Sunday, April 23, 2006

Getting arrested for attending a meeting, or not?

The Globe and Mail has the following from Botswana (my emphasis):

It was the bimonthly meeting of Legabibo — Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana — and just attending this gathering, in a drab conference room on the edge of the city, was an act of courage. Homosexuality is illegal in Botswana, as it is in most other sub-Saharan African countries. And while no one could get arrested for attending a meeting (you'd have to be caught having sex for that), just showing up at Legabibo is enough to risk ostracism and family shame. The threat of physical violence is pervasive, too.

"People say things to us like, 'Are you crazy, do you think we have such people in Botswana?'" sighed Prisca Mogapi, 25, who heads the group. "They say, 'Being homosexual is something you adopt from people in European countries.' And I have to tell them that it has been in Botswana through history. That you have always had women forced into marriages, but they have had secret relationships. That it's nature and they have to accept these people."

When Ms. Mogapi and her partner invited friends to a party to celebrate their relationship a few months ago, a local newspaper reporter sneaked in with a camera, then published a lengthy exposé about how they danced, drank and ate cake. The word "disgusting" appeared in almost every paragraph. "I wasn't surprised someone could be so horrible," Ms. Mogapi said.

It's still legal to have these meetings in Botswana, whether they're "disgusting" or not. But in Nigeria? Well, not if the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has its way.

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