1. Robert West
    June 10, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    Once again, we are having a conversation about Africa, and the face of the movement is a white person. This is growing so tired. “The reality is that traditional/cultural and religious conservatism often combine to deny LGBTI people (and in particular those who have been historically excluded because of race and ethnicity) their basic human and citizenship rights.” Wrong! The indigenous cultures of the world pretty much all reserved a place (usually a special place) for LGBT people. People who look like Ms. Cox, and I want to stress that I appreciate her, are the folks who showed up with what would become NEW traditions FORCED upon indigenous people. You don’t get to screw everything up AND take credit for being the only one who knows how to fix it.

  2. Mark/Editor
    June 10, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

    Ps. Robert, if you’d like to present your perspective and experience in column form drop me an email at editor @

  3. Mark/Editor
    June 10, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

    Robert, somehow my first comment didn’t show up. I appreciated your comments. If you look under the category “equality frontlines” you’ll see that this is part of a series of profiles of people around the world, not just Africa. The first was of Victor Mukasa, a (black) transgender man who fled Uganda. I did not know Sharon’s color when I contacted her and didn’t consider it germane to what these pieces are intended for. Below is a link to Victor’s profile. I would be more than happy to include others if you have suggestions (editor AT . I’ve been contacting individuals I was put in touch with who are working in social justice globally. Thanks again for making your point. – Mark/Edtior

  4. Sharon Ludwig
    June 11, 2013 @ 10:24 am

    I would like to write in response to Robert as an acknowledgement ~ that yes, I am white and that I do not by any means, claim to be the face of the movement. I am not only white, I am middle class, I live in suburbia and not in a township, I can move freely and relatively safely and have enough to eat.
    I am also a woman, a lesbian and a lesbian of faith ~ a vocal one. I have been raped and understand what it feels like to navigate the court system. I am not suggesting that I was raped because I was lesbian. I live in the same patriarchal society where men feel they have a right to women’s bodies.

    I am just one person who works on the ground with the realities that impact on the lives of LGBTI’s.
    Robert quotes the following: “The reality is that traditional/cultural and religious conservatism often combine to deny LGBTI people (and in particular those who have been historically excluded because of race and ethnicity) their basic human and citizenship rights”. Wrong

    A widely held view here on the ground and in the House of Traditional Leaders and Contralesa, is that homosexuality is Un-African. We recently had a piece of legislation ~ The Traditional Leaders Bill, which proposed removing a clause which contains protection from discrimination on the grounds of “sexual orientation” from the bill of rights.

    It is this thinking, to which I was referring, that impacts so negatively on LGBTI’s safety and wellbeing. This combined with a society that for the most part, is generally deeply rooted in some or other faith/religious belief that is so often fundamental and dogmatic, that makes for a society which is hostile and discriminatory.

    I don’t claim to have the answers of how we fix this. All I do know is this, I want everyone to have enough because there is enough, I want everyone to be safe and not to have their bodies violated because some people feel they have a right to do that. I will use my life to do what I can.

  5. Vanessa
    June 12, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    While I agree with Robert that Eurocentric models of social organisation and governance imposed upon the colonised ‘third’ world (we must remember that Europe itself went through long periods of colonisation, albeit by other Europeans) brought about changes in social organisation and understanding of ‘the human condition’, we must stop pretending that culture and tradition are not used in modern-day colonised societies to oppress and exclude people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and ‘presentation’. Inasmuch as modern-day indigenous societies (and in this context I use the word indigenous advisedly as there is much contention about what/ whom constitutes indigenous) are sexist, so they are heterosexist. Culture and tradition do not remain static – they morph and adapt to changing contexts. Unfortunately in Africa (as in many other regions around the globe where indigenous people are struggling to assert their humanity and rights), culture and tradition are used as ‘weapons’ to deny women and LGBTI people their inalienable right to live with and in dignity. Further, while I would contest Sharon speaking on behalf of Black South Africans, I have no problem with her speaking to the issues confronting them. Also, remember, Robert, that culture/tradition and religion are not the sole preserve of Black people (some Black people are Christians too, and white people have traditions too).