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In Solidarity With Gays in Africa

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To all gay people across Africa, I send you a message of support and solidarity on behalf of the humanist movement in the region. There is no doubt that this period must be a difficult moment for you, and your loved ones.

But I want to assure you that, at the humanist movement, you have staunch friends and allies. You should count on our support every step of the way. At the humanist movement, we are saddened by the wave of attacks, threats, and persecution of gay people in various African countries. Homosexuality is not alien to Africa. Homosexual practices are a part of the African culture. Same-sex love is not foreign to African culture. Same sex relationship is not western. It is human.

Hence we are concerned that those who jettisoned and demonized African culture and embraced foreign homophobic Christian and Islamic faith versions are using ‘African culture’ to justify and sanctify their hatred and prejudice against gays. We must call out this moral hypocrisy and contradiction.

We have just received a sad news from Burundi where the president called for a public stoning of same-sex couples. Public stoning in this 21st century? What a shame! This president, a catholic, has authorized violence and persecution of homosexuals in his country. The statement is outrageous and should be condemned. But we have witnessed other revulsive pronouncements and sanctioning of gay hate and bloodletting in other African countries. Even the statement by the catholic pontiff authorizing the blessing of same-sex unions has not helped matters. It has elicited hostile reactions and caused Catholics and religious politicians to double down on their prejudice against gay people.
But we at the humanist movement stand with you and will continue to support you in this struggle as we have done in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, etc.

Keep in mind the saying that tough times never last, but tough people do. Humanity finds itself at a defining moment. Humanity is making a moral and cultural shift. So I urge you to remain strong, bearing in mind that these tough, and perilous moments will soon pass away. They are momentary crises, pain, and pangs that are preceding the birth and dawn of a new era of love, dignity, and respect for gays in Africa, and in the world. So, remain positive and hopeful.

To this end, I urge you to be vigilant. Take your safety seriously and try not to endanger your life or the lives of your loved ones. Eventually, love will win, and hatred will lose. Respect for gay people will triumph over abuse and persecution of homosexuals. But bear in mind, those prejudiced against gay people are many. They are on the streets, in state houses, parliaments, churches, mosques, and markets. Those who hate gays are on social and mainstream media. They are looking for an opportunity to vent their hate and victimize you. Those who want gay people dead are among the elite, and the commoners, the rich and poor, the educated and noneducated. The hatred is deep and entrenched, beyond imagination, but unwarranted. Many gay haters are thirsting for blood and want to see homosexuals dead. Once again, be careful and vigilant. Even though the pope has authorized a blessing of your union, little or nothing has changed in the region. African bishops have issued a counter-directive. They support political and legislative moves to jail or kill you for expressing love.
Now know this, all gay people in Africa. If the bishops and priests refuse to bless your union, come to us at the humanist movement, and we will ‘bless’ it. We will officiate it. Same-sex love and union enrich our culture and lives. At the humanist movement, we stand for human equality and marriage equality. And we will continue to work and campaign for equality for all, both gay and straight.
We will strive to dismantle the structures of hate, inequity, discrimination, injustice, and prejudice against gay people in Africa.

Leo Igwe is a board member of Humanists International, UK.

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