You know, I get it.
Not everyone is ok with anything having to do with homosexuals and their rights. And in many African countries (yes, Rick Ross, Africa is a continent with its own countries) homosexual acts are outlawed. In total, homosexual acts are still a crime in 38 African countries. With these laws in place, homophobia is a huge problem and homophobic attacks have reached dangerous levels in sub-Saharan Africa.
Amnesty International says these attacks must come to an end.
In a new report titled, Making Love a Crime: Criminalization of same-sex conduct in sub-Saharan Africa, Amnesty International looks at how “homosexual acts” are being increasingly criminalized across Africa as a number of governments seek to impose draconian penalties or broaden the scope of existing laws, including by introducing the death penalty.
“These attacks – sometimes deadly – must be stopped. No one should be beaten or killed because of who they are attracted to or intimately involved with,” said Widney Brown, Amnesty International’s director of Law and Policy.
In the last five years South Sudan and Burundi have introduced new laws criminalising same-sex sexual conduct. Uganda, Liberia and Nigeria all currently have Bills seeking to increase existing penalties pending before Parliament.
The report reviews the current state of legal provisions across the continent and how these laws adversely affect LGBTI Africans. Individuals interviewed by Amnesty International spoke of their daily struggle to survive discrimination and threats. The report contains specific cases from Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Cameroon.
In Cameroon, people are regularly arrested after being denounced to the authorities as being gay or lesbian – based on their appearance or conjecture, rather than evidence. Some individuals accused of same sex conduct have been imprisoned for three years without trial or charge.
Former detainees from Cameroon told Amnesty International about being beaten while in custody and subjected to invasive procedures such as forced anal exams.
Even in countries where criminalization laws are not enforced, their existence provides opportunities for abuse, including blackmail and extortion, by police and members of the public.
In Kenya, individuals told Amnesty International that sometimes the police threaten to arrest them under provisions in the penal code related to same-sex relations in order to elicit a bribe. Extortionists also use the existence of these laws to demand money or goods in exchange for not revealing real or even made-up private details to the media, community or police.
“The very existence of laws criminalizing same-sex relations – whether they are enforced or not – sends a toxic message that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are criminals and have no rights,” said Widney Brown.
“These poisonous laws must be repealed and the human rights of all Africans upheld.”
Maybe one day being persecuting for your lifestyle will not be something people in Africa will have to deal with, but until then, there should be laws in place to protect them.
“It is time that African states stopped demonizing individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Human rights are about the dignity and equality of all people,” said Widney Brown.
“As the chorus for recognition grows stronger and stronger, African states have to stop denying that homophobia is a human rights issue and recognize that LGBTI rights are an integral part of the human rights struggle. It is their responsibility to protect, not persecute.”