Ignorance is no excuse for discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community!
Pride Month is the promotion of self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as a social group. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT rights movements.
Yvan K, a gay bar owner in his early 30s, had his business closed due to COVID19 measures in Rwanda. Although he lost hope of reopening, he didn’t lose his pride and apart from his work, he got other responsibilities to educate about “ignorance and prejudice” about same-sex relationships. On harassment cases that campaigners hope could raise awareness about LGBT+ rights, activists hailed as frank and sensitive, pastor Emmanuel Kayiranga describes the personal journey he undertook to confront his own biases and lack of knowledge about gay relationships before giving his statement.
Lady Chantal Uwamurera, a social worker, says “I have no hesitation in accepting that I too belong to the majority of commoners who are yet to comprehend homosexuality completely. I am the society, with all the misconceptions present. Ignorance is no justification for normalising any form of discrimination,” she said. Adding that she wanted to educate herself so her ignorance would not interfere with “guiding the LGBTQIA+ community towards social justice”.
Same-sex relations is an abomimation in Africa LGBTQ+ people face widespread discrimination in the socially conservative countries, they are often rejected by their families and denied jobs, with some driven into sex work or begging.
The two women who lost their business due to COVID19, both of whom are in their early 20s, left their homes in Kigali and moved to Rubavu district because their parents were opposed to their relationship.
“When I first met the girls what shone through was their determination to stay together. And what gay association has done is pulled up the society so that it becomes easier for the existing law to be implemented,” said Mr Isaac Rugambwa a lawyer and local leader.
At the start as a country, Rwanda was not ‘fully woke’ on the issue but now.
“The voice of this community is now getting louder and stronger and the society can no more turn a deaf ear and a time has come to make that change,” recommending community and government officials undergo LGBT+ rights awareness training.
He also recommended counselling for parents, gender neutral restrooms in schools and colleges and action against medical practitioners who claim to be able to ‘cure’ homosexuality.
“The judgment is like a present for us in Pride Month,” said Yannick K.
“The key aspect in this practical judgment is that the police should not ‘rescue’ a person as a first step when parents file a complaint, (but) instead treat them as adults who have free will. Bullied by peers, LGBT+ children drop out of schools which causes many to be illiterate with the campaign against stigma. We hope many of us will get a fair education.” adds Yannick K in regard to social discrimination of the LGBTQ+ in our respective communities.
SPONSORED BY WANIFRA – WOMEN IN NEWS (WiN)
Twahirwa Umumarashavu Janat.