Saturday, 10 April 2010

Even after death, abuse against gays continues

Even death cannot stop the violence against gays in Africa any more.

Madieye Diallo's body had only been in the ground for a few hours when the mob descended on the weedy cemetery with shovels. They yanked out the corpse, spit on its torso, dragged it away and dumped it in front of the home of his elderly parents.

The scene on 2 May 2009 was filmed on a cell phone and the video sold at the market. It passed from phone to phone, sowing panic among gay men who say they now feel like hunted animals.

"I locked myself inside my room and didn't come out for days", says a 31-year-old gay friend of Diallo's who is ill with HIV. "I am afraid of what will happen to me after I die. Will my parents be able to bury me?"

A wave of intense homophobia is washing across Africa, where homosexuality is already illegal in at least 37 countries. In the last year alone, gay men have been arrested in Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria. In Uganda, lawmakers are considering a bill that would sentence homosexuals to life in prison and include capital punishment for 'repeat offenders'. And in South Africa the only country that recognises gay rights, gangs have carried out so called "corrective" rape on lesbians.

"Across many parts of Africa we've seen a rise in homophobic violence", says London-based gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, whose organisation tracks abuse against gays and lesbians in Africa. "Its been steadily building up for the last 10 years but has got markedly worse in the last year."

To the long list of abuse meted out to suspected homosexuals in Africa, Senegal has added a new form of degradation, the desecration of their bodies. In the past two years, at least four men suspected of being gay have been exhumed by angry mobs in cemeteries in Senegal. The violence is especially shocking because Senegal, unlike other countries in the region, is considered a model of tolerance.

"Its jarring to see this happen in Senegal," says Ryan Thoreson, a fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission who has been researching the rise of homophobia here. "When something like this happens in an established democracy, its alarming."

Even though homosexuality is illegal in Senegal, colonial documents indicate that the country has long held a clandestine gay community. In many towns, they were tacitly accepted, says Cheikh Ibrahima Niang, a professor of social anthropology at Senegal's largest university. In fact, the visibility of gays in Senegal may have helped to prompt the backlash against them.

The backlash dates back to at least February 2008, when a Senegalese tabloid published photographs of a clandestine gay wedding in a suburb in Dakar, the capital. The wedding was held inside a rented banquet hall and was attended by dozens of gay men. Some of them snapped pictures that included the gay couple exchanging rings and sharing slices of cake.

The day after the tabloid published the photographs, police began rounding up men suspected of being homosexual. Some were beaten in captivity and forced to turn over the names of other gay men, according to research by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Gays immediately went into hiding and those who could fled to neighbouring countries, including Gambia to the south, according to the New York based commission. Gambia's erratic president declared that gays who had entered his country had 24 hours to leave or face decapitation. Many returned to Senegal, where they lived on the run, moving from safe-house to safe-house.


Anonymous said...

Somethings shouldn't be allowed in the world. That man was in peace with the lord, those men were wrong on what they did.... Personally i have nothing against men liking men and women liking women aslong as they don't cross the line with hetrosexuals thats all if they minding their own business then let them be.... to his parents Maieye Diallo parents to strong please dont let the devil get u down.. God Bless,

from someone who had a parent that died from AIDS

Anengiyefa said...

Anon, the reality is that very rarely do LGBT people "cross the line" with heterosexuals. There's hardly any need for that, since there are sufficient numbers of gay people in the population and enough to go round.

Sorry to hear about your parent and thanks for your comment.

THERishouldbeAPY said...

There are just somethings that boggle my mind. To remove the body of a man, desecrate it, and dump it like trash on his family's doorstep, causing more pain to loved ones still dealing with his loss in unfathomable. Is nothing sacred?? His poor parents--what a horrible thing to put them through. I wonder if families will have to resort to pouring concrete over caskets to prevent such disruptions..? Why should such a suggestion even have to be made?

Africans have got to stop this madness.

Anengiyefa said...

Hi TisbA, this dreadful scenario is the stuff of horror films. Its bigotry and intolerance gone insane!

One cannot help thinking that temperance and tolerance are so far removed from the reality of today's Africa that perhaps another century must pass before the people of Africa come to grips with the reality of homosexuality and the fact that gay people are not the evil that Africans currently believe they are.

Indeed, desecrating a grave and a corpse in such a despicable fashion is an action that is exceedingly worse than anything of which the deceased man was suspected during his lifetime. And in the circumstances, one wonders how these haters can claim the moral high ground..

Waffarian said...

Thats just INSANITY. There is no reason why human beings should behave in such a way, except they are insane...what do they hope to achieve with such an act? Fear? Terror? They did not achieve anything except proof of insanity. I would definitely leave such a place. Nobody should live in an asylum.

laBiscuitnapper said...

That is just so disgusting and you know what? When people are driven to commit immoral acts to fuel their own self-righteous 'morality', then it shows their morality to be nothing but vain words and an empty vessel. I think - well, I hope - this will be even more apparent to the people of my generation as they try to get Nigeria accepted as a civilised nation before the rest of the world.

There is a Revolution coming, be it in Iran, Senegal or Nigeria and when it does come, it'll come so hard and fast that the old guard who have tacitly encouraged this sort of immorality (because that's the word for desecrating a grave so shamefully, *not* for engaging in sexual acts with someone you love) will have to hold onto their heads they'll be spinning so fast.


I really hope so anyway.