Sunday, November 15, 2009

The chilling reality

A very disturbing media release has been issued by the South African gay umbrella body, the Joint Working Group, to highlight concerns over proposed legislation in Uganda, in East Africa.

Gay rights groups in Uganda have appealed for activists across the world to hold protests at the Ugandan Embassies and High Commissions in their countries to oppose the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently being tabled in the Ugandan parliament.

According to the release by the Joint Working Group (JWC): "The Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill aims to build on the current homophobic legislation already in force in that country by adding further offences and even more stringent punishments for anyone caught committing the crime of homosexuality. Among many horrific clauses in the proposed law are the imposition of the death penalty for what they term “aggravated homosexuality”, punishment for people who do not report on homosexuals and the criminalisation of activists who work in LGBTI organisations."

While gay rights are entrenched in South Africa, the situation is not the same in other parts of the continent, as the Ugandan example clearly states. Even in South Africa, lesbian women are raped in townships to 'cure them' or 'teach them a lesson', while homophobia is rife in many communities and being gay or lesbian is seen as being un-African.

In terms of the Ugandan issue, the JWC is holding a protest outside the Ugandan High Commission in Arcadia, Pretoria, on the 17 November from 12pm to 2pm, to show its disgust at the proposed bill. It's also calling on the South African government to break its silence on the matter, saying such silence is unacceptable.

If you're in Gauteng and can join the protest, please do so. And if you're elsewhere in the world, with the power to write about this situation, please spread the word.

And on a separate note, South Africans feeling isolated or needing help from LGBTI organisations, can possibly Google any of the JWC members as listed below.

Activate WITS, Behind the Mask, Coalition of African Lesbians, Durban Gay and Lesbian Community , D Gayle, Engender
Forum for the Empowerment of Women, Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, Gay and Lesbian Network (PMB), Gay Umbrella, Gender Dynamix, Glorious Light MCC, Good Hope MCC, Hope and Unity MCC, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM), Jewish Outlook, Out in Africa, OUT LGBT Well-being, OUT Rhodes, Rainbow UCT, SAYLO, The Inner Circle, Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, Triangle Project, Unisa Centre for Applied Psychology, XX/Y Flame.

(Image thanks to Wikipedia)

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