Thursday 25 June 2020

Africa: Slowly moving from the Unthinkable to Policy

Organisations for inclusivity
Four years ago, today, I met up with my colleagues in a bar in London, we were preparing for a march that our company was the headline sponsor of. We were going to be in the front of the parade with a decorated double-decker bus in tow. Barclays Bank has been the headline sponsor of the London Pride since 2014. [Barclays]
Today in my Barclays T-shirt
Now, Barclays did have a progressive diversity and inclusion policy with forums for the exchange of ideas and much else. The new CEO of the bank had a backstory, his younger brother revealed to him in the mid-80s that he was first gay and was also HIV positive.
A bombshell of information and realisation that forged compassion, empathy, and love, first between brothers and then for causes. The causes that have helped the research for and availability of antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. [Wikipedia: Peter Staley]
Governments for equality
This morning, I read that lawmakers in Gabon had voted to decriminalise homosexuality. 48 voted for, 24 voted against and 25 abstained. One of those who voted against decriminalisation said, “Forty-eight lawmakers have shaken an entire nation and its customs and traditions.” [Reuters: Gabon lawmakers vote to decriminalise homosexuality]
Whilst I understand the sentiment, for all the customs and traditions we hold dear, a sense of fairness and justice must prevail to the point that we are persuaded of the better of our humanity, accepting that people might be different without morally impugning them for who they are. The record shows that 48 were persuaded of the argument for decriminalisation, 24 were implacable and 25 sat on the fence.
What was also endearing was that it was the government that proposed the initiative. The Overton Window of policy and persuasion had moved the thinking about homosexuality to the right traversing the Unthinkable to the Radical to the Acceptable to the Sensible to the Popular and now to Policy. A lot of work must have gone into this initiative and I know we are still a long way from same-sex marriage, but this is a good start.
The Overton Window
Individuals for justice
Just over a year ago, it was the Botswana High Court that decriminalised same-sex relations, unanimously. It was Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a student at the University of Botswana that filed the suit and won through. Governments, organisations, individuals, and supporters are working on systems, structures, laws, and institutions to address the criminalisation of homosexuality in Africa. It is a human rights issue above all else. [France24: LGBT activists in ‘disbelief’ after Botswana strikes down laws criminalising homosexuality]
South Africa constitutionally affirms sexual orientation rights with same-sex marriage. A feature we hope to avail ourselves of at the earliest opportunity. As human beings, we are spiritual and emotional beings, we seek to live our lives free of persecution and prosecution, loving the people we choose to love without judgement or shame. There is no agenda at play, but freedom and justice without criminalisation on moral grounds is the battle on our hands, one at a time, change will come, and freedom will reign.

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