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by Richard de Luchi - Courtesy of the Peter Tatchell Foundation

 

In early 2014, Uganda passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act in an atmosphere of toxic, belligerent homophobia. It was overturned later, on a technicality, but the damage had been done - and is still being done.

The hateful, often violent, 'kill the gays' rhetoric has encouraged much of the population to turn on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. Many LGBTIs had no option but to flee to neighbouring countries - notably Kenya - as their families, friends, neighbours, employers, landlords and society at large, hunted them down. They faced discrimination, mob violence and the threat of arrest under a British-imposed colonial-era law that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for same-sex acts.

Now, Ugandan MPs are agitating to re-introduce the anti-homosexuality law, and they have the support of Rebecca Kadaga, the aggressively homophobic Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament. This is prompting more LGBTIs to flee across the border into Kenya. They fear jail - and worse.Uganda

Until recently, the time required to screen, process and resettle a Ugandan LGBTI refugee who sought asylum in Kenya was around 18 months, if they were one of the lucky minority to get resettled. But now it extends to three years or more as the number of LGBTI asylum seekers has dramatically increased, in parallel with homophobic prejudice, discrimination and violence in both Uganda and Kenya - and alleged obstruction by anti-LGBTI refugee agency officials.

According to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) newssheet, Refugee Resettlement Facts, published in January 2018, less than 1% of refugees are ever resettled.

Nowadays, new LGBTI asylum seekers are not accepted by the UNHCR in Nairobi. They are sent direct to Kakuma refugee camp in the north of Kenya.

The Government of Kenya (GoK) does not recognise LGBTI people as refugees. It considers them as illegal sexual criminals under a law dating back to British rule in 1897 and has taken over the resettlement process from the UNHCR. The UNHCR appears to be powerless to challenge the GoK's determination to invalidate the requests for safe haven made by LGBTI asylum seekers from Uganda.

The UNHCR has ceased granting monthly stipends of some 4,000kes, roughly US$40, to all but a few of the several hundred men and women who remain in Nairobi, and who struggle to survive there, often alone and isolated.

While the official line of the UNHCR is that all is calm, and that harmony reigns in both Nairobi and Kakuma, the situation described by many LGBTI refugees is very different.

Kenyan law makes it very difficult to get the required Aliens card in order to work. The Kenyan police are a particularly brutal force and frequently round up LGBTIs, especially Ugandans, and cart them off to jail - often beating them up and humiliating them sexually in the process. They usually only get released on the payment of bribes. UNHCR appears to be powerless to stop this arrant abuse of human rights.

The general Kenyan population is frequently hostile. They are responsible for much of the violence towards LGBTI people; being deeply suspicious of the Ugandan refugees renting houses in their neighbourhoods.

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Rowan Smith, the former Dean of St George's Cathedral, has died in Cape Town after a long hospitalisation.

Smith, who had served as Dean for more than a decade before handing over the reins to Michael Weeder, suffered a cracked femur when he slipped while preparing for the Good Friday divine service at the cathedral.RowanSmith
He remained in hospital until his death earlier this week.
Smith had come out as gay while serving as Dean and enjoyed the full support of his congregation. He was respected as a deeply spiritual individual.
"He was an affirming person, a gentle person. His were big shoes to fill for a person following in his footsteps," Rev Weeder, Smith successor at the cathedral said.

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International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) is marked annually on the 17th of May to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to the violence and discrimination inflicted upon lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, as well as all those who do not conform to majority sexual and gender norms. This year, Alliances for Solidarity has been chosen as the event theme, because fighting violence, lobbying for legal change and campaigning to change hearts and minds cannot be done in isolation.
“With a report by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) revealing that 8 out of 10 LGBTI students are being harassed at school each year simply because of who they are, this is a very important day particularly for LGBTI youth,” says Riaan Norval, Project Manager for Young Heroes - a campaign being run by Anova Health Institute and funded by the Elton John Aids Foundation aimed at empowering adolescent LGBTI youth, specifically young men who identify as gay or bisexual, or who are questioning their sexuality.
The GLSEN report also found that LGBTI students have lower grades, more attendance problems and are less likely to complete high school than their heterosexual counterparts. What’s more, many experience long-term emotional effects from the bullying, harassment and intolerance they face as students.YoungHeroes
Norval shares that it is important to clarify the difference between a ‘phobia’ and ‘prejudice’. “A phobia is a strong, uncontrollable, unpleasant often irrational emotion caused by an actual or perceived danger or threat, like spiders or a fear of clowns. Prejudice, on the other hand, is an adverse judgment or opinion formed without knowledge of the facts. What people call homo- and transphobia is actually prejudice. You don’t go seeking out something you fear, whereas with homo- and transphobia, people seek to harm others with insults, discrimination, extreme levels of intimidation and even violence.”
“It can also be more subtle – a feeling that you're being ignored or treated with less respect than your peers ,or seemingly innocuous statements like the good old, ‘I'm not prejudiced, I even have a gay friend’ or ‘that's so gay’. The sad truth is that if you're gay, you will probably encounter homophobia at some point. While being picked on for your sexuality can be upsetting and embarrassing, always remember that you are not the problem, they are. The majority of homophobes act out of ignorance and fear. Often it's a question of immaturity. Like bullies, homophobes get satisfaction and power from putting others down.”
He urges young people who are experiencing homophobia, transphobia or biphobia to utilise the information, safe spaces, resources and supportive community offered by the campaign through its social media, website and mobile platforms. “Young Heroes also provides access to mental health support, should you need it.”

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Karabo, who is now 27, has described himself as an MC, Dancer, Lawyer, and First Runner-up Mr Gay World Southern Africa 2017. He was born and raised in Mafikeng, Northwest Province. He studied LLB law from 2009 to 2012 and moved to Cape town in 2013 to study Practical Legal Training with the university of Cape Town studied, and then stared working at Law For All, Lipco, where he is currently an Internal Relations Legal Executive Manager.Karabo1i
Karabo also studied business rescue practice with Unisa and was ultimately registered as a junior business rescue practitioner, and was subsequently admitted as the 252th Business Rescue Practitioner in South Africa in 2015. He also studied with the African School of Mediation
In 2017, Karabo entered the Mr Gay Southern Africa competition and was chosen as first prince. As Exit goes to print, he is in Knysna competing in Mr Gay World 2018 as the Southern Africa entrant. Juan Pinnick, who was chosen as Mr Gay SA in 2017 was unable to represent SA in this competition as he is recovering from an operation on his knee.
Karabo is a trained Latin and Ballroom dancer and has won the Youth Championship National SA title for 2010, 2011 AND 2012. He recently won the best SA male Latin dancer at the SA Dance Awards 2016. He also ended up in the top 24 of the So You Think You Can Dance hit reality TV show.
Karabo is actively involved in a project called Tell Your Story. This is more of a personal campaign to him as he is in the forefront of Tell Your Story. This campaign looks at combating suicide amongst the LGBTQI+ community. He survived a suicide attempt with his coming out story. It is one that is very saddening and breaks his heart each time he talks about it. It saddens him that a lot of young people attempt to end their lives due to society’s influences, religious believers and families that refuse to accept their children when they come out of the closet. He tells his story to whoever is keen to listen in order to reach out and save lives. He has had numerous radio stations and newspaper publications in the Western Province and North West Province cover his story. The campaign aims at being a voice for those that can’t speak for themselves and being a beacon of hope for those who find themselves in darkness.Karabo4i
Karabo recently revealed that he and his German boyfriend Max (34) had become engaged while he was on a three week trip to Europe. They have made no further plans for their relationship as, as Karabo said he needed to concentrate on the task at hand: representing SA in Mr Gay World 2018.
The outcome of the Mr Gay World contest, which climaxes on 27 May, is sure to be in mainstream media, but you will also find it here and on mambaonline.com

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The SA Bike Festival takes place at Kyalami again. This years dates are 25 -27 May. Once again the festival will feature a wide range of bikes for you to look at and test drive on the track. There will also be displays of vintage and custom bikes, and accessories and after market equipment. The Legacy Group have joined up with the Festival and will have special deals for out of towners as well as running Jamies Italian VIP area.

BikeFestival

For some reason bikers are thought to be a bunch of antisocial rebels, which, of course, is far from the truth and the annual RAMBO Blanket Run will take place on the 27th. Bikers can meet up at Yamaha World in Sandton at 8am and ride out to the festival bringing a blanket along. Last year over 2000 blankets were distributed to the homeless.

We have arranged a special discount for our readers and followers on tickets to South Africa Bike Festival. Use promo code BIKEPR and save R50 off ALL your tickets from today! You will find more info and buy tickets onwww.southafricabikefestival.com.

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