Open Arms

African Leaders Urged To Support LGBT Rights By Former President Of Mozambique

Joaquim Chissano 471b-102310With all the attention being focused on the anti-LGBT climate in Russia right now, it’s easy to forget that Africa is a pretty scary place for gays as well.

Thankfully, an ally for LGBT people in that continent has just stepped up in a powerful way.

In an open letter to African leaders for The Africa Report, Mozambique’s former President Joaquim Chissano unapologetically urges them to support LGBT rights.

“We can no longer afford to discriminate against people on the basis of age, sex, ethnicity, migrant status, sexual orientation and gender identity, or any other basis – we need to unleash the full potential of everyone.

As an African who has been around a long time, I understand the resistance to these ideas.

But I can also step back and see that the larger course of human history, especially of the past century or so, is one of expanding human rights and freedoms. African leaders should be at the helm of this, and not hold back. Not at this critical moment.”

As indicated with his desire to “unleash the full potential of everyone,” Chissano’s goal is to support Africa’s LGBT citizens not only as a human rights issue, but as an investment in Africa’s future.

Ironically, the financial investment in Africa that came with the proliferation of Evangelical Christian missionaries has only served to foster antigay hatred in those regions. Hopefully Chissano’s open letter is just the beginning of some major dialogue and action that will help support the LGBT people of Africa.

Their lives are depending on it.

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  • JennyFromdabloc

    Bom para Moçambique!

  • CCTR

    Hopeful and powerful words!

    Interesting cover photo though, must be a mistake.

  • barkomatic

    Wow, a welcome surprise. I hope this sentiment spreads across Africa.

  • Mezaien

    Africa is a dangerous to GLBT, because of the white who forced their Christianity on the population.

  • darkorient

    Why aren’t there more people applauding him? This is such a powerful statement from him considering what’s happening in his region.

  • Kangol

    Muito obrigado! Along with Nelson Mandela he has been a beacon of hope for LGBTs in southern Africa. I hope more African leaders and people across that vast continent take note of this progressive stance!

  • Martin

    To say Africa is a scary place for gays (with a link to a story about Nigeria) encourages people to think of the continent as homogenous (and uniformly backward). Gay rights are absent in many African countries, but in at least 13 African countries gay sex is legal and in some African countries gays have more rights than in the US (such as South Africa where gay marriage has long been legal and the constitution prohibits any kind of discrimination based on sexual preference). Some Asian countries have harsh anti-gay laws (such as Yemen where homosexuality carries the death penalty), but nobody would dream of calling Asia a scary place for gays, because of course we all understand that it is a big place with many regional variations. I think one should be careful not to play into ideas about Africa as the dark continent, but rather focus on the specific factors that result in gays being oppressed in particular countries.

  • Ditamo

    Sincerely, I always feel like Americans love generalize things. Not all of Africa is as homophobic as Uganda or Zimbabwe. There are quite a few countries that, although there is no civil unions or marriages, they don’t go around prosecuting and killing gay people. Most of the African countries that do that are countries that are very poor, have low literacy rate, and people have no exposure to ways of life other than their own, which makes them intolerant.

    I was born in the USA, but my parents are from an African country that of course, just like any part of the world has some homophobia, but it’s no worse than over here in the US, maybe even less. I can say this because I partially grew up there and know how things are there. Also my mother is bisexual and is in a loving relationship with her partner, living in this country. Of course people comment, but they don’t really treat them any different. And they have many lesbian and gay friends there.

    So Queerty please don’t bundle all of Africa into one, Africa is a continent, you can’t even call it a region, there are major differences between, the West, East, South and North African regions. And also remember there is over 50 individual countries with their own way of thinking, degree of tolerance and acceptance.

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