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African Leaders Hide Political Woes Behind Homophobia

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    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE A Press Release/Statement from the Black Radical Congress For more information about Namibia, see UMCALLED OUT s archives (URLs
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2001

      A Press Release/Statement from the Black Radical Congress

      For more information about Namibia, see UMCALLED OUT's archives (URLs
      are at the end of this article)


      April 25, 2001
      African Leaders Hide Political Woes Behind Homophobia

      In late March, Sam Nujoma, President of Namibia, ordered a purge of
      homosexuals, stating that "The Republic of Namibia does not allow
      homosexuality or lesbianism here. Police are ordered to arrest you,
      deport you and imprison you." The Namibian Society for Human Rights
      countered that the "attempt to turn a personal dislike into ad hoc
      national policy is entirely unconstitutional and misguided."

      The Black Radical Congress joins those who have strongly condemned
      the Namibian president's assault on same gender loving people in his
      Southern African nation. Namibia, a former German colony that was
      administered as a mandate and later annexed by South Africa, gained
      its independence in 1990 after a more than 20-year long
      anti-apartheid war. Given that he is a former freedom fighter and a
      head of state, Nujoma's homophobic, discriminatory actions are
      particularly repugnant. His actions and rhetoric come on the heels of
      similar rhetoric and repression in Zimbabwe, where President Robert
      Mugabe has campaigned to imprison and expel same gender loving

      Both Mugabe and Nujoma have equated homosexuality with bestiality and
      even murder, and both have called for the eradication of
      homosexuality from the face of the earth. These threatening
      pronouncements signal that a new wave of genocidal crimes against
      gays and lesbians in Africa could be in the making.

      Attacks on same gender loving people are by no means an unfamiliar
      occurrence. In recent years, violence and hostility against this
      sector have escalated to horrifying proportions in practically every
      part of the world. In Africa however, European colonialism -- from
      which the severe economic problems of the African continent derive --
      provides the context and fuel for this emergent witch-hunt. Virulent
      homophobia, incubated in the right-wing movements of the imperialist
      metropoles and also an outgrowth of Africa's own indigenous
      patriarchal systems, is finding a home in the political agendas of
      desperate African leaders. Sadly, these leaders, having little power
      in a world dominated by Western global capital, seek to buttress
      their authority through corruption and strong-arming. In the absence
      of real leverage, and confronted with more and more popular
      challenges to their leadership, they have resorted to scapegoating
      same gender loving people and fomenting a climate of heightened
      tolerance for misogyny.

      Nujoma's homophobic attack comes in the wake of other anti-democratic
      domestic and foreign policy initiatives, including the use of
      violence to repress trade union leaders at home and promoting
      militarism abroad. It is not by chance that this recent outburst
      against homosexuals in Namibia comes just when the government has to
      leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both societies committed
      troops to assist Laurent Kabila at a time when negotiations would
      have strengthened the democratic forces in the whole of Southern
      Africa. More importantly, these leaders committed their soldiers to
      train and fight beside those who committed genocide in Rwanda. With
      this track record and the fact that these two leaders did not condemn
      the late Kabila when he called on people in his country to kill
      Tutsis, the attacks on same gender loving people are by no means an
      unfamiliar occurrence. In recent years, violence and hostility
      against gays and lesbians has arisen in tandem with a search for new
      sources of legitimacy for their increasingly unpopular regimes.

      But there is another aspect to consider as well as a lesson to be
      learned. Most anti-colonial and national liberation movements (and
      even our own civil rights/black power movements) of the 60s, 70s and
      80s were ideologically weak on questions of misogyny and homophobia.
      While the most advanced groups made sure that gender equality was a
      part of stated political goals, clear positions against homophobia
      were noticeably absent. Moreover, even the struggle against misogyny
      was not a structural part of the movements' ongoing internal
      development. Our conclusion is that freedom movements which neglect
      the ideological development of their members risk the continued
      operation of reactionary policies when these leaders ascend to state

      Point IX of the BRC Freedom Agenda states "We affirm the right of all
      people to love whom they choose, to openly express their sexuality,
      and to live in the family units that meet their needs. We support
      anti-homophobic instruction in the public schools, and we believe
      that violence against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and the
      transgendered should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of laws that
      specifically prohibit abuses in this category of human rights."

      The Black Radical Congress calls upon all democratic-minded and
      freedom loving people to rally against the spread of homophobia
      throughout the world. And to those who have a particular affinity to
      the struggles for democracy and freedom in Africa, we ask that you
      make known your opposition to Nujoma's vicious assault on the human
      rights of homosexuals in Namibia, and to meet the callous disregard
      for human rights on display in Southern Africa with organized
      resistance. The Black Radical Congress likewise reconfirms our
      commitment to fighting such reactionary tendencies within our own
      movements. The struggle against homophobia, sexism, racism, and all
      the forces that are destructive to the basic rights of humanity is
      indivisible from the struggle against neo-colonialism and

      Black Radical Congress
      National Office
      Columbia University Station
      P.O. Box 250791
      New York, NY 10025-1509
      Phone: (212) 969-0348
      Email: blackradicalcongress@...
      Web: www.blackradicalcongress.org


      CALLED OUT ARCHIVES on Namibia
      The basic address for CALLED OUT's archives is:
      To get a specific message, type in this URL plus the message #.
      For example the first one listed below is:

      1201 News from Around the World CORNET Wed 4/25/2001
      1178 News: USA, Belgium, Namibia, South Africa CORNET Fri 4/6/2001
      1170 RMN Convo; Church Unity/Schism; Love, Hate, Repen CORNET Sat
      1169 Netherlands Ends Discrimination in Civil Marriage CORNET Fri
      1151 Namibian President Urges 'Gay Purge' CORNET Thu 3/22/2001
      1120 Andy Williams, CA; VT; China; Namibia CORNET Fri 3/9/2001
      916 International News (Namibia and Malaysia) U.M. Cornet Tue
      834 Amnesty International: Stop attacks on rights gro U.M. Cornet Wed
      827 Transgender Story & Africa News Items Called Out Sat 7/15/2000
      445 News Articles and Resources U.M. Cornet Sun 12/5/1999

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