An article from Voice of America focuses on a newly formed gay rights organization in Sierra Leone, where male-male sexual activity is punishable by a life sentence. Excerpts appear below:
Opposition to homosexuality remains strong in most of Africa. Many people have been beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation. But an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) group in Sierra Leone is pushing for more awareness and protection of LGBT rights.
By Nina DeVries
Life for George Freeman has not been easy.
He says he always had feelings for men but it took him years to admit he was gay, even to himself, because homosexuality in the West African nation of Sierra Leone is illegal.
During Freeman’s teenage years people made fun of him because he never had a girlfriend and they suspected he was gay.
“It was really horrible for me, I suffered a lot of violence in school, bullying from other heterosexual kids,” Freeman said.
When he got the nerve to tell his family he was gay he said they could not accept his lifestyle and he spent several years on the street as a teenager.
He did not officially come out in public until 2007 on a local radio station and says when he did it was a relief .
“When I was on the radio and came out a gay person, it encouraged other people to come out and go for HIV/counseling and testing services,” Freeman said.
After he revealed his sexual orientation he also started a West African chapter of the organization Why Can’t We Get Married.com. Freeman says the organization originally started in Australia but is currently not operating there.
His chapter also advocates for LGBT rights in other African countries. Early next year, Uganda is expected to vote on an anti-homosexuality bill. This would impose stricter punishment for those caught in homosexual activities. Freeman says his organization has signed an online petition to support the Ugandan LGBT community’s struggle to fight the measure.
Freeman says Why Can’t We Get Married.com is making headway in Sierra Leone and slowly changing attitudes.
Read the full article here: “Movement Begins for Homosexual Rights in Africa.”