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Sat, 12 Aug 2023 Feature Article

Rethinking Africa's Stance on Human Rights and Sexual Orientation

Rethinking Africa's Stance on Human Rights and Sexual Orientation
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The narrative is gradually shifting among African leaders, prompting them to re-evaluate their positions on human rights, particularly concerning sexual orientation. Basically, the cultural argument has been a cornerstone for those advocating against LGBTQ rights. They claim that homosexuality is alien to African traditions and could lead to moral decay. Some even go as far as to suggest that displeasing the gods of the land with such practices could bring unprecedented plagues upon the continent.

However, a glaring contradiction emerges when we consider Africa's relationship with international institutions. Many African nations rely on financial aid from bodies like the World Bank, IMF, and various governments. These entities champion the principles of human rights, equality, and respect for all. Ironically, while Africa often points fingers at the West for its challenges, it doesn't hesitate to seek their assistance, despite its vast resources. The continent's political systems, marred by corruption and underdevelopment, have left it in a state of impoverishment.

In this age of technological convergence, where the world is becoming a global village, it's baffling that some leaders still hide behind outdated cultural norms as a moral compass. It's disheartening to see these leaders cling to traditions that haven't fostered our liberation or enlightenment.

Historically, Africa was associated with harsh cultural practices, such as human sacrifices and the oppressive traditions of trokosi and widowhood rites. While some of these practices persist, it was largely the influence of Western education that initiated their decline. Now, as the LGBTQ issue gains global attention, many African leaders act as if their cultural values are under siege. They propagate the notion that only heterosexual relationships align with African values, insinuating that the continent should isolate itself from the evolving global norms.

Africa must recognize that it cannot revert to the past in a world that's rapidly globalizing. Soon, global powers and industry leaders will set the standards of acceptability, influencing the flow of resources and power dynamics. African leaders must adapt or risk being left behind. Instead of focusing on divisive issues like anti-LGBTQ sentiments, leaders should prioritize uplifting the continent from its challenges. The question remains: Will opposing LGBTQ rights truly restore Africa's glory? With a myriad of pressing issues at hand and leaders seemingly indifferent, it's perplexing to see energy channelled against a minority group that, in many ways, wields more influence than the continent itself.

It is high time African leaders prioritize the genuine welfare of their people over outdated prejudices. The path forward is one of unity, progress, and inclusivity.

Isaac Ofori
Human Rights Advocate
BA, MA, MPhil

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