South Africa: Foundation Promotes Affirming Religious Voices, Official Urges African Countries to Protect LGBT Rights
The Other Foundation, which advances LGBT human rights in southern Africa, is planning a meeting with religious leaders to discuss homophobia. Shekeshe Mokgosi, the foundation’s public engagement manager, told reporter Don Makatile that people use the Bible and Qur’an to promote homophobia, but that the foundation hopes “to use church leaders to chart the way forward.”
There is good news, according to The Other Foundation, such as the once-conservative Dutch Reformed Church relaxing its stance on gay unions among its congregants and the progressive views of such eminent church leaders as Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba.
South Africa is a convenient launchpad for changing African stereotypes as it was among the first four countries in the world to allow gay marriages.
People in the church are beginning to talk, says Mokgosi, and this dialogue augurs well for gays and lesbians.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Advocate Michael Masutha last week called on African nations to defend the rights of sexual minorities, reports Mamba Online. He was speaking at the Africa Regional Seminar on Finding Practical Solutions for Addressing Violence and Discrimination Against Persons Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression,” a three-day seminar hosted by the South African government and the South African Human Rights Commission.
Mushwana further noted that, despite “unacceptably high levels of violence that are perpetrated solely due to another person’s sexual orientation or gender identity… we are acutely aware that discussions on these matters are either difficult or not tolerated by many leaders, be they politicians, religious leaders, traditional leaders or community leaders.”
In his speech, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Advocate Michael Masutha said that the seminar had its roots in the resolution adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in May 2014 condemning violence and other human rights violations against the LGBTI community.
The historic resolution, while largely ignored by African governments, also condemned attacks by states against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to Mamba, Masutha addressed “the issue of traditional, cultural or religious beliefs” by quoting former UN High Commission for Human Rights Navi Pillay:
“People are entitled to their opinion. They are free to disapprove of same-sex relationships, for example … they have an absolute right to believe and follow in their own lives whatever religious teachings they choose. But that is as far as it goes. The balance between tradition and culture on the one hand and universal human rights on the other must be struck in favour of human rights.”
The ‘OTHER FOUNDATION’ in Southern Africa is keen to promote the human rights of LGBT people in other African countries. Here is a statement from ‘Religion Dispatches’ that underlines a regional determination to help fellow Africans to overcome traditional hostility to those whose sexual orientation or ‘difference’ is a direct cause of violence on the African Continent:
“South Africa is a convenient launchpad for changing African stereotypes as it was among the first four countries in the world to allow gay marriages.
People in the church are beginning to talk, says Mokgosi, and this dialogue augurs well for gays and lesbians.”
No doubt, the former Archbishop of Capetown, the Rt. Revd. Desmond Tutu, will be gratified that South Africa is at the forefront of the liberation from sexism and homophobia that has occasioned much violence against minorities, such as LGBT people, in most other African countries. Archbishop Theo Makgoba, the current Leader in the Anglican Church of South Africa, is also cited as a supporter of action towards the elimination of homophobia and sexism from the Church in that country.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand