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This issue of gay rights

Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange reflects on the statements of British Prime Minister and United States Secretary of State when "the two said they would reconsider their ties with African countries that did not enshrine 'gay rights'."

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

15th February 2012 08:40

Alessia Valenza

I READ an article in the Southern Times newspaper of Sunday 05 February 2012 titled “UNSG WADES INTO GAY FRAY” with disbelief.

Before I comment on the essence of the statement by the United Nations Secretary-General, let me pause and say a few words on what is quoted in the same article as utterances by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on the same issue.

It is quoted that “late last year, the two said they would reconsider their ties with African countries that did not enshrine ‘gay rights’.”

While I recognize human rights of all the citizens of different countries in the world, it is disturbing to note that two prominent leaders of two Western countries found it necessary to threaten other countries just because those countries do not recognize gay rights in their laws.
The two respected leaders must recognize the fact that there are divergent cultures and beliefs in this world of ours.

Sometimes, what is good and acceptable in Britain and the US may not necessarily tally with or be acceptable under certain cultures and beliefs.

It is, therefore, totally presumptuous and arrogant for a leader of any country to take it for granted that what is acceptable and permissible in his or her culture should be the yardstick for all the cultures and beliefs in the world
Does it really mean that the diplomatic, political and economic relationship between Britain and the US with other countries must necessarily be determined by the acceptance of homosexual rights in those countries even if in accordance with cultural and religious beliefs of the people of those countries, such practices are a taboo?

It was not too long ago when successive leaders of both the abovementioned countries were in good relationships with the notorious and pariah apartheid regime of South Africa in direct contradiction of the OAU position on the then South African racist, oppressive rulers.

That did not impact negatively on diplomatic and political relationships between OAU member states and the two countries concerned.
Now to threaten countries just because they do not accept homosexual relationships in their respective countries is going too far, to say the least.

I did until now not know that the relationship between Britain and the US and other countries is indeed preconditioned and predicated on those countries enshrining laws permitting gay rights.

Now to come back to the position expressed by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon at the just-ended AU summit in Addis Ababa, I am surprised that the UNSG who should be careful not to antagonize some members of the world body which he heads, must indulge himself in such issues as gay rights, instead of addressing serious and critical issues which are troubling Africa today.

He should have been advised to leave such comments to other people rather than getting himself going so low and championing the cause of gays in Africa.

The question is not whether gay rights are legitimate or not, the issue is that is it the prerocative of the UNSG to champion gay rights in Africa when the continent is faced with other serious problems and issues which need and deserve his undivided and serious attention.

I cannot help but agree with a social commentator from Ghana, Moses Foh Amoaning, who concluded that as far as he is concerned “the United Nations Secretary-General is not making initiatives to progress the fundamental human rights of people, but has been turned into a parrot for Western powers.”

I am sure it is not the desire of the AU member countries who contribute to the budget of the UN to have done so just to enable the UN to buy a ticket for the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to come to Africa and promote gay rights in Africa instead of addressing very serious challenges facing the continent today.

He will be better advised to take the AU Summit very seriously and take the opportunity of attending AU meetings to address issues of bread and butter and serious internal conflict and challenges that the continent is facing.

As much as what he said might be regarded by some as legitimate, he should rather leave such issues to other people and organizations rather than himself to antagonize most African countries, both Christian and Muslim alike, who are sensitive to the issues of humosexuality.

Finally, I am at pains to say that we have thousands of African people who are suffering from hunger, poverty and various diseases on the continent and we as Africans cannot affort to pay tickets for people who come to the continent to behave like Ambassadors of Homosexuals and come to lecture us on gay rights, when that money can be spent on programmes that can develop Africa and reduce the suffering of African people. With due respect, those who have such agendas must pay for themselves.