The celebration of Pride month may be underway in cities across the world but in Africa LGBT members are still faced with violence, abuse and arrests because of their sexuality. Anti- Gay sentiments is on the rise in Africa according to an article in DW. Former Cameroon Model, Actress, Singer, Billionaire-ess and Activist, Irene Major is trying to change this in a major way! The Empress of Ingress may be living a real life fairy-tale but don’t think she’s just tucked away in her castle sipping tea. Irene is a human rights activist and she is not standing silent as LGBT members are getting killed in Africa.
In Africa, 35 out of 54 countries ban homosexuality, and it is it’s punishable by death in four countries. This is a stark contrast to the U.S where in 2009 former U.S President Barack Obama declared June to be LGBT Pride Month. The White House was lit in the colors of the Pride Flag up until this year when President Trump’s administration took over. Being a conservative it probably isn’t shocking that the new president hasn’t really acknowledged the month dedicated to tolerance, love and awareness about LGBT rights. Pride Month happens every year in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. Cities across the world participate in parades and festivals, celebrating LGBTQ communities, and serving as a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do to ensure equality for all. Although it started in the United States, Pride is now being celebrated in cities across the world. In London, the Pride Festival takes place from Saturday 24 June to Sunday 9 July 2017, with the Parade and main events on Saturday 8 July 2017. There are some places across the globe that will not be partaking or and are much less accepting of LGBT rights. For former Cameroon top model and billionaire-es Irene Major, the lack of tolerance, discrimination and abuse based on sexuality is something she does not stand for and refuses to be silent about it. In particular, the hatred and violence towards LGBT members in Africa is something that she has been trying to bring to light. Irene has launched the “Gay in Africa” campaign to raise awareness about this issue.
“There has been much persecution and killing of LGBT Africans and now I must raise awareness of the abuse that this community faces.I deplore the fact that the African LGBT community is in many instances barred from contributing to Africa society and persecuted and at worst killed simply on the basis of whom they choose to love. This is wrong. Love is love.” When asked if tradition has shaped this perception Major said the following; “I do understand and am well aware that many Africans are hostile to the LGBT community. However it is a fallacy to claim that the LGBT community is somehow unAfrican. Human rights are universal and indivisible.
Hiding behind supposed traditional culture is an abhorrent pretext for violating human rights. The LGBT community is often also picked on as an entirely innocent scapegoat scapegoat for problems (and hangups) that lie elsewhere. Ironically, the tradition that creates a negative attitude towards members of the LGBT community in Africa is based on a narrow, “à la carte” and selective interpretation of certain scripture that ignores the wider lessons of scripture; moreover, there are multiple examples of pre-colonial LGBT acceptance and tradition throughout Africa.” Irene has a lot of hopes for her “Gay in Africa” campaign. She hopes that she can save lives outside of just raising awareness. Her overall goal is that the awareness will translate to laws that protect the LGBT community in Africa.
“My goal is to boost awareness about the issues but more importantly we want to see the law changed to end homophobia and discrimination against the LGBT community, we want to see attitudes changed so that extra-judicial persecution and violence ends and we would like to consider specific ideas such as local support groups and safe-houses/safe-spaces. It shameful that it is necessary to remind people that it is not right to persecute or kill others. Period.” You can follow Irene on instagram for more information on how to support the Gay in Africa campaign.