The Need to Save a Life

The most fundamental of all human rights is the Right to Life. It is the most inalienable as it is enshrined in the constitutions of most countries around the world. However a critical look at most constitutional draftings shows an omission of sexual minorities. This is not surprising especially in African States where part of the colonial hangover were laws out rightly criminalising same sex relations with harsh penalties for those who indulged in the practice. We remember the arrogance of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who said that there were no gay people in the country. The coming out of Bisi Alimi in 2004 must have been a rude shock and affront with severe consequences on the man that dared to come out of the closet.

On July 9, Ahmed Ben Amor, the Vice-President of Shams, an LGBT group in Tunisia made an attempt on his life by consuming a large quantity of harmful drugs. This is indeed tragic and disturbing for human rights conscious Africans. While many constitutions uphold the right to life as earlier pointed out, many in the African continent are extremely homophobic and endorse the killing, maiming and beating of sexual minorities. There are no ugly consequences for the perpetrators of these human rights abuses with the police not helping matters especially as some law enforcement officers even shamelessly blackmail members of this vulnerable community.

Let us look at what made Amor take that extreme decision. He regularly received death threats and was contending with rejection from his family and society. The dominant religion, Islam didn’t help matters as well. With all these put together, let us be frank ‘Was his life really worth living?’ What was he really looking forward to when he got up in the morning? How did he feel when constant hate mails laden with death threats flooded his inbox and probably his phone via sms?

Some have even gone as far as condemning him for the suicide attempt and called for his prosecution on the grounds that suicide is equally a crime.

This is not the time to apportion blames but to show some love to not only him but the millions of others in Africa who are in similar conditions. How can we make life worth living and something to be enjoyed rather than endured for these sexual minorities? How can we stop the hate in all its ramifications and entrench sturdy punitive measures for hate apostles? How can we stop the forced anal examinations these men are subjected to alongside the frequent slurs that is their lot? Why should we prevent them from getting treatment for ailments including HIV? Why must we force them to go on exile far away from their families and loved ones just to be assured of the right to life?

Until we do all these, we have no right to judge and worse still condemn those who have been pushed to the wall and want to end the whole misery by taking their own lives? We should stop being hypocritical and make life a truly worthwhile experience for all irrespective of sexual orientation.

Our hearts goes out to him and we wish him speedy recover. We hope he lives long enough to witness the drastic reduction of homophobia in Africa.

One love from us all here!

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