Are lesbians not women too? CALLING SPEAKER OUT IN AFRICA AS A HYPOCRITE
by Melanie Nathan, February 20, 2013.
Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature hosts the fifth Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians’ (CWP) Africa Region conference8 Feb 2013. Delegates and observers of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association attended a the Commonwealth Women Parliamentary (CWP) Conference, in East London, South Africa, last week.
In attendance at the meet up in South Africa, which is a country that enjoys full equality through a constitution that protects LGBTI people, was controversial anti-gay Ugandan Speaker Rebecca Kadaga. Kadaga emphasized the need to take firm action against the persistent violent abuse of women and children on the continent of Africa. The Speaker pointed out that Commonwealth Legislatures need to be firmer in ensuring policy implementation measures that advocate for the empowerment and protection of women and children.
The Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker and outgoing CWP chairperson said the objectives of CWP Africa are to “promote gender equality and emancipation of women, promoting respect for human rights and freedoms, pursuing the ideals of democracy and good governance.”
I cannot help but wonder if that type of advocacy purposely excludes lesbians who are raped by men who think that they can cure lesbians of their sexuality, in what has become known as “corrective” rape. It would seem to me that the speaker’s anti-gay stance and extreme rhetoric does anything but ensure the protection or empowerment of women who happen to be lesbians, and may well serve to exacerbate the violence against them. Not to mention the fact that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which Kadaga is promoting and pending in Uganda’s Parliament that calls for the death of homosexuals and lesbians is anything but in keeping with international basic human rights standards and Uganda’s related international commitments.
Delegates represented 19 National Branches, namely; Botswana, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, 36 Sub-National Branches from Nigeria, nine from South Africa, and Zanzibar.
The fifth CWP Africa Region Conference took place from 9 to 13 February 2013 at the East London International Convention Centre (ICC). Speakers of National Parliaments and State Legislatures, Members of Parliaments and Members of Provincial Legislatures attended. This was the first time ever that a Sub-National Branch in the (Africa Region) hosts the Commonwealth Women’s Parliamentary Association Conference.
The theme for the conference was, “Are African Parliaments on Target Towards Attaining the 2015 Millennium Development Goals,” providing an opportunity for the members of CWP to share experiences, discuss topics of interests and seek solutions to the special problems faced by the female minority in parliaments.
Now we all know the speaker is rather reactive when called out on her human rights misunderstandings, as she leads her Ugandan Parliament toward the possible imminent passage of The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as the Kill The Gays Bill, which is currently at No 5 on Uganda’s “Business to Follow” Parliamentary Order papers (Agenda.) Kadaga reacted last year to criticism from the West, by promising passage of the Bill. So a reprimand from the West may be ill-conceived. Yet she was in South Africa and that happens to be an African country, (excuse me for stating the obvious) and it happens to be a country that not only refrains from referring to its LGBTI citizens as criminals, but affords them full legal recognition as a minority entitled to such. Calling the Speaker out from within Africa as opposed to calling her out from the West seems like a resolution to the issue of Madam Speaker being so offended by western interference.
Surely someone there could have called the speaker out on her hypocrisy?
By Melanie Nathan