Africa Leaders Must Respect Gay Rights: UN’s Ban

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in an unusually outspoken declaration on Sunday, told African leaders they must respect gay rights, an issue that is controversial in many African states.

“One form of discrimination ignored or even sanctioned by many states for too long has been discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Ban said at an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital.

“It prompted governments to treat people as second-class citizens or even criminals,” he added.

Homosexuality is outlawed in most African countries and discrimination against gays and lesbians is rife on the continent, with South Africa being the only country that recognises gay rights and same-sex marriage, at least on paper.

However, previous external criticism of restrictions imposed on homosexuals has attracted angry responses from African leaders, who claim it is alien to their culture.

Outgoing African Union chairman Tedoro Obiang Nguema, speaking before Ban’s remarks were delivered, complained about the external criticism the continent receives.

“Africa should not be questioned with regards to democracy, human rights, governance and transparency in public administration,” he told the summit.

After Commonwealth leaders refused to adopt reforms to abolish homophobic laws in 41 member nations, British Prime Minister David Cameron said last year he would consider withholding aid from countries that do not recognise gay rights.

“Confronting these discriminations is a challenge, but we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration” of human rights, Ban told the summit.

Gay rights in Africa, most notably in Uganda, made the news on several occasions last year.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but a controversial bill that calls for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts was re-introduced in the Ugandan parliament late last year.

The proposed legislation envisages stiffer punishments — including the death penalty — for anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time as well as for gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV.

Gay rights activists have blamed an increase in homophobia in Uganda on evangelical preachers, some of whom are close to the regime of President Yoweri Museveni.

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a group of gay activists based in Kampala, welcomed Ban’s remarks.

“It holds a lot of weight that Ban Ki-moon has come to this meeting and addressed this issue,” SMUG advocacy officer Pepe Julian Onziema told AFP by telephone.

“It makes a difference because it is an issue that the African Union has ignored. We have pushed them on it but they have shut us out,” he added.

Ban also told leaders that they should respect democracy, noting that the Arab Spring revolutions that swept north Africa last year were “a reminder that leaders must listen to their people.”

“Events proved that repression is a dead end. Police power is no match to people power seeking dignity and justice,” he said.

Source: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

  1. 'deji Reply

    Proponents of homosexual relations argue that same sex marriages is nature’s way of controlling overpopulation but as far as I am concerned, I see homosexuality in the same light as paedophilia, sadomasochism,necrophilia, zoophilia, etc…They are all sexual disorders.
    African culture and tradition frowns at such sexual relations and I honestly believe that status quo must be maintained.

  2. nwabugwu kelechukwu jonathan Reply

    Mr.Ban Ki Moon talking about gay rights in Africa,which the African culture abhores is a development not acceptable around the whole continent.He has no right what so ever to dictate to us what to do in such case.Our moral values is what makes Africa unique,and should be respected by Ban Ki Moon and his sponsors.they can legalise what they want around their world but must leave our dear Africa alone.

  3. Chris Reply

    We will not have every Tom. Dick and Harry coming to Africa to tell us what we should or should not do just becasue we ask them for assistance now and then. It is time for us as a continent to arise and use our own resources to take care of ourselves and stop looking to others who always consider us dull and unable to do anything right. Africa will follow its own standards and the West can do whatever they want with their lives. Poverty will not make us lose our morals!

  4. Romeo Reply

    Ban ki moore s an agent of devil. He s a member of anti christ.

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