The criminalization of LGBTQI+ people licenses state and non-state actors to exact discrimination, persecution and violence against LGBTQI people, resulting in many being forcibly displaced and having to flee home countries.
Imagine that the simple act of flying a rainbow flag, the LGBTQI+ symbol of pride and hope, is considered a crime of so called "promotion" of homosexuality , or a taboo. Indeed flying such a flag is extremely dangerous in criminalizing countries, as it 'outs' people as LGBTQI+ or as allies.
Recently Qatar banned all rainbow merchandise from the FIFA World Cup Soccer competition in that country.
People risk danger when they wave the flag in criminalizing countries such as Uganda, and so if you walk down a central Kampala street waving such a flag, you will likely face arrest or attack by mobs and vigilantes.
The same applies to Kakuma Camp in Kenya. Or even central Nairobi. LGBTQI+ people are considered criminals in these and 30 other African Countries, not to mention 70+ worldwide. Wave a rainbow flag, as right and as entitled as you may feel, and bam you are a target. Common sense!
At African Human Rights Coalition we believe in one's right to be one's authentic self. Sexuality is very personal and gender identity a right and we should all be out with absolute Pride.
However at the same time, especially in places where the law and police consider us criminal, it is not a safe idea to wave flags and draw attention to one-self and it is for this reason that we at AHRC urge refugees and asylum seekers, foreigners in hostile host countries, to exercise caution when hosting parties or participating in events this coming holiday season and at all times.
There is this analogy: If you expose yourself as queer to a police officer in a place like Kenya, Uganda, Ghana or Nigeria as in many other places where you are criminalized, that police officer will view you in the same way as they view a bank robber. Bank robbers are criminals according to the law. LGBTQI+ are also criminals in the eyes of the law in those places, as awful and unjust as that is. They will not want to let you get away with it. The repercussions are obvious.
Of course this is terribly unjust law, because how can anyone be considered a criminal based on their innate sexuality or gender identity? It is such a privilege to be able to live in a place where one can be openly out - and loved and accepted for who they are, unconditionally, not criminalized and with equality laws in place. And yet even these places we often find ourselves navigating our own security with being openly out.
To have the right and ability to do this safely is exhilarating and it is my DREAM for everyone on this beautiful planet to have this freedom of authentic sexuality, being and expression. While my wish is for countries to decriminalize, I am realistic that this could be decades away and so my hope and prayer is that one day all people seeking asylum can be as FREE as me.
Here I am on main stage - at SF Pride celebration expressing my freedom while bringing awareness to the global refugee crisis especially for LGBTQI+ refugees in African countries. Yet since this speech in June of this year, we the LGBTQI+ community, in the USA have become the target of hate and attacks.
HERE- MY FREE EXPRESSION VIDEO. (only 1 minute of a 5 minute speech) https://www.youtube.com/shorts/Kk_YRb5jPdM
With that said, it pains me that we the LGBTQI+ community in America is now under direct threat with attacks occurring such as recently in Colorado Springs. The Department of Homeland Security has issued an advisory warning that we the LGBTQI+ community is currently in danger of attack. It is for this reason that I have to invest my self security, just like anyone in Kakuma Camp. The only difference is that I am not seen as bank robber in this country., I am not considered criminal for my sexuality and I will have the right and promise of protection and justice - unlike my LGBTQI+ family, in criminalizing countries. I am openly out and therefore at the same time investing in my self security as best I can.
MELANIE NATHAN, ED African Human Rights Coalition, Dec 02, 2022. nathan@AfricanHRC.org