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By Amanda Watson

News Editor

It is still unsafe to be gay in Africa… but there’s hope

Analyst for the Institute for Race Relations Gerbrandt van Heerden said South Africa's reluctance to defend LGTBQIA+ rights in Africa was tragic.

Deputy President David Mabuza’s refusal to condemn Uganda’s proposed anti-gay legislation which could see convicted people facing the death penalty, and other LGTBQIA+ human rights violations, continued to spark outrage yesterday.

During a Q&A session at the National Council of Provinces, Mabuza recently refused to “interfere” in Uganda’s pending policy saying it “wasn’t easy” to condemn human rights abuses against LGTBQIA+ people on the continent.

“We are called upon by our constitution to respect sovereignty of any state and we must mind what we must say about other people,” Mabuza said at the time, forgetting how quickly former international relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu removed SA’s ambassador from Israel in May 2018.

Analyst for the Institute for Race Relations Gerbrandt van Heerden said South Africa’s reluctance to defend LGTBQIA+ rights in Africa was tragic.

“The prevailing notion throughout much of Africa that same-sex activity is considered a Western phenomenon is precisely the reason why South Africa – a prominent member of the African Union and the most progressive country when it comes to LGBTQ rights – should actively work to change that narrative,” Van Heerden said.

“It is therefore particularly concerning Mabuza refused to condemn the Ugandan government’s considering introducing an Anti-Homosexuality Bill which will include the death penalty for anyone ‘guilty’ homosexuality. His comments reinforce South Africa’s long-standing silence on the atrocities committed against Africa’s LGTBQIA+ populace.”

Read Van Heerden’s full report here:

1 Print – Irr Lgbtq in Sa R… by Carina Koen on Scribd

Van Heerden’s comments came on the heels of research conducted by him which noted that 32 out of 54 African countries outlawed same-sex activity.

After conducting several interviews with representatives across the continent, he noted sub-Saharan Africa remained one of the most hostile regions for the LGBTQIA+ community.

“However, in each of my interviews, I was able to find reasons for hope … it is clear that progress is happening. Africa is moving in the right direction, but the pace will be slow,” Van Heerden said.

Gay rights activist and chair of the KwaZulu-Natal Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association Jason Fiddler called the oppression of queer people the last acceptable prejudice.

“We can’t use religion to justify the last acceptable prejudice,” Fiddler said, calling on political parties and unions to stand up and protect their people.

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