Thursday, January 27, 2011

Free Hate Kills

You believe in freedom of speech, don't you? How about freedom of religion? You believe in that? I know I do. But every so often there are people who come along demanding that some forms of freedom of speech or expression of their religious beliefs are actually "hate speech" - like those nasty deviants and trolls, the homosexuals. Know what I mean? No?

Well let me tell you. A few years ago Uganda (yes - that Uganda, the little country in central Africa that most people in the Western world need to look for on a map to see that it is an actual place and not some fictional setting in a novel or a suburb somewhere in Soweto) started cleaning house and tidying up all the loose ends. They started clearing out all the humanistic nonsense and jibber-jabber about human rights and started talking sense. the began speaking about morals and the importance of family and putting children first. They started putting Christ back into government where He belongs, and planning sweeping reforms and exposing those freaks for what they are - deviants and a danger to greater civilization throughout Africa.

A newspaper, the Rolling Stone Magazine, started putting the names, addresses and pictures of these nasty sociopaths and pedophiles on their front page a few years back, exposing them for the frauds they are, parading around as if they are as human as every decent heterosexual pillar of Ugandan Christian society, while their very existence chips away at the moral fiber of Ugandan dignity and Christian righteousness. Rightfully, calls were made by this same magazine for these sub-human creatures to be killed, accompanied by howls of outrage from the international community who are all too willing pawns of the homosexual agenda.

Right.

If your blood is boiling right about now from reading this, then you're probably someone who is fair minded, benevolent and who has a life of your own and minds your own business. You might be gay yourself, or transgender - and probably sitting somewhere far away from Uganda, safe and secure - along with your rights, however basic they may be. Rest assured, my blood is boiling too, because the above is written to demonstrate exactly the sentiments of some of those who run the country and greater society of Uganda, including the government, the religious sphere and social sphere.

So now that I have your attention, and you are suitably pissed off like I am, let me answer your question - why?

Why this article? Because two years after threatening to begin state sponsored genovide of the Pink Community of Uganda, still the international community and the UN have done little if anything to actually make it clear to Uganda that sweeping changes are indeed required of them - only in the opposite direction they seem keen to take it.

Why this article? Because while we may site comfortably in South Africa or the USA or Europe, where we may have basic human rights protections and even great freedoms and equalities by comparison to our people in Uganda, even the most basic of ours outshines theirs. In Uganda a person who is gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender or intersex has NO human rights.

Why this article? Because after two years, South Africa is still trading with and providing economic and logistic support to the Uganda that sees people like me as trash, morally and socially inferior, and worthy of death by genocide - and because our government hasn't got the moral fiber, or quite frankly, the balls to stop licking Uganda's arse.

Why this article? Because David Kato, friend, colleague, teacher, family member, and human rights defender of the Pink Community in Uganda was brutally beaten to death inside his home on 26 January 2011. Across the entire country, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans mourn the loss and fear for their own lives.

Why this article? Because David Kato’s death comes directly after the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity - it was a small but significant victory - and yet he was nevertheless murdered brutally in his own home for being part of a persecuted and hated minority group.

Why this article? Because David Kato was receiving death threats since his face was put on the front page of Rolling Stone Magazine, which called for his death and the death of all homosexuals. It seems, at least this time, that the "pillars of Ugandan society" and all those evangelical church groups both in and out of Uganda who have been fueling this madness, got exactly what they wanted.

Why this article? Because some of the same foreign evangelical church or faith groups, such as Exodus International, and various other so-called "ex-gay" groups are still allowed to practice their lunacy in South Africa, unfettered by reason, logic or human rights law, and without even suffering the inconvenience of being declared hate or terror groups.

Why this article? Because this demonstrates exactly the difference between freedom of speech and hate crime and hate speech. Because it shows the line between reporting the news and actually making it happen. Because it demonstrates how some people are not content with being allowed to believe what they want to about other people, or to live according to those beliefs - but feel obliged to live other people's lives for them, and if they can't manage to force their views on them, to kill them. And because this insanity indicates exactly what happens in a country where rampant ignorance and religious fundamentalism are twisted into a blind rage of hatred - and you happen to be part of the other group that the majority focuses this rage upon.

Looking at it the way I am, when a government and a religious sector freely and openly indulge in blatant hate speech and incitement to murder and genocide - then they are guilty of every drop of blood spilled as a result.

I don't pray. But if I did, it would be for anyone on the recieving end in that country. Unlike the "pillars" of Ugandan society, I don't prey either. But they do. On us.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Broad-Spectrum Anti-Idiotics

"Before Carol was a Carol they were a David, strange but true. Make some hard cash and any transexual can become a woman."

This is broadly speaking the comment someone made about somebody else in a discussion I was part of recently. They had it in for somebody whom they didn't agree with on some or other matter, and went around posting articles and comments venting their dislike for them - and in each case pointing out the detail that they were "transsexual", only to later have it pointed out to them that they had it completely wrong - "Carol" as it were, is intersex, not transsexual.

Personal differences aside, it made me wonder why some people find it necessary to pick out a particular characteristic of somebody they don't get on with - and then use that as an insult and a judgment - at the same time insulting and judging all other people who have that feature in common too.

That is like saying "Joe Soap, who is an Aquarius, is an incredibly bad cook - and therefore all other Aquariuses are too". Make sense?

I see no need for some people to climb into somebody's gender pedigree or to vilify or mock someone for being intersex or make it a point of special mention every single time they are brought up as a topic of discussion. This form of "entertainment" is cheap and degrading of transgender and intersex people.

It is the same as mentioning ''John who wrote "X title", the topic of our article - and only has one testicle (so he is therefore by implication, less of a man than me) Hahaha". It is irrelevant. And if it is being used as a means to ridicule or whip up sentiment against somebody, it makes it even worse. If you don't like somebody then just say so - it is unnecessary to offend all other transsexual, transgender or intersex people because you dislike one person who happens to also be transsexual or intersex.

A little clarity on the differences between intersex and transgender seems required on the topic of transsexuality in comparison to intersexuality. Allow me to provide it.

Transgender/Transsexual:

Let me say for the record that (for those of you that still don't know) I am transgender, meaning that I transitioned from male to female, which technically means that I could be called "transsexual". However, while *some* people may call me "he/it/tranny/freak/wannabe" IRL (at their peril), it is still offensive to me, and even hurtful to be called anything other than a woman. I'm not sure if people do this out of actual ignorance, bigotry or even malice.

Now, allow me to put it to you how I see it:

While I may not be able to reproduce biologically - as some transphobic people like to point out, and use this detail to claim that I am "not a real female" or "good enough" to be treated as female or thought of as such - I seem to corner them on the detail that there are many born females and males out there who also cannot reproduce and yet nobody ever uses their sex or gender as an insult against them. The same argument is particularly useful when it comes to same gender marriage issues, but that is another point for another day.

Let me just say, also for the record, that I feel no shame for my nature, or my transition - nor do I see any reason for such guilt complexes as would be forced upon me by certain social groupings, religious zealots or individuals. If somebody doesn't like that I am trans, or that I once was male - tough. I tell them 'that is your problem, not mine and I simply don't care. You don't have to date me, and you don't have to sleep with me, so it's none of your business. Give me a hard time about it and you will get what you give, maybe more, and in a tender spot.'

Intersex:

The issue of intersex is a little more complex and thorny at the present time than the transgender issue, because while we trans people may feel that we were born in the wrong body or gender, intersex people may feel like they are one or the other gender, but their physical bodies display either both or indeterminable gender characteristics. This gives rise to many of us realizing that internally at least, we are pretty much in the same boat. This group also includes people with intersex genes - but a large number of such people are not even aware that they are in fact intersex or that there are women out there who are completely content with being women who have in fact got male dna - and vice versa.

Add to this the complication that society pressures people to conform to either one or the other gender - anything in-between the two is considered "wrong" or just "doesn't belong" and just like transgender folks, people are always trying to "fix" intersex people without ever stopping to consider that there may be nothing actually *wrong* with them.

Furthermore, when a baby is born intersex, the old method of dealing with this is parents or doctors (or both) deciding for the individual as a child or minor which gender would suit them best and effecting surgical changes is especially unfair and cruel. Of course, the whole matter is hushed up and the poor child therefore has no say in the matter and has a condition forced on them that may or may not actually be the correct assumption. In the end, this can result in great misery for these people, who may struggle with numerous stigmas and internal issues afterwards.

The increasingly modern view allows intersex children to choose for themselves which gender suits them - and if they even WANT to have any surgical alterations made. Many do not, and are quite content being intersex - and here's the clincher - WHY SHOULDN'T THEY BE? It is that person's body and their life, after all - and why should conformity be so important that it be forced on anyone? Why should they be made to feel guilty or "sinful" because they are born intersex? Why should they be mocked or ridiculed for it?

Hermaphrodite:

Btw, just an extra annotation - "hermaphrodite" is considered un-pc and insulting when applied to intersex people. It is also completely inaccurate, as "hermaphrodite" describes a creature that is actually both male and female and could technically reproduce by themselves, or simultaneously with another member of its own species. Earthworms and snails are good examples of true hermaphrodites.

Intersex is the correct term and describes people who may vary from having both ovum and testes (although the "plumbing" may not be functioning for various reasons etc) to just having genitalia difficult to identify as male or female.

Let me close by saying I don't expect *everyone* to know this as it simply hasn't yet become common knowledge, although if people took the trouble to do a little research on the internet - such as Wikipedia, they would find it easily available and to understand.

That said, I hope this helps you all to understand the issue a little better.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy New Year

When I sat down to write today's article, I started off thinking about last year and all the things I felt good about. It's my first article for the new year... and then I thought about last year, and the year before that, and all the things that p'd me off during that time - and about how many of them are still applicable and have been carried over like remainder in some obscene parody of Sub - A maths.

I'm STILL ashamed to admit I live in a country which is called the rape capital of the world. I'm STILL ashamed of a government with a track-record of denying there is a crime problem, and a lack of interest in addressing this problem - in fact, getting them to even talk about rape, and especially "corrective rape" of lesbians, is near impossible. (If you are reading this and are a government official who can do something about it - shame on you - and get off your rear-end and do something about this.)

I'm STILL ashamed to live in a country whose government and its representatives keep doing and saying things that embarrass me as a South African in the international media - whether it is issues of corruption, or human rights neglect, or patent ignorance about what they are saying or talking about.

I'm STILL ashamed because I live in a country where a journalist with a chip on his shoulder against white people, women and the Pink Community - who should be standing in the dock answering charges of hate speech and incitment to violence - is instead earning a fat government salary paid for by my Pink tax money while sitting in an SA Embassy office in a country which is STILL seriously debating a Bill which would make the genocide of people like me a state law. I'm STILL ashamed and outraged by actions of the SA government and the President who appointed him, and who smuggled him into Uganda on the quiet during his state visit there.

I'm STILL ashamed of a government that claims other country's policies are "their own business" and refuses to get involved or to speak out against human rights abuses - but has been intimately involved in the affairs and internal disputes of nieghoboring countries like Zimbabwe and Uganda for over a decade.

I'm STILL ashamed of a government that by its actions, words - or absence of both - keeps sending out the message that people like me are "immoral" or a "threat" to their religious, "family" or "African values" - when they are supposed to be acting as the embodiment of the South African Constitution which is supposed to guarantee me protection against such unwarranted and inexcusable indignity and shame.

I'm STILL ashamed to admit that my government - the government that inherited this country's advanced Constitution, and was established under it, is too ashamed to promote its forward-thinking principles and values which safeguard human rights and the sanctity of human life abroad, in the UN - and in African countries or bodies which are making increasingly hostile noises against minority groups like mine.

I'm STILL ashamed of a government that sees itself as a higher power over the very people who put it in power, and plays Big Brother with their human and civil rights, and works to undermine the underpinnings of the Constitution in order to keep itself in power indefinitely as well as to target specific sections of the populace.

I STILL find it threatening when the government works to destroy press freedom, freedom of expression and association and virtually every freedom guaranteed in the Constitution. If the STILL pending Protection Of Information Bill passes, you can bet activists will be next on the list of things to ban and censor... and to make disappear. Bearing this in mind, I STILL worry whether if this will be the case, my passport will STILL be valid.

I am STILL aggrieved when considering where I would like to travel internationally, and I have to consider first how gay or trans-friendly those countries are, and whether or not my life or liberty would be in danger there - which cuts out the majority of countries on the continent I call home - and also close trading partners, "friends" and allies of my nation.

I STILL find it insulting and extremely threatening when I see the high number of African states hostile to human rights and diversity clamoring to join in a "United States of Africa" with my country - but who wish my country to see people like me the way they do - not wanting to see us the way we as South Africans do.

I STILL feel threatened by small vicious groups of religious fundamentalists who stand tenuously on fragile soap-boxes, spewing hatred and bile while claiming to do so in the name of all others of the same faith - in exactly the same way hijackers and other terrorists often do.

I STILL find it intimidating, annoying and frustrating that quite intelligent people can still lower themselves to measure, morally, what kind of person I am and cast judgement based on factors such as what my race, language, whether I choose the same religion as theirs, who I have relationships with, or what equipment is, or was, between my legs.

I STILL find small right-wing groups threatening, particularly ones who hoard caches of weapons and military equipment and who harbor a Laager mentality along with ambitions of indulging in a little ethnic cleansing and complain about people touching them on their studio.

You know what? I hate politics. I detest it. It's boring. But I love people - and I care about what happens to people like me. That's why I got into human rights advocacy to begin with. That's why I'm planning a move into politics. You know the old saying - It's a dirty, thankless job - but somebody has to do it.

I STILL think that if we leave the protection of our rights and freedoms to "someone else", we put our lives in their hands. If we turn our backs on the government and let them do their thing behind closed doors - as they want to do, which is what the POI is really all about - then we the people will lose control of our own democracy.

I STILL firmly believe that we as a minority group, the Pink Community need to get more involved - or run the risk of becoming another Zim-BOB-we or Uganda, where the Pink Communities there were left with no representation in government, and now stand on the precipice of persecution and genocide.

This is a big year in terms of local elections again. This is a new year, and we face numerous challenges, many of which are ongoing and have been carried over from the past year, two years, decade - but it is also a fresh start - our chance to get involved and do our part to ensure the bad things happening in other places around the world don't happen here. Not to us.