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From Kathryn Green SAT 2 MAR 2014 - 1h28 PM X-Posted from H-AFRICA@H-NET.MSU.EDU _________________ From: Ide Corley <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: 1 March 2014 Dear Colleagues, Stephen Thomson asks: Can anyone on the list direct our attention to the statements of the leading gay rights activists and organizations in Uganda -- and specifically their comments on the kinds of support or actions they seek from international allies? An article from the Guardian (UK) on February 10th reports that LGBT activist Frank Mugisha, on behalf of the Ugandan LGBT organization SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda), is currently taking a suit in Boston against the American evangelist, Scott Lively, for crimes against humanity in Uganda. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/10/uganda-president-decision-anti-gay-bill-law Kenya writer Binyavanga Wainaina, who came out earlier this year, has argued that it would be a mistake to characterize the current crisis of sexual rights in Uganda, Nigeria and elsewhere as a cultural matter. He has maintained that the demonizing and scape-goating of homosexuals and gender and sexual dissidents on the continent is part of a desperate and cynical attempt by elites who have lost legitimacy to secure power through a rhetoric of Africanness. http://africasacountry.com/watch-binyavangas-brilliant-youtube-documentary-when-you-look-at-the-map-of-gay-rights-around-the-world-why-is-ours-bright-red/ http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/16/binyavanga-wainaina-gay-rights-kenya-africa Wole Soyinka has similarly tied the timing of the "jail the gays" initiative in Nigeria to the removal of the petrol subsidy which led to sudden dramatic increases in petrol costs. http://omojuwa.com/2014/01/wole-soyinka/ http://nigerianstalk.org/2014/02/01/editorial-issue-25-the-gay-issue/ I would agree with the perspective these writers offer that to treat this issue narrowly as a debate about cultural autonomy or ethics would be a mistake. A number of perspectives have been brought forward about the role of the international LGBT movement in supporting indigenous struggles for sexual freedom. In his study of Muslim discourses on sex in "Desiring Arabs" (2007), Joseph Massad controversially criticized the "missionary" approach of "the Gay International" (a term he used to collectively describe IGLHRC and international LGBT movements), arguing that the West was foisting a "coming-out" paradigm on Muslim societies where sex had not previously been publically discussed or connected with a social identity. In doing so, he maintained, "the Gay International" were only setting up a homo-hetero binary where none had previously existed. In his wonderfully lucid book "African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization" (2007), Neville Hoad was the first to my knowledge put forward the argument that what has taken the form of "homophobia" in Africa is first and foremost a political project designed to detract attention from the economic and social failures of neocolonial governments who have lost power under the pressures of globalization. More recently, Ashley Currier's study "Out in Africa: LGBT organizing in Namibia and South Africa" (2012) examines the responses of same-sex groups to the rise of politicized homophobia in South Africa. Her book devotes a considerable amount of space to the efforts of lesbian organizations to oppose the deadly practice of "corrective rape" in South Africa and very carefully traces the delicate balancing acts that LGBT constituencies engage in as they seek resources for organizing themselves to make their opposition to such violence heard without, at the same time, attracting negative publicity that only appears to confirm the outrageous claim that African homosexuals are "gay for pay". There is a fairly sizeable literature on the LGBT movement in South Africa and its links with the anti-apartheid movement. Mark Gevisser and Edwin Cameron's anthology "Defiant Desires" (1995) is a good place to start. More recently, in a book that seems to counter Massad's opposition to the ways in which same-sex desires and practices have been recently articulated to Westernized models of gender identity, Chantal Zabus in "Out in Africa: Same-Sex Desire in Sub-Saharan African Literatures and Cultures" (2014), has argued for an indigenization of discursive sex (sexuality in the Foucauldian model as generated by the incitement to speak about it). Zabus seems a little impatient with analyses that aim to queer African texts and contexts by looking at codes and traces of non-normativity and prioritizes texts that explicitly express same-sex desire in the effort to express and shape indigenous sexual identities. In an analysis of Zulu writer, Nkozi Zandile Nkabinde's "Black Bull, Ancestors and Me" (a praise poem and autobiography), Zabus privileges models of identity which tie LGBT terminologies and practices to local terminologies and epistemological systems. Zandile identifies herself as a "lesbian sangoma". There is a growing body of literary writing in English on same-sex desire and relationships on the continent, some of which is discussed by Hoad and Zabus. The South African photographer Zanele Muholi has gained worldwide attention for her efforts to portray LGBT communities in South Africa, centring mostly on the lives of black lesbians and transmen. Muholi's work has been subject to various forms of censorship including theft. She is a passionate critic of anti-homosexual violence in its literal and political forms and her work shows the grace, vulnerability and strength of communities under fire. http://inkanyiso.org/ Best wishes, ?de Corley --