Mozambique’s former president calls for gay rights in Africa

Joaquim Chissano has called on African leaders to remember the immortal words of Nelson Mandela and to fight for equality

Mozambique’s former president calls for gay rights in Africa
20 February 2014

Mozambique’s former president has called for Africa to respect and stop introducing harsher penalties for homosexuality.

Joaquim Chissano, who served as the country’s second president from 1986 to 2005, has reacted to Nigeria introducing one of the most draconic homophobic laws in the world.

Not only does the law ban gay marriage and gay rights organizations, but any person who even provides services to someone LGBT could be imprisoned.

Chissano, the man credited with transforming war-torn Mozambique into one of the most successful African democracies, is now calling on all leaders to listen to the words of the late Nelson Mandela.  

Writing an open letter for The African Report, Chissano said: ‘I encourage leaders to take a strong stand for fundamental human rights, and advance the trajectory for basic freedoms.

This means pushing for three priorities that lie at the heart of sustainable development: the empowerment of women and gender equality; the rights and empowerment of adolescents and youth; and the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all people.

He added: ‘This simply means granting every one the freedom – and the means — to make informed decisions about very basic aspects of one’s life – one’s sexuality, health, and if, when and with whom to have relationships, marry or have children – without any form of discrimination, coercion or violence.

‘This also implies convenient, affordable access to quality information and services and to comprehensive sexuality education.

‘We can no longer afford to discriminate against people on the basis of age, sex, ethnicity, migrant status, sexual orientation and gender identity, or any other basis – we need to unleash the full potential of everyone.’

Chissano urged African leaders to expand human rights and freedoms at ‘this critical moment’, and to ‘live up to [Mandela’s] immortal words’.

He quoted: ‘To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’

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