Christina Engela's picture

Year End 2009

So here we come to the end of another year - and what a year this was! Over this past year a great many things have happened around the world as well as in South Africa.

We have seen the South African General Elections in April - and we have seen, for various reasons, both cause for concern - and hope for the future. Over this past year, with all the threats against our civil rights both in South Africa and around the world, we have seen a renewed interest in the affairs which affect us - namely politics and religion. It goes without saying that apathy is a deadly trap which we must be careful not to fall into. Over the past two years since I first started getting involved in activism I have seen steady increase in awareness and participation, and have been trying very hard to encourage GLBTIQ participation.

"Get involved" I have been telling you, "Get off your ass - before somebody who hates you kicks it." It is very encouraging to me to see that some people finally seem to be getting it.
Christina Engela's picture

What Price Freedom?

It seems almost undeniable that every modern religion has to have an enemy or a scapegoat. Without something to fear, clerics would have nothing to warn against, nothing to unite people under them with.  No Bogie Man or big bad wolf to keep the flock encircling the camp fire in the dark night of the soul, so to speak. Without some threat, real or imaginary, they would have nothing to point fingers at and say THAT is why WE are God's chosen people and THEY are NOT.

An old saying which puts it "just so" for me, goes: "If you believe in God, it is because of the Devil".

Islamic fundamentalists for example, use the USA as their favorite enemy - even though many of the problems they blame on others are of their own making. Likewise, countries like Uganda, suffering from rampant Christian fundamentalism, see fit to blame unbelievable things on the pink community - things which considering the influence and role of American evangelicals there of late, sound exactly like the rhetoric of the US religious right.

Christina Engela's picture

Double Take


South Africa as yet, has remained completely silent on the issue of pink human rights in Africa, specifically Uganda - presumably on the "head-in-the-sand" principle employed by the ostrich - if you ignore it long enough, it will probably go away. Perhaps they are right, but then who am I to criticize? I live in a country which seems increasingly desperate to imitate that other bastion of third-world lunacy, Zimbabwe.

Speaking of lunacy, Rwanda has taken leave of its senses - and democratic practice, and all the lessons we thought they had learned from the tragedy they became famous for, the tragedy that comes from persecuting whole classes of people - by deciding to follow Uganda's example. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but then I suppose I like to believe in the essential goodness of people, even if I am repeatedly proven wrong.

Rwanda is yet another backward African country which officially denies the existence of its own GLBTI citizens and yet sees no contradiction in having to outlaw something which supposedly does not exist. But then, that is probably the whole point of the law?
Christina Engela's picture

Kill The Bill


I have great respect for GLBTI pastors and ministers - and straight clerics, who support their faith's central ethos of love, peace and tolerance - surely they have to bite their tongues a lot!  I doubt I could manage it, but then as an activist I am not expected to.

Many times an older woman, who is a gender activist in the church - and whom I consider a mentor - cautions me not to come across as aggressive because it gives credibility to the patriarchal mindset to just wave me off as "just an angry woman".  Of course, although I do agree with her, that very patriarchal mindset is exactly what makes my point.  I AM angry.  And considering the state of the world today, shouldn't I be?  Shouldn't we all be?  Is it unreasonable to be angry at the manner in which those appointed by us to make decisions are making a right balls-up of things?  Is it not right to be angered by mismanagement, corruption, inaction, injustice, discrimination and human rights violations?
Christina Engela's picture

From The Squeak To The Tail


Have you seen the Uganda issue is finally making the news in SA?  Finally?  After more than a month of international protests and campaigning by human rights bodies?  A month and a half?

Three whole mentions on 5fm news this past Friday morning, plus an enjoyable and lengthy rant on the topic by DJ Gareth Cliff - in the Mail & Guardian and one tiny paragraph I found buried somewhere in the middle of the Herald. What continues to upset me is the broad lack of interest in SA.  No official comment, no acknowledgment of objections or petitions and no protests either.  Over in the US and UK groups are calling for protest action - and gathering outside Ugandan embassies.  That's right, people actually pitch up when you call a protest over there. I have to wonder how many people would turn up for a protest in SA anyway with all the pervasive apathy?  Past experience tends to make me cautious.

The Ugandan Genocide Bill has been widely publicized over the last month and a half - mostly by pink media and advocacy organizations and other NGO's - and mostly not in South Africa.  This proposed new law addresses every possible factor which may be used to corner and further oppress and even destroy GLBTI Ugandans. It adopts a pose that flies in the face of accepted medical practice by grouping all sub-groups of what is known as the pink community (such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex) together, labeling them all "homosexual" and then adding insult to injury by labeling them "un-Ugandan", "un-African" (even "un-Christian") and a "threat" to religion and Ugandan society as well. It even criminalizes heterosexual people who do not betray family members, friends, employees, employers, acquaintances - or anyone they encounter - to the authorities on suspicion of their sexual orientation or gender identity - and rewards them with a 3-year jail sentence.
Christina Engela's picture

A Purpose Driven Genocide



Finally this news breaks on SA media.  Well it's about bloody time!  And I do mean bloody.  Another article also made it into the mainstream media, this time in the Citizen.  I still have to gauge the SA public response to it, but I have an idea there will be quite a few comments in favor of the bill coming from the whack-jobs and wing-nuts.

It seems to me that current events in Uganda influenced by the US religious right are in fact no more than a virulent symptom of problems at home - that these things being said and used by proponents of this "Bill" and the genocide it would ignite, in fact have their origins in the backward deep south "bible belt" of the country most people naively think of as the most liberal and democratic place on Earth.  Why would I say this?  Let's take a look:
Christina Engela's picture

Overturning Democracy

More than fifteen years after the New (New, new, new etc) South Africa and the inception of our visionary Constitution, conservative (and invariably religious fundamentalist) groups and political parties who bitterly oppose any civil rights for GLBTIQ people, still complain about the fact that such decisions which have far-reaching consequences for minority groups, were not put to a popular vote.  Some of these groups have increasingly made it very clear that they intend to pursue means to overturn these rights.

To their minds, democracy is just a numbers game, and the weight of numbers automatically makes something right just because it has been voted on.  Does it?

Perhaps you have noticed the recent trend in the US of voters going to the polls to vote on whether or not gay people deserve to be allowed the courtesy of having the right to marry the people they love?  Last year Proposition 8 in the US brought global awareness of this see-saw battle.

Christina Engela's picture

'Tis A Cold Light That Dawns

Is love a "habit"? Is love not as vital to human beings as the air we breathe?

Some people call the links to articles I provide in arguments against bigotry and against the use of religion as a tool to oppress people and as an agent of hypocrisy, "trying to justify" my views on human sexuality and gender and even religion.

Justify? Science doesn't lie. Religion written in dead languages on the other hand is open to interpretation. How can it not be, without evidence or fact to back it up? Add to the lack of substantiating evidence, the documentary proof that many people, and great leaders, have used religion and religious scripture as a tool to "justify" the evil they have done - and do - in the name of God. Whether or not you are religious yourself, you should be able to see examples of this all around you in daily life.

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