There was an explosion of international outrage in late February when Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a harsh anti-gay law. The legislation mandates life sentences for people who have gay sex or are in same-sex marriages and criminalizes “promoting” homosexuality, though the harshest provision—the death penalty for gays—was ultimately stripped out.
The United States immediately condemned the bill, with Secretary of State John Kerry calling it “atrocious” and likening the bill to Nazi or apartheid-era laws.
But the Obama administration’s rhetoric masks its strong support for the Ugandan government, support that will likely continue in the months ahead. Like Nigeria, which has also passed anti-gay laws, Uganda, run by an authoritarian president in power for 26 years, is a key U.S. partner in the global war on terror. The East African country also plays host to Western oil and mining companies, like Canada-based Barrick, that profit from the country’s natural resources.
But Cape Town’s gay village doesn’t, wouldn’t, and couldn’t exist in any other country on this continent, the majority of which outlaw homosexuality. Some have seen a recent increase in penalties for homosexual acts. In these places gay people and other sexual minorities are forced into lives of secrecy and fear. Coming out is an act of bravery and defiance: Far more than social awkwardness is at stake.
Homosexuality is illegal in 36 out of 55 African countries and carries the death penalty in four. The presidents of Nigeria and Uganda recently passed new laws strengthening existing anti-gay legislation. A parliamentary caucus in Kenya is demanding anti-gay laws be applied rigorously and one MP recently said homosexuality is “as serious as terrorism.”
South Africa runs contrary to these currents. The country’s 1996 constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation and gender. Pierre de Vos, a law professor at the University of Cape Town, says South Africa is different “because of the way in which it became a democracy.
“Equality was very important to some of those deeply involved in the struggle against apartheid and they successfully put the argument that the struggle is against the denial of dignity and against all discrimination,” said de Vos. “Part of the struggle was about human rights.”
Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade’s statement didn’t indicate how many of the girls were still unaccounted for.
“The number of those still missing is not the issue now as the life of every Nigerian is very precious,” it said.
Distraught parents have waited for news for four days, putting their faith in a military rescue, said Lawan Zanna, father of one of the students.
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They are shocked that the government resorted to “blatant propaganda” and a “blatant lie,” he said.
Olukolade said the military received a “major breakthrough” report from a reliable source who supposedly included information from the principal of the school where the students were seized by gun
The UN Security Council unanimously approved on Thursday the creation of a UN peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic to try to stop violence between Christians and Muslims that has threatened to spiral into genocide.
The 15-member council authorized a UN force, to be known as MINUSCA, of up to 10,000 troops, 1,800 police and 20 corrections officers. It also authorizes French troops in the landlocked former French colony to support UN peacekeepers.
Zimbabwe President Describes Homosexuality as Inhuman : Washington Blade - America’s Leading Gay News Source
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Thursday described homosexuality as “inhuman.”
“The West says we must accept there is change in the world, that gays have human rights,” he said during an event at a hotel in Harare, the country’s capital, that commemorated International Women’s Day as the Herald, a Zimbabwean newspaper, reported. “Gays have no human rights. They have human rights - human rights for doing an inhuman thing.”
Mugabe has repeatedly faced criticism from Zimbabwean LGBT rights advocates and others over his homophobic rhetoric.
He told supporters during a rally last July ahead of the African country’s presidential election that authorities should arrest gays and lesbians who don’t conceive children. Mugabe during the same event criticized the Anglican Church for blessing same-sex marriage and President Obama over his support of nuptials for gays and lesbians.
Paleczny had survived a number of attacks on Malakal before the recent outbreak of violence. “We stayed through all the battles when the NGOs cleared out,” she said. While the nuns carried on with their business - improving education, healthcare, journalism, agriculture - the NGOs sometimes took months to return.
The Combonis have survived decades of bombing by the Sudanese government, both during the 20-year civil war and after. Balatti was unfazed even after hearing rumours that a counterattack by rebels was imminent. In her dispatch for the Comboni Mission, she wrote that roughly 100 of the town’s most vulnerable people were taking shelter in her church compound - most of them elderly, disabled or women with young children. Balatti reassured the displaced people that she would not leave.
Although a ceasefire agreement was signed in January, the deal is not reflected by the reality on the ground. On February 18, Balatti reported the White Army militia - comprised of members of the Nuer ethnic group - arrived in town.
People trying to escape on a truck were caught in the gunfire, hurling themselves from the vehicle and running to the church compound. Its walls provided protection from bullets, but only until 10am when the rebels breached the compound and started making demands of the sisters.
By evening, there were 30 gunmen in front of the cathedral searching for a pro-government fighter. One of the men readied his rocket-propelled grenade launcher and threatened to hit the church. The sisters stood their ground, doggedly negotiating for the protection of civilians. Early the next morning, Balatti and the other sisters gathered the civilians and left for the Presbyterian church, which was being used as a UN base, where they coordinated a rescue mission for those left behind.
Navi Pillay, UN high commissioner for human rights, said hatred between Christians and Muslims in the republic had now reached a “terrifying level”.
Pillay said a new 12,000 strong force of UN peacekeepers was needed to stop acts of barbarism including decapitations and cannibalism of children. If left unchecked the situation could descend into genocide, she warned.
The African Union has deployed 6,000 troops, and France added another 2,000 soldiers in support of peacekeeping effort in its former colony. So far, though, they have been unable to stop violence in the large, sparsely populated nation of 4.5 million people, Reuters reports.
“The inter-communal hatred remains at a terrifying level, as evidenced by the extraordinarily vicious nature of the killings,” Pillay told a news conference. “There is… almost total impunity: no justice, no law and order apart from that provided by foreign troops.”
Investing in childcare and adult education, and giving women farmers the same access as men to fertiliser and training, could significantly increase food production and improve their lives and that of their families, according to a report that highlights the deep-rooted gender gaps in Africa’s agricultural sector.
The report, published by the advocacy group One and the World Bank on Wednesday, found that despite women comprising more than half the continent’s farmers, political indifference and social constraints mean productivity on female-managed plots is significantly lower per hectare than those managed by men.
It argues that closing the gender gap could bolster food security and livelihoods. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that if women had the same access to resources worldwide, their yields could increase by up to 30%, which could result in up to 150 million fewer people going hungry. Latest figures from the FAO show that 842 million people experience chronic hunger.
Comparing the differences between men and women farming similar-sized plots of land in similar contexts across six African countries - Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda - the report shows that production rates among women are 23% less in Tanzania and 66% less in Niger. In Nigeria, dramatic differences were found between women and men living in the south and north.
Six weeks ago, doctors in Guinea first began to see patients with the symptoms of bleeding, diarrhea and vomiting, but they were not immediately able to identify the source of the sickness. It has only been in the last couple of days that scientists in Lyon, France were able to make a definitive conclusion that the Ebola virus was indeed the cause of the sickness.
Now that the outbreak in Guinea has been confirmed to be Ebola, international efforts have begun to battle the virus. The international health organization Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has put together more than 30 tons of medical supplies and is heading for the southern region of the country were the outbreak seems to be centered. Medicins Sans Frontieres currently has a group of 24 trained personnel in the country who have set up two isolation wards. One isolation ward is set up in the city of Gueckedou and the other will be set up in the city of Macenta. In addition to the 24 staff already there, they will be sending more people soon.