The Plight of LGBTI, Why Africa is Simply Delaying the Inevitable

Boemo Delano Phirinyane

The world over, June is celebrated as the Gay Pride month. The tragic reality is that most countries, particularly in the African continent do not protect and defend sexual rights. The homosexual plight is a human civilization test that Africa is failing dismally. Our appalling treatment of homosexuals can be easily compounded in the recently published report by the Franklin & Marshall Global Barometer of Gay Rights. The report ranks countries based on twenty-nine factors that indicate how well a given country protects human rights. It further looks at constitutional protections, societal and economic indicators, political opinion and civil society. The result obtained by most African states, which is not by any means a surprise is F, for absolute Failure.

We are being lost in translation, it’s time to smell the coffee

One inescapable truth is that humanity is evolving, developed and modern societies were quick to recognize that human civilization would inevitably hinge upon granting their citizens individual rights and liberties. This includes the right to choose and align with any preferred sexual orientation, which is enshrined and protected in their constitutions. Serbia just elected its first female and gay Prime Minister, Ireland is also set to have its first openly gay Prime Minister after the election of Leo Varadkar as the leader of the ruling Fine Gael party. So much progress being made in the plight of homosexuality the world over, but there still remain one part of the world where the course is massively undermined as strokes of oppression have become so normalized. We are being lost in translation as humanity evolves and soon we would be left with a shameful oppressive apparatus that would have no place in the future, if the price of this wasn’t too much, I would say that’s what we need perhaps.

Aren’t we too old to be believing in ghost stories?

The narrative of African Homosexuality is plagued by mythical stories that bankroll any efforts to liberate this group. This is quite surprising for a continent as old as ours. Homosexuality has always been seen as a Western import by most African societies. A neo colonialism tactic to depopulate the African Continent and ready it for another hostile takeover. Contrary to popular belief, traits of homosexuality date as far back as the ancient Egyptian civilization where there is a controversial painting of Nyankh-khnum and Khnum-hotep kissing each other. Both men were high ranking officials who served under Pharoah Niuserre during the 5th Dynasty in (c. 2494-2345 BC).

By clinging onto these ghost stories, there has been wide spread abuse of homosexuals. With the exception of South Africa, many Africans countries are still reluctant to consider granting them rights. With the worst case scenario being the drafting of laws to increase sanctions against the LGBTI people.  In Southern Somalia, Sudan and Northern Nigeria homosexuality carries the death penalty. Other parts of the continent like Sierra Leone and Tanzania life imprisonment is the cost of same love, with Uganda, we don’t even have to mention it. Botswana is no different as the social narrative is still skewed against the LGBTI.

Tragedy of community commons

Most people only have a deep interest in, and can be sympathetic towards a course only if it directly affects them personally or someone close to them. Most societies if not all are constructed around ideas of collectivism, which means we ought to take interest in the idea of access to rights by all. We might be having rainbow babies in our homes, but they fear confessing as it casts them out into the cold and isolates them from protection of the greater society. The overwhelming majority of homosexuals are disrupting status quo, and claiming their rights to ensure that it can never be business as usual. They realize that you cannot defeat this oppressive narrative by being silent, apologetic and carving to its demands. There is a revolution that is brewing to confront old generational beliefs and convictions which do not carry the aspirations of the new generation.

In 2017 alone a total of twenty-three countries legalized same-sex marriage, in that number there is no African country. Out of the fifty-five states recognized by the United Nations and or the African Union, the plight of the LGBTI is still surprised in thirty-four countries. By any standard this is a horrifying statistic as it clearly indicated that a lot of people who require liberation to claim their identity cannot do so and face a lengthy prison term or worse of, the wrath of the hangman.