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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Mandela's LGBTQ advocacy falls on deaf ears
by Rev. Irene Monroe
2013-12-18

This article shared 4597 times since Wed Dec 18, 2013
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As the world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela—who was oftentimes affectionately referred to by his Xhosa clan name "Madiba," or as "Tata" ( Father )—I, too, like so many LGBTQ activists across the globe, give thanks for his unwavering support on behalf of our civil rights.

During his tenure as president, Mandela modeled for the world what an LGBTQ-inclusive democracy entailed.

For example, under Mandela, South Africa's post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The country was the fifth in the world—and the first on the motherland—to legalize marriage equality. While in office Mandela appointed an HIV-positive gay man, Edwin Cameron, to the nation's highest court. And long before his son, Makgatho Mandela, 54, died of AIDS, Mandela was the country's most vocal and visible HIV/AIDS prevention advocate campaigning against both its stigma and silence.

But, sadly, Nelson Mandela's LGBTQ advocacy and his impact on the motherland as well as African diasporic countries and communities across the globe have shown little or no light.

Much of the opposition to LGBTQ rights deriving from these countries and communities around the globe ( Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and the Americas ), when not fueled and funded by Western right-wing anti-gay Christian groups, was that no credible heterosexual Alpha male role model could possibly exist and also be African of a royal patriarchal warrior/chief lineage.

But as a former boxer and son of the chief of the Xhosa-speaking Tembu tribe in South Africa, Mandela was the quintessential paragon of African royalty, Black power and Black masculinity. However, Mandela's forward thinking and actions neither tamped down nor stemmed anti-gay rhetoric, murderous acts or anti-gay witch-hunting.

For example, to hear of human-rights abuses in Uganda is, sadly, not new. The country's anti-homosexuality measure, dubbed the "Kill the Gays bill," criminalizes same-sex relations.

David Kato, father of the Uganda's LGBTQ-rights movement, didn't live to receive either punishment. On a list of 100 LGBTQ Ugandans whose names and photos were published in an October 2010 tabloid newspaper calling for their execution, Kato was murdered in January 2011.

Throughout Africa, there are numerous stories of anti-gay bullying, bashing and abuses of its LGBTQ population. None of us will forget that Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe, who treated his LGBTQ citizens with torturous action, has yet to be brought to justice.

If truth be told, Mandela's advocacy has shown very little light, even in his country—the one country you don't expect to hear anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and human rights abuses. But South Africa has a serious problem with its LGBTQ population, and especially with lesbians. And one method employed to remedy its problem with lesbians is "corrective rape."

Corrective rape is a hate crime that, for the most part, goes unreported and unprosecuted in South Africa. And, these rapes are the major contributor to the HIV/AIDS epidemic among South African lesbians.

In the Caribbean, Jamaica is not the most anti-gay island country; it's just simply the most infamous for its anti-LGBTQ crimes.

Anti-gay sentiment in Jamaica goes unchallenged, in that a person can simply speculate about a persons' sexual orientation or gender identity and then plot to kill him. The intent to murder LGBTQs is unabashedly announced without fear because the police won't protect them from mob-led murders and violence. As a matter of fact, the police incite the country's anti-gay frenzy—by either being present and inactive during these assaults or by following and watching the members of the LGBTQ community.

And in Jamaica, like other anti-LGBTQ friendly countries, anti-gay violence drives the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Here in the United States, Mandela's LGBTQ advocacy was primarily ignored by most Black churches and their cadre of anti-gay African-American ministers who professed to have marched with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil-rights era.

In 2013 our first Black president, Barack Obama, was like Mandela in modeling and legislating on behalf of LGBTQ rights, with measures like the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"; the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; and the repeal of DOMA, to name a few. But there is still a huge vocal and visible anti-LGBTQ contingent of Black Christian ministers and churches.

Some of these ministers support LGBTQ civil rights but draw the line on same-sex marriage. They say their opposition to same-sex marriage is a prophylactic measure to combat the epidemic of fatherlessness in Black families. In scapegoating the LGBTQ community, these clerics intentionally are ignoring the social ills behind Black fatherlessness, such as the systematic disenfranchisement of both African-American men and women, high unemployment, high incarceration and poor education.

Mandela's LGBTQ advocacy and his impact on the Motherland as well as African diasporic countries and communities across the globe has for the most part fallen on deaf ears.

We all need another Mandela to help us evolve.

But as Obama stated in his eulogy to Madiba "We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again."


This article shared 4597 times since Wed Dec 18, 2013
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