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17.05.2007 General News

"Lesbianism not a sin but a right"

By myjoyonline

As Africa meets in Accra to discuss human rights, lesbians on the continent are also demanding their right to freely express their sexual preference.

The Director of the Coalition of African Lesbians, Miss Filale Vilakari told Joy News that it is not a sin to have sex with a fellow female colleague.

She said practising sex in different ways has been part of Africa and it was the colonial masters who came to pollute our minds that it was wrong.

Miss Vilakari said lesbians in Africa are facing a lot of challenges and their rights must be respected.

We produce below the full interview she had with Joy News' Evans Mensah:

Evans Mensah (EM): Is it a personal decision you made to be a lesbian?

Filale Vilakari (FV): It is not a decision that one makes. It is an orientation and inborn. It is just like you know that when one day a woman passes you by and you feel something for that woman. It is something that is in you. It is about emotions. It is about erotic. It's part of your being. There is nothing you can absolutely do about it.

EM: Do you have sexual intercourse with your fellow female?

FV: Yes we do have sex because she is my partner. We express ourselves sexually in any way that we want to express ourselves as long as it is not infringing on another person's right.

EM: People would say that it is not natural.

FV: The argument that non-penetrative sex is unnatural is disturbing. Sex is an act of acts. When people have sex they do all sorts of things. That even applies to a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and a man.

EM: Is it not a reality though that lesbianism is foreign to African culture?

FV: Like I said, firstly, I am born an African, I was not born in any European country or a non-African state, I was born in South Africa. I am a combination of Mozambique and South African. Secondly, in terms of research and studies that we have done, when you follow our history as Africans you actually discover that sexual diversity has always been part of our culture and sexual heritage.

The whole idea that practicing sexuality in different forms is sinful and wrong actually came with the colonizers. It is a colonial import. Irrational fear of homosexuality is something that comes from the West. Way back in our centuries we had people of the same sex who expressed themselves sexually. I therefore contest very strongly that homosexuality is not African.

EM: You have raised issues about human rights. What is the human right issue involved in you having sexual relationship with your fellow female?

FV: The human rights issue comes in when somebody else wants to say that it is wrong for me to have a relationship with another woman… Because who decides what is wrong for me. It is my body and these are my feelings and I am entitled to have control over my private issues like sexuality.

It is not just me as an individual but a group issue because there is a quite a number of people who are like me. If someone forces me to marry a man when I actually wanted to be with a woman then it becomes a serious issue.