Photo Credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/
US Diplomatic Special Envoy Names Ghana And Uganda As Threats To LGBTQ People
During a press conference held on July 1, Stern said that she has been monitoring foreign government threats to LGBTQ people, such as the recent mass arrests in African countries such as Ghana and Uganda.
In May, Ugandan police arrested 44 people during a party to celebrate the engagement of a gay couple held at an LGBTQ shelter in Kampala, claiming that they had intervened over health and safety violations, France 24 reported. Videos of the arrest, which circulated widely on social media, outed some attendees, who had been in the closet. In Uganda, homosexuality is banned and severely punishable by law.
In the same month, Ghanaian police detained 21 people they suspected of promoting an LGBT+ agenda at an unlawful assembly in the southeastern city of Ho. As Reuters reported, the 16 women and five men were arrested at a hotel for nurses and midwives. Local police alleged they had gathered to advocate LGBT+ activities with books and flyers with titles including, “Coming Out” and “All About Trans.”
“We all have work to do to ensure we are free from discrimination and violence. … We’re all in this together,” said Stern during the press conference.
For her, religion played a role in the slow acceptance and respect for the Rights of LGBTQ people in some African countries. However, she said that despite the presence of these challenges, she believed with time, many would come to understand and respect their rights.
Despite mentioning the two African countries as threats, she emphasized optimistic views about the advancement of LGBTQ human rights in the continent.
“I don’t think there’s a country or region that’s all good or all bad. When you look around the world, you see progress and danger simultaneously,” she said.
She recalled that South Africa has legalized same-sex marriages. According to Stern, this is a sign of hope.
“There’s no doubt it’s a slower journey for LGBTQ rights in any place where conservative religions play a dominant role, but progress is happening.”
She also cited Nigeria as a growing sign of progress in the continent, stating that a recent poll showed that 25% of the public opposes discrimination against LGBTQ people.
“This was a substantial increase from previous years.”
Stern’s statements were made in accordance with President Joe Biden’s administration agenda related to the fight against homophobia worldwide. As NBC reported in Feb. 2021, President Biden signed a foreign policy memo putting the U.S. at ‘the forefront’ of global LGBTQ rights. The president called on embassies and agencies “to lead by the power of our example.”