News in brief
Mugabe “We are not the gays!”
Robert Mugabe, in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly went off script to discuss a topic that he has become internationally known for, his distaste for homosexuality. Mugabe, discussing certain double standards in human rights from western nations:
“We equally reject attempts to prescribe new rights that are contrary to our values, norms, traditions, and beliefs, we are not gays.
Mugabe has a history of making homophobic remarks and as such his comments at the UN were met from the crowd with a few bemused chuckles rather than swift negative backlash.
Mugabe’s previous comments about Obama
These comments are not even the most inflammatory from Mugabe, as he once insinuated that President Obama’s support of legalization of gay marriage came from the fact that Obama himself was gay. Mugabe was quoted as saying:
I’ve just concluded – since President Obama endorses the same-sex marriage, advocates homosexual people and enjoys an attractive countenance – thus if it becomes necessary, I shall travel to Washington, DC, get down on my knee and ask his hand.
Whether Mugabe truly believes this is uncertain, but it does indicate that in Sub-Saharan Africa there is still a culture of homophobia that is stubbornly persisting despite pressure from world leaders to make a change.
A culture of homophobia
While Mugabe might be the only world leader railing against homosexuality his comments are indicative of much of how Sub-Saharan Africa feels about homosexuals. A 2013 Amnesty International Report described a sweeping feeling of homophobia throughout the region with living conditions for homosexuals reaching dangerous lows.
Mugabe, as out of touch as he might seem at the UN, is tapping into a very real feeling in Sub-Saharan Africa against homosexuals. This feeling has since been fueled by Mugabe and other leaders in Africa who wish to create an external struggle with the West in order to consolidate their own political power and deflect criticisms for violations of human rights in other areas.
Perhaps the ultimate irony to Mugabe’s speech is that he dedicated much of his time to talk of how gender equality and the empowerment of women was key to accomplishing the new Sustainable Development Goals. However, Mugabe’s progressivism does not extend to homosexuals. Look below for his full speech.