Final Project: Anti-gay Laws in Africa

Posted on May 21, 2014 by

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Anti-gay laws in Nigeria and Uganda are bringing on mixed feelings among the Muslim population. Homosexuality is now no longer merely a sin in the eyes of Islamic law, but also illegal by secular law. The punishment, if found guilty of homosexual acts, ranges from 14 years in prison to the death penalty. While these harsh punishments obviously bring on negative feelings for the homosexual population, many Muslims appear to be in favor of the new law. Followers believe that homosexuality is a sin and those found guilty should be punished in the eyes of the law.

For the homosexual community, the anti-gay laws are devastating.  In one recent article (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-26469501), four Nigerian men received 20 lashes each after an Islamic court found them guilty of homosexual acts.  The men were also fined $120 each for their offense.  Most states in the predominantly Muslim area have adopted Islamic law, known as Sharia, since the end of military rule in 1999.  Islamic law includes many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics, and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene , diet, prayer, everyday etiquette and fasting.  Recently, sexual orientation has moved from Islamic law (punishable by God, but not necessarily by law), to secular law.  With this shift, it is illegal to be homosexual as opposed to frowned upon.  Nigeria is a very conservative country and is deeply opposed to homosexuality.  The picture below is of the four men found guilty in Islamic court of homosexual acts.

lashes for homosexuality

Another article (http://world.time.com/2014/01/15/nigeria-anti-gay-law/) looks at the law from another perspective.  This article focuses on those who are in favor of the new law.  Police reportedly began rounding up gay men and prepared to arrest them.  The law not only forbids homosexual marriages and sexual acts, but also any sort of support group.  The law says, “Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”.  This law is popular among many Nigerians because they feel homosexual conduct falls under “Offenses Against Morality”.   The following link leads to a clip that shows both rejection and support of the new law:

http://world.time.com/2014/01/15/nigeria-anti-gay-law/

Some groups, however, are urging the rest of the world to help fight against the anti-gay laws.  A leader of a gay organization was quoted saying, “The rest of the world should not allow these laws to continue.  Those who fear God and love humanity should sit together and ensure that gay people, their families and friends are not trampled on.”   Western cultures (USA) have taken away funding in many areas to show that they are not in support of the new law.  While trying to make a point, it may have given believers in the anti-gay law even more power.  One article states that followers believe it takes a “courageous leader” to defy the western powers of cutting off aid.  Uganda receives about $2 billion each year in aid that will be taken away because they are implementing the anti-gay law, in which those found guilty of homosexual acts face life in prison.  While this is devastating, many followers believe the president of Uganda has the best interest of the country and the people at heart.

Protesters outside Ugandan embassy in central London in 2009

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While activists are urging the rest of the world to fight against the laws, the Muslim Council is asking for national support on the issue.  The council’s Public Relations officer was quoted saying, “Let us unite behind our leader, abide by the laws, fight corruption, give our children relevant skills, work hard and accumulate enough wealth that will make us economically more independent and therefore less dependent on aid from the western world.”  Based on all the articles I looked at, there doesn’t appear to be one dominant opinion.  Both sides feel their way is the correct way of life and only time will tell what will happen.  In the meantime, Africa may not be the best place for the homosexual community.

 

 

References:

Anti-Gay Law Takes Effect in Africa’s Most Populous Country | TIME.com. (n.d.). World AntiGay Law Takes Effect in Africas Most Populous Country Comments. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://world.time.com/2014/01/15/nigeria-anti-gay-law/

Controversial Anti-Gay Law Breeds Unity Among Nigeria’s Christians, Muslim Leaders. (n.d.). Charisma News. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://www.charismanews.com/world/42451-controversial-anti-gay-law-breeds-unity-among-nigeria-s-christians-muslim-religious-leaders

Muslim Leaders Praise Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill. (n.d.). FrontPage Magazine. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/dgreenfield/muslim-leaders-praise-ugandan-anti-gay-bill/

Nigerian men lashed for gay acts. (n.d.). BBC News. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-26469501

Uganda Muslims Laud Anti-Gay Bill. (n.d.). – Africa. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://www.onislam.net/english/news/africa/469431-uganda-muslims-laud-anti-gay-bill.html

 

Grace Kjellgren

World Religions

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