Barbados: To stop violence, first stop anti-LGBTQ music

Here’s how the anti-transgender song “Sex Change” incites violence. (Second of two articles. The first is “LGBT community targets anti-transgender song”)

Graphic for the song

Graphic for the song “Sex Change” on YouTube.

Stevia Arthur explains how the song “Sex Change” threatens violence against the LGBT community in Barbados. Arthur is one of the petitioners in the legal challenge to the Barbadian anti-sodomy law.


From the age of 4, I knew that I was different. Although I was assigned female at birth, my mother often remarks that it was a task to get me to wear or do “girl” things. I ALWAYS jumped at the chance to make my appearance more masculine, even though I didn’t know the difference between masculinity or femininity.

Fast forward 28 years and I have been harassed in Barbados by the average Joe on the street for dressing “like a man.” I have even been told that I need “some good penis” to change me. Because of my appearance I have not gotten jobs for which I was qualified, forcing me to live a life of poverty, and worrying if I would have a roof over my head. I have gone days without food so that I could save the bus fare to go to job interviews. Despite my enticing resume, I still would not be employed because, to paraphrase an HR Manager, having me be as part of their organisation would cost a company business as they would appear to support the “LGBT agenda”.

I suffered many years of depression as a result of these incidents and the fact that I was subjected to sexual abuse because of my appearance and sexual orientation.

Having this be my lived experience from childhood, I am extremely traumatized but the fact that this song [“Sex Change”] is allowed on the airwaves in Barbados and in a national government-run competition. We all know that music can incite violence. Study after study has shown this.

In Jamaica, where the anti-gay law carries “only” a maximum 10 years’ sentence, compared to Barbados, where it is life imprisonment, homophobia and homophobic attacks are at alarming levels. Research conducted by the University of the West Indies from 2012 highlighted “murder music” as a major factor in this homophobia. Stopping anti-LGBTQ music is therefore essential to preventing homophobic and transphobic attacks.

Earlier this year, a Barbadian transgender woman was attacked with a meat cleaver and despite the obvious attempt on her life police chose not to act swiftly in apprehending her assailant. In previous years, Trans women have been attacked by strangers for just being out in public, not to mention, a recent Kadooment Day when a member of the LGBTQ community was pelted with large stones.

“It’s an insult to GOD to say that HE made you INCORRECTLY. You ARE whatever sex GOD designed you to be. Anything else is MADNESS!” 

This is the tagline of the music video posted on YouTube. The tagline alone sets the tone for listeners who are already anti-LGBT to feel grounded in their hate.

With violence already on the rise in Barbados, now is NOT the time to provide musical encouragement to vilify and denigrate a vulnerable community.

Persons argue that this song simply reflects what social commentary has always been. The problem with such reasoning is that this song invites persons who mask their hatred as Christianity to feel as though their bigotry has a firm ground on which to stand. The same people who show themselves to be pro violence toward the LGBT community when they post comments under any social media article that mentions the community.

Violence doesn’t stay online, though; it begins to manifest as physical violence once people feel that they can justify their actions or have the support of a nation behind them. If you think this is an exaggeration, note that in defense of this song, an emcee in the tent supporting the song, reportedly responded to the protest of a lesbian in the crowd in the following manner:

“Is there a doctor in the house? We need some ‘tryadick’ medication for this lesbian”


Every one is entitled to their opinion but when you use your platform to share an opinion that hurts people, to incite others to hate without any actual knowledge, and fuel those who already think they are entitled to dictate what is right, wrong, tolerable and/or acceptable in society, it is downright unacceptable.

This hate must not be celebrated at a national event. Recently the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued an advisory opinion obligating states like Barbados to respect the right to gender identity and expression of all citizens. The government of Barbados must therefore immediately remove “Sex Change” from the Pic-O-De-Crop competition.

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Barbados: LGBT community targets anti-transgender song

The LGBT community in Barbados hopes to block the anti-transgender song “Sex Change” from being allowed to compete in the government-sponsored Pic-o-de-Crop music contest. (This is the first of two articles. The second is “To stop violence, first stop anti-LGBTQ music.”)

Loop News Barbados reported:

LGBT community criticizes ‘Sex Change’ song

Ro-Ann Mohammed (Photo courtesy of Loop News Barbados)

Ro-Ann Mohammed (Photo courtesy of Loop News Barbados)

The sweetest summer festival has been injected with a dose of bitter following a performance in a calypso tent over the weekend.

House of Soca performer Billboard [Paul “Billboard” Murrell] ruffled the feathers of the local LGBT community with a song entitled ‘Sex Change’ which has prompted spokesperson, Ro-Ann Mohammed, to release a statement denouncing the song.

The “problematic song”, according to Mohammed, is a deliberate effort to smear the lifestyles of LGBT people, particularly transgender people.

In the song, Billboard, who has made it to the semi-finals of the MQI Pic-o-de-Crop competition, speaks about the efforts of transgender people to change their body to assume another sex. He, in a very condescending way, tells them no matter what steps you take to alter your appearance or body structure, you are still the same on the inside.

According to the statement, following Billboard’s performance, there was an exchange between the tent’s emcee, Yolanda Holder, and a member of the LGBT community identified as Shelly, who is a lesbian.

This exchange allegedly involved the emcee telling the audience, “Is there a doctor in the house? We need some ‘tryadick’ medication for this lesbian”, referring to Shelly. Shelly then took to the stage to affirm her confidence as a LGBT member.

But the young lady was reportedly left shaken and hurt by the encounter.

The statement from Mohammed said:

“This entire scenario brings light to the rampant and unwarranted hostility, intolerance and atmosphere of discrimination against gender and sexual minorities. LGBT people are expected to have their identities criticised, mocked, scrutinised and left to be public objects of speculation without expressing the hurt and frustration that comes with internalising such hate. “

The LGBT community, the statement said, continues to be victims of homophobia and bigotry, yet when they speak out, they are further chastised for such.

The group admonished Barbadians to focus on “uplifting the vulnerable and celebrating differences” as opposed to putting down those who are different.

The LGBT community also urged allies, supporters and interested persons to lend their support to the cause on July 22 at the Pride Barbados Parade.

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Trinidad: Getting Christian messages all wrong

Conservative Christians in Trinidad remain upset over the court ruling in April that overturned the nation’s anti-sodomy law. But Anglican priest the Rev. Sean Major-Campbell says the Christian protesters misunderstand what Jesus preached.

TT Cause marchers in May 2018 declare: "Keep the buggery law" (Photo courtesy of Trinidad and Tobago Newsday)

Trinidad marchers in May 2018 declare: “Keep the buggery law” (Photo courtesy of Trinidad and Tobago Newsday)

Jamaica-based Major-Campbell wrote this letter to the editor of Trinidad & Tobago Newsday:

Getting Christian messages all wrong

It is with sadness that I reflect on the state of the Caribbean church as I look at the march staged by TT Cause against a minority group which belongs to the LGBTQ community.

At best, the march is an excellent affirmation of democracy being alive and well in TT. It is also good to see members of the church being confident in expressing their views publicly in a country that clearly protects religious freedom and the diverse nature of their plural society.

Anglican priest the Very Rev. Fr. Sean Major-Campbell, host of the conference, explained that speakers would review the history of criminalization of LGBTIQ people, identify the current position of different Christian groups, analyze anti-LGBT attitudes, and -- he hopes -- propose an international approach to ending the criminalization of LGBTIQ people.

Anglican priest the Rev. Fr. Sean Major-Campbell. (Colin Stewart photo)

On the other hand, it is embarrassing to see fellow Christians getting so much wrong with regard to what were supposed to be Christian messages. Some of the placards betrayed the ignorance prevailing the church and the willingness of genuine believers who get led astray as they support messages which they have not critically assessed themselves. Let us have a look at some of these unfortunate statements.

“Protect children; keep the buggery law.” Even conservative thinkers would agree that this makes no sense. Children should always be protected whether or not there is a buggery law.

“Don’t remove the buggery law. Consider the children.” This is another excellent example of post hoc fallacy. It suggests that having the buggery law causes the protection of children. One does not have to be a progressive thinker to understand that correlation is not causation.

There was also one that paraded, “God’s law is truth.” Maybe it is time for the church throughout the Caribbean to appreciate that the role of democracy in a plural society is never to determine “God’s law” or “God’s truth.” Our governments do not do governance by theocracy.

I like how this provides an excellent example of yet again the post hoc argumentation used by TT Cause. “We are a nation under God. We cannot go forward without him … Keep the buggery law.” Anyone who is into church language and culture will readily find appeal in the first two statements. How many will however realise that the last statement has absolutely nothing to with the former two?

Then there is, “Protect the natural family. Keep the buggery law.” What is the natural family? Is it the extended family or the blended family or the nuclear family or the mixed family? What is this? How does “keep the buggery law” protect any family? By the way, which families produce a gay child?

By now readers would have gotten the trend of the fallacies. I will therefore not elaborate on “Family first. Keep the buggery law.”

“Politicians defend our freedom and our constitution.” Yes. This should always be promoted. Note though that this applies to all the citizens of TT. The call to “Protect freedom of speech” must of necessity apply to all citizens too.

Did the holder of this placard “No to cultural colonialism” make any sense of it?

The time has come for us to bring critical thinking to our Christian heritage and seek more to follow the early Jesus movement versus the crass fundamentalism being spread by American evangelicalism which has lost its way.

Anglican priest and advocate for human rights

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Cameroon marchers seek safety for human rights activists

Hundreds marched through the capital of Cameroon on July 13 to protest violence against human rights defenders. It is the fourth such march, held annually on the anniversary of the murder of journalist and LGBT rights activist Eric Ohena Lembembe.

Marchers in Yaoundé, Cameroon, celebrate the Day of Remembrance of the Fight Against Violence Targeting Human Rights Defenders. (Photo courtesy of Steeves Winner)

Marchers in Yaoundé, Cameroon, celebrate the Day of Remembrance of the Fight Against Violence Targeting Human Rights Defenders. (Photo courtesy of Steeves Winner)

EXCLUSIVE REPORT. We need your financial support to continue challenging homophobia.

By Steeves Winner

Following the assassination of human rights defender Eric Ohena Lembembe on July 15, 2013, in  Yaoundé, human rights organizations teamed up to organize a protest march seeking safety for people advocating on behalf of  sexual minorities, children, rape victims, foreigners, drug users, sex workers, rights of law enforcement personnel, , women and people living with HIV / AIDS.

LGBT rights activist Eric Lembembe of Cameroon was murdered in July 2013. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

LGBT rights activist/journalist Eric Lembembe of Cameroon was murdered in July 2013. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Taking the lead was Lembembe’s organization, Camfaids (the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS), which still fights against AIDS and still seeks recognition of the human rights of LGBTI people.

This year’s march and related events had the theme “The Human Rights Defender: Responsible for His Own Safety.”  The events, held from July 13 to 15, included panel discussions, a round-table discussion, a football match, a visit to Lembembe’s grave and a thanksgiving mass.

The march was held July 13 on Avenue Foé.  It was peaceful, with security provided by law enforcement personnel under the jurisdiction of the Mfoundi district police commander. More than 200 people took part, carrying banners and signs and wearing T-shirts with peaceful messages such as “The Human Rights Defender Fights for Peace.”

A panel discussion focused on improving communication between government officials and civil society organizations, seeking a secure partnership. Panelists included a human rights defender, a commissioner, a police sub-commander, a deputy and a journalist.

On July 14, a round table at Camfaids headquarters brought together about 30 human rights defenders to discuss the theme: “How to protect the work of the Human Rights Defender in a  legal vacuum.” At the end of this meeting, participants decided to continue meeting to focus on peaceful action to deal with the problems that human rights defenders face in Cameroon.

The football match, held at the Mimbomam stadium, pitted a team of human rights defenders against a team of military firefighter (who won the match).

The final activities, on Sunday, July 15, were the visit to Lembembe’s grave at the Etoudi cemetery and the thanksgiving mass.

Marchers in Yaoundé, Cameroon, celebrate the Day of Remembrance of the Fight Against Violence Targeting Human Rights Defenders. (Photo courtesy of Steeves Winner)

Marchers in Yaoundé, Cameroon, carry banners as part of Day of Remembrance of the Fight Against Violence Targeting Human Rights Defenders. (Photo courtesy of Steeves Winner)

Steeves Winner, the author of this article, is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at

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Goal of diaspora fund drive: LGBTQI rights in the Caribbean

The new Caribbean Can Rainbow Fund has been established to allow members of the Caribbean diaspora community and concerned allies to contribute to the effort to safeguard the rights of LGBTQI people in the region. Jamaican/Canadian activist Maurice Tomlinson explains.


Image promoting the Caribbean Can Rainbow Fund (Photo courtesy of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network)

Image promoting the Caribbean Can Rainbow Fund (Photo courtesy of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network)

In 2012 I was forced to flee my native Jamaica for my husband’s country of Canada. This occurred because a Jamaican newspaper published an unauthorized photo of our same-sex wedding on their front page with the caption: “Jamaican Gay Activist Marries Man in Canada” and I immediately started receiving a flood of vicious death threats.

I was teaching law at a local university at that time and one of my students proceeded to post my teaching schedule and a description of the car that I drove as a comment to the online article.

I was devastated and felt both betrayed and scared. I thought that I could not return to teach at that university for the upcoming semester because my safety was so compromised. I had no faith in Jamaican police, which had previously ignored my other requests for help in investigating death threats associated with my activism for LGBT human rights on the island.

Maurice Tomlinson

Maurice Tomlinson

Although most of my students had probably suspected that I was gay, I never confirmed their suspicions because, among other things, Jamaica criminalizes all forms of male-sex intimacy with a maximum sentence of ten years at hard labour. And once released convicted persons would be required to register as sex offenders and always carry a pass or face a JA$1Million (about US$9,000) fine PLUS up to a year imprisonment for each offence of not having their pass. My same-sex marriage had also been recently banned because of a constitutional amendment sponsored by fear-mongering right-wing Christian extremists. These included a Canadian law lecturer who testified before Jamaica’s Parliament about the supposed “threat” that same-sex marriage posed to society, based on the experience of marriage-equality in Canada.

I was devastated at having to leave my job teaching law, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And more so because I though that by fleeing I had let the homophobic bigots win. I was also teaching discrimination law to the President of Jamaica’s Senate and I wanted to ensure that at least one of our senior politicians knew the truth about discrimination faced by the country’s LGBT community. So, after a month’s absence, I decided to fly to Jamaica every week from Toronto to continue teaching my courses for the rest of the semester. My husband strenuously objected, but as a former Toronto Police officer he helped me devise a security protocol, which resulted in me being largely a prisoner while I was in the island.

At the end of the semester I relocated permanently to Canada and I was soon employed to teach law at another university. At that institution I had none of the restrictions that plagued me in Jamaica about expressing my sexuality or discussing my husband, who also taught at the university. And I reveled in this new sense of freedom.

However, soon after I begun teaching I noticed a student (who I soon discovered was originally from Trinidad) staring sternly at me in class. He rarely smiled, and I thought that he was offended by my open discussions of my sexuality. Up until April of this year Trinidad was one of the last remaining countries in the western hemisphere that criminalized same-sex intimacy and anti-gay religious sentiment was popular among Trinidadians. But I was not deterred by this student’s stares because I knew that in Canada I was at least legally protected from harassment. So, a repeat of the sense of dread brought on by the betrayal of my Jamaican student was unlikely.

It turns out that I could not have been more wrong about this Trinidadian-Canadian student. At the end of the semester he handed me a note confiding that he was himself gay, and that I was the first gay black teacher that he had encountered. He said that he was also inspired to come out to his family and friends because of my example.

I was left speechless and humbled by his disclosure and we eventually became Facebook friends.

I am quite prolific on Facebook, but he rarely comments. However, he recently sent me another note that was again very moving. It is shared below:

Hi Maurice. I hope that you and Professor Decker [my husband] are doing well. Just wanted to give you a quick reminder that people all over the world are inspired by the work that you do. When it gets difficult, and I’m sure it does, remember that you offer enough light to lead many of us out of the darkness. I didn’t come out till I was 30. Conservative Baptist family and straight homophobic friends made it very difficult for me. I felt like I would be alone in the world if I did. When I walked into the first class that I had the privilege of being taught by you in my first year of university I saw someone that I wanted to be like. A strong, well educated, well spoken, funny, gay black man. You gave me that inspiration and courage that I needed to send out an email to my friends and family a few weeks later. Please continue to do what you do. We need you more than you know.

Canadian HIV AIDS Legal Network logoI have since left UOIT and now work full-time with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network where I lead the organization’s efforts challenging anti-gay laws and policies in the Caribbean. These archaic British colonially-imposed statutes contribute to the region having the second-highest HIV prevalence rate worldwide after sub-Saharan Africa. Jamaican men who have sex with men (MSM) also have the highest HIV prevalence rate in the western hemisphere, if not the world, 33%. The country’s draconian anti-sodomy law and the homophobia that it engenders drives MSM underground away from effective HIV prevention interventions.

Initially I represented a claimant in a legal challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law but when he dropped the case because of death threats that he and his family received I decided to take his place. I opted to use my privilege of being able to leave Jamaica and escape/insulate myself from these threats to ensure that this critical matter did not die. The case is before the country’s Court of Appeal and awaiting a judgment (due July 31) on whether the country’s Public Defender can join in supporting my claim. Ten anti-gay religious groups were previously granted permission to be in the case to oppose me.

Yvonne Chisholm (left), pro bono counsel, and Maurice Tomlinson (center), Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network senior policy analyst, listen as petitioner Alexa Hoffman (right) speaks at June 2018 press conference announcing lawsuit against the Barbados "buggery" law. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network)

Yvonne Chisholm (left), pro bono counsel, and Maurice Tomlinson (center), Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network senior policy analyst, listen as petitioner Alexa Hoffman (right) speaks at June 2018 press conference announcing their challenge to the Barbados “buggery” law. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network)

In addition, I am working with local partners in other Caribbean countries to challenge similar anti-sodomy laws. For example, on June 6 we filed a case in Barbados, where the anti-sodomy law is the worst in the western hemisphere, life imprisonment. We are also sponsoring Caribbean Pride events, conducting police LGBT sensitivity trainings, fostering inclusive religious dialogue, among various other initiatives to change hearts and minds, as well as anti-gay laws.

All this work will require an investment of significant resources to help the Caribbean jettison its largely imported legacy of homophobia. We have therefore launched a “Caribbean Can Rainbow Fund” so that global allies can join us in this incredibly important work.

As my Trinidadian-Canadian student taught me, the Caribbean LGBT liberation work will have positive ripple effects even in the Global North because: “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

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Inspired by Trinidad, India weighs ending its anti-gay law

The Trinidad court that overturned the Caribbean nation’s anti-sodomy law has played a role 9,000 miles away, where the Indian Supreme Court is weighing whether to overturn the similar anti-gay law there.

LGBTI rights advocates in Trinidad celebrate court ruling overturning that country's anti-sodomy law. (Photo courtesy of

LGBTI rights advocates in Trinidad celebrate court ruling overturning that country’s anti-sodomy law. (Photo courtesy of

Both nations inherited the law from their years as British colonies.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, speaking in opposition to the Indian law Section 377 in a court session last week, said it is based on “archaic Judeo-Christian norms of collective morality. This section deems any instance of non-procreative, heterosexual intercourse as a unnatural, and warranting of a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life.”

Rohtagi criticized the language of the law, which criminalizes sexual activity that is “against the order of nature.” First Post quoted him as saying:

“It uses the word ‘order of nature’. What is this order? It is the Victorian morals of 1860s,” argued Rohatgi, emphasised that ancient Indian order was very different. …

“Our order is much older,” Rohatgi said and pointed to Shikhandi in the Mahabharata. [Shikhandi is a character in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, who changes gender from female to male.]

Indian Supreme Court

Indian Supreme Court

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar cited the Trinidad ruling as a reason for overturning Section 377. Similarly, the Trinidad court, in its decision to overturn the Trinidad anti-sodomy law, had cited an earlier ruling of the Indian Supreme Court.

Activist Jason Jones, a native of Trinidad living in the U.K., attended the rally. (Photo courtesy of Edwin Sesange)

In London, Trinidadian/British activist Jason Jones celebrates the victory in his lawsuit to overturn Trinidad’s anti-LGBT laws — and pushes for other Commonwealth countries to follow suit. (Photo courtesy of Edwin Sesange)

The online Trinidadian news site reported that Jason Jones, the appellant in the Trinidad case, welcomed the role his case was playing in India’s Supreme Court:

“I could not be more proud to see my name and Trinidad & Tobago being used to help free MILLIONS of LGBT people in India from the shackles of criminalisation. A great moment for me, my legal team, our Country and our Judiciary,” he said. …
[Indian] Senior advocate Arvind Datar cited the case of Jason Jones vs Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, saying there is nothing against the order of nature in same-sex acts.

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2 men help homeless boys, have sex with them, then are arrested

After sheltering two homeless boys and having sex with them, two homosexual men were arrested and jailed in Buea in the English-speaking region of Cameroon.

Dschang is in Cameroon's Ouest province about 100 miles from the Nigerian border.

Buea is in coastal southwest Cameroon, just west of the commercial capital of Douala.

By Steeves Winner

Milo (a pseudonym), a middle-aged gay man, is the owner of a financial business in Buea, where he lives alone in an apartment.

During the week of June 25, he met two homeless boys on the street and invited them to stay with him.

He soon contacted his friend Gilles (also a pseudonym) to tell him about his two guests. The two men then had sex with the underage boys.

After a week, Milo told the boys that they had to leave. They told him they had nowhere to go, but on July 3 they were on the streets again.

Buea is in the English-speaking area of Cameroon, which has been subject to political unrest and is under a nighttime curfew, enforced by  a strong police presence.

Late on the night of July 3, police stopped the two boys as they walked through the streets .

Under questioning, the boys told police they had lived “at the apartment of a gentleman who slept with us.” They told police the location of Milo’s home.

Police went there and arrested Milo, who confessed what he had done and also mentioned Gilles. Police asked Milo to invite Gilles over for a visit and Milo did so.

When Gilles arrived, he was surprised to see the police. They arrested him and took the pair to the police station.

The two boys were released. Their current location is unknown.

Milo and Gilles remain incarcerated, awaiting trial on charges of homosexuality and sexual abuse of a minor.

Steeves Winner, the author of this article, is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at

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Generous donors let us feed victims of Cameroon homophobia

Money for food for three emaciated gay prisoners is on its way to Cameroon, thanks to the generosity of donors to the Not Alone / Pas Seul project.

“Successfully Funded,” declares the Pas Seul / Not Alone page on

The Paris-based crowdfunding site Ulele yesterday declared the Not Alone / Pas Seul project a fully funded success and has released donors’ money for transfer to the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation.

From there it goes to Cameroon for purchase of a portable stove, pots and food for the three imprisoned victims of Cameroon’s anti-homosexuality law, Section 347-bis.

For more information about the Not Alone / Pas Seul project, read this description of it:

For more information about each of the three prisoners, read these articles in this blog:

Click on the image to provide food for 3 emaciated prisoners whose only crime is being gay.

Graphic promoting the Not Alone / Pas Seul project, which will provide food for 3 emaciated prisoners in Cameroon whose only crime is being gay.

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Cameroon: Revealed as gay and lesbian, they’re left homeless

A young gay man was expelled from home in Yaoundé after his family learned that the woman he claimed was his girlfriend was actually just a friend — and a lesbian.

By Steeves Winner

Koko (a pseudonym), age 27, lived at home, his homosexuality unknown by his family, He lived discreetly and sometimes passed off his lesbian friend Harty (also a pseudonym) as if she were his girlfriend.

Harty also lived with her family, who also were in Yaoundé. But one day her sexual orientation was exposed and she was forced to leave her family home.

Not knowing where to go, shecontacted Koko, who agreed to receive her at his family‘s home. Both of them shared his room there.

All went well until Koko’s cousin came for a visit and fell for Hardy. Whenever Koko was away, the cousin harassed her to have sex with him. To make him stop, she told him, “I don’t do that. I am a lesbian. Men do not interest me.

The cousin told the whole family what Harty had said. The family was upset. They said,If you are lesbian, then Koko must be gay. Both of you have to leave this home. We do not allow homosexuals here.”

When Koko returned home, he learned what had happened.He begged his family to let him stay, but they refused. Koko and Harty were evicted and forced out onto the street.

Homeless, they contacted the Camfaids LGBTI rights group, which welcomed them,

After an investigation and interviews by the leaders of the organization, both were accepted as residents of the safe house that Camfaids runs. They can stay there for up to three months while they figure out what their next steps will be.

Hardy has found a job waitressing at a snack bar. Koko doesn’t yet know what he will do.

Steeves Winner, the author of this article, is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at

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Comment: Trans Africans are among many victims of ‘Get the L Out’ protest

A diaspora African activist’s view of the anti-trans protest at last weekend’s London Pride: We must deal with prejudice, discrimination and in-fighting in the LGBTI+ community.

By Edwin Sesange

The LGBTI+ community went into London Pride grappling with racism in the community, but we came out covered with the transphobia sprayed all over us by a group claiming to be advancing the lesbian movement.

The events leading to this year’s London Pride, what happened on the day and after the pride shows that there is an even bigger elephant in the LGBTI community that needs to be addressed and dealt with.

The elephant is prejudice, discrimination and in-fighting. As much as we condemn the messages, views and the platform used by this radical group, the reality is that those views exist within the LGBTI community, and among the British public.

Among the African LGBTI community, the Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists have promoted their divisive ideas, posing more risks to the highly visible black trans community.

Edwin Sesange

I once again condemn the disgraceful acts of the shameless ‘Get the L Out’ group. Even though pride originated from an act of protest, this is not the kind of protest that the heroes of the Stonewall Riots envisaged. The ‘Get the L Out’ action created nothing more than a sense of insecurity, fear and discrimination within the transgender community. I offer my support to the trans community, wherever they are.

Many people have condemned the actions of the protest group and indeed other lesbians have made it public that the group does not represent the views of the entire lesbian community. We must nevertheless accept that they do represent certain divisive views, however limited they are.

This was not an amateurish protest. It was well-coordinated to attract media attention, pushing the boundaries of not breaking the law to achieve maximum bad publicity for pride, instill fear in the trans community, question the government’s actions and break down the community.

The entire LGBTI community should come together to undo the damage caused by ‘Get the L Out’. One has to wonder how such a protest could happen in a country with some of the best anti-discrimination laws and a vibrant LGBTI community.

I do not want to be a conspiracy theorist, but one needs to explore the modus operandi of this group. Is it Pride in London that is under fire or is it the entire LGBTI community under attack? Can we assume that there are issues with all prides in the UK when it comes to the issues raised by this dissenting group or are their issues are only present in London Pride. Are we going to see similar actions taken by the group at other prides? If not, the question should be, why London Pride?

Of course, no one can categorically state that there are no issues with prides in the UK. Indeed, in the past some other organisations have been accused of being too slow on trans rights and inclusion. However, I believe this has generally been dealt with. Therefore, Pride in London and other prides should be given support to deal with similar problems.

The British government is praising itself for the achievements registered for the LGBTI community, however this is being tainted with reports that show that the community is still suffering.

A recent study by Stonewall found that almost half of trans people do not feel comfortable using public toilets through fear of discrimination or harassment. A third of trans people have been discriminated against in restaurants, bars or nightclubs among others.

LGBTI Africans in London demonstrate for recognition of the human rights of LGB and trans people.

More than two in five trans people avoid certain streets because they do not feel safe as an LGBTI person. The list goes on and on. Even though these might seem to be mere numbers and statistics, their consequences can be profound and stay with the victims throughout their lives. The study shows that the trans community is suffering amidst the other strides being made in the community.

The UK government has just hosted the Commonwealth summit of nations of which 36 out of the 53 countries criminalise, persecute, prosecute and discriminate against the LGBTI community in their respective countries. Many campaigners came together to demand that LGBTI rights be discussed on the main agenda of the summit. Indeed, many people have faith in the leadership of the UK government to advocate for LGBTI equality. However, the issues going on within the LGBTI community and the entire British community might be used by anti-LGBTI advocates to justify their ill treatment of LGBTI people in their countries.

This is the time for the British LGBTI community to take a step back and address the issues within its own community before appealing to the outside world to be inclusive.

At the African Equality Foundation we believe that diversity in the LGBTI community should not be viewed as a threat to each other but rather a source of strength and togetherness. We all deserve to be equal.

The LGBTI community will benefit nothing from attacking each other on issues that can easily be dealt with behind closed doors. As a member of the community and a practicing Christian, I draw from the words in Corinthians of St Paul to Christians who were holding prejudiced attitudes towards each other. The simple words are, what would the outside world think of a divisive community?

Every LGBTI person I know is aiming to achieve equal treatment and fairness from the rest of the society. However, we are making a mockery of our struggle through in-house prejudice and discrimination against each other.

As a person of colour who has personally experienced racism and biphobia, among other prejudices, I believe there is lack of knowledge about the importance of anti-discriminatory laws in the UK. Hence a need for organisations such as Pride in London, the African Equality foundation and others to continue raising awareness of such laws.

Pride in London is very important to the community as it brings people and businesses together to celebrate (even though some have their reservations about the participants). We need Pride in London and they should be supported. I strongly believe that a lot has been achieved by Pride in London, and am proud of their achievements. However, more needs to be done to address the issues within the community.

The messages aired by ‘Get the L Out’ are appalling and do not reflect equality, support and respect to the entire LGBTI community but rather triy to downgrade the work done by organisations such as the African Equality Foundation. ‘Get the L Out’ and other similar groups with hateful views should be invited to a meeting to show them our togetherness and to educate them about LGBTIs and the need to fight injustice and discrimination.

The LGBTI community must take a step back and think of how to address the prejudice and discrimination among ourselves without tearing each other down in public.

Author Edwin Sesange, LGBTI rights advocate, director African Equality foundation and a student of Criminology, forensics and Policing at the University of West London

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Source: 76crimes