Gay Rights


Gay rights are social and civil rights for homosexuals, which are equal to the rights for heterosexuals. While matters of sexuality will always attract tremendous attention, homosexuality alone elicits heated contention worldwide. A few countries recognize and uphold gay rights while others do not give in to the demands of the homosexual population.

Africa lags behind the rest of the world in acknowledging gay rights. Legislation concerning gay marriages and general human interaction is rather skimpy with only South Africa having distinct legislation enshrined in the country’s constitution. According to Anderson, 37 African countries currently criminalize same sex relation. Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan allow for the death penalty as punishment to the gay community. In Kenya, up to 14 years imprisonment is allowed for perceived homosexual acts. This is an indication that gay rights remain a dime to be fought for throughout the continent.

With more than four-fifths of the sub-Saharan population believing that homosexuality is morally unacceptable, cultural constraints remain the biggest obstacle towards striking the conversation. Countries like Nigeria, Gambia and Uganda have passed laws termed by their western counterparts as –utterly draconian- leading to inhuman killings of the homosexual population. This is against the victory of the gay rights in the western countries. The support for the homosexual community is said to have played a major role in the 2008 US election victory for president Obama.

Whereas western powers protect gay rights to gain political approval from the electorate, the opposite is true for the African political arena. Leaders like Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda are triumphing over the violation of gay rights and fighting what they call ‘venomous aliens’ in order to boost their political prospects. In so doing, they seem to be championing African imperialism by moving away from what they call ‘western import’ that can never be African.

Religion also plays a major role in shaping the world’s perception on gay rights. Majority of the religious fraternity does not support homosexuality. However, the Vatican’s new open-handed policy towards the gay community has been met with as much criticism as has been applauded. Though the pope would like to welcome homosexuals to the church, a section of his flock would rather not agree with him.

In conclusion, gay rights remain hotly contentious. While other countries take the brave step of striking the conversation, others would rather shy away in the guise of their cultural and religious beliefs. More can only be said, but not much can be done to strike the balance.

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