Monday, June 28, 2010

Of Proof And Puddings

The evidence against South Africa's own government continues to mount. Remember how it started in December 2008 when the SA government refused to sign the UN Declaration to Decriminalize Homosexuality? Well, obviously it didn't end there.

SOUTH AFRICA FAILS LGBT PEOPLE AT UN - "In February 2009, South Africa acted as spokesperson for African nations demanding the removal of references to sexual orientation from the draft declaration of the second UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance." How much more proof do you need that SA's government has an anti GLBTI, anti human rights agenda?

The above article described this as "failing the GLBTI people". In my opinion this is not "failing LGBT people" - it is an outright BETRAYAL!

Not only is this all blatantly conservative behavior (which is not technically criminal by itself), but it is patently unconstitutional. The government of South Africa is supposed to cherish and honor the Constitution, and promote and defend its values at home and abroad - and instead, the way it has been acting over the past decade - it has in fact done the complete opposite. In acting against the interests of its GLBTI people and the Pink Community abroad, and in undermining the principles of dignity and equality for all as enshrined in the Constitution - it has itself acted in violation of the South African Constitution and potentially committed acts which can be interpreted as human rights violations and abuses.

These past incidents have now been compounded by the following:

"On Tuesday, the South African representative to the UNHRC, Jerry Matjila, told the council that placing homophobia on a similar level to racism “demeans the legitimate plight of the victims of racism"."

Somebody in Guv-ah-ment needs to get a handle on their minions representing us in the UN. I mean, if SA's government is truly representative of all its people - including us LGBTI folks - then why are idi- I mean, representatives allowed to say such inexcusable things on behalf of the country, or even the continent? If parading little drama queens such as this Jerry Matjila wish to vent their prejudice as individuals, then so be it - but not while they are acting in an official capacity and representing all South Africans!

Such a biased statement is in fact beneath a country such as South Africa, which over the past 15 years has risen above such petty apartheid-style prejudice to produce a largely tolerant and open-minded society which claims to cherish equality, human rights and individual freedom. At least, I thought it had.

The only way this statement made by him could ever be justified or defended is by insisting that the lives, dignity and humanity of GLBTI people all over the world are in no way similar, or as precious as those who have suffered abuse and prejudice at the hands of racist persecution in the past. Is this what they are saying? I think it is obvious that it is.

When you connect these incidents with the numerous others of late, such as the Minister of Arts and Culture's little hissy-fit about tasteful semi-nude photographs at an art display, and the Department of Home Affairs current foray into conservative territory on the question of pornography - as well as its growing partnership with religious fundamentalist right-wing groups that previously championed the fight against marriage equality for gay people - it doesn't take much at all to join the dots.

It's quite simple you see. African culture today is a hodge-podge blend of native tradition and enforced Western religious fundamental influence which has fused on the sub-atomic level. Despite the fact that sexual and gender diversity has always been a part of African culture and tradition, as it always will be - it is fiercely denied and fanatically oppressed. In trying to be proudly "African", traditionalists are in fact enforcing foreign unrealistic "morality" that stems from a puritanical nineteenth century Victorian obsession. Being different is looked down upon, feared and hated - as the rising tide of homophobic hatred sweeping through Africa can attest to.

Thus, homophobia and transphobia is not as important or serious as racism. Racism is topical and relevant and the suffering of people because of racist prejudice is far more critical to address than that of what they consider to be "lesser beings".

In their view, all the misery and unhappiness inflicted upon the pink community just isn't relevant or important - in fact, taking it seriously makes a laughing stock of real hate crimes and offends people who have real problems - like facing racism.

It is of course, an insane and irrational argument - because as anyone who has been hated or persecuted can tell you - being hated feels the same, regardless of whether it is for your sexual orientation, gender - or your skin color.

One could equate this apparent jealousy over what form of human rights abuse is "more legitimate" than the other with the prevailing view that the pink community's human rights are not viewed as "legitimate" - because they do not view us as human. In fact, countries all over Africa prove this through their barbaric conduct towards the Pink Community in terms of oppression, persecution and even a perpetual threat of state-sponsored genocide.

One could take this a step further by openly calling this jealously-guarded precinct of who was more persecuted than who - or who deserves to be protected from persecution more than the other - just what it is - HYPOCRISY.

They are basically saying "we were persecuted - you are being punished, and you deserve it" - which just goes to show how flimsy and thin their smoke-screen of "morality" really is. It's not okay for people to be persecuted for being born a particular race - but it is perfectly justifiable to be persecuted for being born a particular sexual orientation or gender identity. Yes, very moral indeed.

This kind of thinking is dangerous because it devalues the value of human life as a whole. You cannot uphold the value of all human life while attaching a higher price to the lives of any one group of people over another. That defeats the entire point.

In fact, if the United Nations, or any other body act in such a light - or go along with it, they will be making themselves guilty of double-standards and a party to crimes against humanity.

What will South Africa's government do next, after the World Cup is over and the world stops watching us so closely?

The solution to this stupid argument over which form of hatred is more important to address it simple. It can't be addressed by saying to Africa - you're right, all those queers shouldn't have protections - only you folks have the right to be included in protective clauses and laws because racism is more important than homophobia. The opposite is also true. It needs to be made perfectly clear that hatred and persecution on the grounds of inherent characteristics such as race and sexual orientation, gender or gender identity need to be be viewed as equally important.

Human rights are human rights - it's that simple.

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