Africa unites to deny gay rights are human rights

On Nov 7, 2016 The Times reported: Africa has closed ranks against gay, lesbian and transgender people by claiming that the abuse and persecution of them is not a human rights issue.

Fifty-four countries known as the African Group have asked the UN to dismiss an independent expert who was appointed in September to investigate how and where LGBT people were mistreated.

In a joint statement to the general assembly the African Group said that “sexual orientation and gender identity” had nothing to do with human rights.

“Those two notions are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments,” Charles Ntwaagae, Botswana’s ambassador to the UN, said. He added that sexuality was a sovereign matter, governed by domestic law, and the UN had no business “delving” in it.

Human rights groups expressed alarm. “Essentially they are challenging the idea that LGBT people qualify for human rights,” Graeme Reid, of Human Rights Watch, said. “It is deeply troubling.”

Homosexuality is illegal in at least 33 of Africa’s 54 countries, largely because of colonial laws and Victorian missionary attitudes. However, the African Group’s statement echoed a belief that it is homosexuality, rather than the laws that ban it, that is foreign.

Mr Ntwaagae said the African Group was strongly concerned by the UN’s focus on “sexual interests and behaviours”. He accused the UN of trying to introduce and impose notions and concepts at the expense of more important matters such as racism.

The World Bank withheld $90 million from Uganda after President Museveni signed a law in 2014 that made being gay punishable by life in prison. A government spokesman said that the West could “keep their ‘aid’ to Uganda over homos”, and the US compared the law to oppression under Nazi Germany. The legislation was later annulled.

Rights groups said that they were especially surprised that South Africa had backed the African Group’s motion. It was the first country in the world to enshrine equal rights for LGBT people when Nelson Mandela brought in a new constitution in 1996.

Read more at Africa unites to deny gay rights are human rights | World | The Times & The Sunday Times

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