At least six African countries have decriminalised same-sex relations in recent years. It seems nonsensical to still frame equal rights for LGBTIQ+ people as ‘Western’.
Ugandan President Museveni has said that his country “will not embrace homosexuality and the West should stop seeking to impose its views”. In an article for the organisation’s website, Human Rights Watch’ Director for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program Graeme Reid calls this statement “a false dichotomy” since Angola, Botswana, Gabon, Lesotho, Mozambique and Seychelles have in recent years decriminalised same-sex relations. Cape Verde, Reid claims, plays an active role in defending the rights of LGBT people on the international stage while the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights has condemned violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity and called for perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Surprisingly, South Africa has not yet joined the international outcry against Uganda's newly proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In 1996, the country adopted the first constitution in the world explicitly safeguarding the ‘freedom of sexual orientation’. Two years later the country legalised same-sex marriage and adoption by LGBTIQ+ couples. It seems the South African government fears being framed as a proponent of so-called Western values. But with other African countries and the official African Commission on their side, this fear seems baseless. In his article, Reid also calls on the South African government to expedite asylum applications for LGBT people. “The South African Refugees Act (1998) expressly lists sexual orientation as grounds for protection”, Reid writes. Victor Chikalogwe, head of the Cape Town-based organisation Passop (People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty) claims in an interview with Reid that “within a week of the Anti-Homosexuality bill’s passage, Passop received 22 LGBT Ugandans had fled to South Africa. Sixty-two others have appealed directly to Passaop for help from Uganda as they desperately prepare to flee.”