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.”
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