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Commentary & Opinion
Promoting Gay Rights Essential for Health of Africans

December 23, 2011

Across Africa, "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people suffer brutal attacks, yet cannot report them to the police for fear of additional violence, humiliation, rape or imprisonment at the hands of the authorities. We are expelled from school and denied health care because of our perceived sexual orientation or gender identity," Frank Mugisha, 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award laureate and executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. He adds, "When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced this month that the United States would use diplomacy to encourage respect for gay rights around the world, my heart leapt."

Gay-rights advocates "are no longer alone. Political leaders like Mrs. Clinton and religious leaders like Archbishop Desmond Tutu are willing to publicly state that being gay is just one of many expressions of what it means to be human. I call on other leaders -- particularly my African-American brothers and sisters in politics, entertainment and religious communities -- to come to Uganda, to stand with me and my fellow advocates, to help dispel harmful myths perpetuated by ignorance and hate. The lives of many are on the line" (12/22).

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