Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gay Man Not Welcome In Graveyard And Exhumed Twice

image Homophobia is a worldwide phenomenon. Each day new incidents occur that help to maintain heterosexual privilege.   From discrimination in employment, housing, health care and acts of violence, heterosexuals   consciously act to ensure that lesbians and gays are treated as less than.  The citizens of a small village in Senegal  acted in what must be considered one of the cruellest fashions to ensure that even in death gays and lesbians are not welcome.

In the village of Thies a man who was presumed to  be gay died of natural causes in a hospital.  Just hours after he was buried in a Muslim cemetery four men had his body exhumed his body, leaving it near his grave. The  police were forced to intervene and the body was reburied.  Not wishing to be stymied in their efforts the man was once again exhumed and this time his body was dumped in front of his family home.

The level of hatred and ignorance it takes to exhume a dead man is incredible. How does his presence in a graveyard cause damage to anyone else?   According to Article 319, paragraph 3 of the Senegal Penal Code homosexuality is illegal. It states,   “whoever commits an impure act or an unnatural act with another person of the same sex” risks “a five year prison term” and a fine between 100,000 F CFA and 1,000,000 F CFA (i.e. between 150 and 1500 euros). I am quite sure that this man is not the first person to have been guilty of breaking a law to be buried in this cemetery.

"The life of a homosexual man in Senegal is difficult because he is always forced to hide his identity, his needs," said Serif, a 28-year-old outreach worker who is gay. "He lives in perpetual fear, in hiding from his family, his colleagues, even health centers. If I were to make known that I am homosexual, I risk being physically attacked. It has already happened."

Gor-digen are a group of men who dress in women's clothes and perform female gender norms.  They have been a part of Senegalese society for a long time.  In the 1930’s French anthropologists observed what they called men-women in the Wolof tribe. Muslims have repeatedly refused them religious burial, however that should not extend to lying in the same cemetery. There are those that profess that a gay or lesbian identity is not African and is a result of  colonialist oppression, however as long as humans have walked the face of the continent there have been those that are gay, lesbian, and two-spirited.  Rather than concerning themselves with what is not African, they should be concerning themselves with what is human.  Every person deserves to be laid to rest with dignity.

H/T Sisterstalk via twitter

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