Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

January 27, 2017

Two Gay Men Jailed in Africa Nation Without Anti Sodomy or Gay Laws

Arthur, Malika, David and Michel 
Two gay men were jailed in a coastal city in the Ivory Coast even though there’s no law banning same-sex relationships in the country.
The men, identified by the Guardian as Yann and Abdoul, are gay but deny romantic involvement with one another. They believe they were charged with public indecency, but prosecutors have refused to confirm the charge.
Yann and Abdoul served three months in prison, after a trial without lawyers where they declined appeal because they thought the appeal process could take longer than the prison sentence.
“We were convicted in an unjust manner. If there is no law that that condemns it, I don’t understand how we could have been convicted,” Yann said.
News of the men’s conviction was slow to reach the country’s largest city of Abidjan, where many of the country’s LGBT activists reside. The first Ivorian newspaper to cover the story did so after the conviction was already reached and the men had decided not to appeal.
After being released from an overcrowded prison, they have decided to go to Abidjan, a city of relative safety for LGBT people in West Africa.
Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch is still asking why the men were convicted. “The government needs to come clean and offer an explanation to these two young men who have spent three months in jail for no apparent reason.”

April 30, 2015

France Admits Investigation on Their Peacekeepers Sexually Abusing Children in Africa

A boy plays among the ruins of a mosque in BanguiPHOTO: The UN report includes interviews with children who claimed they were sexually abused by French troops in return for money and food. (Reuters: Siegfried Modola)
RELATED STORY: UN to send peacekeepers to Africa amid genocide fears
RELATED STORY: President flees as Central African rebels seize capital
The French government says it is investigating claims that its peacekeepers sexually abused children in the Central African Republic.
It said the abuse was alleged by around 10 children and reportedly took place at a centre for internally displaced people near the airport of the capital Bangui between December 2013 and June 2014. 
A report in Britain's The Guardian newspaper said children as young as nine were involved, and that some were abused while searching desperately for food or money.
The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations' appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning.
AIDS-Free World co-director Paula Donovan
France's defence ministry said prosecutors had "immediately" opened a case into the abuse after receiving the news last year, and that police investigators had travelled to the Central African Republic on August 1 to look into the case.
"The defence ministry has taken and will take the necessary measures to allow the truth to be found," it said in a statement.
"If the facts are proven, the strongest penalties will be imposed on those responsible for what would be an intolerable attack on soldiers' values."
France sent troops to the Central African Republic in December 2013 as the country became engulfed in violence following a coup in March that toppled longtime leader Francois Bozize.
UN spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed that its rights investigators had conducted a probe last year following "serious allegations" of child abuse and sexual exploitation by French troops.

Aid worker suspended for leaking UN report

The internal report was commissioned by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and passed on The Guardian via advocacy group Aids-Free World. 
"The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations' appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn't uncommon," Paula Donovan, co-director of Aids-Free World, told The Guardian.
"The UN's instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks — ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble — must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access."
The UN aid worker, Swedish national Anders Kompass, is based in Geneva and leaked the report to French authorities because his bosses had failed to take action, The Guardian reported. 
He has been suspended and faces dismissal for breaching protocol, the paper said.
Mr Kompass is said to have passed on the confidential document before it was presented to senior OHCHR officials.
"This constitutes a serious breach of protocol, which, as is well known to all OHCHR officials, requires redaction of any information that could endanger victims, witnesses and investigators," UN spokesman Farhan Haq.
Since December 2013, violence has displaced nearly 900,000 people in the Central African Republic, including more than 460,000 who have become refugees — 10 per cent of the population.

July 30, 2014

First joint report on the state of Human Gay Rights in Africa

Washington, DC — 
In advance of President Barack Obama’s upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with nearly 50 African heads of state, today Human Rights First and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, released a jointreport that provides brief country-specific overviews on the status of LGBT people in each of the continent’s 54 nations.
Heads of state from 32 of the 37 nations in Africa that criminalize LGBT relationships have been invited to the summit. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan—both of whom signed draconian anti-LGBT laws earlier this year—are scheduled to attend. The death penalty is allowed as a form of punishment in some Nigerian states, and leaders from two other nations that allow it in all or some parts of their country—Mauritania and Somalia—are also expected to participate.
“More than 800 million people live in African nations that criminalize LGBT individuals because of who they love or who they are” said Ty Cobb, HRC Foundation’s Director of Global Engagement. “Many face near-constant threats of harassment, discrimination, prosecution and violence on a daily basis, and others remain vulnerable to increasingly dangerous and concerted efforts to enact harsh anti-LGBT legislation. Supporting the human rights of all Africans, including LGBT Africans, must be an important part of our nation’s engagement.”
“We know that there are thousands of people across the African continent who are standing up for an end to violence and for full equality for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “These people, activists, leaders, lawyers, religious figures and others, need to know that they have support around the world and this Summit is an ideal time to signal that support.”
Human Rights First and HRC Foundation's joint report, The State of Human Rights for LGBT People in Africa, documents existing anti-LGBT laws and efforts to enact new measures; some publicly known instances of discrimination and violence; the presence and activity of LGBT rights organizations; and encouraging signs of support for LGBT people.
Announced by the White House as the “largest single engagement by any U.S. President with Africa”, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will provide Obama Administration officials a chance to directly engage these leaders and their delegations on a number of critical issues. Earlier this week, Human Rights First and Human RIghts Campaign joined Council for Global Equality to urge President Obama to include civil society leaders in the summit.
 Human Rights First and HRC Foundation believe that the protection and preservation of the basic human rights of LGBT Africans should be one of the many important areas of discussion. Although we recognize that every bilateral relationship is complex, and that engagement on LGBT rights must be included in the context of broader human rights discussions, we believe that leadership in this once-in-a-generation moment could encourage broader progress on the rights and treatment of LGBT Africans for decades to come.
President Obama declared in 2011 that the “struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.” Secretary of State John Kerry has affirmed this commitment, and the Obama Administration has taken tangible steps to advance the cause of achieving full LGBT equality abroad.
In June, the Obama Administration announced a series of new concrete actions that held the Ugandan government and leaders in it accountable for the internationally condemned Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was enacted earlier this year. “We must put all world leaders on notice that such efforts have no place in the 21st century, and there will be severe consequences for engaging in them,” Cobb said at the time. “This creates an important precedent for leaders and governments considering implementing similar laws.”
“We remain hopeful that the United States will put LGBT issues on the agenda not as a stand-alone element but within the framework of a broad discussion of all the other vital issues affecting civil society in Africa,” said Gaylord.

May 23, 2014

Accused of Having Gay sex Denied Bail (sodomy bail refused)

Refused bail ... Sydney Chirombe
MDC-T Cllr held for ‘car sex’ with man

A HARARE Magistrate Wednesday denied bail to the MDC-T councillor charged with sodomy citing President Robert Mugabe anti-gay rants adding that the official and his alleged partner would likely “reunite and commit the abominable act” if freed.
MDC-T Ward 33 Budiriro councillor Sydney Chirombe, 49, is languishing in jail after allegedly being found in a compromising position with a male colleague last week. Chirombe is being charged with his suspected partner, Joseph Muchena, 23.
Magistrate Milton Serima said sodomy is a felony that “The Highest office in the land has denounced hence the accused could not be admitted to bail. The offense is very serious, and has even got condemnation from President Robert Mugabe.
“At one stage the President said that a person involved in such an act is worse than pigs and dogs. The first accused is a Councillor whose reputation and esteem is expected to be held without any contempt,” Serima said.
The magistrate also argued that Chirombe could abscond from court because the nature of his crime is embarrassing.
“The first accused is likely to skip trial if given bail considering his status in the community. The nature of crime might induce him to take flight and throw the State case into disarray,” the magistrate said.
On the councillor’s alleged partner Muchena, the magistrate accused him of giving conflicting addresses to court officials thereby raising suspicion on his credibility.
“The second accused person is of no fixed board, so he is most likely to flee the jurisdiction of the court. The propensity to commit similar offense upon release is highly likely. The pair will most likely reunite and commit the abominable act,” Serima said.
Prosecutor Sharon Mashavire argued against bail because “the duo was caught in the act hence the presumption of innocence falls away”.
“Accused persons were actually arrested whilst committing the offense, therefore their presumptions of innocence until proven guilty falls away at face value,” Mashavire said.
“There is a high likely hood of a stiff sentence if convicted, thus there is a high risk the two might abscond trial”.
Mashavire added that the public needed to be protected “from such perpetrators”.
Mugabe is a vocal critic of homosexuality and has come out openly to support anti-gay laws in Uganda and other countries.
In his independence speech last month, the veteran Zimbabwean leader said gay-rights are not human rights because they are based on immoral and unnatural activities.

May 16, 2014

Parasites Might be to Blame on HIV African Women


OTIMATI, South Africa — While around the world a vast majority of AIDS victims are men, Africa has long been the glaring exception: Nearly 60 percent are women. And while there are many theories, no one has been able to prove one.

In a modest public health clinic behind a gas station here in South Africa’s rural KwaZulu/Natal Province, a team of Norwegian infectious disease specialists think they may have found a new explanation.

It is far too soon to say whether they are right. But even skeptics say the explanation is biologically plausible. And if it is proved correct, a low-cost solution has the potential to prevent thousands of infections every year.

The Norwegian team believes that African women are more vulnerable to H.I.V. because of a chronic, undiagnosed parasitic disease: genital schistosomiasis (pronounced shis-to-so-MY-a-sis), often nicknamed “schisto.”

The disease, also known as bilharzia and snail fever, is caused by parasitic worms picked up in infested river water. It is marked by fragile sores in the far reaches of the vaginal canal that may serve as entry points for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Dr. Eyrun F. Kjetland, who leads the Otimati team, says that it is more common than syphilis or herpes, which can also open the way for H.I.V.
The disease thought to contribute to AIDS in African women is caused by worms picked up in infested river water. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times
Also, the foreign bodies in the sores — the worms and eggs — attract CD4 cells, the immune system’s sentinels, and those are the very cells that H.I.V. attacks.

The worms can be killed by a drug that costs as little as 8 cents a pill. Dr. Kjetland’s team is trying to determine whether that will heal the sores in young women.

Some prominent AIDS experts doubt the schistosomiasis theory, pointing out, for example, that urban women raised far from infested water also die of AIDS. But proponents of the theory say that two decades ago, many experts were just as skeptical of the idea that circumcision protected men against H.I.V. It was not until 2006 that three clinical trials proved it correct.

Schistosomiasis “is arguably the most important cofactor in Africa’s AIDS epidemic,” said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “And it’s a huge women’s health issue: Everyone has heard of genital mutilation and obstetric fistulas. But mention this, and the headlights just go dim.”

The idea is slowly gaining ground. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations, the National Institutes of Health, and the Danish and Norwegian governments have all given some grant support. But leaders of the two agencies that pay for the fight against global AIDS want more evidence before diverting funds from their campaigns for condoms, drugs and circumcision.

“We need to track all these things down and see what’s a cause and what’s just another disease you have at the same time, like cervical cancer,” said Dr. Mark R. Dybul, executive director of one of the agencies, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Dr. Eric Goosby, who recently finished a five-year stint as coordinator of the other agency, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or Pepfar, agreed that vaginal sores could help the virus enter. “But it’s complicated,” he added. “A lot of women who have H.I.V. don’t have schisto, and vice versa.”
From her small clinic just off the highway here, Dr. Kjetland makes visits to high schools where she has government permission to work because their communities have the highest rates of schistosomiasis. On the dirt roads around these hills, it can take her hours to reach each one.

Through school nurses, she gives deworming drugs to all students, male and female. (To her frustration, although the drug is sold by generic makers for as little as eight cents a pill, South African patent laws permit only the Bayer version, which costs $4.)

Then she meets with groups of girls ages 16 and up to ask the sexually active ones to come to Otimati for gynecological exams and blood tests.

“I am as gentle as I can be, much more gentle than sex is for them,” she said, “but even the slightest touch and they bleed.”

Gentleness is part of Dr. Kjetland’s nature. A 49-year-old stepmother of five, she watches like a mother over the girls in her study. She ordered that extra rooms be built where they can cry if they test positive for H.I.V. She tries to make sure the boys in their schools never realize she chooses only sexually active girls. And she has KFC delivered, since it is a treat for girls who often have only cornmeal mush to eat for days on end.

Though trained in Norway, she has spent most of her life in Africa, growing up in Tanzania as the eldest of a missionary couple’s six children, attending prep school in South Africa, and, after college and medical school in Norway, doing graduate work in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

An estimated 200 million Africans have had schistosomiasis. Although it is rarely fatal, the bleeding it causes in children can lead to anemia, stunted growth and learning problems. It is caused by tiny worms that live in freshwater snails and emerge with pointed heads that can penetrate the skin of people collecting water or washing clothes.

Once inside, the worms mate, with the female living in a cleft in the male’s body “like a hot dog in a bun,” Dr. Kjetland said. Most nest in the urinary tract — bloody urine is the classic symptom — but a portion end up in the vagina, creating “sandy patches” of damaged tissue and calcified eggs.
Studies by Dr. Kjetland in Zimbabwe and South Africa and by Dr. Jennifer A. Downs of Weill Cornell Medical College in Tanzania have shown that women with the patches are about three times as likely as their neighbors to be infected with H.I.V.

A gold standard study to prove the connection would be both impractical and unethical: Researchers would have to divide hundreds of infant girls into two groups, give half deworming drugs and half placebos, wait until they were perhaps 20 years old, and see how many had H.I.V. No ethics board would approve placebos under those conditions.

So Dr. Kjetland studies teenagers, hoping to heal their sores and see if their H.I.V. infection rates are lower than the norm. (In grown women, the sores persist even after the worms die.)

For years, theories have abounded as to why African women become infected with H.I.V.: for example, that they are more likely to have overlapping sexual partners — not always by choice — while women elsewhere have boyfriends or husbands in series. That rape, incest and domestic violence are rife in southern Africa, where the AIDS epidemic is worst. That syphilis and herpes are rampant. That impoverished, fatherless young women are forced to pay with sex for food, clothes, grades and even car rides.

The schisto hypothesis can now be added to that list, but to some prominent experts it remains unlikely.

One is Daniel Halperin, an epidemiologist now at the Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Puerto Rico. He knows how it feels to be doubted: In the 1990s, he was the chief proponent of the theory that circumcision protected men against H.I.V.
He argues that tropical West Africa, where schisto is common, has little H.I.V., while countries with little schisto, like arid Botswana and mountainous Swaziland, have sky-high H.I.V. rates.

Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, a renowned South African AIDS researcher who admires Dr. Kjetland’s work, is also skeptical. His team follows more than 1,000 women in an area only 40 miles from Otimati with equally high H.I.V. rates.

“We’ve studied genital tracts in detail for 20 years, photographing them sequentially,” he said, “and we see no sandy patches.”

Upon hearing that, Dr. Kjetland reached for the mounted magnifying scope she uses to examine girls.

“They’re not looking in the right places,” she said.

Most gynecologists, she explained, are trained to look for cancer, which usually starts near the center of the cervix, while sandy patches are tucked away in crevices that can be seen only by swinging the scope to extreme angles. It takes her weeks to train doctors to find them consistently, she said.

Fighting schisto across Africa would take an extensive pill-distribution effort, but Dr. Hotez, the Baylor dean, argues that it is worth it.

Seventy million African children could be dewormed twice a year for 10 years at a cost of $112 million, he said in an essay titled “Africa’s 32 Cents Solution for H.I.V./AIDS” (32 cents being the cost of two generic deworming pills twice a year). That is cheap compared with the $38 billion Pepfar is expected to spend on AIDS in that period, he said.

A vaccine would be even better, and several are in development, including one at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, which Dr. Hotez also heads.

But even if one works, “it will be at least five to 10 years before the testing is finished,” he said. “We shouldn’t wait for that.”

A version of this article appears in print on May 11, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Simple Theory to Fight H.I.V. in African Girls
(After seeing this photo I will never complaint about getting a two bed room anywhere!)

Women suffering from HIV/AIDS share a bed at a hospital in the University of Kigali in Rwanda, February 13, 2006. Twenty-five years after AIDS was first recognized, the world is in better shape than ever to put an end to the disease but is falling short on many fronts, the United Nations said on Tuesday. In South Africa, the UN report found an increase in the number of women getting infected. (Themis Hakizimana/Reuters)

April 7, 2014

Who is Behind the Cristian Onslaught in Africa?


In Uganda, being gay can now earn you a lifetime in prison.
In February, the East African country was again thrust into the international spotlight after President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a draconian bill that criminalized homosexuality. The high profile, on-and-off battle over the so-called “kill the gays” bill has drawn headlines for years as the most extreme example in a wave of antigay legislation on the continent. But homophobia in Africa is not merely an African problem.
As the gay rights movement has gained traction in the United States, the more virulently homophobic ideologies of the religious right have been pushed further out of the mainstream and into fringe territory. But as their influence has waned at home, right-wing evangelists from the United States have been flexing their sanctimonious muscles influencing policymakers in Africa.
For years now, evangelical activists from the United States have been injecting themselves into African politics, speaking out against homosexuality and cheering on antigay legislation on the continent. The influence of these groups has been well documented in Uganda. The now-defunct Exodus International, for example, sent Don Schmierer, a board member, to Uganda in 2009 to speak at a conference alongside Scott Lively, a pastor who was later sued by a Ugandan gay rights group for his role in promoting human rights violations against LGBTQ people. The two participated in a disturbing antigay conference, where speakers blamed homosexuals for the rise of Nazism and the Rwandan genocide, among other abhorrent acts. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a hard-right Christian group that is active in US politics as well, similarly supported antigay laws in Uganda. At the peak of the controversy over the “kill the gays” bill, Perkins praised the Ugandan president for “leading his nation to repentance.”
But such groups aren’t just active in Uganda. They have promoted antigay legislation in Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, just to name a few other places. The support ranges from popular agitation and sideline cheerleading to outright intervention.
In 2010, for example, when Zimbabwe began the process of drafting a new constitution, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a Christian law firm founded by evangelist Pat Robertson, launched a Zimbabwean counterpart called the African Centre for Law and Justice. The outpost trained lawyers for the express purpose of putting a Christian stamp on the draft of the new constitution.
The African Centre joined forces with the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), an indigenous organization, to promote constitutional language affirming that Zimbabwe is a Christian nation and ensuring that homosexuality remained illegal. These and other hardline views are outlined in a pamphlet distributed by the EFZ and ACLJ. Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of ACLJ, announced that his organization would lobby for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in political and religious circles in the event of any controversy over the provisions, despite the fact that Mugabe has been sanctioned by the United States and the European Union for violating human rights. Last year, Zimbabwe’s new constitution, which includes a ban on gay marriage, was approved by an overwhelming popular vote.
ACLJ’s Kenya-based offshoot, the East African Center for Law and Justice (EACLJ), lobbied against Kenya’s progressive new constitution as well. In April 2010, a report on the group’s website called homosexuality “unacceptable” and “foreign” and called for the Kenyan constitution to clearly define marriage as between a man and a woman, thus closing the door on future laws that could attempt to legalize same-sex marriage. In this case the EACLJ was unsuccessful, and the new constitution was approved without any language regarding same-sex marriage.
Pat Robertson’s entanglements in Africa go well beyond Zimbabwe and Kenya.
In 1960, Robertson created the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which broadcasts through cable and satellite to over 200 countries. Robertson is a co-host on the 700 Club, arguably CBN’s most popular show. From his perch on the show, Robertson has made a seemingly endless variety of inflammatory remarks about LGBTQ people and just about everyone else that does not fall in line with his own religious thinking.
In the United States, Robertson’s vitriol can be brushed aside as the antiquated ravings of a fringe figure. Not so in much of Africa. A survey conducted in 2010 found that 74 million people in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, had watched at least one CBN show in the previous year. That’s a remarkable reach, considering Nigeria is home to about 80 million Christians in all.
Robertson’s influence plays into an increasingly hostile political climate for gays in the country. Last January, President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which provides punishments of up to fourteen years' imprisonment for a gay marriage and up to ten years for membership in or encouragement of gay clubs and organizations. The enactment of the law was followed by a wave of arrests of gay men—and widespread denunciation from the international community.
The religious right, however, doesn’t see Nigerian laws regarding homosexuality as a gross violation of human rights but rather as protection of “traditional marriage.” In 2011, on the heels of the Nigerian Senate passing an earlier version of the antigay law, President Obama announced that the United States would officially promote LGBTQ rights abroad as part of its development framework. In response, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute denounced the administration’s directive for putting “U.S. foreign policy on a collision course with religious freedom.”
MassResistance, a Massachusetts-based organization that bills itself as a “pro-family” activist group, praised Nigeria when the Nigerian House passed an earlier version of the bill that President Jonathan signed into law on January 7. In a statement, the group said that African nations are “feeling the brunt” of the gay rights movement, claiming that the “huge spread of AIDS” and the “breakdown in society caused by the homosexual movement seems to bring more general social destruction in African cultures than in the West.” Antigay laws in Nigeria have enjoyed unequivocal support from some hardline evangelical groups in the United States, with some going so far as to travel to Nigeria to spread antigay sentiment.
One such group is the “pro-family” advocacy group Family Watch International. Formed in 1999 and headed by Sharon Slater, FWI boasts members and supporters from over 170 countries. In 2011, Slater was the keynote speaker at a meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association, where she touted her beliefs on homosexuality, telling delegates that they would no longer have religious freedom and that homosexuals would prey on their children if they supported “fictitious sexual rights.” To Slater and her ilk, the rights of LGBTQ people are imaginary.
 FWI even wields influence within the United Nations. In early 2011, FWI co-hosted a “Global Family Policy Forum” in Phoenix. Over the two-day event, FWI coached twenty-six UN staffers from twenty-three different countries in attendance on how to resist UN initiatives on gay rights. An FWI newsletter claimed that conference attendees were finally hearing scientific and clinical “evidence” that homosexuality was not genetically determined and could be cured by therapy.
To some, the belief that homosexuality is a disease that needs to be cured may seem too ridiculous to even entertain. But if the devout can’t win at home, they’ll take their message abroad. It’s up to the international community and African activists dedicated to human rights to put an end to this export of hate.
This article is a joint publication of and Foreign Policy In Focus.

April 1, 2014

Gay Community Hits Back at Zimbawes’s United Family Int.Church an Anti Human Rights Enclave


Gay remarks storm ... Emmanuel Makandiwa
ZIMBABWE’S beleaguered gay community has hit back at United Family International Church (UFIC) leader, Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa who in a recent church sermon described them as mentally sick.
Makandiwa said homosexuals are mentally deranged people whom God has "surrendered to their malfunctioning minds".

“God never thought anyone could do what they are doing,” Makandiwa was quoted as saying in State media this past Sunday.
“Men trying to be women, women trying to be men, trying to run away from the natural way of things, that’s a result of a reprobate mind.”
He continued: “What amazes me is that some of these people are billionaires. Some of these people with reprobate minds are in political positions.
“Now they are passing laws to support homosexuality, defending their reprobate minds. You can’t even advise them against it, they can even arrest you for that.”
But speaking through their advocacy group, the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ), the local LGBT community strongly condemned the popular prophet’s comments, further threatening to expose fellow gays and association members who form Makandiwa’s big congregation.
“It is one thing for you to remain silent or neutral about homosexuality; it is quite another for you to castigate us when some of your followers are LGBTI people themselves hence statements such as the ones quoted in the Sunday Mail hinder his ability to reach out to the people that yearn for God’s love,” GALZ said in a statement.
“We should learn to show compassion and be willing to associate with those that bear the burdens of life placed upon them by others.
“Prophet Makandiwa must have conviction of the power of the Gospel he preaches to “convert”. He needs not be a modern day “Pharisee”. We are reminded of (Matthew 23:13-15).”
GALZ also accused Makandiwa of trying to impress Zimbabwe’s powerful rulers, among them rabid critics of homosexuality.
Said Galz, “One of the fundamental roles of the church is to foster love, unity, and empathy and cohesion in society.
“This does not seem to be reflected in his offensive comments that serve only to reinforce the prejudice against LGBTI people in this country and encourage persecution.
“Being a pastor is more about being willing to be led by God and changed by the people you meet than issuing infallible decrees from the pulpit.

“As a pastor and Christian, in order to serve his flock well, he might do so by admitting he is wrong and sharing his frailty than pretending he knows God's will on a given subject.
"We hope he will understand that manipulating the authority of the church to fight political battles is the most blatant sin and that he prays for a day when the question of one’s sexuality will become irrelevant and discrimination against lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people will be relegated to the same heap containing slavery, racism (including anti-Semitism), sexism and discrimination against socially marginalized groups and people.”
Zimbabwe's gays have largely been an inconspicuous lot with most gay unions made in strict secrecy.
President Robert Mugabe has been their number one critic, at one point describing them as "worse than pigs and dogs".

At his recent 90th birthday bash, Mugabe said they were abusing their God-given sexual organs.

February 10, 2014

Gay Hatred is Not African, It was Imported

If Uganda's President decides to sign what has been dubbed the world's worst anti-gay bill this week, there will be international ructions. But for one of the globe's most prominent gay activists, the decision would have immediate implications. In all likelihood, he would not be allowed back home. 
rank Mugisha, the 32-year-old Ugandan activist who is in London to urge politicians to campaign for the rights of gay people in his country, leads something of a double life. In Uganda, where it is already a crime to be gay and where the President refers to homosexuality as an "abnormality", his LGBT-rights organisation Sexual Minorities Uganda (Smug) operates from a secret location. He is used to being beaten up in supermarkets and thrown in jail. His colleague, the gay activist David Kato, was brutally murdered three years ago.
Outside his country, he has won many plaudits, including the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award and the Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize for his activism. The Roman Catholic gay activist, who has been in a relationship for seven years, has instigated the first case of its kind against a prominent evangelical pastor in the US who he says whipped up homophobia and helped to effectively criminalise the campaign for gay rights in Uganda (a claim the pastor denies), as well as in Russia and other countries. He is in talks with Russian LGBT activists about them travelling to the US to support his case.
If this sounds like a lot to rest on one man's shoulders, you would not guess it from meeting Mugisha. Sitting opposite me in a hotel in central London, he speaks carefully, sounding out every syllable. He tells me how he temporarily fled his country in 2008 when officials allegedly tried to blackmail him. He tells me how his partner had to move to the US because of the challenges he faced as a result of dating a high-profile campaigner. He tells me his neighbours in Kampala have tried to "inform" on him to his landlord twice, because of his sexuality.
Does he think he could be killed on account of his activism? "Definitely," he replies, calmly. "I'd be mad not to think that. I've seen what happened and I see what is happening. Even Ugandans ask me: 'How do you dare?' Some people I know can't tell the person next to them they're gay. I take extra precaution with everything I do in life … but I've understood I could face risk at any time."
While the world's eyes are firmly focused on the Russian Sochi Olympics and Putin's "homosexual propaganda" legislation, which bans the promotion of "non-traditional sexual relations" among minors, Mugisha believes there is a link between what is happening there and what is happening in his country. And he is clear who must be held to account. The US-based Centre for Constitutional Rights sued Scott Lively, a Massachusetts-based evangelical and self-professed expert on the "gay movement", in 2012, on behalf of Smug, alleging that his involvement in anti-gay efforts in Uganda constitutes persecution. It is Mugisha who is effectively leading the case.
The pastor, who has written a number of books including Seven Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child: A Parent's Guide to Protecting Children from Homosexuality, conducted a three-day conference in Uganda in 2009 with other evangelicals intent on exposing the "gay agenda". Scott Lively said he spoke to thousands of church leaders, schools, colleges and parliamentarians, including Uganda's Minister of Ethics and Integrity. In his blog, he warned that the "movement" worked by "propagandizing the children behind the parents' backs." He suggested homosexuals be offered therapy.
"Everything he said was totally not Ugandan," says Mugisha. "[The idea] of a gay agenda, of recruiting people to homosexuality – that language wasn't used in Uganda pre-2009. He made my work very difficult and was conspiring with my legislators, but [to Ugandans] he was like God himself. People were worshipping him as if he was from heaven." Lively has said that his campaign was akin to a "nuclear bomb against the 'gay' agenda in Uganda".
It was months after his visit that the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill was bought before parliament, originally proposing death penalty clauses. Lively told The IoS that the lawsuit against him was a "sham" that represented a "direct assault" on his "freedom of expression". He said he could not be held responsible for Uganda's legislation, and suggested that the country should follow the Russian approach and focus on the protection of children from gay "propaganda".
Yet, despite Lively's attempt to get the case thrown out, a judge ruled last year that the case – filed under the Alien Tort Statute which lets foreign victims of human rights abuse seek redress in US courts – would not be dismissed. It could reach the courts in a year's time.
Mugisha does not think the work of the evangelical movement is limited to Uganda. Lively toured Russia in 2006 and wrote an open letter calling for the country to "criminalise the public advocacy of homosexuality". He made headlines after the legislation came in, saying it was "one of the proudest achievements of [his] career". Human Rights Watch have reportedly said that he gave shape to pre-existing hatred.
For Mugisha, this isn't about headlines. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni refused to sign the controversial bill last month – which was passed by parliament and mandates penalties up to life imprisonment for homosexual acts and criminalises the promotion of homosexuality and of not reporting on gay people – saying he had to review it. But, according to the Human Dignity Trust, Museveni has until 23 February to either sign the bill or not – otherwise it passes by default.
"The situation in Uganda has actually gotten worse since the bill was passed by parliament," Mugisha says. "Ugandan society has become more hostile towards LGBT persons. Smug has registered more than 30 cases of violence and verbal insults and attacks since 20 December. Some Ugandans think the bill is already a law. If someone is rumoured to be gay, there is a high chance they will be attacked. People are reporting homosexuals already."
Mugisha wants Lively to apologise to Uganda and retract his words. Fundamentally, he wants to challenge the notion that homosexuality is an alien concept, imported from the West.
"Most people respect the courts of the land. [If we win,] people will understand some Christians are not preaching the good Gospel. They'll be careful who they listen to when these people come to Africa and preach, and they'll know that homophobia is actually imported, not African."
Does he think they will win? "Yes," he says, smiling. "Someone is going to have to pay for this bill at some point. It might not be now, it may be in 10 years, but they’ll be held to account."

January 28, 2014

Update on Senegal Violence Against Gay Org

(DAKAR, Senegal)AP Reported early this morning about a mob that ransacked the headquarters of Ivory Coast’s most prominent gay rights organization. This is an update:
This act of violence underscores the dangers confronting such groups even in the few African countries where homosexual acts are not crimes.            
The violence followed days of anti-gay protests in Ivory Coast, which is sometimes considered a safe haven for homosexuals fleeing persecution elsewhere across the continent. It contributed to a growing sense that activists championing gay rights in Africa are under siege, with countries working to strengthen existing laws that criminalize homosexuality. A new law in Nigeria bans all gay associations, and lawmakers in Uganda may well override their president's opposition and approve a bill imposing life prison terms for consenting same-sex partners who engage in repeated sexual acts.            
Some human rights activists view the crackdown as a backlash at pressure from the United States and European countries that say they will use their leverage to promote the human rights of gay people around the world. Britain has threatened to cut aid to countries that outlaw homosexuality, and the Obama administration two years ago instructed "all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons."            
In response, African governments say they will defend their people's religious and cultural convictions that homosexuality is evil and un-African.

The attack in Ivory Coast took place Saturday afternoon but was not publicized until Monday. Nearly 200 people stormed the offices of Alternative Cote d'Ivoire in an upscale suburb of Abidjan, the commercial capital, flinging stones to shatter windows and stealing computers, said Claver Toure, the group's executive director.             Others heaved sacks of garbage over the property's exterior walls and left trash and broken glass at the entrance. Signs hung on walls demanded "Stop the homos!" and "Pedes get out!" The word "pede" is short for pederast or pedophile, and is commonly used in West Africa to insult gay men.            
"Everything they could take was taken, and the rest was broken," Toure said, adding that a private security guard was hospitalized with wounds to his face.            
Toure criticized what he described as a deliberately slow response by security forces, saying police did not arrive until the French ambassador contacted government officials. Ultimately, he said, about 10 officers came with a half-dozen U.N. peacekeepers.            
"When we call, the police need to come right away and protect us because we are Ivorians," Toure said.            
Interior Minister spokesman Bazoumana Coulibaly said the government was not prepared to comment because it was still collecting information.
The attack was not unexpected.            
In a statement last Friday, the Ireland-based human rights organization Front Line Defenders detailed what it described as "coordinated" attacks against Toure's group last week. It warned that "rumors are circulating that a more virulent attack is envisioned" for Saturday.
On Jan. 20, neighbors gathered outside Toure's home to chant anti-gay slogans and issue death threats against those inside, Front Line Defenders said. Two days later, a mob targeted Alternative's headquarters, placing signs demanding that the organization leave.
Local media reports quoted residents last week expressing fear that the presence of a gay rights organization would jeopardize their children's safety, highlighting the widespread belief throughout Africa that gay people target children for recruitment.            
Toure said his landlord confronted him on Jan. 5 after neighbors complained that more than 20 people were staying in his home and that "condoms could be found throughout the neighborhood each morning" - accusations Toure denied.            
U.S. Ambassador Terence P. McCulley said he was "shocked and saddened" by Saturday's attack.            
"Even if one is not in agreement with the point of view of an organization or its people, we have an obligation in a democracy to support the right of people to organize and express themselves," he said in a statement posted Monday on the embassy's Facebook page. "I hope that Ivorians will understand that these attacks are not consonant with democratic values."            
Violence targeting gays in Africa drew worldwide notice earlier this month when President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria signed a law banning gay associations and gay marriage. Dozens have been arrested since then throughout Africa's most populous country.
The new law carries penalties of up to 14 years in prison. But in some northern Nigerian states that also have Islamic Shariah law, a homosexual can get the death sentence just for being gay.   
Outside a courthouse in the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi this month, protesters tried to stone seven men accused of belonging to a gay organization, demanding they be stoned to death. A week before in Bauchi, a 28-year-old man was punished with 20 lashes after pleading guilty before a Shariah court to an act of sodomy committed seven years ago. He said he was led astray by a high school principal.     
Days after Jonathan signed the law, activists in the neighboring country of Cameroon confirmed that a man once jailed for sending a text message saying "I'm very much in love with you" to another man died after his family removed him from the hospital where he was seeking treatment for a hernia. The family said he was a curse who did not deserve to live.            
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has voiced opposition to a bill approved by lawmakers last month imposing life imprisonment for gay sex involving an HIV-infected person, acts with minors and the disabled as well as repeated gay sex acts among consenting adults. The bill, dubbed "Kill the Gays," initially called for the death sentence.
But gay rights activists drew little encouragement from Museveni's letter to legislators, in which he said homosexuals are "abnormal fundamentally because the hormones malfunctioned." And despite Museveni's stated opposition, parliament still could muster enough support to make it law.            
While the Ugandan bill criminalizes "promotion" of homosexuality, the Nigerian law makes it illegal to have any kind of gay meeting, potentially rendering illegal the work of rights groups and organizations dealing with the epidemic of HIV/AIDS among homosexuals. That would include programs funded by USAID.            
Ivory Coast is generally seen as more moderate on the issue, and Alternative has worked increasingly closely with the government on programs to combat HIV/AIDS.            
But Matthew Thomann, an anthropologist at American University who has worked extensively with Abidjan's gay groups, said it would be "naive and dangerous" to portray Ivory Coast as an oasis of freedom.
"We must remind ourselves that the lack of anti-gay legislation in a country like Ivory Coast is not the same as LGBT individuals having actual legal protection or recourse when victimized," Thomann said of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender minorities. "There are high levels of impunity for attacks such as those experienced by Mr. Toure and Alternative."             

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