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ADDED ON: 09/10/2021

Combating LGBTQ stigma in Africa

09/10/2021 | Los Angeles Blade

PRETORIA, South Africa — It is not based on hearsay that most African countries are against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex among others (LGBTQI+) community primarily because of the cultural beliefs that have been bestowed on them for centuries. One would ask by whom? Who bestowed these cultural beliefs? Well to be honest that is a question that still has many experts scratching their heads. Some have sighted it is the missionaries who were on an escapade in Africa, preaching and teaching the Gospel of what was right and what was wrong. Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem to answer the question of stigma wholeheartedly as back in the days, and unfortunately even now, in some African sects if someone gives birth to a person with Albinism or twins stigma automatically follows and at times even death, which is something the missionaries were not in support of but that is another topic for another day that also needs urgent attention today it will be about the LGBTQI+ community. They are very few countries on the African continent that condone the existence of the LGBTQI+ community, such as South Africa, Mozambique and Angola, among others. However, regardless of it being legalized in those African countries, members of the LGBTQI+ community still continue to receive disparaging comments from the societies they reside in including from family and friends. In many African communities if you are found to be a member of the LGBTQI+ community, punitive measures are taken which include indoctrination, exorcism and at times even death. To help in understanding why these opprobrious norms are still practiced in Africa I engaged with two LGBTQI+ activists from South Africa, Bruce Walker from Pretoria Pride and Ruth Maseko from Triangle Project and Umndeni. “We are still staying in a society that takes us as sin or sinners that is why we are always tortured and killed and most of the time before we are killed we are raped because men believe they can make us women by raping us they don’t believe that a woman can love another woman that’s why they always make our lives very difficult,” said Ruth. “As for how we can combat this stigma as a continent? Africa needs more awareness, people need to be educated and taught that there is nothing wrong about same gender love, a man can love a man and a woman can love a woman and in terms of parents who later on find out that their child is gay or a lesbian we need to have parents support groups because some parents end up in shock when they get to figure out that their child is gay or a lesbian so parents need to be sat down with and be educated too.”

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