are they saying that LGBTI people are not HUMAN? Because, there is no one, not a living soul on this continent who can prove to anyone that LGBTI people are a minority and who are not as firmly steeped in these lands as any other person.’ African Activist reports on the trial of Millicent Gaika’s rapist. Millicent showed extraordinary bravery in testifying against the rapist in a South African court.

‘I’ve never been as tired as yesterday; we arrived at Wynberg Court at 8.30am ~ Millicent was ready to take the stand, and was called in at 10am; we were not allowed to enter the court as they said the journalists were going to write a false story. I then spoke to Millicent about that and she was fine with getting everybody in, including the journalist.

‘They then again persuaded her not to allow any body in while she was testifying; not even her own mother was allowed to get in inside. We all sat in the bangers, with Andile Ncoza, the guy who raped Millicent, sitting next to us! He just sat staring at me with those angry eyes ~ last week while i was driving passing his house he was standing outside, and when he saw my car he was swearing at me and shouted “I’m gonna get you, Bitch!”.

‘Milly was very nervous testifying as she was alone, and the court was surrounded with cameras … She told me that when she was standing in front of the magistrate facing Andile Ncoza she re-lived the whole ordeal!’ Kenya reports on a statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights which speaks directly to the denial of observer status by the ACPHR:

‘Homophobia, like racism and xenophobia, exists to varying degrees in all societies. Every day, in every country, individuals are persecuted, vilified or violently assaulted, even killed, because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Covert or overt, homophobic violence causes enormous suffering that is often shrouded in silence and endured in isolation.

‘It is time we all spoke up. While responsibility for hate crimes rests with the perpetrators, we all share a duty to counter intolerance and prejudice and demand that attackers be held to account.

‘The first priority is to press for decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide. In more than 70 countries, individuals still face criminal sanctions on the basis of their sexual orientation. Such laws expose those concerned to the constant risk of arrest, detention and, in some cases, torture or even execution. They also perpetuate stigma and contribute to a climate of intolerance and violence.’ Uganda discusses questions around LGBTIQ ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’ deal with issues of Faith and God. GU is not a believer and asks why is it so difficult for people who believe to accept that one can be human as well as ‘unbeliever’. This makes perfect sense when you consider some of the most hateful people are men and women of God. He then goes on to give examples of both. Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo who is a gay activist but not gay and has put himself at great risk for his stance. Then there is Bishop Ssempa who wants Bishop Ssenyonjo and LGBTI people hanged. So there you have two men of God, one acting most ungodly whilst the other acting in the interest of humanity. Gay hits out at African American director and producer, Tyler Perry on his admission he was sexually abused as a child. There is a great deal of anger in AfroGay who is unable to reconcile Tyler’s huge wealth with the possibility that he has been hurt and damaged by the abuse. His anger centres around his belief that Perry is a closet homosexual who will eventually come out and use the child abuse as a basis for his sexuality. I think this is more an attack on Perry’s wealth in that as a soon-to-be billionaire, whatever happened to him in his childhood is of no consequence. I don’t agree but admit that dealing with child abuse is exacerbated by poverty, but does wealth really wash away everything?

‘So, when Perry went on the Oprah Show and waxed indignant about an abusive dad, AfroGay was totally incensed. It is one thing for these celebrities to hide their sexuality - everyone deserves to have their privacy. But it is quite another for them to try and perpetrate a fraud in order to justify why they are of a queer sexual persuasion. That I find a problem, a big problem with.

‘You see, I am totally convinced that Perry is preparing his following for the admission of the open secret that he is homosexual. But he doesn't want to make a simple admission of what everyone who sees him can see; he has to find a reason why it is someone's fault that he is homosexual. And that incenses me no end.’ am going to end with Kenne’s Blog. His post ‘Stuck at Homophobia’ points out the Queer’s obsession with homophobia – ‘the set principles, ideals and standards which get us there and the after effects of such’:

‘We obsess about homophobia, queer or not, people turn to this sensation time and time again in a bid to justify it, nourish it, speak/act against it in themselves and in others and finally conclude on it in a way that is curiously devoid of the aggrieved party, queers. I am yet to come across a mainstream view whereby a middle way approach, conscious indifference, is exercised.’

Kenne has decided to no longer take homophobia seriously, to no longer respond to it or obsess over it. How does this change the way he relates and interacts with the world? There is a case for refusing to feed into the hate and giving voice to those spouting homophobia. I feel the same way each time some religious or political leader somewhere repeats the same old rhetoric – do you report it, comment on it or just ignore it? I agree with Kenne – we need to stop obsessing over homophobia and deal with other topics affecting Queer Africa:

‘Over the past twelve months, many incidences have come out to point out that queer Africa exists and is vibrant but only went as far as showing how homophobic Africa is. This stuckness on homophobia by queers and non-queers and the media takes away the much needed attention to more pertinent issues such as HIV/AIDS, queer rights and so on. As we advocate for queer rights in Africa, as we call ourselves gay, lesbian, bisexual or gender non-conforming, in a word- queer; let’s cut out the homophobia part, it’s not us- it’s them.’

But as like Kenne, ‘I’m stuck’ on whether to be unstuck or stuck...


* Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.