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Sierra Leone: Spat upon, I still became an LGBT activist

Mohamed S. Kamara of Sierra Leone, currently living outside the country, describes the difficulties of LGBT rights advocacy in his homeland:

Mohamed S. Kamara

Mohamed S. Kamara: “Gay and lesbians have rights too.”

In Sierra Leone, few are brave enough to advocate for gay rights, which would expose them to persecutions, threats, attacks, provocations and ridicule.

My work and activities with different local and international organisations had raised my awareness about people’s rights, especially gay rights.

But I only volunteered to fight for gay rights after the son of my elder brother was not only beaten but also lost an eye just because he was gay.

Following that ugly incident, I informed Abu Bakarr Renner, the national coordinator for the Kiwanis organization in Freetown, Sierra Leone. We decided to organise a gay awareness campaign, which was launched in December 2011. This campaign was to last for six months.

We never knew that we would come under heavy attack for advocating for gay rights. We were constantly abused, spat on, and sometimes assaulted by people who thought we were filthy, not normal, and immoral. We LGBT activists in Sierra Leone had to go into hiding to save ourselves from homophobic physical and verbal attacks.

David Cameron (Photo by Remy Steinegger via Wikimedia Commons)

David Cameron (Photo by Remy Steinegger via Wikimedia Commons)

I became emboldened in the fight for gay rights in October 2011, when David Cameron, the British prime minister, issued a statement at a world summit to tell African leaders they should support gay rights or risk losing funds from the UK government. I realised that advocacy for gay rights has reached international proportions. I intensified my gay rights activities but came under more pressure from people who hate gays.

I now realise why many people and groups that start to advocate for gay rights quickly abandon their programs and activities. There is no protection for people or groups that are sympathetic to gay issues in Sierra Leone. Going to the police to report incidents related to gay right activism is a waste of time because the police do not treat such matters seriously. Politicians also look the other way when confronted with issues of gay rights. Journalists have been beaten and attacked for writing favorably about gay issues.

Conclusively, gay practice and positive gay-related discussions are a taboo in Sierra Leone. As a friend of mine once told me, the simplest way to put oneself outside the protection of the law in Sierra Leone is to support gay issues.

Mohamed S. Kamara became involved with youth and development after the end of the civil war in Sierra Leone (1991–2002). He has worked as assistant to the secretary–general of the Susan’s Bay Area Development Association, executive member of Kiwanis International Freetown and the International Youth Council – Sierra Leone. He is currently an LGBT activist and a public relations coordinator for Kiwanis.

Sierra Leonean law provides for up to a life sentence for male-male intercourse, according to the latest worldwide report on anti-gay laws by ILGA (International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association).

20 thoughts on “Sierra Leone: Spat upon, I still became an LGBT activist

  1. I hope you will stop that of your gays and lesbian activities wherever you are, we would not allow you to popularise that abominable act in our land …being gay or activist for LGBT there is no room for you guys in Sierra Leone

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    • Mr. Lamin Sesay…Gay and Lesbians have their rights also. Stop the discrimination, stigma, harassment and attacks of gays, when will people wake up to the call of gay and lesbians rights and hearken to the cry of activist? As long as what gays, Lesbians and bisexuals practice do not affects us, we should let them be.

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  2. You are filthy, not normal, and immoral talking for gay people that of no use in this hearth they are the wast product in the universe, I hope you will continue hiding your self, we don’t need them in our society Sierra Leone is blessed, what we know is man to a woman is not man to man, man to man is for the western world right. We know that you are seeking ways of bringing foreign people to popularise that abominable act…but no way for you and others that called your self activist for LGBT.

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    • Dear Foday Kai,

      You’re quite wrong about what you say. I’d suggest that you think about what African activist Eric Lembembe said about gay people: “They exist in all of our families. And we all know that they are mistreated. Would you tolerate this abuse if this were your brother? Would you laugh at it, if this were your sister?”

      LGBT people are our brothers and sisters, some literally in our biological families, some as our Christian or Muslim brothers and sisters. They deserve love and respect, not hatred and disdain.

      — Colin Stewart, editor of this blog

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      • Hi, Mohamed. I obviously agree with you that LGBT people have the right to live, as straight people do. But I see nothing wrong with describing myself.

        God made me straight. God made other people gay. God loves us all. Thank God.

        — Colin Stewart, editor of this blog

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  3. Please permit me to send out a strong warning to these so-called homosexual campaigners to desist from their criminal act of promoting homosexuality among our people, especially our Kids. It is also against our national constitution and therefore criminal. We should not tolerate these people to pollute our society and the minds of our people.

    We don’t care whether it is legal in other countries, that is complete evil and criminal act in the guise of human rights, I think you should campaign for something good other them this abominable act, no way we would allow such practice like gay practice is a taboo in Sierra Leone.

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    • Dear Foday,

      You completely miss the point that LGBT people in Sierra Leone don’t “promote homosexuality.” They are born that way, created that way by God. It is not a choice, no matter how much you insist that it is. You don’t respond when I ask you whether YOU made a choice between homosexuality and heterosexuality. That’s because you were born the way you were.

      Your position makes as much sense as warning that tall people, or short people, or thin people, or wide people should stop being the way they are and stop defending their criminal choice of being tall, short, thin or wide.

      All the best,
      Colin Stewart, editor of this blog

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    • No one is born gay what is your proof by saying some people are born, how can you ask me if I made a choice between homosexuality and heterosexuality I would not answer that question from you because I believed in man and woman, what I want to tell you Colin I hate gay people and their supports.

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      • Dear Foday,

        Well, you’ve made your hatred abundantly clear. I pray that you’ll learn to love, to have compassion in your heart instead of hatred.

        For now, though, I’m going to cut off this conversation.

        — Colin Stewart, editor of this blog

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  4. Hi Colin, I have read all your conversations between you and Foday, the point am looking at your conversation is about hate and love right? in Sierra Leone we don’t allow such practice like what you people call gay practice why not something good.

    I’m an anti-gay as well, whether you are LGBT activist, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender we don’t need you in our society and moreover it is against our country constitution, LGBT campaigners to desist from their criminal act of promoting homosexuality among our people, especially our children they are the future leaders of tomorrow.

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    • Dear Alfred,

      Thanks for your comment. Only in your imagination are there LGBT people “promoting” homosexuality. In reality, they’re not outsiders seeking to spread their way of life. They’re your neighbors and family members seeking the right to live. As an African friend of mine said recently, “They are ordinary people who did not chose to be who they are; they are our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, friends, classmates, colleagues, neighbors, faithful people and
      believers.”

      They deserve your friendship, not your scorn.

      All the best,
      Colin Stewart, editor of this blog

      Like

  5. Dear Foday,
    Same sex through relationship. Throughout history `gays and bisexuals lesbians have been made fun of persecuted or killed .They have been branded as sexual perverts and filthy. People who are against same sex relationships should know that it is the make-up of people in same sex relationship to be what they are.

    Same sex relationships should not affect those who think there is only one accepted way of sexual relationships between a male and a female. If these people in same sex relationship do not go out of the way to condemn heterosexuals why should gays and lesbians and bisexuals condemn. They have the right too to live and work on this earth we are living being heterosexuals or homosexuals we should love one another.

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  6. Pingback: Anti-gay threats, attacks disrupt AIDS fight in Sierra Leone | 76 CRIMES

  7. There’s anti,
    for everything one is against,

    lamine there’s no room for ur ignorance or any1 like u, who holds hate on homosexual matter or ppl..

    Every1 has a choice,
    and every1 deserve’s to b happy ,
    wether u like it or not!

    what u do not like , others might like…
    Let ppl live their life for goodness sake and learn to live ur’s without always lookin down on ppl,

    bcos u’re actin like a hooked fish!.. And
    U’ll b free when u start living ur life

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  8. Dear Miley,

    The truth about LGBT is that Sierra Leoneans/African counties including Jamaica are far behind on the road to LGBT rights. Talking openly about LGBT rights is still a taboo, let alone admitting that one is a gay, bisexual or lesbian. At present, persecution, molestation and provocation area what LGBT`S or their sympathizers face.

    Mohamed S. Kamara
    LGBT Activist

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  9. Good day, and let me express my deep honor and pleasure to the world challenge.

    I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time. I speak about this subject knowing that my own country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2011, when David Cameron, the British prime minister issued a statement at a world summit to tell African leaders they should support gay rights or risk losing funds from the UK government, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT in the west countries have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many youthful people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to defend human rights at home.

    At the present, raising this issue, I know, is sensitive for many people and that the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs. So I am submitting my local and International Journal of Area Studies with respect, accepting, and humility. Even though progress on this front is not easy, we cannot delay acting. So in that spirit, I want to talk about the difficult and vital issues we must address together to reach a global harmony that recognizes the human rights of LGBT citizens all over.

    The primary issue goes to the heart of the subject. Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. Now, of course, 67 years ago, the governments that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were not thinking about how it applied to the LGBT area. They also weren’t thinking about how it applied to indigenous people or children or people with disabilities or other marginalized groups. Yet in the past 67 years, we have come to recognize that members of these groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because, like all people, they share a common humanity.

    This recognition did not occur all at once. It evolved over time. And as it did, we understood that we were honoring rights that people always had, rather than creating new or special rights for them. Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

    It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people or their sympathizers to go scot-free. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek safe haven in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withdrawn from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we in each of these cases, we came to learn that no practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us. And this holds true for inflicting violence on LGBT people, criminalizing their status or behaviour, expelling them from their families and communities, or tacitly or explicitly accepting their killing.

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  10. Pingback: Sierra Leone threat: Stop activism or we’ll spread ebola rumor | 76 CRIMES

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