Corruption, rape, murder, human trafficking, drug dealing, black market arms deals, terrorism, civil wars from ethnic-tensions, intimidation of political rivals of states, starvation…the list of glaring issues that are an indictment to the high standards at which we claim to hold our moral values as Africans.
Anti-gay laws are some of the most controversial in the world at present. With increasing LGBTI movements, protests and awareness, many governments are finding themselves hot under the collar due to pressure from their demonstrators to provide LGBTI persons equal rights in society and protection from discrimination, like all other people. Unfortunately, some countries which are so convinced that criminalising same sex marriage and intimate relations in same sex couples will restore its dignity as a nation.
It is sad that in Africa, the most common excuse for these oppressive laws is to show the west that they cannot enforce their unrighteous tendencies on Africans. This is a statement of defiance in response to criticism towards Africans for emulating all of the west’s “bad” habits. Also, the actions of presidents Robert Mugabe, Goodluck Jonathan and Yoweri Moseveni to frown upon homosexuality are meant to be affirmations that the west is no longer to be viewed as superior over African countries.
Once again, our priorities are a problem. Since when does the morality of a nation rest on the sexuality of its citizens? Global development indicators are focused on the living standards of people within a country and their representation in a democracy more than the morality of a nation based on whether it has the least number same-sex couples.
Our lack of direction in terms of the issues which should be prioritised on our national-level decision making agenda can only allude to the kind of thinking by the leadership of a country. Also, why should there even be gay rights and bisexual persons rights? Human rights are for all human beings regardless of sexual orientation or any other exclusive groups in society.
If we spent half the energy we did on campaigning in schools in attempts to indoctrinate young children about the ”wrongness of homosexuality” (reference to Uganda) and invested all that energy into educating those children about the importance of tolerance and conflict management instead, we could rest assured at the end of the day that we have sowed seeds in a generation which will allow them to maintain a harmonious society in future.
At the top of our agendas should be issues that truly reflect a country and its leaders’ moral values: access to health care for all people, safe and decent sanitation, educational opportunities for all, state-funded services for marginalised families and increasing efforts to minimise unemployment and heighten economic growth.
Leadership which preoccupies itself with matters that put the most vulnerable and marginalised groups on the top of its priority list, is leadership whose morals are worth commending. We need to, as a continent, come together and create platforms for sincere dialogue- African insights and African values merging, all the while bearing in mind that we have an obligation as global citizens, to maintaining peace and security and not in any way create circumstances that incite violence under our leadership. That being said, we need to advise one another about the best way to handle issues which are in conflict with traditional “African” norms without infringing on people’s human rights.