Making a Stand

Most of you, who pop over to my blog to find out how things are going, simply because I am really bad at writing letters, know that If nothing else Jaye's and my wedding will make a stand against homophobia in South Africa and in particularly against lesbians.

This decision was not consciously made when we decided to go to SA to marry, but rather because South African law allows us the choice whether we marry or enter a civil partnership. We are both committed believers, so making a committment to each other HAS to take place in the eyes of God. The UK ironically denies us that right - South Africa, where legislation affords us that right also ironically cultivates a culture where violence against lesbians is not only considered to be right but in fact many view it as necessary.

So I have to ask a few questions here. As a South African firstly would I be prepared to forgo my personal safety to exercise a right that the country in which I live denies me - The answer is yes, and there are many reasons for this.

Firstly when we stand up to bullies in any situation, quiet supporters in the wings tend to make their views known and bullies tend to realise they often do not represent the majority. Furthermore once the taboo has been thrown out, more closeted people will start to "out" themselves and often these bullies will realise that they probably know, love or care about someone whose sexuality they are bashing and into whom they have driven the fear of death.

I dare compare my experience as a person with Israeli nationality with the realisation that most Palestinians are law abiding, peace loving individuals as the rest of us are and that it is the highly visible, loudest noise makers that appear to represent the majority. I lived in the occupied territories and I depended on an Arab to repair and service my car, another Arab to help clean my home and help out with my baby, and yet another to keep my garden alive since we were effectively living in the desert. These people always wished me happy holidays, shared food and drink and laughed and cried with me and I with them as our lives unfolded. We all understood that we needed to love and live and the conflict within our society was a thorn in the side perpetuated by a minority on both sides that were either ignorant and had nothing better to do or had a lot to gain from keeping the conflict going. I still stand by this premise.

The same applies to homophobia. It is used as a tool to divide and instil fear into communities, to detract from the real issues, such as world hunger, lack of healthcare and basic human needs such as safe homes and clean running water. Gay people love and live too. We enjoy good food and have a sense of humour. We love our children, go to work, pay taxes, worship God. We are labelled as different simply because of whom we have chosen to love. Is it any different from labelling people different and an abomination because they are colour blind or Albino? (Many African countries persecute albinos too!)

When those that persecute homosexual people realise that gays and lesbians, have the same feelings, likes and dislikes and are good people too, then what happens in the bedroom becomes a non issue. Seeing the humanity in gay people is what is going to change homophobic attitudes.

I cannot resist but to refer to the recent uproar about the sentencing and subsequent reprieve of the two gay men in Malawi. If they had of been serial murderers would the king have pardoned them? I think not. Even if there had of been international pressure. But their "crime" didnt hurt anyone so common sense prevailed. I have to ask then why does it take pressure from developed countries to force common sense to prevail, in a country where the emotional health of it's people is part of the key to defeating it's poverty and health needs? If it doesnt hurt people and indeed emotionally fulfills others then, why is it a crime? I just don't get it?

Ruthie Richards-Hill

Ruth, a free range human being and a middle aged mum of three adult children and very young grandmother to two little girls, is a glass artist, and a digital strategist, She retains the right to change her mind about anything and believes in a compassionate approach to most things, you can contact her using the contact page on this blog.

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