State-sponsored anti-gay terror and extremism is soaring across Africa, much of it fueled by fundamentalism and Christian evangelism, finds a new report by Human Rights Watch. "The overall trend appears to be a hardening of legislation against lesbians, gay men, transgender people and bisexuals. Their lifestyles are already, in different ways, listed as criminal in 37 countries [in Africa]," adds The Guardian.
In addition to Uganda's extreme Anti Homosexuality Bill, which would execute those convicted of "aggravated homosexuality", a new report by Human Rights Watch documents many of the anecdotal stories covered by R20 recently:
The prime ministers of Zimbabwe and Kenya, where moves to table new constitutions have dominated the political scene this year, have seen fit to denounce homosexuality as part of their attempts to position themselves favourably with socially conservative groups.
In Senegal, a 95-page report published by Human Rights Watch last month includes interviews with dozens of people who have faced violence and threats at the hands of police and others. HRW decided to carry out the survey after a 2008 "outing'' campaign by gossip magazine Icone. Gay men's graves have been desecrated and in December 2008 nine gay Aids activists were jailed for eight years, though they were later released.
HRW refers to Senegalese homophobia as "institutionalised'', pointing out that the Muslim country's law criminalising consensual same-sex relationships invites abuse against non-heterosexuals and jars with the country's constitution.
South Africa, where the end of apartheid in 1994 led to the creation of a constitution that recognises same-sex partnerships and condemns discrimination, seems to be backtracking on gay rights. A number of homophobic attacks have made headlines, including the township practice of "corrective'' gang rape of lesbians. The evangelical Family Policy Institute is currently running a vociferous campaign against the city of Cape Town for promoting itself as a gay-friendly holiday destination.
One week ago, the United Nations voted to restore a reference to sexual orientation dropped last month from a resolution opposing the unjustified killing of minority groups. The removal was at the urging of African and Arab countries last month.
Adds Monica Mbaru, Africa coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Cape Town: "It has never been harder for gays and lesbians on the continent."
Read the full report published by Human Rights Watch ...