Africa and Gays

From the recent Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 in Uganda, to news this week about a gay couple convicted in Malawi of unnatural acts and gross indecency, Africa has been rampaging against its' gays. It is very disheartening. Perhaps it is happening because the continent has vast and deep problems, and so much dire poverty that people brave enough to come forward and live an honest open life are the ones who are being made scapegoats. I don't really know, but I do know that the religious right in my country has a hand in all of this. They have been sending missionaries and messengers to Africa that are spreading fear and hatred of gay people. It's criminal, and appalling. When we were in Namibia in 2008, Seth & I were met with surprise and suspicion that we were two men sharing a single bed amongst the hotel staff wherever we stayed. I suspect that the attitudes we encountered as foreigners might be just the tip of the iceberg in regards to most Africans attitudes towards homosexuality. I don't mean to necessarily single out Africa here, but it being such a beautiful and magical place, I do wish to return someday without the fear of reprisal over my sexual orientation. I should mention the exception here - South Africa, which is way ahead of the curve when it comes to protections for their gays and lesbians. They were the fifth country in the world to legalize gay marriage in 2006. Possibly that progress in South Africa is contributing to more visibility among other African gays, which in turn is leading to this violent backlash...
You can help by donating to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Eldson Chagara/Reuters

Steven Monjeza, left, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a gay couple, were convicted of unnatural acts and gross indencency in Blantyre, Malawi, on Tuesday and were sentenced Thursday to the maximum penalty allowed by law, 14 years of hard labor in prison.