LGBT Identity and Online New Media
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Social Media provides an outlet and a platform. In Ghana there has been a spike in the homophobic attacks in newspapers, radio, pulpits and in parliament. Alongside the verbal and written attacks there has also been a commensurate increase in physical assaults on lesbians and gay men.
One gay rights advocate interviewed recently had to be sneaked out of the national broadcast studios when a hostile crowd gathered at the gates of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation GBC. The current speaker of Parliament is vocal about his desire for harsher laws against homosexuality and he has the backing of all major religious leaders, the main opposition party and public opinion.
The violence faced by members of the LGBT community is not just from members of the public, but often family members. Similar events are happening across the continent.
It seems to make little difference whether homosexuality is decriminalized or not. Uganda, Tanzania and even liberal South Africa have all seen an increase in violent homophobic assaults.
This increase in homophobia is widely believed to be fueled and financed by right-wing evangelical churches from the USA as well as populist politicians. The fight for gay rights is different from other social struggles, such as black activists fighting against racism or native activists fighting for rights and representation, Harari said.
In those situations, you are born into a community of people who are all oppressed, and your family intrinsically understands the challenges you face, and often supports you or even fights together. But LGBT people are usually not born into gay families, which means that they must first overcome a sense of isolation and actively make a community for themselves, hopefully gaining the support of their families, before they can join the public struggle.
Social media helps diminish this isolation by providing a tool for people on their personal journeys to start reaching out and finding allies and like-minded people, he said. You have more and more regimes today around the world which target LGBT people.