South African, perched on the southern most tip of Africa, often feel detached from the rest of the world. Yet we have one of the most well-known and effective constitutions ever written - one of the reasons why, back in the 1980s, South Africa never erupted into a full-scale civil war.
In my late teens and early twenties, homosexual acts were illegal in South Africa, and I was arrested twice by the South African Police for solicitation. The South African Police would find a very good looking policemen and dress them in plain clothes, allowing them to infiltrate the cruising and cottaging spots in and around Durban. They would then lure you into a situation whereby you could be set up and then they literally pounced on you, arresting you for solicitation. You would be taken to a police charge office where you would be further belittled and embarrassed in front of all the policeman on duty at the time. I was fortunate I was never physically assaulted by them, however there were incidents of police brutality against openly gay men.
There are deep cultural beliefs in many African communities where being gay is simply not accepted. So even though today in 2014, 20 years after our magnificent constitution was put into effect, outside of the city, in the black townships and in the rural areas, if a gay person is found out by the community, they have to escape with the clothes on their back. The communities are known to believe that gay people are possessed by the devil, and this belief goes back many generations. There are countless cases of gay South Africans being beaten, and even killed, because of their sexual orientation. If it is a lesbian, they are sometimes raped on the belief that this will 'cure' them of this 'disease'. Gay South Africans are often ostracized by their families, friends, communities and even churches.
Those that are fortunate manage to escape or flee to the cities of South Africa - Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban - and a few smaller towns, where being gay is more tolerable or perhaps easier to conceal. However this comes with another set of challenges. These rural or township gay blacks are now left to the peril of the big bad cities. Here they are now extremely vulnerable to prostitution, drugs and crime as a means of survival. Along with drugs and prostitution comes the risk of being infected with HIV.
Many of the African leaders, Uganda for example, are raising mass hysteria amongst the populations they lead against a weak and loving minority. This diverts the attention from the real issues facing their countries so they can continue to rape their citizens of the foreign aid coming into their countries and pursue their own selfish careers in politics and continue with a corrupt cabinet that cannot deliver basic services and needs to the population. Keeping your citizens uneducated is in the best interest of corrupt politicians in Africa. This is the best way to keep them voting for you, as the less the population knows, the more likely they will vote you back into power. As soon as you give someone an education and the freedom to think for themselves you stand the risk of them revolting or voting you out. This is one of the very reasons that the education system in South Africa is slowly collapsing. It is in the interests of the existing corrupt leaders to continue lowering the pass rates of schools, and make entrance into universities accessible to anyone, thus, over time creating a population that cannot think for themselves which will guarantee the existing leaders their positions in government offices.
I have never understood how gay people, who are merely wanting and seeking love are treated worse than rapists and murderers by their leaders. It's time the world stood as one as they did against colour discrimination in the 1970's and 1980's in South Africa, and stood as one against sexual discrimination, because really, what is the difference?
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