Wanted For Love, But Not Here: The Travelling Rights of African LGBT Activists

Published: August 12, 2013

 In the Neth­er­lands, the attempt by the “Wanted for Love” cam­paign to sup­port LGBT act­iv­ists in Africa renders “Africa” the “homo­phobic Other” of Dutch homonationalism.

 
One of the dangers of aware­ness cam­paigns centred on social media is that they risk being online pop­ular­ity con­tests. The [Dutch] national “Wanted For Love” cam­paign — a col­lab­or­at­ive ini­ti­at­ive of Hivos and Human Rights Watch aimed at draw­ing atten­tion to the plight of les­bian, gay, bisexual and trans­gender (LGBT) people in “Africa” — welcomes the like-?tivist spirit with open arms.
 
While argu­ably an hon­est pro­ject powered by good inten­tions, there are a num­ber of knotty aspects (sen­ti­mental slackt­iv­ism aside) to the cam­paign that need to be dis­en­tangled. I’d like to focus on these and some other aspects that are not included in the campaign’s happy narrative.
 
Even though this is not a dir­ect cri­tique of Hivos or Human Rights Watch [HRW] — despite my ges­tur­ing toward their respect­ive prob­lem­atic aspects — it is import­ant to address issues regard­ing their focus and fund­ing. In The Bias of Human Rights Watch inde­pend­ent journ­al­ist Garry Leech addresses Human Rights Watch’s skewed pri­or­it­ies. Leech’s cri­tique is that by priv­ileging polit­ical and civil rights over social and eco­nomic rights Human Rights Watch [HRW] inad­vert­ently pro­motes capitalist-?individualistic values.
 
One of the major donors/?strategic alli­ances of Hivos is the Min­istry of For­eign Affairs of the Neth­er­lands, which states on its web­site that “[I]ssues of peace and secur­ity, good gov­ernance and human rights, trade, poverty, the envir­on­ment, and migra­tion are all closely inter­con­nec­ted.” The good­will of the Dutch gov­ern­ment is, argu­ably, part of its lar­ger inter­na­tional policy.
 
Moreover, through its stra­tegic alli­ance with Hivos, which works in 26 coun­tries loc­ated in the Global South, the Dutch gov­ern­ment can exert con­trol and reg­u­late the world bey­ond its bor­ders. With this in mind, one can­not divorce the Wanted For Love cam­paign from the global flows of bod­ies, inform­a­tion, cap­ital, affect and the “rights dis­course,” which pos­its gay rights (and tol­er­ance of homo­sexu­al­ity) as import­ant mark­ers of “mod­ern­ity,” and “Westernization.”
Full text of article available at link below –
 

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