News / Africa

Africa's Gay Activists Use Internet to Advance Homosexual Rights

Gay Uganda is one of the most popular blogs advocating gay rights in Africa
Gay Uganda is one of the most popular blogs advocating gay rights in Africa
Nico Colombant

African gay activists in Africa and in the diaspora are increasingly using the Internet to have their voices heard, while still trying to figure out how to advance homosexual rights on the continent.

One of the most popular blogs advocating gay rights in Africa is called Gay Uganda. Its author chooses to remain anonymous.

"I am somebody in the heart of Africa who has been lonely without the rest of the Internet, without the rest of the global sphere, talking about what I would like to talk about, with that kind of freedom," he said from Kampala."I cannot do it elsewhere."

While harsher laws are being proposed against homosexuality across the continent, including in Uganda, the author of Gay Uganda says what he is doing helps Africa's homosexual community.

"It started off as a way of venting, but then later I realized that it was a way of putting across to the rest of the world what our lives were more or less," he said. "The things that have been happening around Kampala, in Uganda, and all over the continent – it is strengthening to me personally, that is why I do it."

He says that in Kampala, very few people know he is gay. But online, he has a community of followers who support him. He adds that the types of articles he writes would never be allowed in traditional media.

"Society is more or less homophobic and the reporters come from the society. But also you have to consider that in a place like Uganda, you cannot write a positive story about gay people. That is a matter of fact," he added.

Uganda's Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo said recently that the government is concerned about what he called the "mushrooming" number of gays and lesbians in the country. He said he wants a law enacted that would criminalize confessing to being a homosexual.

Even in African countries like Ghana, which are seen as being relatively tolerant, anti-homosexual activities, such as marches denouncing gays, are becoming more frequent.

Media and influential politicians and religious leaders often denounce homosexuality as Western contamination. And they say homosexuality is contrary to traditional family values.

More than three dozen countries in Africa, including Senegal, have laws criminalizing homosexuality. Selly Thiam, who lives in the United States, is a native of Senegal. She is the founder of the None on Record website, which records testimonies of gays, lesbians and transgender people from Africa, most of them anonymously.

Thiam says she hopes the website will be used to help change policies toward homosexuals.

"None on the Record is just at the beginning of understanding or even becoming conscious of how we fit into the larger movement," said Thiam. "I think we will have more opportunities in the future to see how we can really impact and support the organizing that is going on in the continent and around the world in other LGBT communities as well."

LGBT refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Thiam says that although it is important for her to build contacts through the Internet, face-to-face interaction is also important, even if most pro-gay groups in Africa work underground.

"That is why I have to keep going back to work in concert with people who are organizing. It is an issue of safety, and something that I have to think about all the time. But I have to also continue to do my work," Thiam added.

A columnist from the United States, Reverend Irene Monroe, says her own work and Internet outreach have put her in contact with many gays and lesbians in Africa like a woman from Kenya who recently wrote her an email.

"She says here, 'I need encouragement. Here homosexuality is punishable by 14 years imprisonment and 28 strokes of the cane. "The church is also extremely hostile. Some suspected lesbians from my church were once beaten and burnt,'" Monroe said.

Gay activists in Africa say it is a very difficult process to advance homosexual rights, especially in difficult economic times, when scapegoats are used by politicians and religious leaders to divert attention.

Irene Monroe links discrimination to a lack of democracy and government policies toward HIV and AIDS.

"Countries that tend to be more open around addressing the issue of HIV/AIDS and have a lot more financial solvency and really do run more in terms of employing a democratic model, you will find in those small pockets throughout Africa and other parts of the world people are more tolerant in the different ways in which people express love," she said. "And we see it here when we see rabid forms of conservatism here we find in most groups of people who are less tolerant of LGBT folks, it operates similarly believe it or not in Africa too. Culturally, it looks different. But the seed around what gives rise to the kind of homophobia that blossoms in the way it does, it is planted in the same soil."

Gay activists say they hope those advocating homosexual rights eventually will succeed – one blog entry and appeal for understanding at a time.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid