Thursday, 23 June 2011

Homophobia and rape of lesbians in Africa places pressure on FIFA over Qatar

FIFA is proud of its record in addressing racism in football. The Say No to Racism and Fair Play campaigns have been publicised around the world. Despite this, a report in yesterday's New York Times has shown that homophobia is still rife, and FIFA has not progressed.

Lesbians routed from Nigerian World Cup squad

The NY Times article, In African Women’s Soccer, Homophobia Remains an Obstacle, reported on the entrenched anti-lesbian attitude of the Nigerian national coach, Eucharia Uche, who "used religion in an attempt to rid her team of homosexual behavior, which she termed a “dirty issue,” and “spiritually, morally very wrong.”".

Even more damning is the removal of players from the Nigerian team by former technical assistant for Nigeria, James Peters, who said he had "removed some players from Nigeria’s women’s team last year, “not because they were not good players, but because they were lesbians.”"

"Corrective rape" of lesbians is condoned in South Africa and Zimbabwe but the Chosen FEW are a shining light

The article reports that lesbians are beaten and raped in South African and Zimbabwe, as "corrective treatment". One particularly shocking example was the attack on Tumi Mkhuma, of Johannesburg's Chosen FEW, who was raped and left pregnant. "After losing her baby, she said she twice tried to kill herself.

The South African organisation, the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) was established in 2002 to support LBT rights. Their football team, the Chosen FEW, is comprised of 25 young black lesbian women from townships in and around Johannesburg, who are all activists for the rights of lesbian women in South Africa You can read more about this fabulous side and support the FEW here.

Shocking prevalence of corrective rape is placing pressure on FIFA

ESPN's E:60 program also investigated the issue of corrective rape in South Africa, and uncovered some shocking facts. 80% of South Africans believe homosexual sex is wrong, and they use this as an excuse to rape lesbians. Last year, a women's support group reported that there are 10 new cases of corrective rape each week in Cape Town alone.

Mvuleni Fana was raped in a stadium after
practice when she was 16 because she is a lesbian
The ESPN program (watch here) interviewed a number of inspiring, strong South African women who had been raped. But it is the story of Eudy Simelane which has attracted most notoriety. Eudy was 31 years old, a former national player, a respected coach and openly gay. She was gang-raped, and stabbed to death. Her friend is of no doubt that the crime was committed because she was a lesbian. And the chilling interviews with young men who said such things as "Lesbians get raped because men want to correct them and put them in the correct direction" leaves you in no doubt that Eudy's rape and killing were deliberate and homophobic.

Within this context, there were calls for FIFA to use the 2010 World Cup in South Africa to make a similar stand against homophobia as it has against racism. The Women's World Cup starting in Germany this week is being used as another opportunity to press this case.

But FIFA - what will you do about Qatar?

With this pressure starting to build on FIFA, President Sepp Blatter has been asked to justify why Qatar would be awarded the 2022 World Cup when same-sex relations carries a 5 year jail penalty. On one hand, his response was encouraging:

“It’s another culture and another religion, but in football we have no boundaries. We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings, being on this side or that side, left or right or whatever. Football is a game that does not affect any discrimination. You may be assured … if people want to watch a match in Qatar in 2022, they will be admitted to matches.”

But, on the other hand, when he was asked what gays should do to avoid being sent to prison, he replied:
"They should refrain from any sexual activities.”

Surely President Blatter, if there is no discrimination, all people should be allowed to have sex after a great match they have watched at the World Cup - gay or straight

Let me know what you think

Mark S

No comments:

Post a Comment