Africa Hub




Tanzanian MP To Submit Bill Outlawing 'Gay Recruitment'

Tanzanian Member of Parliament Ezekiel Wenje recently told The East African that he plans on submitting a anti-gay bill outlawing “gay recruitment” in his country.

WenjeThe East African reports:

Mr. Wenje said homosexuality is on the rise in Tanzania because the existing legislation does not provide a sufficient deterrent.

Under the current law, convicted suspects face custodial sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment. According to Section 154 of the Act, any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature is liable to imprisonment for life.

But Wenje said the law does not cover those who induce others to become gays or those who promote the behaviour.

He said there are many gays in Dar es Salaam who operate in the open, go to bars and social places, and that more young people are choosing the lifestyle.

Mr. Wenje is optimistic that his Bill will receive support from his colleagues and eventually get passed into law despite a predictable donor stance on the issue.

“We should not care about aid, we should care about our values and the future of the country,” he said when asked if passing of such law would not lead to donor’s freezing aid like is happening in Uganda.

TanzaniaAccording to the book The Dictionary of Homophobia:

Male homosexuality has been illegal in Tanzania since colonial times (Tanzania was a German colony from 1884 until World War I, then a British colony until independence was declared in 1961). Articles 154 to 157 of Tanzania’s penal code render all homosexual relations between men punishable… [though] (there is no mention of women).

Having said this, the law does not seem to be regularly applied, or if so, only erratically… And there is a burgeoning gay movement in the country; Community Peer Support Services (CPSS), an association for the defense of gays and lesbians, has been in existence since 1997 and currently has 334 members whom it trains to become activists. According to CPSS, the situation of gays and lesbians is better in Tanzania then in all its neighboring countries.

Though that would certainly change if this proposed bill becomes law. In 2012, a gay rights activist was murdered in Tanzania.


Jailed Suspected Gay Nigerian Men Released On Bail

The seven suspected gay men were imprisoned in January during the initial wave of arrests under Nigeria's vicious anti-gay law. An angry mob had called for the men's speedy convictions soon after they were detained. 

AFP reports:

A clerk at the upper sharia court in the Unguwar Jaki district of Bauchi, which is hearing one of the cases, confirmed the release of three of the men.

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"The court granted bail to the three remaining suspects at the last trial session on 11 March, pending the determination of their cases," said Abdul Mohammed.

"The judge's decision to grant them bail was borne out of the fact that none of the accused was caught in the act, which is an indispensable condition to warrant the death sentence. That means they would not get the death penalty at the end."

The other four men are on trial at Tudun Alkali upper sharia court, also in Bauchi.

The men's cases have been heard in secret after an angry mob pelted the defendants with stones after a hearing on 23 January, demanding their immediate execution.

Police had to break up the riot with teargas.

"Since the mob action on 23 January, the sodomy trials have been going on in secret in another location and the trial dates are never made public," said Mohammed.

Sharia law provides for death by stoning for sodomy once it is established by four witnesses to the act or voluntary confession.

Earlier this month, four other suspected gay men were given 15 lashes with a horse whip in public.

What's it like to be gay in Nigeria? Watch a BBC news segment which attempts to answer that question, AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "Jailed Suspected Gay Nigerian Men Released On Bail" »


Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe: 'Gays Are 'Inhuman'

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has in the past threatened to jail and behead gays, only this month learned that they exist in his own country. Now, in a talk in Zimbabwe's capital, he's keeping his hate speech alive by referring to gays and lesbians as "inhuman."

According to the Washington Blade:

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“The West says we must accept there is change in the world, that gays have human rights,” he said during an event at a hotel in Harare, the country’s capital, that commemorated International Women’s Day as the Herald, a Zimbabwean newspaper, reported. “Gays have no human rights. They have human rights – human rights for doing an inhuman thing.”

Jeffrey Smith of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights responded to the Blade:

“These comments are consistent with Mugabe’s past statements, describing gays as worse than ‘pigs and dogs.’ For Mugabe to declare gays and lesbians as somehow inhuman, on a day meant to celebrate equality, is horribly ironic and reprehensible.”

In other Mugabe news, the leader says he will boycott next week's European Union-Africa summit in Brussels after his wife was denied a visa to attend the event.


Homosexuality A 'Social Evil' As Serious As Terrorism According To Kenyan MP

Anti-gay Africa

Africa is perhaps the least hospitable continent for homosexuals, which is actually illegal in 37 countries and is subject to widespread taboos, thanks in no small part to the dissemination of lies and stoking of hatred from evil religious evangelical lunatics like Scott "The Nazis were gay" Lively and Martin "Eat da poo-poo" Ssempa.

While Uganda is one of the most hostile, Kenya is not far behind. Since 2010, 595 cases of homosexuality have been investigated, according to MP Aden Duale. In an assembly with other MPs, Duale even said that "gayism" and "lesbianism" are "as serious as terrorism," a level of educated insight that harkens back to the days of Oklahoma representative Sally Kern.

However, Duale responded to calls for tougher laws to penalize homosexuality by saying that the Kenyan constitution and penal code were sufficient, and that the decision to not follow Uganda's methods was in no way influenced by the fact that international donors have suspended aid to Uganda in response to their treatment of homosexuals.


Ethiopian Legislation Would Make Criminal Sentences of Homosexuality 'Non-pardonable'

The quickly escalating anti-gay trend in many African countries, including Uganda, has tacked on a new bill, this one aimed at increasing the potency of a law already in place.

EthiopiaLegislation states that Ethiopians found guilty on charges of same-sex acts can be imprisoned for up to 15 years, and persons found guilty of engaging in same-sex acts which transmitted HIV are susceptible to 25 years. Now, the Council of Ministers will likely approve a bill which would make those persons unpardonable by the president.

Mail & Guardian reports:

Ethiopia's president often pardons thousands of prisoners during the Ethiopian New Year. When the Bill becomes law, the president will lose his power to pardon prisoners facing charges ranging from homosexuality to terrorism.

As always, it is particularly disturbing to see homosexuality placed alongside inherently violent acts, though we should not forget that the equation has deep roots in American evangelism as well.

Uganda's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community credits evangelical Christian pastors with sparking the anti-gay sentiment that led to the present-day legal repercussions for homosexuals in the country.

Hopefully the bill loses the battle. We will keep you updated. 


Cutting Foreign Aid Won't Defeat Anti-Gay Laws in Africa and Latin America

BY ARI SHAW AND MAURICIO ALBARRACÍN / GlobalPost

Commentary: Human rights courts and commissions are the best tools to diminish violence and strengthen LGBT rights.

MuseveniBOGOTA — Will cuts to foreign aid as a response to anti-gay laws help the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Africa? The conventional wisdom seems to say “yes.”

Recent legislation in Uganda, which imposes a life sentence for “aggravated homosexuality” and criminalizes any promotion of homosexuality, has been rightly condemned as a violation of the fundamental equality and dignity of LGBT people.

In response, a number of Western countries, including Norway, Denmark and Sweden, have withdrawn foreign assistance, and the World Bank froze a $90 million loan to Uganda.

These actions, while understandable, are misguided.

Condemnation by foreign governments, including the United States, is an important symbolic measure and can help delegitimize anti-gay laws. Yet cuts in foreign assistance can have the unintended effect of emboldening homophobic rhetoric that links aid and LGBT rights to neocolonial intervention.

This would further endanger the lives of LGBT citizens in these countries.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act has received broad support among Ugandans. Its author has said that any costs in foreign aid are “worth it.”
 
RedpepperMeanwhile, activists report an increase in arrests and harassment of LGBT people, and a similar bill in Nigeria has led to a rash of mob violence against gays and lesbians.

Foreign governments and international donors seeking to help should, instead, increase financial and technical support for African LGBT rights organizations and human rights institutions.

LGBT activists in many African states face highly restrictive and dangerous conditions that limit their ability advocate for reforms. In many cases, these laws not only discriminate against LGBT individuals but also criminalize or severely restrict public dissent and association around LGBT issues.

The burgeoning African system of human rights courts and commissions should be strengthened to provide an important and necessary tool for enhancing LGBT rights and activism in the region.

The experience of LGBT rights activism in another developing region — Latin America — offers insight into the roles regional human rights bodies can play.

In the past several years, advances in gay rights in Latin America have outpaced those in the United States and some European nations. Argentina and Uruguay, for instance, have full marriage equality, while Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia offer some form of legal protection for same-sex couples and families.

Violence and inequality persist, but in many national debates around LGBT rights, the Inter-American human rights system has been an important resource for gay rights activists.

IachrIndividuals and nongovernmental organizations can appeal directly to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which investigates and offers recommendations to remedy cases of human rights abuse.

Consequently, the quasi-judicial commission has been an active forum for documenting and publicizing human rights abuses.

In the past five years, the commission has held 17 public hearings related to gay rights, same-sex unions, and homophobic violence in the Americas.

Since February 2012, it has issued 31 news releases drawing national and international media attention to the plight of LGBT communities in member countries and across the region.

The commission has also visited countries to highlight the negative conditions for LGBT people there. And, as of February 1, the commission has a permanent office with a mandate to monitor human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights only hears cases referred by the commission or from petitions by national governments, but its rulings are legally binding.

Most notably, in a 2012 case against Chile, the court ruled that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected categories under the American Convention on Human Rights. As a result, no domestic laws may be promulgated that restrict individual rights on these grounds.

The ruling has not only shaped the ongoing debate in Chile around marriage equality and same-sex families, but has also set binding precedent for national judges in member states facing same-sex marriage litigation.

The African regional human rights system might play a similar role in augmenting the work of LBGT rights activists in the region. Following the lead of its Inter-American organization, the African Commission could take a more active role as a public forum to highlight violence against LGBT people and publicly shame governments that fail to protect them.

Moreover, the commission could coordinate more closely with the tapestry of sub-regional African courts, such as the East African Court of Justice, that are increasingly asserting their jurisdiction to hear cases involving human rights violations.

To be sure, regional human rights systems are no panacea for ending human rights abuses against LGBT people. The process can be frustratingly slow, often taking years to reach a ruling.

These institutions lack strong enforcement powers, and some leaders openly defy their judgments. The African system in particular has faced charges of inefficiency, while the nascent African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has struggled to become fully operational.

Regional human rights institutions can provide crucial publicity, legitimacy and legal precedent for LGBT rights activists in the face of stifling national laws.

A strengthened African regional human rights system can bypass critiques of foreign intervention and create external pressure on national governments that bolsters the work of local activists. The best lesson from LGBT activism in the Inter-American system is that the amplified voices of citizens are often the most persuasive.

Ari Shaw is currently a Fulbright Scholar in Colombia researching the impact of international law on LGBT activism. Mauricio Albarracín is a lawyer with Colombia Diversa, a national LGBT rights organization based in Bogotá.


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