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General News of Monday, 20 November 2006

Source: The Heritage

Lesbians Meet In Accra

At a time Ghana has attracted mixed international reaction of admiration and reproach for slamming her doors at a planted gay conference, a similar abominable meeting has just ended right in its capital city, Accra. In one of the highly-rated hotels dotting the shores of Accra, a conference in which women who marry other women participated, started last Thursday and ended yesterday, Sunday.

Eighty women of diverse backgrounds and from several organizations attended the meeting. Among these 80 were the lesbians; some of them beautiful, ugly, tall and short, and mostly from South Africa. They converged at the hotel to confer on what they considered their human rights.

The lesbians mingled with non-lesbians who had come from several other women groupings to deliberate on female issues, but our undercover investigations exposed them all. One of the South African lesbians told the paper they were in Ghana as human rights activists to find solutions to the violence they, the lesbians suffer at the hands of men and even some women back home in South Africa. “People are presenting their orientation in more extreme ways because they feel comfortable with that. But why should they be abused?” She said in a chat.

It would be recalled that in one of the incidents being referred to, Zoliswa Nkonyana, a 19-year-old woman, was beaten, stoned and stabbed to death in front of her house by a gang of men for allegedly being a lesbian at Khayelistha in South Africa. That hit the news stands early this year.

In the discussion The Heritage had with the lesbian attending the Accra meeting, she recalled Ms Nkonyana’s case had not been the first time a lesbian was being abused in their country. Rather, she said, people who call them perverts and AIDS carriers and insist that they, the lesbians be killed or raped, were still discriminating against gays and lesbians in South African townships.

But the lesbians with equal obstinacy are resisting what they consider illegitimate harassment. According to her, they cannot stop being whom or what they are just because they are being victimized by violent people and criminals.

“We cannot stop being lesbians to please other people,” she voiced out. She stressed that her group would remain committed to the way they choose to express their sexual orientation, looks and relate with people they love.

As newsmen tried to find out how the lesbians live, she learnt that they have something like a bandage with which they use to tie their breasts to flatten them. This way, they reduce their boobs and they look close to men! Another thing they do is that they use pseudo penises, carved from wood. These they insert into their private parts and wear on top tight underpants to make them look like men having stiff erection.

Another, Zanele Muholi, a community relations officer with an NGO called Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), expressed horror at the brutal murder of the 19-year-old Nkonyana. She said the anger and pain triggered the formation of her NGO.

According to the community relations officer, they were “emotionally in mourning for another one of their sisters” who had been kidnapped because she has chosen to be a lesbian and bisexual person.

“We refuse to submit our bodies and our spirits to heterosexual expectation,” said the officer. She emphasised the complaint that every year, many women in Johannesburg are raped, beaten, expelled from schools, evicted from their homes or chased from their neighbourhoods because of their sexual preferences.

However, she said FEW is advocating and awaiting any serious movement by the South African Services towards justice for young women who were raped and beaten.

Recently, males who sleep with their colleague males – homosexuals or gays –planned to hold an international conference here in Ghana. But the authorities denied permit for such a meeting in view of the general abhorrence for same sex relations in this country.

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