Globally, our LGBT community has continued to grow, with a number of us celebrating to commemorate the new age – more acceptance and support from family and friends. Good news also is that same-sex marriage has been legalized in some countries.
Yet, despite the recent court breakthroughs in the fight for LGBT rights and also the widespread acceptance, African countries are progressing slowly. Africa, a continent deemed to be the cradle of humanity, still lags behind in accepting and embracing our LGBT community. Most of us are in hiding while others are fleeing to areas where they can be themselves and appreciated. This is due to a number of several hurdles that the continent still faces.
The following are the challenges we face as the LGBT family here in Africa;
1. We are constantly being condemned by most religions.
Most of the religious denominations here consider homosexuality as a sin. LGBT members are frequently condemned and attacked verbally by the religious leaders during church services and in public. Believing in homosexuality will lead to one being excluded from leadership positions and ultimately being kicked out of that religion.
2. Most African countries still criminalizes consensual same-sex activities.
Out of the 54 independent states of Africa, 34 still illegalizes same-sex activities. Such laws, labeled “sodomy laws” are the ones which were long established during the colonial times and are unconstitutional. In these countries, examples being Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania, Guinea, Niger, Burkina Faso, and others, LGBT members are arrested for simply being LGBT or having sex.
3. We do not have access to basic public accommodations.
The public generally frown upon the public display of love by the LGBT, and thus, most public accommodations will deny them access. The LGBT individuals can also be denied houses when it comes to renting.
4. LGBT is yet to be incorporated into Sexual Health Education.
In most of the schools, the students learn about sexually healthy habits for heterosexuals but not for homosexuals. Failure to include the LGBT people only means that they are yet to be accepted.
5. There is so much hatred and violence against Us
The rates of hatred and violence against LGBT people are still prevalent here in Africa. Most of these hate crimes are committed in broad daylight and the police who are tasked with maintaining law and order does nothing to protect the victims. Instead, they support the perpetrators of such violence.
6. There is discrimination in workplaces.
The LGBT individuals can be fired from their jobs once their sexual orientation becomes public. Due to lack of non-discrimination laws in most African countries to protect them, they are discriminated against and can lose their jobs once they are identified as homosexuals.
7. We lack adequate healthcare.
The LGBT community in Africa is still far from accessing better healthcare services. When it comes to testing, treatment, and counseling, there is a lot of stigma and discrimination against our LGBT family. The increase of drug abuse and mental state issues has also led to more individuals facing the challenge.
These and a few other challenges are exactly the reasons why we are still lagging behind. Speaking up about these challenges will help us in pushing for our rights as LGBTs. There is still much work to do so let us all speak up and eliminate these hurdles.
Don is one of glxy.eu columnists |You can read his weekly column on GLXY.EU