• All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Weblinks – September 2011

























Thursday, September 1, 2011

Feature: The human rights of sexual identity

The debate on homosexuality in Ghana has indeed been heated, sentimental and religious; many holding on to entrenched positions.
Recent comments by Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Martin A.B.K Amidu has however got me thinking about the subject of human rights and sexual identity.
Mr. Amidu has declared categorically that homosexuality, if practiced privately between two consenting adults, is not illegal, stating that although same-sex relationships are generally considered wrong culturally, an individual is allowed his sexual discretion as long as it is within the confines of his home.
Now, sexism and sexual relations are age-long socio-cultural issues surrounded by intriguing taboos and controversies. In many parts of the world, informing or educating a child or teenager on reproductive health matters is only a recent phenomenon. Discussing sexual matters in the presence of immature persons had been frowned upon. Similarly, most societies and religions had portrayed and defined heterosexual relations as the only ‘natural’ act of copulation and recreation among people of the human race.
However, history and literature repeatedly indicate that there had been continuous violations of these so-called natural laws overtime. It is acknowledged that man has not always directed his burning sexual passion towards the woman; neither can it be proved the woman has always been very attracted only to the man.
Realistically, society has only managed to suppress the acts of fulfilling sexual desires to the person of the same sex by declaring such acts as ‘abnormal’ and enforcing them with severe and sometimes inhuman punishments. This is certainly not the only emotional and sexual act that society has managed to ‘control’ over past generations: what reasons can be ascribed to son-mother, father-daughter, and brother-sister sexual attractions?
Some ways an individual human being would have liked or loved to express his/her sexual feelings and satisfaction has been tagged abnormal and unnatural. People who are determined to express their emotions in a way of living a happy life, but which a part of the society considers as an order against nature, are classified as less human, morally corrupt, psychologically crooked and emotionally unstable.
The issues of gender identity and the supposed right self-expression in relationships, as in sexual orientation, have given rise to the wondering and quest for true sexual identity among some human beings, leading to transgender controversies: going for gender reassignment has the more been condemned by the society.
Social advancements and civilization has brought about individual freedoms and human rights, but without its own social vices. It is well noted that one person’s rights stops where another’s commence. In this view, sexual acts such as sadism, rape and others, which involve the inducement of force and violence, are highly condemnable. But how can anyone deny any citizen of humanity the natural bodily affection to express love through the consent of a partner?
No segment of the human society can claim that an act of unharmful sexual contract between two sane persons to satisfy their inborn passion is criminal in practice.
In most countries of the West, people who belong to the non-heterosexual groupings suffer less persecution, probably due to the level of advocacy and tolerance. But in our part if the world, an act of homosexuality or lesbianism is treated as a criminal offence, ‘culprits’ compared to armed robbers or a murderers.
Heads of States and other social leaders have pronounced damaging homophobic statements in public, paving the smooth passage for physical, psychological and emotional persecutions and torture. Homosexuals are referred to as ‘animals’ that must be treated as such.
But for the entrenchment of the Internet and its accompanying activism, homosexuality and lesbianism would have been treated as a non-existing phenomenon on the African continent. The spontaneous rise of Gay and Lesbian Rights Groups on the continent indicates a realism of an age-long undercover and seemingly private act, in line with what prostitution and extra marital affairs had been.
So, do such people tagged ‘animals’ possess the rights and freedoms at all?
Today’s world is said to be a global village, where all things happen. Things our forefathers may have regarded as forbidden and observed as taboos are today been seen as primitive, uncultured thoughts or ideas or practices. However strange and absurd it could have been, no one can testify that our ancestors never observed acts of homosexuality in one way or the other because we cannot specifically declare how their sexual desires were satisfied while in the caves of the wilderness.
Today, all governments of the world claim to be promoters and protectors of human rights and freedoms. The various national constitutions had been drawn with regard to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), of which Article 2 states that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, SEX, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.
This provision exposes the hypocrisy and the jiggery-pockery behavior of members of the human race. Is it in ‘a spirit of brotherhood’ to maltreat a fellow human being by calling him or her an animal just for the expression of emotional needs in accordance with the law?
People in power, families and communities sometimes attempt to play Supreme by defining the good and bad, yet turning a blind eye to their own harmful, distasteful and disastrous acts: fathers raping daughters; sons going after fathers’ wives; and mothers competing for daughters’ boyfriends. These abominable acts occur on daily basis, but how many are exposed?
Soon the media jumps into the fray of persecution, ill treatment and violence perpetuated against lesbians and gays. The Press has been very interested in reporting homophobic statements by the oppressors. Guiltier are they when negative and bias reports are published portraying gays and lesbians as agents in the spread of HIV/AIDS and other complicated Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Few civil society groups are able to master the courage to propagate and champion the dignity and rights of the homosexual because ‘society’ views the act as un-African, un-Islamic, un-Christian. The few who add their voices to its condemnation of prejudice are counted and classified among the gays and lesbians. Those few who are against the harassment and torture of the non-heterosexual often feel scared and threatened; they are forced to remain coiled for safety and not to ‘soil’ their ‘clean’ projects on human rights.
But could any segment of the society be fully liberated of human rights violations when a section is subjected to calculated and well-organized bondage?
Attacks on suspected lesbians and gays take place continuously unreported. Their rights to life, liberty and security are constantly violated. Just for their sexual identity and expression, they are subjected to humiliation, torture, cruel, degrading and inhuman treatments. There is continuous arbitrary interference to their privacy to rubbish their honour and reputation. In politics, the issue of being a gay or a lesbian is utilized by an opponent to prove a whimsical point.
Our human society is forever changing: call it the sign of the beginning of the end! Sexuality is getting ever complicated and sooner than later, references to Nature, the Bible, Quran and older socio-religious materials would seem meaningless to new generations. By this time, what is deemed nonsensical would be counted as sensible.
The truth of reality may look very stupid and uncultured, yet there may rest the objectivity in advancements. For a human being not to belong the heterosexual group is not a social ill or vice, especially in this morally corrupt world of ours, where hanky-panky affairs are the order of the day.
It is indeed reasonable, wise and right for all concerned to collectively condemn the persistent immoral sexual behaviour of human beings but not to wickedly crucify a segment because of the way they satisfy their sexual urge. Human rights are freedoms and freedom is tolerance of another person’s feelings that commit no harm to any creature. Live not in hatred but in true, sincere and compassionate love to lift the burden of grief. Let us leave the expression of sexual satisfaction to the conscience.
Oh yes, I’m a Christian and may abhor homosexual acts, but so do I abhor heterosexual acts like a married pastor engaged in adultery with the wife of a junior pastor. I will therefore preach the Gospel of Christ to both the homosexual and the heterosexual “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Let the saints say….
By Kofi Adu Domfeh


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