Brickbats for UN boss
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stirred a hornet’s nest when he echoed British and American calls for African Union members to observe “gay rights” at the last Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
His calls follow similar utterances by British Prime Minister David Cameron and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The two late last year said they would reconsider their ties with African countries that did not enshrine “gay rights”.
Homosexuality is either illegal or frowned upon in many African countries.
In his address to AU leaders, Ban said discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity “prompted governments to treat people as second-class citizens or even criminals”.
“Confronting these discriminations is a challenge, but we must not give up on the ideas of the Universal Declaration (of Human Rights),” he said.
Most African countries, both Christian and Muslim, are conservative and homosexuality sits uneasily in their societies.
Recently, Nigeria's Senate passed a Bill banning homosexuality and same-sex marriages.
The Bill prohibits all marriages between persons of the same sex and prescribes a 14-year jail term on anyone found gulity of contracting such unions in Nigeria.
The Bill also nullifies all certificates of same-sex marriage contracted outside Nigeria , proscribes all gay clubs and recommends a 10-year jail term – without option of a fine – for anyone guilty of operating a gay club in the country.
Africa has, typically, responded with scorn to Ban's calls.
Ghana’s Former President John Atta Mills said the country’s position on gays will not change.
“Ghanaian society frowns on homosexuality, if the people’s interest is that we do not legalise homosexuality, I don’t see how any responsible leader can decide to go against the wishes of his people.”
He said he was “not surprised” with Ban's stance because his office is based in New York, a city that has accepted homosexuality.
Added Atta Mills: “The Secretary-General has made his views known; we have also made our views known. So the value is the same.”
University of Zimbabwe-based sociologist Professor Claude Mararike said Ban's views were astounding given the various challenges Africa is facing.
“The AU summit is a serious event and it had given him an opportunity to address various challenges the continent is facing.
“For him to address issues to do with homosexuals when he knows the stance of the continent is utterly contemptuous of us and (what) we believe in.
“This clearly shows that Africans’ views are not respected at all on the world stage.”
Ghana’s Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Ocquaye, was more forthright in his condemnation, and challenged African leaders to remain resolute on the matter.
“These people are making money out of certain situations and if we don’t take care, it is going to be a new form of slavery,” he warned.
Prof Ocquaye added: “They would take our young people from here, sodomise them in Europe and other places and when they have destroyed their humanity, they’d send them back.
“If these people are really interested in certain rights, what are they doing about kwashiorkor rights?
“Do they know what kwashiorkor does to our people here?
“What are they doing about sickle cell disease and children’s rights, what are they doing about AIDS which in fact in a way they brought, which is causing us a lot of problems?”
Another social commentator from Ghana, Moses Foh Amoaning said, said Ban was too pliant to Western demands.
“As far as I am 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.”
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has described such calls for “gay rights” as “satanic”, a position that has been reiterated by leaders across Africa from Namibia to Uganda.