Two men say ‘I do’ in Africa’s first traditional gay wedding

Two men tie the knot in Africa's First traditional Gay WeddingSouth Africa made history on April 6, 2013 when two men tied the knot in the town of KwaDukuza in front of 200 guests. Decked out in traditional African attire, the two 27-year-old South African couple, Tshepo Cameron Modisane and Thoba Calvin Sithole, hugged and kissed after they exchanged vows.

In the West, the news is heralded with a positive headline. Africa, a continent that views homosexuality as shameful lifestyle, doesn’t share the same sentiment.

The news spread like wildfire across African news outlets and social media networks, generating negativity and condemnation from Africans who believe homosexuality goes against ancestral and religious beliefs. Comments on Nigerian-owned blogs and news websites fire insults at the newly weds.

The couple says they won’t be fazed by the extreme criticism being thrown at them on the internet or by Zulu culture experts. They believe that ‘homosexual can be part of an African culture’ and there is nothing evil or untraditional about their union.

South African legalized same-sex marriage in 2006. The country remains the only African nation that allows gay marriage while being gay is a criminal offense in other countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and recently The Gambia.

Two men tie the knot in Africa's first traditional gay weddingLike many African countries, Nigeria is a conservative nation where homosexuality is highly considered a taboo. With pressures from the Muslim north and Christian south, LGBT people in Nigeria face an uphill battle in their daily lives in the country where there is no legal protection against discrimination. Very few LGBT people are open about their sexual orientation for fear of violence. If you’re found out in the north, the punishment according to the Shari’a law is death by stoning, a law that applies to all Muslims and anyone who consents to the application of the Shari’a courts. The punishment in the south is 14 years imprisonment for homosexual activity. In fact, Nigeria plans to criminalize same-sex marriage throughout the country.

In a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2007 that asked people ‘Should homosexuality be accepted by society?’, 97 per cent of Nigerian residents believe homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept—which was the second-highest rate of non-acceptance in the 45 countries surveyed.

 

Brave enough to proudly proclaim their love for one another publicly—hoping to be an inspiration for others who are gay, the couple is lucky they do not live in an anti-homosexuality country like Nigeria.

Despite South Africa’s support for same-sex marriage, I wonder if safety would now be an issue for the daring newly weds who put Africa on the map in such a controversial and sensitive manner.

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~ by omonaij on April 14, 2013.

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