WITH some reservations, the UK gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has welcomed the unequivocal support for gay rights given by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his speech to the recent African Union summit.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation had been ignored or even sanctioned by many states for too long, Ban Ki-moon told the summit. He told delegates that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity:
Prompted governments to treat people as second class citizens or even criminals. Confronting these discriminations is a challenge, but we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration (of human rights).
Homosexuality is illegal in many African countries – a situation which has drawn increasing criticism from activists and the West.
Reacting to Ban Ki-moon's appeal, PTT’s secretary, George Broadhead, said:
The situation for LGBT people in African states seems to be going from bad to worse and, as in the rest of the world, it is clear that much of the hostility they face stems from religious teachings.
Examples are the Anglican Church of Uganda’s support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the Anglican Church of Nigeria’s support for a similar bill. With Islam now becoming more dominant in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, the prospect for improvement in these north African countries seems bleak indeed. Whilst the support of such a prominent figure as Ban Ki-moon is very welcome, will politicians and religious leaders in these countries, in which homophobia is so entrenched, take any notice?