African Human Rights Coalition, the only organization in America and globally that works exclusively with LGBTQI+ people forcibly displaced in and from African countries, is commemorating the 34th annual National Coming Out Day by reminding that it is almost impossible for most LGBTQI+ people in African countries, to come out safely.
National Coming Out Day promotes the ability to come out safely, where LGBTQI+ people can live freely and happily. All people, whether young, old, of any race or religion, notwithstanding place of birth, nationality or domicile ought to be free to live according to their innate human sexuality and gender identity.
This ideal begs for safe spaces, resources, and services – all a concomitant of full acceptance and funding.
This is the time to visit our part. How do we in occidental countries help or hurt the space for our African Family, living in over 54 countries of which 32 criminalize, to come out safely and live freely. What are we doing to contribute to change? Are we listening to or treading on the toes of those with lived experience by recolonizing through how we present our displeasure with what we perceive as hateful homophobia, etc.?
What are we doing to understand the complexities of criminalization? Blandly calling an African criminalizing country “homophobic” is counterproductive to understanding the cultural complexities, the history, and the ongoing colonization by religious extremists. What are we doing to support those in unsafe environments? Safe shelters, food, medical, psychosocial, livelihood project support? Here is an option: DONATE – Lest we forget UNHCR and the WFP can use your support too… What are we doing to create paths for the forcibly displaced migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, as we face the reality that when one is subject to criminalization, one may as well be a “bank robber.”
Unless much more funding and effort is applied, shifting the current conditions toward decriminalization, tolerance, acceptance, and equality, is decades away.
Let us ask these questions on the very day we honor the coming out of the privileged or the courageous. Please feel free to reach out to African Human Rights Coalition today to hear more about how you can partner for change and support.
In the meantime may this NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY be honored for what it means to all who dare and those who wish for…..
Melanie + the AHRC Team
Melanie Nathan | she/her/hers
African Human Rights Coalition
Executive Director AfricanHRC.org