Tag Archives: Africa

‘Rainbow Riots’ Album Features LGBT Artists From Countries Where Being Gay Is Illegal

Queer music is on the rise across North America, Europe and even South America. But while we celebrate artists like Choco and Young M.A., we can’t forget that, in many countries, it’s not just dangerous to be LGBT – it’s punishable by death.

However, that does not stop brave artists from sharing their voices with the world.

The new Rainbow Riots charity album centers these voices. Each song is written and/or performed by LGBT artists from countries where being gay is illegal, and/or where anti-LGBT violence is a constant fear. All proceeds go to the Rainbow Riots charity, which fights for the LGBT rights of people across the world.

The artists’ countries include Uganda, Malawi and Jamaica, among others.

Swedish composer, writer and activist Peter Wallenburg began the project in order to amplify the voices of people who’d often been silenced.

Wallenburg says.

Imagine that your very existence is a crime and that the police, authorities, and lynch mobs chase you simply because you are who you are. I created Rainbow Riots as a movement to fight for freedom against tyranny.”

Wallenburg was spurred on by the 2016 Ugandan Pride parade which, unfortunately, the police shut down with a brutal and violent raid.

While the album isn’t set to release until mid-June, the first single, Mista Majah P’s “Equal Rights,” has already dropped, to much applause. The U.N. even used the song as the anthem for their Global Goals campaign.

While many artists remained anonymous of fear of death, some are boldly attaching their names to their music in order to take a public stand. These artists include Brayo Bryans of Uganda, Shivan of Uganda, Kowa Tigs of Uganda, Umlilo of South Africa, and Ivy B of Malawi.

Rainbow Riot’s previous projects include a 2016 Orlando fundraiser, where drag queen Lady Bunny and queer rapper Jwl B teamed up for a song for charity. The organization also teamed up with UN Global Goals in order to make being LGBT legal worldwide by 2030.

Check out the album teaser or pre-order your copy at the official website.

Stop This Anti-Gay American Pastor From Opening More Churches in Africa

Why can’t some pastors just let gay people live?

Homophobic pastor Steven Anderson was kicked out of parts of Africa for his rants against LGBT people. He praised the Orlando shooter for killing 49 LGBT people and said, “There are 50 less pedophiles in the world.”

He also claimed that most gay people are drug addicts and child molesters who are to blame for “sex acts on children.”

Botswana deported him and South Africa banned him from ever entering.

Despite the ban, Anderson plans to sneak into Cape Town in order to open anti-gay churches in South Africa. He hopes to spread his churches to Malawi as well.

In fact, he posted on his personal blog that his organization, Faithful Word Baptist church, is seeking missionaries to come to Malawi and participate in a “soul-winning marathon” scheduled for late April. When LGBT organizations publically voiced their concerns about his modern-day crusade, he called them all sodomites and liars, then asked “soul winners” to join him on this “very special missions trip.”

Many LGBT organizations point fingers at African countries for making gay marriage illegal (sometimes punishable by death). But we must recognize that it’s insufficient to critique a country’s view on gay rights without situating those views within a historical context – one which usually intertwines with colonialism.

Many African countries only adopted anti-LGBT views after Christian missionaries razed their cultures to the ground, built churches and taught that sex between two men was an abomination. Today, liberal western organizations often blame “backwards”

Africans for holding homophobic views even through the west imposed these views in the first place.

That’s why modern-day crusaders like Anderson are so dangerous. They not only spread hateful rhetoric that will get gay people killed, but they also expand the legacy of modern-day colonialism.

What can you do? Because homosexuality is illegal in Malawi, it’s unlikely that the country will revoke the 12-month visa they recently handed to Anderson.

However, you can notify the South African organization Equality Courts, where hate speech complaints are registered.

To learn more about anti-gay missionaries and how they helped pass the “death to gays” bill in Uganda, check out the documentary God Loves Uganda.

South Africa: Lesbians are at Risk of Contracting HIV

Many lesbians have been ignored in the fight against HIV because of the myth that they are not at risk of contracting the virus, according to researchers in South Africa.

Speaking at the SA Aids conference in Durban, Dr Gemma Oberth said both NGO and government policies and campaigns neglected lesbians.

Dr Oberth, a visiting academic at the UCT Centre for Social Science Research, undertook a literature review of eight academic studies on lesbians in Southern Africa in order to see whether these women were, in fact, at lower risk of HIV.

It has been thought that it is far less likely that a woman will transmit HIV to another (because a smaller amount of fluid is involved when two women have sex).

But this is not the reality [in South Africa] lesbian sex, injecting drugs, rape, sex with males and sex for financial survival are all interlinked”.

About a third of women in the studies said they had been raped.

Oberth said that in one study 20% of lesbians believed they had acquired HIV from a female partner and said they had never had a male partner or taken drugs. The women did not know if they had been born with HIV.

Also speaking at the Aids conference, Phoebe Kisubi, from The Netherlands, said her survey of 209 lesbians in Cape Town and Johannesburg last year had revealed a 9% HIV rate.

About 38% of the women reported that they had had sex with a partner while one of them was menstruating without taking the precaution of using some form of barrier protection.

Same-Sex Relations to be De-Criminalised in Mozambique

The Mozambique, situated in southern Africa, will officially be added to the list of countries with no law against same-sex relations as from 29th June this year.

Legislators specifically revised the penal code that allowed ‘security measures’ to be taken against people ‘who habitually engage in vices against nature’. A clause used to discriminate against and prosecute LGBTI people. Punishment could have been up to 3 years in ta workhouse. However, officials say this was done rarely it was considered by many to be a meaningless clause in the statute books.

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique said:

The new Penal Code sweeps away a great deal of the musty colonial legacy, including the mention of “vices against nature” Now not even the most contorted of arguments could claim that acts of gay sex between consenting adults are somehow illegal.”

Lambda, the country’s LGBTI rights group, has pushed for the government to fully recognize same-sex relationships. While gay sex may be legal come the end of June, this does not mean LGBTI people are guaranteed equality.


Our primary interest is to precipitate a change in society so that it becomes more favourable to the free expression of sexual orientation and gender identity. The silence of the Mozambican state legitimises discrimination and strengthens the stigma to which LGBT people are subject in the communities, workplaces, schools, etc.

Above all, it perpetuates the idea that LGBTI citizens are less important than all other Mozambicans, thus placing them in a situation of inferiority, disadvantage and inequality.”

In the past, Joaquim Chissano, president of Mozambique, has pleaded for African leaders to be respectful of the human rights of sexual minorities and move away from discriminating against them.

Chissano, the current co-chair of the High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) made the comments in an open letter published by The Africa Report as African leaders finalise a document that will replace the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for Africa after 2015.

Watch | Growing Up LGBT In East Africa

None on Record is a digital media organisation working to document stories from LGBT communities in Africa.

Founded in 2006 by Selly Thiam – herself a Senegalese lesbian living in the U.S. – the project began as a way of collecting oral histories of LGBT Africans.

In the collection of intimate clips below, participants ranging from an executive chef and a Legal Officer at Kenya’s National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission to the Executive Coordinator of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, and Ugandan transgender activist and scientist Cleopatra Kambugu, share their stories of coming out and messages for African LGBT youth.

The organisation previously produced a series focused on LGBT Africans seeking asylum in the UK, and in October 2015 they have plans to host a three-day cultural arts festival in Nairobi.

There is still much violence perpetrated against LGBT people. People deal with extortion by police, lack of access to health care and employment. LGBT people face illegal evictions from their homes and being ostracized by families and communities. Some religious leaders add fuel to the fire by actively preaching against LGBT people, calling it a lifestyle, unAfrican and perverse. Still, there is a vibrant LGBT community in Kenya that is becoming more visible everyday. There are active organisations working towards equality.”

Selly Thiam

Kendi Magiri, Kenya


Njeri Gateru, Kenya


Lorna Dias, Kenya


Cleopatra Kambugu, Uganda


A Young Women is Axed to Death For Being Gay

A woman has been axed to death in Swaziland for being gay.

Kaylo Glover, a young lesbian from Nhlangano, Swaziland, was at a bar with her friends on March 15th.

She was killed by an enraged man who did not want to be in the presence of lesbians.

He left the bar, fetched an axe from his car, returned and killed Kaylo.

Kaylo was rushed to hospital by her friends, and her killer followed, chasing her friends with an axe.

As Kaylo’s friend ran, she heard the guys shout “let’s finish off these dogs”.

Neither the nurses nor the doctors could reach Kaylo in time, she bled to death. She was just 26.

She was born and raised in Nhlangano, Glover was proudly out to both friends and family, and was popular in her community. She was also in seven-month relationship.

On the night that Kaylo went out to the night club in her town, she felt safe. Harassment did happen in Nhlangano, but Kaylo often just shrugged it off.

Speaking to Iranti-org, Glover’s mom said:

“I always walk with Kaylo, the guys always say horrible things and I tell her to ignore them. They killed her because she was a lesbian. She has never harmed anyone, or fought with anyone.’


This is the second murder of an LGBTI person in Nhlangano this year alone. A month ago, a gay man known as Themba was also killed.

Also: South African Judge Makes a Stand, as Man Gets 30 Years For Murdering Lesbian in Hate Crime

Sane Mshengu, the director of Rock of Hope, said:

“We don’t know what to make of these murders, it is so disturbing and scary. Swaziland comprises mainly of traditional family structures, with extended families marked by a set of strong traditions and norms. Speaking about being lesbian, gay, or transgender is very difficult and is often suppressed.”

It seems Kaylo’s death has broken the silence around hate crimes in Swaziland. It is bringing attention to the poor human-rights situation in this country, where the monarch is so incredibly rich and its citizens are poor and where LGBTI persons live hidden, framed as “the other”. Under Swaziland law, female homosexuality is legal while male homosexuality can be punishable with the death penalty.

However, as Kaylo’s family gather to try and make sense of this unnecessary act of hate that took her away, they believe that her identity as a lesbian must be remembered.

The Imitation Game Promotes Call for UK Pardon of Gay Men, But African LGBTs Still Suffer Because English Colonialism

2014 saw the release of The Imitation Game, a film led by Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch as he played the role of Alan Turing.

An incredibly smart and brilliant computer scientist and mathematician, Turing’s work helped the Allied Forces to victory in World War 2, by cracking Germany’s enigma code.

Winston Churchill even called Turing “the single biggest contribution” to their victory over Germany. But there was just one problem: Alan Turing was gay.


At the time, being gay was a criminal offense and so Turing was convicted of “gross indecency” in 1952. Forced to undergo chemical castration, the stress was so much that he took his own life two years later.

It wasn’t until 1967 that the ban against homosexuality was finally overturned and in 2013 Turing was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth the Second. There are still 50,000 men who were also convicted who never received such an honour though which is why Cumberbatch and out gay entertainer Stephen Fry have signed a letter to have those men pardoned too.

But what of the gay people who are still suffering from anti-gay laws thanks to viewpoints and Penal Codes that the British Colony left behind?

Within countries on the African continent, India and Jamaica (all of which were formerly under British rule), anti-LGBT sentiment runs high with murders, abuse and suicide often occurring because of it.

Unfortunately, while the petition signed by Cumberbatch and Fry notes that “The UK’s homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable” the fact of the matter is is that these men are allowed to live happy lives within the UK while millions of men (and indeed women) in former British Colony countries do not.

The UK government shouldn’t just be seeking to pardon those 50,000 persecuted UK men (including 19,000 who are still alive today) but it should also be seeking to improve the lives and human rights of the LGBT people living in its previously ruled territories.

Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of African HRC explains:

“Arrests and persecution abound in several African countries, where these Penal Codes remain the law of the land.

The United Kingdom must set this imperative example by pardoning every single gay person convicted under its persecutory laws, not only to right the awful wrong, but also to set the stage for those still subject to criminalization directly impacted by English Colonialism.”

Melanie Nathan

An online petition has also been set up to support this and has already garnered over 100,000 signatures. You can find the petition here.

Christina Fonthes, a LGBT Activist, Escapes After Being Held by her Mother who Wanted to ‘Fix’ her Sexuality

Christina Fonthes, a lesbian activist, was flown home to safety after being held captive by her mother in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who wanted to “fix” her sexuality.

When Fonthes was visiting her family in Kinshasa on 11 August, they stole her passport in order to keep her in the country and “cure her of her gayness”.

She initially managed to get to the British embassy in the city to apply for emergency travel documents, but was unable to stay in the building. Fonthes then travelled to a friend’s house to hide from her family but was reportedly seized by police on the way and taken back to her relatives.

Friends said she was in “massive danger” and suggested the arrest by police was planned by her family.

In a plea for help, Fonthes tweeted on Thursday: “Im NOT missing. My passport has been stolen BY MUM. and I need to return to the uk asap.”

Her partner, the BBC sports presenter Jessica Creighton, told the Independent last week. “It became apparent that her family were unhappy with her decision to be an out lesbian. They took her passport and [were] refusing to give it back. They have said they want to keep her in Congo and ‘cure her of her gayness’… Chris is a British citizen and should be under the protection of the British government. So far, their so-called protection has been utterly useless,” Fonthes, who co-founded the Rainbow Noir LGBT group in Manchester, has lived in the UK for most of her life and is a British citizen. Rainbow Noir thanked well wishers on Facebook on Sunday, saying that Fonthes had managed to return to the UK.

Creighton confirmed her partner was safe, tweeting:

‘Homophobia is un-African’ – Prominent Kenya Calls for Greater Tolerance of Gay Africans

Prominent Kenya writer, director and film maker, Wanuri Kahiu has called for greater tolerance of gay Africans across the continent.

In March, Kenya’s parliamentary majority leader claimed that homosexuality is something as serious as terrorism, saying, “We need to go on and address this issue the way we want to address terrorism.”

However this has not deterred Kahiu, who has spoke out and stated that…

“Homosexuality is not un-African, what is un-African is homophobia”

Wanuri Kahiu

Kahiu is a vibrant figure in African culture’s new wave scene. She directs both documentaries and fictional films. Her most celebrated film is the short science fiction film Pumzi that premiered at Sundance Film Festival

Last year, she produced “Homecoming”, a film based on the award winning novel by Monica Arac – Jambula Tree. The story centres on the love between two women in a country where same-sex activity is illegal.

“I wanted to tell this story because of the profound love that the man characters had for each other. Even though it’s a hard subject because it’s taboo, it was very important for me to tell a love story because that’s what it is: how true love can triumph over everything.”

Wanuri Kahiu

Ethiopia to Pass a Bill to Make Homosexuality Non-pardonable Offense

Last week the Associated Press reported that Politicians in Ethiopia are set to pass a bill that would put homosexuality on a list of offences considered non-pardonable under the country’s amnesty law. This bill is being endorsed by Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers, is widely expected to pass when it is put to a vote next week.

In Ethiopia, same-sex sexual activity is already illegal and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If the bill becomes law, the President of Ethiopia Mulatu Teshome, will lose his power to pardon prisoners who faced charges. A 25-year jail term is also prescribed for anyone convicted of infecting another person with HIV during gay sex.

Sadly, Ethiopia is the following in the footsteps of Uganda and Nigeria, two countries which have both recently strengthened their anti-gay legislation.

Watch: ‘We Thought You’d Accept Us’ – powerful LGBT film from Africa

A new video from Atlantic Philanthropies shows that despite written law; tolerance and acceptance do not come easily to those living in Africa; and in particular South Africa.

It is common for many LGBT Africans to seek asylum and refuge in South Africa, where the constitution (put into effect in 1996 by the late President Nelson Mandela) promises equal rights to all.

However many refuges soon discovered (like many others in the country), that LGBT asylum seekers experience heightened harassment and violence.

This film was made in conjunction with the PASSOP organisation (People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty) who are a dedicate group that work to provide support for gay refugees in Africa. This organisation works tirelessly to empower LGBT South Africans and advocate for their own rights.

With such barbaric practices against LGBT community continuing in other African countries, PASSOP has seen more LGBT asylum seekers coming to South Africa, with numbers arriving in Cape Town increasing from 20 each day to over 200.

For more background information on Atlantic’s work with LGBT rights, you can look at their case study examining the challenges queer South African youth face.