The number of attacks on queer people, events and organizations in the past few months alone is indicative of how firmly rooted anti-LGBTQ hatred is in so many of our societies – whether it was the murder of activist Xulhaz Manan in Bangladesh, the death of a trans woman in Pakistan, or the attacks on Pulse Nightclub (Florida, USA) and Club Venom (Kampala, Uganda). But Anti-LGBTQ violence isn’t always accompanied by physical injury. Often, it festers in words and intentions. The latest of this has been in Tanzania, where the Minister of Justice Harrison Mwakyembe means to shut down organizations working with gay men. As a result, shelters and safe-havens like LGBT Voice Tanzania, set up by James Wandera Ouma, will find it hard to function, even if they go underground.
But none of this should come as a surprise when public opinion in several African nations is firmly set against queer rights. Both colonial laws that criminalize non-procreative, heterosexual intercourse, as well as new draft bills, like Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, have all created an atmosphere of not just discrimination, but terror as well, for any LGBTQ person. And these 7 statements by various political and religious leaders prove it:
African nations aren’t the only ones guilty of parading such sentiments in the name or “public health,” “culture,” or “national security.” The Westboro Baptist Church, or Kim Davis, or Omar Mateen, they all breed the same kind of hatred. In fact, following the tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida, a Pastor named Steven Anderson actually came out and said: “The good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world.”
In light of all this, the recent decision to appoint a UN expert on LGBTQ issues becomes all the more important. It is time to challenge leaders and their homophobia. It is time for global solidarity. It is time for equal rights and opportunities for all, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.