Nigerian activist: Focus on LGBT rights is not enough

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Gay activists in Africa need to focus on more than just LGBT rights, says  Cheikh Eteka Traore, leader of a Nigerian LGBT rights coalition opposing that country’s new anti-gay law.
Focusing on a broader range of issues is a strength of the Mayibuye Pledge, he says. The pledge was launched this month by a group of human rights activists as a way to advocate not only for justice for sexual minorities, but also for women’s rights, economic justice and protection of the environment.
The pledge is also a way to educate the Western LGBT movement that a broader range of issues need to be addressed in Africa, Traore said.
In a comment on the recent article “African signers of Mayibuye Pledge vow to work for justice” in this blog, he stated:

The reason why I took the pledge is simple: the paradigm of our struggle as African LGBT activists needs to change. Giants before us took an approach to adapt a gay rights concept imported from elsewhere. The concept has grown, and in almost every African nation LGBT people recognize this concept. But at this time in our history we are a little stuck. We cannot fight single battles with single frameworks. Our lives and opportunities to thrive are threatened by so many other issues.
Let us remember that the gay rights concept emerged in countries where struggles for economic justice and social protection were achieved. This is not the case in Africa yet. We need to couch our struggle in a holistic mold which encompasses more ideals and themes of social and economic justice and political liberation.
When our supporters in the Western LGBT movement refuse to understand why discussions about post MDG 2015 are important, we should not give up. This pledge for me is also an opportunity to change the mindset of Western allies of the African LGBT movement.

Africans who want to sign the pledge online can visit the website.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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