Posts Tagged ‘Tiwonge Chimbalanga’

Asylum for Malawi Couple in the U.S.?

June 2nd, 2010 No comments

Considering the dismal future and potential asylum request of the recently pardoned Malawi couple, Andrew Sullivan says:

“Come to America.”

Is he serious? Is this really the best place for them to seek asylum? Tiwonge Chimbalanga identifies as a trans-woman. They won’t be able to marry here, either. In many places, neither of them will have protection if fired from their jobs; Chimbalanga wouldn’t have anti-discrimination protection in most places. And I haven’t even gotten to the horrible violence that the most vulnerable among us — the trans-community — routinely suffer.

Despite his trenchant criticisms of the legal treatment of the LGBT community, Sullivan retains an immigrant’s zeal for his adopted nation (in this regard, it’s telling that he uses the patriotic “America” rather than “U.S.”). But surely a moment’s sober reflection would have told him that there are several obviously better choices for them in Europe. I know, I know — they have their own nativist movements, and violence against “outsiders” isn’t exactly unknown there. But at least they’d be assured that the law would treat them as full and equal citizens.

Equality and Backlash in Malawi and Uganda

May 18th, 2010 3 comments

Consider this quote from a gay rights activist:

“Long before we built a movement…, no one bothered about us. We got away with so many things. When we decided to come out and claim our space, society came harshly against us.

“This implies that we are stepping on people’s toes. People hate to see us free and that’s why oppression of LGBT people is on the rise. One of the indicators of a progressive social movement is when its enemies start organising against it.”

While this might be a statement from, say, an advocate for the repeal of DADT or for marriage equality, in fact it’s from a spokesperson for a group in Uganda. This article from the Guardian discusses recent developments in several African countries, focusing on the backlash against the brave men and women who have begun to come out. Perhaps none is braver than Tiwonge Chimbalanga, one half of the Malawi couple about to be sentenced — for up to fourteen years —  for the “crime” of publicly declaring their marital commitment to each other. Said Chimbalanga:

“I love Steven so much. If people or the world cannot give me the chance and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off to die here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and meaningless.”

This story (and others involving both governmental and citizen actions against their LGBT communities) would be bad enough, but then there’s this:

“This assertiveness is apparently being met by a ferocious backlash from religious fundamentalists and politicians determined to preserve the status quo. It has been described as a proxy war between US liberals and Christian evangelicals, both of which pour in funding and support to further their cause.”

If this indeed a proxy war, there’s only one side to be on: the one that supports people in their efforts to live authentic and fearless lives. Yes, it’s probably true that some well-meaning assistance has blundered in without sufficient awareness of local cultural and religious norms and mores, but their central argument can’t be countered. And consider the other side’s willingness to simply lie in order to rile people up about the evils of homosexuality. Here’s a comment about evangelical Scott Lively, who visited Uganda last year shortly before the introduction of the “gays must die” bill that has become an international lightning rod:

Gay activists have placed on the web a video of Lively telling a Ugandan audience that he “knows more than almost anyone else in the world” about homosexuality. He says that the genocide in Rwanda was carried out by gays, that AIDS is a just punishment for homosexuality and that foreigners are trying to promote homosexuality in Uganda.

It’s all true. Box Turtle Bulletin has posted three videos from Lively here.

Watch this one for the comments summarized above, and so much more.

Lively tells you that he “enjoys gender normalcy.” (Lucky guy.) He also expresses dismay that the Southern Policy Law Center considers him and his message to be “hate.” Oh, and gays were the spark for Nazism. One correction to the story quoted above: He says only that the “Rwandan stuff probably involved these guys.”

The “Rwandan stuff” was something called “genocide.” And where’s his evidence about the “probable” involvement of gays? He doesn’t have it, but this is about scape-goating and incitement based on pseudo-science (to dignify it). And he ends it with the AIDS comment, which is particularly stupid in a country where most of the infections occur from heterosexual sex.

Lively and his fellows have spilled the blood of gay men, lesbians, and transgendered people — ostensibly in the name of religion. But their lies can’t stand against the simple truth of men like Tiwonge Chimbalanga.