Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Gay Africa

Ireland overwhelmingly passed the same-sex marriage referendum by 1,201,607 votes to 734,300 – a total of 62.1 percent yes to 37.9 percent no. It’s difficult to imagine that only a couple of decades ago Irish police used to raid bars and nightclubs. Not to confiscate drugs or arrest the drunk and disorderly – but to remove condom vending machines off restroom walls. Ireland, a predominantly conservative Catholic country has proved that within a generation things can change. Ireland is no longer a theocracy where the church determined social policies. Tolerance can beat dogmatism. And equality can triumph over injustice. Especially with a formerly taboo subject like homosexuality.

It is disappointing the same cannot be said for much of Africa. The mere fact that 34 countries will still arrest and prosecute those it suspects of homosexual activity speaks for itself. In Somalia or Mauritania you might not be sent to jail for being gay – but put to death instead.

Uganda enacted the Anti-Homosexuality Act just last year yet South Africa was the first in the world to safeguard sexual orientation as a human right in its constitution and in 2006 gave the green light for same sex marriage through legislation in the Civil Union Bill.

It’s a sad indictment of our society that people are being persecuted for something that is in as much a person’s control as their choice of parents or skin colour.

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