The LGBT-Q debate: Where is our sovereignty?
When it suits them, they say “Traditional African” is organic when it does not they say “traditional” is backward.
Before you judge me, I have relations that are gay or lesbian. I have friends who are open about their sexuality and publicly acknowledge that they belong to the LGBT-Q community. I am not anti-gay or anti-LGBT-Q.
On the ongoing discussion on LGBT-Q in Africa, my position (which does not matters) remains – let people choose their sex life. That is not for you or I or for that matter any government or church, mosque or Imam to decide.
In moving forward, we all (yes, all) talk to rule of law and respect for rights (and I will add sovereignty). Indeed the last 15years has seen “development partners” pour money into Africa in the name of “Good Governance” and the main rhetoric was “Rule of Law”.
If the rule of law is to subject us all, respective of your position in power, or society under the law, why is it suddenly not right to have certain laws and have our sovereignty usurped?
Time and again, “science” which we all believe in have shown that Africans are opposed to legalising “gay rights” (according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center).
I have maintained that, there are bad laws in EVERY constitution across the world. When countries find such laws, they work together and remove the laws or find middle grounds.
In the case of Ghana, a constitutional Review Committee was set up to review our laws. One key issue was the call to legalise same sex. From the findings of the Commission, Ghana was not ready for it (and thank God that the administrative head of the Commission was a respected and well know international lawyer so no one could call him or the commission names) and advise that government be open to exploring how to work that into the constitution in future.
Then someone authors a paper to say “It is homophobia not homosexuality that is alien to traditional culture” (my empahsis here is “African Traditional Culture). The argument in that paper was; Africans had diverse sexual orientation that were subjugated by Christian teachings during the period of European colonisation (yes, we are quick to point at colonialism for every thing).
But culture evolves – indeed when Africans hold on to polygamy, circumcision among others, we are told they are “backward traditions” that must we must let go without understanding really why we do what we do. To be “human” we as Africans must toe the line and dance to the tune of the “developed world”.
The narratives change on who, or how Africa is depending on what is sort from Africa.
Until 2008, there are countries in the “developed world” that criminalised same sex. Indeed, benefits that accrued to couples in the “traditional male-female marriage or partnership” did to extend to same sex couples in those countries forcing the legal recognition of LGBT-Q relationships in Africa. Indeed 14% and 33% of Canadians and Americans respectively think their society should not accept homosexuality.
I write now not as an angry anti-gay African, no I write as an angry libertarian African who feels that the true values of democracy, freedom and other liberties of the African must be disregarded with disrespect and disdain because the majority do not agree with the minority (which is what democracy is all about). To shove in our faces what “elite and celebrated Africans” should do (aka civilised Africans) and by extension calling the rest of us (even those that inherently support a bill that legalises same sex relation) as uncuth and stupid.
Africa has too many problems to have LGBT-Q to dominate our political and social discourse. We have instability in Uganda, killings in Sudan and South Sudan; war in Central African Republic. Ivory Coast is now just beginning to settle-in after more than a decade of instability. Sierra Leone and Liberia yet to find their feet after more than 25 yeas of instability in both countries.
In the last 3 years, the West African region has been suffering economic crisis – indeed all of Africa; with increasing cost of living characterised by increased transportation costs, electricity, water and other utility bills. People are unceasingly not able to meet basic costs of living – those are our problems; those are the things that matter.
Of course when people are weary and starved, any politician seeking power – as in the case of Museveni of Uganda has the perfect setting to leverage LGBT-Q as a cause for the problems his country faces and therefore put gay people at risk.
The posturing adopted by African and Western Gay Rights activists only serves to make increasingly vulnerable the personal safety of the people they claim to want to protect. I am yet to see anyone that is gay, stays within the law, does not go flouting the rules (knowing that until the law is revised he is in the wrong) being lynched and or haunted.
All we ask (I hope I speak for many Africans) to respect our laws; respect us as humans and watch our society and culture evolve. We have shed a significant amount of our organic social welfare system aka extended family in adoption of what the “Western” standard is aka, me, my wife and kids or me and my pets.
Allow us to grow, according to our natural strength and capabilities. You have taken and destroyed enough of us…is this something too difficult to ask?
S. Eyram Tsike-Sossah holds an Msc Political Science from the University of Amsterdam. He is the author of “Youth and Local Governance: Youth Participation in Local Governance: Bringing Youth to Decision Making in Sierra Leone“