South Africa has a one of the most gay friendly constitutions in the world but still homophobia is rife. It shows that it takes more than a constitution but overall change of mind and heart. There is a difference between equality and asking for special treatment. People might argue that since homosexuals are a minority group equity is more applicable to them that equality. Not taking into consideration the cultural and religious factors has resulted in harsher laws against homosexuals in countries like Uganda. The American model or European model does not really work in Africa because we are very conservative. The Christian community was forced to react radically because it felt its rights and belief systems threatened. So should gay activists be passive. Change is a gradual process and most societies took long to reach where they are today. Certain changes do not happen overnight considering that most African countries recently got their independence and are still to fully recover from the effects of apartheid or colonialism. The same way our fore fathers were suspicious of Christianity and hated how the colonisers did not appreciate their african traditional religous and cultural values is the same way people today react to “western concepts”.
Homophobia is a manifestation of many hidden unaddressed issues like social injustice, racial tension, gender inequality, slavery, colonisation and sovereignty. In some countries like Zimbabwe it is no longer an issue of gay rights but it has become a sign of resilience and resistance to former colonisers. The victims of most of the above mentioned injustices mainly the black community tend to be the most homophobic. Its showing that all their frustrations are being projected to the gay community and women. Its easier for Americans and Europeans to dictate certain things and have a lot of assumptions stemming from their liberal systems. As much as it’s a noble cause they are ignorant of the fact that Africa and Asia have a complicated history and underlying resentment of continual big bully attitude of most of these big powers. They do not take time to consider the reality on the ground. When you use Aid for instance to push forward an agenda like gay rights it seems more like you are buying allegiance or using you power to indirectly control people. They might eventually give in but not because its what they believe in but because of desperation. But this will ignite further hatred towards the groups in question and propagate hate crimes and reluctance in enforcing the law. People should get me right. I am not justifying homophobia in any way but I think certain things need growing out of. If Europeans and Americans have people’s interest at heart they should come up with more diplomatic and inclusive strategies which start addressing homophobia at grassroots level. Women empowerment has been a good example of campaigns yielding great results because countries have been allowed to determine how they will achieve their goals. A lot of people I interact with are not purely homophobic but are just against the idea of someone dictating things to them. Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transexual Transgender and Queer issues in Africa are not just human right issue, but they have become political and sovereignty issues. In conclusion, for now let us keep bedroom issues in the bedroom. Reckless public indecency will propagate homophobia in conservative settings. Let us start by making people understand and appreciate what LGBTQ means especially that it is not a choice and that anyone including those close to them could be affected.I have seen people become less homophobic with increased understanding. Let us work towards demystifying LGBTQ prejudices and stereotypes, I am sure we can make some more progress that way….