Enough of the Gay Bashing! ENOUGH!

A MUST READ!!!

Disclaimer: This is not my writing, I am sharing it because it speaks so profoundly on the matter.

Enough of this Gay Bashing. Enough!
by KM on Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 1:14pm

Let me state the bottom line upfront: I support gay people and their human rights and freedoms accorded to all (freedom from fear, freedom to live in dignity, freedom from want etc ) I will not stand by silently as the hateful debate about gays escalates. I am a christian woman and an African. I am a human being. I know and love many gay people. My church minister at Harvard was gay. One of my most important mentors is gay. I have worked and continue to work with the most intelligent and dynamic gay people. I have experienced sexism and racism. I have studied and researched genocides and purges based on specific intent to destroy “a group” of people. I refuse to be the silent bystander in this hate campaign.

The nomination of Willy Mutunga and Nancy Baraza as Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice has surfaced a debate about gay rights ( or as the case may be, non rights) Haters and homophobes have swarmed out of the woodwork and in places like facebook, email list serves ( e.g. KPTJ) and comments portals in newspapers (where many go by fake names), they express the most outrageous nuggets of ignorance and hate about homosexuals, their fellow Kenyans and human beings. Both Willy and Nancy are well respected human rights advocates who believe in the indivisibility of rights. Willy wears an ear ring on his left ear ( 🙂 ), and Nancy’s PHD thesis iis on the rights of homosexuals in East Africa. However, the debate is quite un informed and becoming increasingly uncivil.

The bias against homosexuals can escalate to murderous levels as we have witnessed in the recent killings of lesbians in South Africa. Threats against gay people and the folks who support them, is the subject of proposed legislation in Uganda and other places. The debate forms part of cultural , political , social and religious debates. Many human rights activists are afraid to take on advocacy on behalf of homosexuals because this is not “politically correct’ . You see, a friend told me yesterday , one’s social standing may be ruined by taking on too open a position on ‘these people’ . To paraphrase Peter J Gomes, ( Harvard Memorial Church Minister ) one’s stand on homosexuality detrmines one’s standing on society’s scale on virtues and values , making the topic almost undebatable.

So it’s a good thing Willly & Nancy happened and created this opportunity to re-engage the debate (always lurking under the surface) . For people who identify as christians, the homosexual debate is very alive and disturbing. The narrative of Sodom & Gommorrah, the law of Leviticus , the Deutronomic sanctions and the teachings of Paul provide ample ammunition to close the debate. Remember that Biblical text also had quite a bit to say about women ( 1 Cor 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2: 11-12) and slaves (Ephesians 6:5) We have been able to find redeeming texts in the Bible that equalise all children of God. If you read Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s sermons and speeches on gay people you will find these(I have pasted one of his speeches below) .

But we insist on making homosexuality only about sex, we diminish the life experiences of our fellow human beings. Nobody focuses on the sex lives of heterosexuals do they? Yet when we discuss homosexuality, it is always about the sex and especially the mechanics of it. Do heterosexuals have their minds in the gutter ALL the time?? “THESE WONDERFUL PEOPLE’ have lives outside of sexual relationships. They have hobbies, homes, children,families, interests, jobs. They have full lives, doing important things that benefit heterosexuals perhaps even more than themselves. They don’t sit around thinking …”ahh ….mmmh…..I wonder when I’m gonna have my next homosexual experience”!

Friends, can we have a civil informed debate that illuninates and advances “ubuntuness”? Can we help stop the hate and fear ? I think It’s TIME to stand up and be counted against this injustice.

KM

_________________________

Desmond Tutu’s Speech (archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.)

Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity — or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds. In my country of South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied many of them fundamental human rights. We knew this was wrong.

It is time to stand up against another wrong.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God’s family. And of course they are part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal, and health services for these men and their community have suffered. In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic there for providing counseling services to all members of that community, because the clerics wanted gay men excluded. “But they are sinners,” I can hear the preachers and politicians say. “They are choosing a life of sin for which they must be punished.” My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn’t it amazing that we are all made in God’s image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love? The wave of hate must stop. Politicians who profit from exploiting this hate, from fanning it, must not be tempted by this easy way to profit from fear and misunderstanding. And my fellow clerics, of all faiths, must stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.

*Over & Out*

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Why The Hate?

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This weekend I was moving house. The move was a success and I am glad it went well.

Now, that’s not why I did this post using org resources. There is this one thing that came up from Friday and through the weekend.

Murugi urges Kenyans to accept gays

Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi told participants at a national symposium on HIV/Aids in Mombasa targeting homosexuals, lesbians and sex workers that the government had no option but to address the community’s concerns. (contd…)

When I read this story (but missed the TV version) I was elated. I thought to myself, “WOW! What a bold statement coming from a Cabinet minister! She must be really brave.” I also wondered to myself if at all she had thought through her decision to say this in public and also the aftermath with (for obvious reasons) would be coming her way. I also thought of the aftermath itself. The church would be furious… fuming like a mexican bull ready to charge with bloodshot eyes. Wait, the Church? Really? Okay.

Then of course the aftermath came.

Churches want Murugi sacked over gay remarks

More than 74 churches have petitioned President Kibaki to sack Cabinet minister Esther Murugi over her last week remarks on gay rights in the country. The churches, under the aegis of the Federation of Evangelical Indigenous Christian Churches of Kenya (FEICCK) warned of street demonstrations against the Ms Murugi, the Special Programmes minister. In a statement, Dr Methu said Ms Murugi discredited her reputation and was unfit to hold public office. … “This should happen in the shortest time possible; failure to which we shall not be left with any other option other than to ask those who care about righteousness and morality to demonstrate against her, “said FEICCK chairman Bishop Dr Joseph.

And then people wrote letters saying God will destroy us and that now gays & prostitutes are ‘allowed’.

Wow. Ok let me get this straight, we shall be destroyed for accepting gays and prostitutes. Hmmm.. the new constitution allows gays and prostitutes. Ok. Unless I’m daft, isn’t sex work (yeah, that’s the correct term to use, not prostitution-its derogatiory-in a way) like the oldest profession ever? And oh.. ohh… how do you allow something that already existed? huh?

I don’t wanna write much. All I see here is HATE. And with hate like such comes DISCRIMINATION (based on one’s sexual inclination or behaviour) and Hate Motivated Violence / Hate Crimes! I am not going to talk about oh gays are like this or oh sex workers are like that, am gonna talk about this hate that is brewing and still exists within the Church.

Say NO to HATE!

Church and Hate. Those two words just don’t fit. But its exactly what we’re seeing. I wonder. Is this the way we treat “our brethren”? With so much hate? I mean, okay, its a sin. They’re sinning. But surely, as God looks down upon us and sees us condeming people, judging them and calling them “devils incarnates” what are we telling Him? That we are now at His level and can judge others? That oh, LOVE is nooothing! Lets hate on the gays and prostitutes. For the Bible tells me so. Huh!!!

Let me tell you one thing. One of the reasons why I lost faith in religion is such things. If I am to “love one another as I love myself” then surely, is this such a treatment I’d want to receive? Sinner or not? Is that how Jesus treated sinners? Didn’t he love them and embrace them? He never condemned them at all! I am just … aargh! Don’t even ask. I could go on and on.

Please note, I am not saying that gays and prostitutes are sinning or not sinning. That’s not my job. Mine is to ensure that regardless of their behaviour (if you choose to call it that) I still want to ensure that their humanity is upheld and that they’re treated with dignity. In a world of many a variety of people, the one thing that we always will be, one thing that we should always keep in mind is OUR HUMANITY. Lets not treat others as lesser humans. Its just wrong.

I have my reservations about what I feel about gays and prostitutes. But they are human and should be treated as such. Scorning them and saying that they should be burnt (coz it says so in some holy book) is plain inhuman. No one would want to be treated as such.

I shall pen off. And promise to continue another day.

p.s. I have added links to words thanks to Zemanta.

*Over & Out*

Conversation on Homosexuality

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Some time back I was involved in a heated debate on a certain list serve I’m part of and I thought the following was quite an interesting take. Yes, I am FOR human rights and thus why this. Hope it sparks some thoughts in you too. It was one of the participants responding to another’s claims. Note: These are not my words, so E.&OE.

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I believe in human rights and advocate for it but on same sex marriage issue I strongly oppose
for the following reasons…

First let me assure you that the last we want is to advocate for same sex marriages, as a community, we feel that marriage has been an institution that has been used to discriminate against persons of LGBTIQ identities and even further entrench heterosexuality as the only valid and recognizable relation between individuals. Secondly,our struggles are so deep and so personal and political that subscribing to the institution of marriage keeps us from defining healthy ways to relate without having oppressive attitudes towards each other, your orientation and gender identity not withstanding. For example, as a woman, I would hate for anyone to think of me as an object of possession – I do not want anyone to pay dowry to my mother because first there is no price for me in monetary or otherwise, other than my precious life and to be expected to change my name to that of the person am getting married to is to invalidate my existence as a person with my own life to live (these are my personal feelings) as I am believer in equality and freedom to be and the marriage institution has proved to be a sexist and patriarchal institution and unless it changes, I want nothing to do with it.

This is not African orientation,brain washed ideas from the west,AFRICANS SHOULD REMAIN AFRICANS.DID YOUR GRAND FATHERS INVOLVE IN SUCH ACTS?

That must be stopped. I can go on and on with examples of healthy same sex relations that existed in very many African traditions, but if you want to chose to retain that argument, I will point you to your reference to Christianity and Islam, both of which are not indigenous to Africans, these religions were introduced to Africa by the same westerners you claim to have brain washed all the queer persons in Africa. And in the queer community we have people of all generations which goes far into explaining that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and not choices we make, the terms we use are borrowed from the English language gay lesbian, etc. and thus might not denote our lives as queer Africans and hence our desire to define ourselves within our African context,this however does not nullify our rightful existence as queer persons in Africa and does not call for blanket condemnation and invalidation of our being.

Why are our reproductive [parts] different because am a woman and the the other is a man. Its wrong biblically, Koran wise and indigenous wise. Who will marry us?

You will be married by the person you fall in love with, that person you make the choice to live the rest of your life with, that is a personal choice and we all have that opportunity to pursue any relationship and engagement that contributes to our well being. All the queer Kenyans would also want to indulge in that choice, of choosing the partner they want to share a life with, and our biological anatomy is a question that needs to be revised in relating with ourselves, should the fact that I have breasts and a vagina mean that I am only good for reproduction? That my role in the world is to reproduce and that’s it? I advocate for sexual rights and autonomy because sexuality is an intrinsic factor of all human beings, and it is interlinked with every other aspect of our lives. In this case we need to move beyond defining ourselves by our biological anatomy to a holistic approach to self identity…where all the attributes of my living are respected and acknowledged as the combination that allows me to experience life to the best most highest standards of potential and lived life.

I welcome all those who are ready to share,learn and engage in seeking social justice.
Amandhla!

Somewhere in the conversation I saw this interesting equation.

Genes + Brain Wiring + Prenatal Hormonal Environment = Temperament
Parents + Peers + Experiences = Environment
Temperament + Environment = Sexual Orientation

Then came this equally interesting fact.

Population of gays in the world??

One can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5%. that is, 5% of the 6 billion people in the world.

So will the human race decimate?

Quite fascinating conversation eh? All I can say is:

I yearn for the day when “HUMAN” will be the only label we brandish ourselves.

*Over & Out*

Its Up To YOU

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I am very spontaneous when it comes to my writing. Yes, at times I have it all planned out but most of the times I just pick stuff out of my mind. Thoughts rush through my mind and I simply pick them as I write.

Now, as I said in my previous post, I wanted to write about “activism or the lack thereof”. I remember at the time I was thinking about whether activism is doing what it should. Whether it is being bold enough. And when I say activism I mean human rights activism. Now, for clarity’s sake, I like dealing with definitions. That way I can derive my point from an objective angle. (OK, maybe my view will be subjective.).

The meaning of the word activism:

Activism, can be described as intentional action to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change. This action is in support of, or opposition to, one side of an often controversial argument.

Therefore we can conclude that activism in simple terms involves taking informed actions to achieve something you feel is not being addressed. For example, if one feels that children are not being treated properly either by parents, teachers, peers, government etc then one takes a “direct and militant” action to see that their rights are being addressed.

So where does “free will” come in? Okay, it may not be directly involved with activism so I will just say that I had to mention the above. I tend to be like that in my posts by the way. Don’t know if its spontaneity or what! Never mind!

Free your mind. (pc: ohermenauta.wordpress.com)

I believe free will has everything to do with how we human beings conduct our lives. As much as I believe in the power of love, I also believe in the power of choice and free will. It is said that God gave man free will to do as he pleases. I am no preacher, so don’t expect a sermon! A quick summation of the meaning of that saying is that it is up to us. I believe it is us who choose our paths. Now now, this is not news to anyone (I presume) and all of us know this. But do we stop and critically think about it? Do we not see how it has a huge hold on us? Do we not realise that it is through gaining that realisation that we see “the light at the end of the tunnel”?

What am I talking about? I am saying that it is this free will, God given, that determines how we live our lives. I call myself “a lover of humanity”. Why? Because I believe in love. And I see its dire need in us. In our society. In our lives. In our families. In our relationships. Everywhere.

It is free will that will determine whether or not a man aged about 25 can kill people (note I didn’t say ‘innocent’) and dump their bodies in swamps and blame it on a cult. It is free will that will make him choose whether or not to go ahead and “obey the orders” he was given. It is free will that will determine whether or not we will vote for the new constitution (though I tend to think so unfortunate that a lot of the votes will be politically influenced). It is through this free will that humanity can be peaceful and coexist but then…I go back to my earlier post. Some think that a “peaceful world” is more or less Utopia. Hmmm… How I wish that would happen!

We make choices everyday whether or not we want to. When you wake up, you decide to wake up. You decide to get out of bed. You decide to go to the bathroom, take a shower, brush your teeth, make breakfast, dress up, walk or drive to work or wherever else you are going. It all boils down to one thing. CHOICE.

Now, I don’t like long posts so I will wind up. Back to free will. There is something I tell people close to me about their minds and the immense power it holds. For example, the weather in Nairobi is not rosy. On the contrary, its awful! Its cold, sunny, chilly, rainy, hot…all at the same time! Most of us will get colds and flus and all manner of stuff that can be brought about by the conditions. Here is how I see it. It is up to us to choose what to do about it. You can decide to drown yourself in sorrow and say “oh I cant help catching a cold. Its a given” or you can say “well, its cold and thats the reality but I will try not to catch a cold. And if it does catch me, it will be gone before you know it”. What’s the point here? Its all in your head! Thats what weve heard people tell us. Its all in your head. Its all in your mind. If you think bad things, bad things will most likely come your way. If you think positively, its those positive things that will most likely come your way.

Make use of your brain. Excersice your mind. Don’t let your body lead your life, YOU lead your life.

It is up to YOU!

p.s. In as much as I think this is my blog and thus I should do things my way, I like order and, well, quite frankly, I know I can do better. BUT seeing that it is my nature, (duuh! Who’s perfect??) I will keep saying “Imma do me!” Just had to say that. Really!

Why Human Rights?

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As my post title goes, I often seem to ask myself that question. Why human rights? Why all the emphasis? And why should it be a problem to us?

Well, simple. Because we are human. Period.


We are all human beings. The declaration of human rights puts it quite clearly…

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and all human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible, and interrelated”

Its clear cut and very easy to understand if you ask me. As in, we are all equal. All of us. There is no chagua chagua.

There is no “some are more equal than others” unless you’re a politician in Kenya, or wish to be one because thats never it. It never will be either.

I can only say why I call myself a human rights defender/activist. I do it because first of all, I am human and I respect humanity. On my facebook page, my description goes…

“Extremely open-minded, unique, distinct, lovingly lovable, believes in the power of Peace Love Unity and Respect, ardent human rights activist & defender, friend, sociable, and intrepid! A bundle of simplistic class & creativity!”

That description already covers my love for humanity and my belief in PLUR. I am passionate about human rights especially so because its imperative that some voice be heard. There aren’t too many young voices out there making enough noise about it and I want to be one of the few that will raise theirs. I want to see change in our society.

Too many evils are going on in our society. Most of it is because of blantant disrespect for human beings in general. We don’t respect each other. That is one of my major concerns. But the one thing that really gets me going is my faith and belief in LOVE. I hold those infamous two greatest commandments by Jesus in high regard because I believe they hold the key to having good relationships with one another. They are the best way to live. Follow these two and trust me, you will have a fulfilling life. Here they are.

1.Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength.
2.Love your neighbour as you love yourself.

Another bit of scripture that I go back to constantly is 1st Corinthians 13, the one about love. Here it is.

“4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

In essence, you get my point. For me, its mostly about loove. I love people. I love people regardless. Fine, I don’t like bad behaviour, but I truly believe that people aren’t meant to be bad. Call me naĂŻve but thats the way I feel.

Love someone this week!

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