Considering that almost all of Africa’s 54 nations ban homosexuality, Barack Obama‘s LGBT rights proclamation and Hillary Clinton‘s pro-LGBT U.N. speech caused various of reactions across the plateau continent. Let’s pop in and see how a few of them responded.
The Christian Science Monitor offered a kick-ass map showing the state of anti-gay laws in every African country along with this succinct description of how Obama and Clinton pledged to help LGBTs around the world:
Under the move, legal, moral, and financial support will be boosted for gay rights organizations, emergency assistance will be sent to groups or individuals facing threats, and asylum in the US will be offered to people forced to flee homophobic persecution in their countries, Mr. Obama said.
On the plus side, the speech pressured Malawi Justice Minister Ephraim Chiume to review the nation’s ban on homosexual acts. If you remember, their anti-gay laws received international condemnation last year when Malawi courts sentenced a couple to 14 years for violating the ban; they later pardoned the sentence.
On the minus side, Nigerian lawmaker Zakari Mohammed said his country might increase the penalty already laid out in the senate’s approved anti-gay bill, which is now up to 14-years in prison. In response to Clinton’s speech, he said “to hell with the super powers if they are for gay marriages.”
At least he was nice enough to call us a super power.
“I don’t like her tone, at all. Homosexuality here is taboo, it’s something anathema to Africans, and I can say that this idea of Clinton’s, of Obama’s, is something that will be seen as abhorrent in every country on the continent that I can think of.
“I’m amazed she’s not looking to her own country and lecturing them first, before she comes to say these things which she knows are very sensitive issues in so many parts of the world, not least Africa.”
And while it’s not connected to Clinton’s talk, Cameroon is currently considering strengthening its own anti-gay laws by increasing the current penalty of five years in prison to 15.
Thankfully not all of the continent feel the same: Rwanda’s justice minister, Tharcisse Karugarama, said that the country had no plans to criminalize homosexuality there. And earlier this year, South Africa made a major step against LGBT criminalization by successfully introducing a resolution to the UN’s Human Rights Council recognizing the need to protect the LGBT rights worldwide; even as many African nations opposed it.
While African gays and lesbians still face an uphill climb toward equality, America’s stance will hopefully make legislators there consider the international repercussions of mistreating them.