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A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Written and Edited by Brian Pellot

Published by Religion News Foundation and Heinrich Bll Stiftung Southern
Africa with additional support from the Arcus Foundation
Writer and Editor: Religion News Foundation
Brian Pellot, Director of Global Strategy at Columbia, Mo, U.S.A.
Religion News Foundation Heinrich Bll Stiftung Southern Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

Contributing Editor: This work is published under a

Paula Assubuji, Human Rights Creative Commons Attribution-Share
Programme Manager at Heinrich Bll Alike 3.0 License
Stiftung Southern Africa

Contributor: Publication was made possible with

Debra L. Mason, Professor at the funding from the Heinrich Bll Foundation
University of Missouri School of Journalism and the Arcus Foundation. The contents
of the publication are the sole responsi-
bility of its authors and do not necessarily
Design: represent the views of the Foundations.
Tamzyn La Gorce

To view or download a digital version of

this guide, please visit:

(cc) 2017

Acknowledgements.................................................................................. 01

Introduction............................................................................................. 03

Reporting Resolution................................................................................ 07

Ethical Human Rights Reporting Principles.................................................. 11

Key SOGIE Terminology............................................................................ 19

Sorting SOGIE Myths from Facts............................................................... 29

Religion Reporting Tips............................................................................ 35

Source Safety and Sensitivity..................................................................... 39

Tips for Reporting on Taboo Topics............................................................. 45

How to Report on SOGIE Issues................................................................ 49

How NOT to Report on SOGIE Issues ........................................................ 53

Faith Leaders Perspectives........................................................................ 59

Trainee Stories.......................................................................................... 65

Additional Resources and Readings............................................................ 113

Sub-Saharan Source Guide....................................................................... 117

Trainer and Speaker Biographies................................................................ 133


This publication stems from Religion News Foundations November 2016

training in Cape Town, South Africa. The Covering Sexual and Gender
Minorities & Religion in Sub-Saharan Africa workshop and this reporting
guide would not have been possible without the support, participation,
contribution and insight of numerous individuals and organizations in
South Africa and around the world.

Religion News Foundation wishes to thank the Arcus Foundation and

the Heinrich Bll Foundation for their financial support. We also thank
the office team of the Heinrich Bll Foundation Southern Africa for use
of their boardroom as training space and for on-site logistical assistance.

Thanks goes to the University of Missouri School of Journalisms Center

on Religion & the Professions and to Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action
(GALA) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg for their
contributions to the training curriculum, along with Religion News Ser-
vice for hosting the trainees final stories. We are also grateful to GLAAD,
the Ethical Journalism Network, Church World Service, and the Gay and
Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) for contributing excerpts of their
work to this guide.

Regional trainers Brian Pellot, Debra Mason, and Selly Thiam brought the
workshop to fruition, and guest speakers Layla Al-Zubaidi, Muhsin Hen-
dricks, Zachary Akani Shimange, Liberty Matthyse Glenton, Ecclesia de
Lange, Bulelwa Panda, Teboho Klaas, Azila Reisenberger, Pharie Sefali,
and Zethu Matebini added valuable insight. We thank individuals at St.
Georges Cathedral, Gardens Shul, and Auwal Masjid for welcoming us
into their houses of worship.

Finally, we thank the 24 journalists who traveled from across Sub-Saha-

ran Africa to join us in Cape Town for this intensive workshop. Their will-
ingness to learn and share was inspiring, and we hope their final stories,
some of which appear in this reporting guide, encourage fellow journal-
ists to cover sexual and gender minorities & religion with honesty, fair-
ness, accuracy, transparency, sensitivity and thoroughness.


02 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


In Sub-Saharan Africa, as in much of the and debated issues around news value
world, reporting on sexual orientation, gen- and public interest. We started the week
der identity and gender expression (SOGIE) as strangers and ended it as friends, com-
can be tricky. Cultural taboos, entrenched mitted to helping one another improve
stereotypes, social hostilities, legal prohibi- coverage of sexual and gender minorities
tions and editorial censorship often distort & religion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
coverage of these sensitive topics. Add reli-
gion to the mix and producing responsible This guide summarizes the key topics dis-
journalism on sexual and gender minorities cussed at the Cape Town workshop and
can seem impossible. provides readers a trove of resources and
sources to enhance their own coverage of
In November 2016, Religion News these issues. It also includes final versions
Foundation set out to show that ethical and of trainees stories, which originated
sensitive coverage of marginalized individ- during the workshop and evolved in the
uals and communities is not only possible weeks that followed under Religion News
but necessary. To this end, we assembled Foundations editorial guidance and
24 professional journalists and editors rep- support. To read more of the trainees
resenting 15 countries across Sub-Saharan stories, visit:
Africa for a four-day reporting workshop in tag/lgbtqi-religion-africa/.
Cape Town, South Africa.

During the week, we discussed our

motivations and professional obligations
as journalists; reviewed key concepts and
terms around SOGIE issues and religion;
shared regional media freedom chal-
lenges and opportunities from our own
communities; analyzed structural roots
of inequality; brainstormed story ideas,
angles and sources; strategized how best Trainees hear from Imam Muhsin Hendricks.
to protect source safety and sensitivity; Photo by Brian Pellot.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 03



04 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Reporting Resolution

In Sub-Saharan Africa, sexual and gender put biases aside and to embrace the core
minorities remain disadvantaged, stigma- teachings of our profession.
tized and excluded from many aspects of
economic, political and social life. Alarm- The following reporting resolution,
ing levels of discrimination, prejudice and drafted as a group exercise at the end of
violence make these often marginalized the Cape Town training, reflects some of
and misunderstood individuals and com- the best practices journalists identified to
munities particularly vulnerable to human improve coverage of sexual and gender
rights violations. minorities & religion. It serves as a useful
starting point and summary of whats to
As journalists, we have the power to come in this reporting guide.
replace dehumanizing stereotypes with
nuanced and accurate portrayals of perse-
cuted minorities. Doing so requires us to

Trainees visit Auwal Masjid in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. Photo by Brian Pellot.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 05

06. S
eek out knowledgeable sources
Religion News capable of providing accurate
Foundation Resolution
information and analysis.
Covering Sexual and
Gender Minorities & Religion 07. Always consider the motivations
in Sub-Saharan Africa and potential biases of our sources.
November 6 - 10, 2016
Cape Town, South Africa 08. Be especially diligent in verifying
all details when covering sensi-
As journalists from across Sub-Saharan tive news and ask for clarification
Africa, we adhere to our professions when needed.
principles of honesty, fairness, accuracy,
transparency, sensitivity and thorough- 09. Avoid including dangerous hate
ness. When reporting and editing on speech in our stories.
sexual and gender minorities & religion,
we resolve to: 10. Avoid sensationalizing or capital-
izing on marginalized identities.
01. I ndependently develop our knowl-
edge of different belief systems 11. Avoid using imagery that depicts
and SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, religious or sexual and gender
Gender Identity and Expression) minorities in stereotypical or
issues. dehumanizing ways.

02. Avoid mentioning faith affiliation 12. Take all measures possible to pro-
or SOGIE status when such infor- vide anonymity when necessary to
mation is not directly relevant to protect the safety and security of
a story. individuals and communities.

03. Carefully consider word choice 13. Practice the qualities of responsi-
and framing around sexual and ble, ethical journalism by mini-
gender minorities and followers mizing harm and avoiding
of different faiths. Use sources hearsay and rumor.
preferred terminology when
appropriate. 14. Encourage diversity in our
04. Allow marginalized people to
speak for themselves and in their 15. Ensure that our personal beliefs
own voices. and biases do not influence the
objectivity of our reporting or limit
05. Strive to include moderate voices the topics we cover. If our beliefs
in our reporting, not just the somehow make covering a story
extremes. impossible, we should pass it onto
a colleague.

06 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


A Reporting Guide for Journalists 07
Ethical Human Rights
Reporting Principles

The London-based Ethical Journal- and communities the opportunity to

ism Network lists truth and accuracy, speak in their own words.
independence, fairness and impartiality,
humanity, and accountability as five of the We started our Cape Town workshop by
most important principles that distinguish asking the 24 trainees why they became
ethical journalism from propaganda and journalists. Common responses included:
public relations. to give voice to the voiceless; to make
sense of the world for my audience; to
To ensure truth and accuracy, we as challenge stereotypes, entrenched norms
journalists must learn about the topics and structural inequalities; to expose
we cover. To achieve independence, corruption; and to enact positive change
we must limit the influence of interested in my community.
parties that try to shape our work. To
foster fairness and impartiality, we should We also asked trainees why they were
interview and seek input from a diverse keen to report on human rights issues.
range of relevant stakeholders, most Responses included: to right wrongs and
importantly the individuals and com- injustices; to inform people of their rights;
munities were covering. To safeguard to promote good governance; to create
humanity, we should recognize and a freer society; to advocate for vulnerable
strive to reduce any potential harm our and exploited communities; to address
reporting may bring upon vulnerable violence and impunity against groups; and
individuals and communities. To ensure to expose the daily struggle of my people.
accountability to our readers, we need
to humbly acknowledge and correct past Finally, we asked them to list traits that
mistakes in our reporting. make a good journalist great. Responses
included: passion; curiosity; sensitivity;
If we commit ourselves to these basic empathy; patience; integrity; tolerance;
principles of our profession, we can conscientiousness; courage; thoroughness;
contribute to the accurate portrayal of objectivity; impartiality; willingness to
silenced minorities and give individuals learn; and commitment to accuracy.

08 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

These motivations, qualities and princi- to evils far worse. But what constitutes
ples form the backbone of ethical human hate speech, and how do we balance
rights reporting. By identifying important the right to freedom of expression with a
stories that are not being told accurately need to prevent the spread of dangerous
(or at all), we can shed light on human rhetoric?
rights abuses and do our part to help
make the world a better place, all while
maintaining our journalistic credibility.

COVERING AND Broadly speaking, we can think of hate

AVOIDING DANGEROUS speech as that which denigrates people
HATE SPEECH based on some aspects of their individual
or group identities. Legal discrepancies
Ethical journalists have a responsibility and local sensitivities mean that the same
to cover the facts, but we also have a quote from a source or line in a story
responsibility to avoid unnecessarily stok- might be considered discriminatory,
ing hatred and violence, especially when hateful, offensive, dangerous, libelous,
tensions are running high. blasphemous, treasonous, seditious or
perfectly acceptable from one country to
Some politicians and religious leaders the next. Its important to familiarize your-
across Sub-Saharan Africa and around the self with local red lines when reporting on
world use homophobic and transpho- controversial issues at home and abroad.
bic hate speech to rally public support
around a common perceived enemy Article 20 of the International Covenant on
(sexual and gender minorities), distract- Civil and Political Rights broadly defines
ing the masses from other economic, hate speech as any advocacy of national,
political or social concerns. By labeling racial or religious hatred that constitutes
same-sex attraction and gender non- incitement to discrimination, hostility or vio-
conformity as unAfrican, ungodly, sinful, lence. The U.S. outlaws speech intended
amoral, illegal and unacceptable, these to and likely to provoke imminent lawless
leaders create scapegoats out of already action a very high threshold. The legal
vulnerable minorities. Local media are bar is much lower in most countries, result-
sometimes complicit in legitimizing and ing in prohibitions against homophobia,
spreading such vitriol, as well explore in transphobia, racism, blasphemy, religious
later sections. defamation and a range of other speech
and thought crimes.
When hate speech crops up in profes-
sional journalism, it does a disservice to
our profession, our audience, and society
at large. Sometimes it reinforces unpleas-
ant stereotypes; other times it contributes

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 09

RELIGION AS SOURCE These inter- and intra-religious tensions
AND TARGET OF HATE often result in faith-based hate speech,
even if religion is just one factor in a
broader conflict over resources, culture,
Conflict is bound to arise when different
politics or other fault lines.
groups express mutually exclusive claims
to truth and believe salvation to be on
A 2015 Pew Research Center report citing
the line. For this reason, religion and
2013 data found harassment of religious
hateful or offensive speech often overlap
groups in 164 countries. Christians,
in complicated ways. We see Christians
Muslims and Jews face harassment in the
slamming Mormons for following a false
most countries, but Sikhs, Zoroastrians,
prophet, Jews attacking Hindus for wor-
Bahs, Hindus, Buddhists and people
shipping multiple deities, and Buddhists
of other faiths are also subject to social
persecuting Muslims for not conforming.
hostilities and government restrictions on
We also see hatred within religions:
their faiths, as are nonbelievers.
Sunnis vs. Shiites, ultra-Orthodox vs.
Reform Jews, Protestants vs. Catholics.
Then theres hatred exchanged on other
belief grounds: fundamentalists denying
rights to sexual and gender minorities;
New Atheists lampooning believers of
any stripe.

Pew Research Center

10 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

IDENTIFYING HATE SPEECH: 04. The reach of the speech
Limited off-color remarks in private
conversations are unlikely to
The Ethical Journalism Networks five-
produce much harm. That changes
point test of speech for journalism in con-
if hateful remarks are repeatedly
text highlights a few points journalists and
broadcast for all to see, a good indi-
editors should consider when deciding
cator that the speaker may be trying
how to report potentially inflammatory
to deliberately promote hostility.

01. The content and form of speech 05. The objectives of the speech

Journalists should ask themselves Journalists should strive to determine

whether the speech they are quoting whether speech is deliberately
is dangerous. Will it incite violence, designed to denigrate the rights
intensify hatred or lead to prosecu- of others and should know what
tion under local laws? forms of expression are subject to
legal sanctions. When confronted
with incidents of hate speech, EJN
02. The economic, social and advises journalists not to sensation-
political climate alize the story and to pause for a
Hateful speech can become more moment before publishing to think
dangerous amid economic, social through potential consequences.
and political strife. Where insecurity
and instability reign supreme, jour-
nalists should evaluate what impact
quoting hateful speech might have
on its intended targets.

03. The position or status of

the speaker

Journalists should not act as indis-

criminate megaphones for hate
speech. If a prominent source makes
hateful, false or malicious claims,
those claims should be scrutinized
and reported accordingly. If a
non-public figure makes unsubstanti- Journalists on Duty by Yan Arief Purwanto
is licensed under CC by-SA 2.0 license.
ated claims, they should be ignored
if not newsworthy.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 11

Use these two five-point tests to help
determine whether your sources state-
ments, your colleagues broadcasts and
your own writing could be considered
dangerous hate speech.
Dangerous speech is inflammatory
speech that has the capacity to catalyze
violence among different groups. Susan HOW TO HANDLE
Benesch, who heads the Dangerous OFFENSIVE SPEECH
Speech Project, says the most dangerous
speech acts occur when the following Someone might be upset by facts or
five factors are maximized: ideas you publish, but that alone is no
reason to censor them. A journalists
duty is to inform the public, not to shield
01. The speaker is powerful and has people from uncomfortable or upset-
a high degree of influence over ting realities. The newsworthiness of a
the audience story should be balanced with concern
for the safety of sources and vulnerable
02. The audience has grievances communities that might be affected by
and fear that the speaker can your reporting.
The tenets, norms and nuances of a
particular faith sometimes mean that a
03. The speech act is understood as
minority or majority of believers will con-
a call to violence
sider certain forms of expression hateful
or offensive, even if they are perfectly
04. There exists a social or his- legal in most countries. The 2005 Danish
torical context propitious for cartoons controversy, 2012 Innocence
violence, for any of a variety of of Muslims YouTube debacle and 2015
reasons, including long-stand- Charlie Hebdo attacks all demonstrated
ing competition between the dangers that can arise when taboos
groups for resources, lack of depicting the Prophet Muhammad, in
efforts to solve grievances, or these cases are broken.
previous episodes of violence
Outrage over blasphemous artworks such
05. There exists a means of dis- as Piss Christ, nude Hindu deities and
semination that is influential music videos by Madonna, Lady Gaga
in itself, for example because it and Tori Amos shows that Muslims arent
is the sole or primary source of the only ones who take offense to irrev-
news for the relevant audience erent portrayals of their sacred beliefs.
When reporting on these tensions, try to
understand why individuals or groups are

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 13

offended, but dont confuse freedom of lenged by including alternative voices in
religion or belief and freedom of expres- your reporting. Biased, misleading or oth-
sion both fundamental human rights erwise inaccurate portrayals of individuals
with a nonexistent right to be shielded and groups have no place in a responsi-
from offense. ble journalists toolkit.

Before journalists can weigh whether to Its important to remember that journal-
publish potentially offensive material, ists do not enjoy absolute freedom of
they first need to learn what different expression. We all face legal and ethical
groups consider offensive and how they limits on our reporting, and our profes-
might react. Consult local faith leaders sions harm limitation principle should be
and SOGIE activists and check out carefully considered when determining
ReligionLinks various reporting guides to how to handle potentially offensive
ensure that your language is accurate and speech. Different media outlets will arrive
nuanced. at different conclusions in this balancing
act. Whatever rationale shapes such deci-
The five-point tests above can help sions, basic news values should trump
you calculate whether source quotes fear of causing offense.
that some readers consider offensive
are likely to prompt violence or actual For more resources and sources on
harm. Sources who resort to sensational ethical human rights reporting principles
rhetoric, hateful slurs or dehumanizing and hate speech, visit: http://www.
stereotypes should be ignored or chal-

Prince Appiah interviews Kwasi, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, near
Kumasi, Ghana in January 2017.

14 A Reporting Guide for Journalists



A Reporting Guide for Journalists 15

Key SOGIE Terminology

Before reaching out to sources, its The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists
important to familiarize yourself with the Associations Stylebook Supplement on
relevant terminology that tends to come Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender
up in conversations about sexual orien- Terminology is intended to complement
tation, gender identity and expression the Associated Press stylebook and those
(SOGIE). Knowing that LGBTQI+ stands of individual newsrooms.
for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
queer, intersex and more (+) is just the tip The Gender Spectrum Guide to Gender
of the iceberg. Not every SOGIE minority Terminology explains non-binary gender
chooses to use these terms and labels. notions and includes relevant terminology.
Rather than trying to fit sources into
particular identity categories, allow them The Center for Integration and Improve-
to use their own vocabulary, and describe ment of Journalisms Diversity Style Guide
them as such in your reporting when has an LGBTQ glossary of relevant terms.
appropriate. For some of the terms youre
likely to encounter in your reporting,
reference the following glossaries:

The GLAAD Media Reference Guide - Church World Service, a cooperative

10th Edition, published in October 2016 ministry that aims to promote peace and
and updated every few years, offers social justice, offers the following defini-
tools to encourage fair, accurate and tions in its guide for faith actors working
inclusive reporting of SOGIE issues. The with sexual and gender nonconforming
guide includes glossaries of LGBQ terms, forced migrants in Kenya. Though not
transgender terms, terms to avoid, and a exhaustive, this is a good introductory
summary of relevant Associated Press and list to get you started. It has been slightly
New York Times style terms. adapted for this guide:

16 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

A term for people who are supportive of LGBTQI+ social move-
ments and rights but do not identify as LGBTQI+.

Irrational fear or hatred of bisexual persons driven by

stereotypes and myths.

A binary term for someone who is sexually, romantically and/or

emotionally attracted to both males and females.

Process of identifying to oneself and to others in accordance

Coming out:
with ones sexual orientation or gender identity.

Describes a person who is sexually, romantically and/or emo-

tionally attracted to people of the same sex. This means males
Gay: who like other males or females who like other females. The
word gay can refer to any homosexual person, but mostly it
refers to homosexual men.

Socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes

that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

How an individual presents their sense of masculinity or fem-

Gender ininity through external characteristics and behavior. This can
expression(s): include dress, mannerisms, grooming, speech patterns and
social interactions.

Refers to a persons innate, deeply felt psychological identifi-

cation as male, female, or something else. This may or may not
correspond to a persons designated sex at birth.

Gender Identity A controversial diagnosis given to transgender people. This

Disorder or disorder is marked by severe distress and discomfort caused by
Gender Dys- a perceived conflict between ones gender identity and ones
phoria: designated sex at birth.

Individuals who do not fit a binary model of gender i.e. mascu-

linity or femininity in terms of their expression(s), mannerisms or

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 17

Promoting heterosexuality as superior or assuming that all peo-
ple are heterosexual.

Heterosexual/ Someone whose predominant attraction is to the opposite

Straight: sex.

Fear or hatred of homosexuals or homosexuality. Homophobia

Homophobia: is a human-made construct often fed by political, religious, legal
and even pseudomedical justifications.

Someone whose predominant attraction is to the same sex.

Being secretive about ones sexual orientation or gender iden-

In the Closet:
tity. Also referred to as closeted.

A person born with a body that is not entirely male or female.

This may be caused by a range of medical conditions including
genetic or chromosomal anomalies, which interfere with sexual
differentiation during gestation.

Acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,

queer, intersex, and more (+).

A woman who is sexually, romantically and/or emotionally

attracted to other women.

Men who have sex with men. They may or may not identify as
gay or bisexual.

This is an umbrella term that is used by many sexual and gender

minorities to describe themselves. Many value its inclusiveness
of the SOGIE spectrum. Only use when doing so is clearly not

The process of seeking information and support when uncertain

of ones sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

18 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

A positive environment that enables all persons, including
sexual and gender nonconforming individuals, to be free to
Safe space: express themselves without fear of discrimination or violation of
their rights and dignity. Individual actions and reactions are key
in upholding or violating a safe space.

Assignment at birth as male or female based upon biological

and physiological characteristics.

Sex reassign- Genital alterations as a part of transition. This term is preferred

ment surgery: over sex change operation.

What we do sexually and with whom. Most people pursue this

with a person(s) they are attracted to. This is not always an accu-
rate indicator of sexual orientation or preference.

Refers to persons who engage in sexual activities that are not

exclusively heterosexual, and individuals who do not fall into the
binary sex categories of male and female.

The preferred term used when referring to an individuals innate

romantic, sexual and/or emotional attraction to other people,
Sexual with regards to sex and/or gender.
orientation: Heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual are all examples
of sexual orientations. A persons sexual orientation is distinct
from a persons gender identity and expression(s).

Indicates sexual desires that are more fluid than sexual orienta-
tion. Someone may have a sexual preference for people who
are tall, short, slim or curvaceous, for instance, or prefer certain
sexual practices. See GLAAD usage notes about this term

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 19

Acronym used to refer to Sexual and Gender Nonconforming
individuals. These are people whose sexual practices, attrac-
tions, gender identities and/or gender expressions diverge
SGN: from societal expectations based on assigned sex at birth. This
is an umbrella term that is inclusive of LGBTQI+ persons. Sexual
and gender nonconformity is diverse and is influenced by cul-
ture, law, religion and medical factors, among others.

Laws that prohibit consensual sexual acts among consenting

adults. Such acts are seldom fully defined but can include anal
Sodomy laws: and oral sex. Sodomy laws are most often used to target men
who have sex with men, but also apply to women in many

Acronyms used to refer to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

SOGI or SOGIE: and Expression(s) (for example, SOGI(E) related discrimina-

Umbrella term for a person whose gender identity or expres-

sion(s) differ from societal expectations based on that persons
assigned sex at birth. Trans people may not necessarily also
identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

The process of altering ones sex and/or gender. This may or

Transition: may not include medical and other physical alterations. It can
also include changing legal documents.

Assigned female at birth, but identifies as male. May be referred

to as FtM (female-to-male transgender).

Emotional disgust, fear, anger and/or discomfort felt or

Transphobia: expressed towards people who dont conform to societys
gender expectations.

A person who takes some measure to physically alter their sex

Transsexual: to be more like the opposite sex. This may include hormones,
implants, sex reassignment surgery, etc.

20 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Assigned male at birth, but identifies as female. May be referred
to as MtF (male-to-female transgender).

Women who have sex with women. They may not identify as
lesbian or bisexual.

The GLAAD Media Reference Guide - 10th Edition elaborates on some of these
definitions in its Terms to Avoid section, which has been adapted and repub-
lished below.


homosexual (n. or adj.) gay (adj.); gay man or lesbian

(n.); gay person/people
Because of the clinical history of the word
homosexual, it is aggressively used by Please use gay, lesbian, or when appropri-
anti-LGBTQ extremists to suggest that peo- ate bisexual or queer to describe people
ple attracted to the same sex are somehow attracted to members of the same sex. Do
diseased or psychologically/emotionally not use gay or gays as isolated nouns.
disordered notions discredited by the
American Psychological Association and
the American Psychiatric Association in the
1970s. Please avoid using homosexual
except in direct quotes. Please also avoid
using homosexual as a style variation
simply to avoid repeated use of the word
gay. The Associated Press, The New York
Times and The Washington Post restrict use
of the term homosexual.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 21


homosexual relations/relation- relationship, couple (or, if

ship, homosexual couple, necessary, gay/lesbian/same-sex
homosexual sex, etc. couple), sex, etc.

Identifying a same-sex couple as a As a rule, try to avoid labeling an activity,

homosexual couple, characterizing their emotion, or relationship gay, lesbian,
relationship as a homosexual relationship, bisexual, or queer unless you would call
or identifying their intimacy as homosexual the same activity, emotion, or relationship
sex is extremely offensive and should be straight if engaged in by someone of
avoided. These constructions are frequently another orientation. In most cases, your
used by anti-LGBTQ extremists to denigrate readers, viewers, or listeners will be able to
LGBTQ people, couples, and relationships. discern peoples sexes and/or orientations
through the names of the parties involved,
your depictions of their relationships, and
your use of pronouns.

sexual preference sexual orientation or orientation

The term sexual preference is typically Sexual orientation is the accurate descrip-
used to suggest that being attracted to the tion of an individuals enduring physical,
same sex is a choice and therefore can and romantic, and/or emotional attraction to
should be cured. members of the same and/or opposite sex
and is inclusive of lesbians, gay men, bisex-
uals, and queer people, as well as straight
men and women (see AP, Reuters, & New
York Times Style).

gay lifestyle, homosexual life- LGBTQ people and their lives

style, or transgender lifestyle

There is no single LGBTQ lifestyle. LGBTQ

people are diverse in the ways they lead
their lives. The phrases gay lifestyle,
homosexual lifestyle, and transgender
lifestyle are used to denigrate LGBTQ peo-
ple suggesting that their sexual orientation
and/or gender identity is a choice and
therefore can and should be cured (see
AP, Reuters, & New York Times Style).

22 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


admitted homosexual, avowed out gay man, out lesbian, or out

homosexual, confessed queer person
homosexual, or confirmed
homosexual You may also simply describe the person
as being out, for example: Bisi Alimi is an
Dated terms used to describe those who out activist from Nigeria. Avoid the use of
self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or the word homosexual in any case (see AP,
queer in their personal, public, and/or Reuters, & New York Times Style).
professional lives. The words admitted
or avowed suggest that being attracted
to the same-sex is somehow shameful or
inherently secretive.

gay agenda or homosexual Accurate descriptions of the issues

agenda (e.g., inclusion in existing nondis-
crimination laws, securing equal
Notions of a so-called homosexual employment protections)
agenda are rhetorical inventions of
anti-LGBTQ extremists seeking to create LGBTQ people are motivated by the same
a climate of fear by portraying the pursuit hopes, concerns, and desires as other peo-
of equal opportunity for LGBTQ people as ple. They seek to be able to earn a living,
sinister (see AP, Reuters, & New York Times be safe in their communities, and take care
Style). of the ones they love. Their commitment to
equality and acceptance is one they share
with many allies and advocates who are not

special rights equal rights or equal protection

Anti-LGBTQ extremists frequently char-

acterize equal protection of the law for
LGBTQ people as special rights to incite
opposition to such things as relationship
recognition and inclusive nondiscrimination
laws (see AP, Reuters, & New York Times
Style). As such, the term should be avoided.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 23


fag, faggot, dyke, homo, sodomite, moffie and similar epithets

The criteria for using these derogatory terms should be the same as those applied to vulgar
epithets used to target other groups: they should not be used except in a direct quote that
reveals the bias of the person quoted. So that such words are not given credibility in the
media, it is preferred that reporters say, The person used a derogatory word for a lesbian/
gay/bisexual/transgender/queer person.

deviant, disordered, dysfunctional, diseased, perverted, destruc-

tive and similar descriptions

The notion that being LGBTQ is a psychological disorder was discredited by the American
Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association in the 1970s. Today,
words such as deviant, diseased and disordered often are used to portray LGBTQ
people as less than human, mentally ill, or as a danger to society. Words such as these
should be avoided in stories about the LGBTQ community. If they must be used, they
should be quoted directly in a way that clearly reveals the bias of the person being quoted.

Associating LGBTQ people with pedophilia, child abuse, sexual abuse,

bestiality, bigamy, polygamy, adultery and/or incest

Being LGBTQ is neither synonymous with, nor indicative of, any tendency toward pedo-
philia, child abuse, sexual abuse, bestiality, bigamy, polygamy, adultery and/or incest.
Such claims, innuendoes and associations often are used to insinuate that LGBTQ people
pose a threat to society, to families, and to children in particular. Such assertions and insin-
uations are defamatory and should be avoided, except in direct quotes that clearly reveal
the bias of the person quoted.

For guidance on religion-related terminology, check out the Religion Stylebook, an easy-to-use
guide created for journalists who report on religion in the mainstream media. Its an indepen-
dent supplement to The Associated Press Stylebook and is a service of the Religion News
Association. It can be found at .

24 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


A Reporting Guide for Journalists 25
Sorting SOGIE Myths
from Facts

One of our most vital roles as journalists parental custody, housing discrimination,
is sorting fact from fiction. Audiences rely employment discrimination, educational
on us to help them distinguish factual discrimination, healthcare discrimination,
truths from mythical falsehoods. With mental health issues, suicide attempts,
fake news dominating Facebook feeds homelessnessthe list goes on.
and Twitter streams, real, accurate, factual Below youll find a mix of common SOGIE
news has never been more important. myths and facts. Cover the right column
with your hand or a piece of paper and
Because SOGIE issues are sometimes read each statement on the left from top
considered taboo, myths around to bottom, revealing and learning more
sexual and gender minorities often go about its myth or fact status as you go.
unchecked and unchallenged, even
in mainstream media reports. News
examples in the How NOT to Report on The following myth and fact statements
SOGIE section of this guide show some were inspired by and partially adapted
of the sensational and false stereotypes from a reporting guide produced by
that are carelessly or maliciously recycled GALA. The right column explanations are
in regional and global reporting. original to this guide:

Perpetuation of these myths can contrib-

ute to inequality, human rights viola-
tions, privacy violations, gender-based
violence, physical and sexual violence,
stigma, arrest, unlawful detention, pros-
ecution, denial of autonomy over sexual
health choices, removal of children from

26 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


Myth: Sexual orientation is an individuals

innate and enduring romantic, sexual and/
People can change their sexual orienta-
or emotional attraction to other people
tion through prayer
with regards to their sex and/or gender.
Prayer will not change it.

Queer people are capable of having Fact: Look for examples in your commu-
healthy, long-term relationships nity and abroad.

Sexual and gender minorities often face Fact: Consult local and international
higher rates of violence and discrimina- human rights groups and authorities for
tion than the general population statistics.

Fact: Just as every society has left-

Every society has sexual and gender
handed people, every society has sexual
and gender diversity.

Same-sex attraction is caused by

Myth: If it cant be proven, its not a fact.
witchcraft and evil spirits

Gay men are more likely to abuse Myth: Consult credible local and inter-
children national statistics.

Fact: See the Sub-Saharan Source

Not all congregations are against homo- Guide section below for examples of
sexuality inclusive and affirming congregations
and faith leaders.

Myth: Major international mental health

Homosexuality is a mental disorder organizations are in agreement that
homosexuality is not a mental disorder.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 27


Myth: Interview a diverse range of

LGBTQ+ people at home and abroad.
People are LGBTQ+ because they were Some may have been abused as chil-
abused as children dren, as is true of the general popu-
lation, but most will say their queer
identities and expressions are not a
result of childhood abuse.

Myth: Same-sex attraction is not a men-

tal disorder that needs to be cured,
If a lesbian has sex with a man she will be and sexual orientation is enduring. The
cured so-called corrective rape of lesbians
constitutes a criminal violation of human

Scientists still dont know what causes a Fact: Theories abound, but none have
persons sexual orientation been decisively proven.

Myth: If same-sex adoption is not legal

in your country, interview several chil-
dren raised by same-sex parents abroad.
Children of same-sex parents will grow Some might be same-sex attracted, in
up to be same-sex attracted proportion with the general population,
but not as a result of their upbringing.
Remember that sexual orientation is
innate and enduring.

Fact: See the 2015 book Boldly Queer:

Sexual and gender minorities are cele- African Perspectives on Same-Sex Sexu-
brated in some African traditions ality and Gender Diversity, available for
free online at

Fact: Talasi, unongayindoda and

There are indigenous African words for umjendevu are just a few examples from
sexual and gender minorities South Africa. Ask local activists for local
indigenous terms.

28 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


Fact: Gender expression can be displayed,

You cant tell a persons sexual
but sexual orientation is innate and cannot be
orientation just by looking at them
determined merely by looking at a person.

Fact: The words woman and man

refer to a persons gender identity, while
A transgender woman is a woman male and female refer to biological
sex. If a transgender person identifies
as a woman, she is a woman regardless
of biological sex, sexual orientation or
gender expression.

Myth: This is not true, and some sources

will consider the premise offensive. In
Same-sex relationships always have a any case, its probably not relevant to
male and female role your reporting, so dont formulate this
myth into a question when interviewing

People become queer from hanging out Myth: Sexual and gender diversity is not
with other queer people contagious.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 29


30 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
Religion Reporting Tips

Writing and producing stories about

religion in ways that resonate with ardent
believers, well-read worshippers, spiritual
dabblers and unconcerned agnostics
Religious groups can be wary of
requires skill. Read on for some of our outsiders. Learn how to network and
best religion reporting tips. develop relationships with sources.

Visit houses of worship, bookstores,

COVERING RELIGION WITH hobby groups, sports games,
ACCURACY, BALANCE conferences, festivals or meditation
AND INSIGHT centerswherever people of faith
Be curious and willing to learn about
others beliefs. Try to find local representatives of
national organizations that are tied to
Be willing to work through cultural specific faiths.
and language barriers.
Visit online chat sites, social network
Respect the role of faith in peoples sites, advocacy and support sites. Sign
lives, but maintain your journalistic up for newsletters and Google Alerts
skepticism. on faith topics that interest you.

Look beyond institutional religion Try contacting sources on other

and delve into informal, unorga- journalists beats or asking your jour-
nized faith practices. nalism colleagues for help.

When possible, be local and Seek out knowledgeable sources

nationalor local and globalby capable of providing accurate infor-
connecting a story in your community mation and analysis.
to bigger trends or issues.
Always investigate and evaluate the
Ask sources to characterize and label credibility of your sources and con-
their own beliefs rather than making sider their motivations and potential
your own generalizations. biases.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 31

Strive to include moderate sources silent during prayer, and even observ-
in your reporting, not just extreme or ing modesty customs regarding head
powerful voices. coverings, etc.

Be cautious with statistics. Some Research gender expectations of oth-

religions do not keep accurate mem- er faiths and know what to do about
bership records, and some advocacy segregated seating, head coverings
groups promote their own polls. Be and handshakes ahead of your visit.
specific about what numbers repre-
sent and where you found them. Ask permission in advance if you
wish to photograph, film or record a
Official websites of denominations worship service.
and religious organizations are gener-
ally reliable but sometimes outdated.
Make sure the information you gather REVEALING PERSONAL BELIEFS
has been updated recently.
Be prepared to handle questions
Look out for critics of religions who about your personal beliefs from
create websites with URLs similar to sources.
those of whatever group they are
criticizing. Its easy to stumble on a Become familiar with and follow
site that you did not intend to visit. any ethical guidelines set by your
media organization regarding such is a helpful website questions.
for journalists. It features thousands
of story ideas, resources and sources Assure your source that you will listen
on a wide range of issues related to to them and that you are committed
religion, public policy and culture. to representing their faith in a fair and
accurate way.

VISITING PLACES OF Its perfectly fine to decline to answer

WORSHIP such questions or to ask why the per-
son wants to know about your beliefs.
Journalists should experience worship Use your discretion.
services first-hand whenever possible.

Consider letting religious leaders HANDLING

know in advance that you will be DISAGREEMENTS
attending a service.
Remember that your job is to report,
If a worship service is open to the not comment or judge.
public, you can consider what is said
to be on the record, even if the Maintain fairness in your story by
house of worship is private property. representing multiple sides. Use
counterclaims so that one persons
Be respectful. This may mean follow- quotes or accusations do not stand
ing customs such as standing, being alone. This will help show how prev-

32 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

alent your sources views are within a she saw an angel rather than that an
faith tradition. angel appeared in front of the source.

Adding context can accurately Dont assume that because someone

characterize a persons beliefs. Using is a leader or member of a faith group
quotes from an expert or a fact can they necessarily agree with all of that
quickly show your audience whether groups policies and beliefs. Make
a source is on the fringe or in the sure to clarify their views on a topic.
Dont use terminology that de-
If you decide that you wont be able fines the depth or commitment of
to accurately and fairly report on someones faith or religious practices
someone you disagree with, courte- unless a source describes themselves
ously bow out and ask that another as such (devout, practicing, etc.).
reporter be assigned to cover the
story. Dont forget to double-check and
clarify your sources quotes.

THE MAJOR DONTS OF Dont wait for a story to break.

RELIGION REPORTING Actively seek out topics that
interest you.
Do not preach, teach or proselytize
in a story.

Never promote your faith tradition

above others or endorse its beliefs in
a story.

You can report on your own religion.

Just make sure to avoid conflicts of
interest such as writing about your
own congregation.

Never assume a source knows what Newspaper by Silke Remmery is licensed

deities, angels, or demons are up to. under CC by-SA 2.0 license.
For example, write that a source says

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 33


34 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
Source Safety and Sensitivity

Journalists have a duty to allow marginal- outlets handle such requests and suggest
ized people to speak for themselves and that your newsroom follow suit.
in their own voices. We also have a duty
to minimize harm, which means doing
everything we can to protect the safety The Samir Kassir Foundations Journalist
and security of the sources and communi- Survival Guide offers the following tips on
ties we spotlight in our coverage. protecting source identity:

Sexual, gender, and religious minorities

are sometimes understandably reluctant
to speak to the press if they or people
they know have been written about in Before conducting the interview, estab-
sensational or stereotypical terms in lish the rules under which the information
the past. The best way to build trust you get will be reported.
with sources is to consistently produce
responsible and ethical journalism that Can you use their first name?
demonstrates a commitment to fairness,
accuracy and sensitivity. Can you identify their place of work or
position within an organization?
Be sure sources understand the poten-
tial ramifications of being interviewed Can you quote them directly?
and quoted on sensitive topics. Clearly
tell them where your story will appear As a journalist, it is important that you
and its likely audience. If they provide reveal as much information about your
information off-the-record or on back- source as possible to establish their, and
ground, respect that. If they ask not to be your, credibility to your audience. When
photographed or that their real name not negotiating these terms, try not to make
be used in a story, respect that too. Your too many suggestions. Let the source
editors should have a policy on pseud- think and decide for him or herself how
onyms and source anonymity. If they much to give away about who they are.
dont, find out how other ethical news

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 35

Avoid saying you WILL keep their identity Secure internet services such as TOR
secret, because there may be circum- will mask your computers IP address.
stances where you are compelled to Secure chat rooms and email services
reveal it. Instead say you will do EVERY- offer a degree of security. One popular
THING IN YOUR POWER to keep their method of chat encryption that can take
identity secret, and then be specific advantage of Facebooks widespread
about how you intend to do that. use is Off-The-Record messaging through
the Pidgin chat client for PCs (pidgin.
As always, take careful notes during these im). Similar services are available for Mac
discussions, and secure those notes. Use users with the Adium chat client with
a single notebook for all of your reporting OTR. A step-by-step guide for installation
on the confidential source. Do NOT use is offered by There is
that notebook for his or her contact infor- an encrypted email service for Goo-
mation. If possible, commit their name to gles Gmail through a Google Chrome
memory, and identify them in your notes browser extension as well, but nothing
by a number or a symbol. is foolproof. You should operate on the
assumption that your online communi-
Do not discuss the identity of your source cations can be monitored, logged, and
or the information you have obtained recorded. Wi-fi networks are notoriously
with friends or family. insecure. And the very presence of safe
mail or proxy internet software on your
computer may be seen as suspicious.

The absolute best way to get information FILMING ANONYMOUS

that cannot be traced is to have an in-per- SOURCES
son conversation in a private place. Emails,
texts and phone calls can be traced. If your source agrees to an on-camera
interview, there are several production
Bring a small compact camera capable of techniques you can use to protect their
shooting video with you to the meeting, identity. One of the most commonly used
even if you intend to do a full interview techniques is blurring the face in edit after
later. Its always possible that the source the interview is completed. Be careful if you
do this, because your raw video files will of
will only agree to speak with you once.
course reveal the persons face. Shooting
Do not use a smartphone camera or
in shadow is also not particularly secure.
anything that is online.
Facial recognition software can easily
identify people by their profiles, or even
In many cases, an in-person interview the shape of their ears, and even if the
is impossible and you will need to face looks completely blacked out on your
communicate electronically. You should camera monitor, there is a good chance the
familiarize yourself with the technology dark areas contain much more information
that exists to conceal your own identity. than you think.

36 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Another technique is using face scarves tion for what you were doing because
or masks to hide everything but the eyes, the new media will be time and date
but eyes are unique to individuals, and stamped. If the SD card in the camera
your interview subject can easily be iden- is blank, whoever confiscated it will be
tified by their irises alone. more suspicious.

You may be able to cover your interview

with shots of the subject that do not
include the face. Be aware that clothing,
hands, even gestures, can give away their Video journalists who routinely deal
identity as well. with confidential sources will often keep
two computers, one for general use and
One effective solution, if you have a cam- another that is never plugged into the
era operator, is to shoot back at yourself internet. If you have two computers, use
with the back of the subjects head in the the offline one to import and edit your
foreground. If they have a scarf or a hood media. If you dont have two computers,
then you can protect their identity and avoid being online while youre working
still maintain a visually interesting shot. Be with the material.
aware of any reflections that might show
their face. Once your edit is complete, you may
export the finished project and delete
your source files and any proxy files
SECURING YOUR MEDIA created during the edit. The original
SD card should be the only archive you
You should always use a camera that need. If you need to transfer or upload
has removable media and record onto your finished report via the internet, copy
that rather than the cameras built in it onto a thumb drive and plug it into your
memory. Most modern cameras use SD online computer.
cards. These are very useful for securing
your media. Bring at least two with you Depending on your circumstances,
to the interview. you may come up with systems of your
own to protect the identity of confiden-
As soon as your interview is shot, you tial sources. The important things to
should immediately remove the SD card remember are to be careful about what
and secure it. you promise, stick to those promises, and
continuously educate yourself about all
Replace the card with a fresh one, and the technological changes that can make
once you are clear of your source, shoot your work more dangerous and safer.
some new material, for example a street
scene or a marketplace. This way if you
are stopped and your camera is confis-
cated, you will have a plausible explana-

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 37

OTHER RESOURCES Africa is another excellent and compre-
hensive resource for journalists reporting
on sexual and gender minorities in the
The Samir Kassir Foundation has short
region. It can be found at: securityinabox.
animated video tutorials on other topics
including how to protect your computer
from malware and hackers, how to get a
You may also wish to consult the
secure internet connection, and how to
Electronic Frontier Foundations surveil-
secure your Skype account, all available
lance self-defense guides for Journalists
on the Move and LGBTQ Youth, available
The Security in-a-Box Community Focus
guide to digital security tools and tactics
for the LGBTI community in Sub-Saharan

Change Makers Forum by SKeyes is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share

Alike 4.0 International license.

38 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


A Reporting Guide for Journalists 39
Tips for Reporting on
Taboo Topics

In certain countries and contexts, Reporters also take their economic

reporting on sensitive or taboo topics livelihoods into account. Websites that
is not only dangerous for sources. We discuss religion in Brunei must regis-
may need to protect ourselves, our ter with the government or face up to
families and our newsroom colleagues $200,000 in fines. In Jordan, journalists
from imprisonment, fines, torture and face fines of up to $40,000 for denigrat-
even death. ing religion. And in Ireland, blasphemy
fines top $30,000.
The most obvious restrictions reporters
face are legal ones. Constitutions and Faced with these legal, social, political
laws prohibiting defamation, libel, apos- and economic constraints, how can jour-
tasy, blasphemy or gay propaganda nalists and bloggers responsibly cover
are often used to muzzle the press and sensitive issues around religious, sexual
free expression. Some journalists also and gender minorities while staying out
face social and political backlash when of hot water?
broaching sensitive topics. Pakistan
hasnt executed anyone for blasphemy in
recent decades, but people are still being
killed by vigilantes accused of the crime.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram has bombed
media outlets and murdered journalists
for distorting portrayals of the radical
terrorist group. And in the Netherlands,
some media professionals are still afraid
to cover religion after an Islamist mur-
dered one of their colleagues in 2004. Site Blocked by Lars Plougmann licensed
under CC 2.0

40 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

01. Know the local red lines Start with some basic online privacy
In order to push the limits, you first tips from the Electronic Frontier Foun-
need to understand them. Freedom dation, Tor, Privacy International and
of expression is egregiously under- Access Now.
valued in many countries. Brush up
on local laws and cultural sensitivities 04. Report from exile
so you know whats taboo before
getting yourself in a bind. Hardly ideal, but reporting from
exile is often a necessary option. If
journalists and citizens are unable
02. Let sources say what you cant to cover sensitive topics from within
Include alternative voices in your their countries, they might choose
reportingpeople who can express to safely, securely and anonymously
ideas and opinions you cant or who feed information to outsiders who
represent identities that are often have large international followings.
absent or distorted in the press. This Diaspora journalists living and work-
might sound like a basic principle ing abroad still need to consider the
of good reporting (it is), but its also safety of family, friends, colleagues
a powerful way to air dissent and and sources back home. IranWire
to highlight local controversies and is a great example of this kind of
debates. If including such quotes reporting.
could potentially endanger your
sources, consider how to mitigate 05. Write between the lines
threats before publishing.
If your main obstacle is automatic key-
word censorship online, get creative.
03. Write anonymously Netizens in China long referred to the
If you care more about reporting the Tiananmen Square incident of June 4,
facts than seeing your byline, consider 1989, as the thirty-fifth of May. Such
writing anonymously or pseudon- obfuscation is usually just a stopgap
ymously. Dont think for a second until the censors catch on, but if your
that doing so will make you totally readers know what you mean, its
untouchable. If youre reporting on worth a shot.
sensitive issues, you should take every
precaution to avoid being traced,
tracked or identified. If you fail to do so,
youre not only compromising your own
safety but also that of your sources.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 41


42 A Reporting Guide for Journalists
How to Report on SOGIE Issues

Although some of these points are gence when researching stories. Quote
covered in other sections of this reporting reliable data whenever possible.
guide, it may be useful to review an
adapted version of the Gay and Lesbian
Coalition of Kenyas guidelines for report- 3. STEER AWAY FROM MELO-
ing on SOGIE issues. The original version DRAMATIC AND SENSATION-
is available in GALCKs 2016 media ALIZED DEPICTIONS
toolkit SOGIE 101 for the Kenyan Media
Professional. Always evaluate whether your story is in
the public interest. Are you doing the
story to stir emotions, or will it improve
knowledge and livelihoods? Sensation-
alized depictions are often full of false
or exaggerated information and lead to
the public being misinformed, which
SOGIE-related stories have an effect on can have long-lasting effects and serious
the SOGIE community and on society security implications for the SOGIE
at large. Like any other topic, journalists community. A professional journalist must
should be aware that their stories have an question the motives of different sources
effect on how the SOGIE community is before offering them a platform.
treated, and that their words can have a
positive and negative effect on people.
Coverage of SOGIE issues should reflect
the true state of the community, and the
SOGIE issues are highly diverse and use of sensational or abusive language
are seldom black and white. Journalists should be avoided. Grant people from
should take care and perform due dili- the SOGIE community anonymity when

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 43

reporting on them if their lives will be gender identity or gender expression is
negatively affected by the story. Remem- misleading if that person is not part of the
ber, do no harm. story. When choosing photos, carefully
consider if you are infringing on some-
ones right to privacy.

It is very common for the media to use

sensational and irrelevant stock video, A story should be newsworthy and useful
photos or illustrations when reporting to your audience. While some media aim
on SOGIE issues. Pictures are part of a to entertain, it is unfair to trivialize the
story and should be chosen very carefully. lives and stories of minority groups to
Using the image of one person to contin- entertain the majority.
ually depict a certain sexual orientation,

LGBT Diversity Color Run by Gina Giardina licensed under CC 2.0

44 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


A Reporting Guide for Journalists 45
How NOT to Report on
SOGIE Issues

Most of this guide focuses on best prac- Here are some common tropes and pitfalls
tices, but its worth flagging some prob- to avoid when reporting on SOGIE issues:
lematic reporting examples weve come
across so that you can avoid replicating
the same mistakes. 1. DONT LET ISOLATED OUT-
Sloppy or sensational reporting on COMMUNITIES
sensitive issues can cause real harm to
vulnerable communities, harm that can
lead to discrimination or violence. In
Headline: Men made me
October 2010, the Ugandan tabloid
Rolling Stone published an article with the a lesbian after raping me
headline 100 PICTURES OF UGANDAS three times - The Stan-
TOP HOMOS LEAK alongside the cap- dard, Kenya, January 17,
tion Hang Them. Three months later, 2013
Ugandan LGBTI rights activist David Kato
was murdered.
In this story from Nairobi, a lesbian
While normal standards of good journalism attributes her sexual orientation to sexual
obviously apply to covering SOGIE issues, violence. Few sexual minorities would
be extra careful about your framing and pre- agree with this parallel, but absent any
sentation. If sources you interview demon- other voices in the article, the subjects
ize or dehumanize individuals or entire controversial claim stands as authori-
communities, consult the hate speech and tative testimony. While the subject is
dangerous speech tests outlined in the certainly entitled to her belief, it should
Ethical Human Rights Reporting Principles be balanced by a range of opinions and
section of this guide. Your job as a journalist testimonies so that readers are not left
is to present fair and accurate portraits of to falsely believe that sexual violence
people in your community. Dont let your dictates sexual orientation.
own biases or those of the loudest or most
extreme voices dictate your coverage.

46 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

2. DONT LEND FALSE CRED- When quoting doctors, lawyers,
IBILITY TO UNINFORMED psychologists, academics, and other
EXPERTS expert sources who hold controver-
sial, unconventional, or patently false
views, beware of lending them undue
Headline: Is there any- authority and credibility. Speak to a
thing like a gay gene? variety of sources to deduce and present
Daily Nation, Kenya, April mainstream professional views on the
matter. If you determine that your original
23, 2013
expert source is completely off the mark,
you may decide not to include his or
In a column called Medical Clinic, her views unless doing so with proper
written by a medical doctor, the author context exposes the incorrect and fringe
quotes his former professors false and nature of those views. Beware of implying
misguided views about homosexuality: false balance on issues that have already
achieved general consensus.
In his opinion, the majority of men
attracted to other men were not neces-
sarily born gay. They do not have the 3. AVOID PUBLISHING IMAG-
characteristic gay look, and it would be ES OR DETAILS OF SOGIE
difficult to tell such from a straight chap. MINORITIES WITHOUT FIRST
So how do they become gay? NOTIFYING THEM OR OB-

Men are indoctrinated into a gay lifestyle Headline: Lesbian pas-

at an early age when they are impres-
tor vs church - The Cape
sionable, he explained. This is usually
by a friend or older boys. However, the Times, South Africa, May
stimulation of the prostrate is what makes 22, 2013
them seek out men time and time again.
This eventually develops into a lifestyle. Although the text of this story was
ethically sound, the massive photo that
The above statements, presented as med- accompanied it on the front page of
ical fact, are nonsensical. So is the articles Cape Towns most widely circulated
excerpt, which reads, Is homosexuality newspaper was problematic. The minister
genetic or is it a learned behaviour profiled was out to friends, family and col-
bordering on addiction? All medical leagues, but her wife was not. The front
indicators point to personal choice and page photo of the married couple smiling
conditioning rather than genes. side-by-side was published without the
subjects consent, a legally defensible
decision given that it was taken in a
public place, but one that raises ethical

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 47

concerns and created real problems 5. DONT PUBLISH IF YOUVE
for the ministers wife, who was outed NOT DONE YOUR RESEARCH
against her will. When photographing or
covering sensitive SOGIE issues, confirm
that sources know what will be done Headline: House to ad-
with the material produced and that they dress matter of intersex
consent to being quoted or featured. people - Daily Nation,
Kenya, October 10, 2016
NORITIES FOR SALACIOUS While the authors seemingly objective
CLICKBAIT. approach to covering intersex issues is
admirable, his ignorance of the actual
Headline: I Got Three issues and misuse of terminology do
more to confuse than inform the reader.
Grindr Dates in an Hour in
the Olympic Village - The The author characterizes intersex people
Daily Beast, Brazil, August as victims who suffer from a rare
11, 2016 gender disorder, a gender identity dis-
order that makes it difficult to determine
whether they are male or female at birth,
In this article from the Rio Olympics,
though their gender becomes apparent
a straight reporter used the gay social
as they grow.
network app Grindr to chat with athletes
some of them closeted and from
countries where coming out can be The author quotes expert opinion as
dangerous and published potentially saying, the victims have both female and
identifiable details about them. This prac- male sexual organs at birth, both poorly
tice, sometimes called Grindr-baiting, is formed. He quotes an MP as saying, an
intrusive and unethical. SOGIE minorities intersex person requires at least four chro-
should not be exploited for sensational or mosome tests to determine their gender
salacious entertainment coverage. and implies that corrective surgery is

48 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

The authors victimizing language, Do you turn away people from the work-
muddling of gender and biological sex, place on account of physical disability
and reliance on false information from that does not in any way affect their
expert sources shows that he hasnt productivity? He poses.
done his homework. The absence of any
intersex voices in the piece may shed But Mr Anthony Wainaina, a secondary
some light on these oversights. Avoid school teacher, differs. He has no patience
the rush to publish, reach out to relevant with gay mannerisms. They dye and plait
sources, and research the issue in-depth their hair and manicure their hands at the
before confusing your audience with expense of doing any real work, he says.
misrepresentations and falsehoods.
He quotes the bible, terming homosexual-
ity as the most serious transgression next
LENGED These notions that SOGIE minorities go
on sexual recruitment drives, that being
Headline: Homosexuality gay is a disability, and that gay people
are too distracted grooming themselves
finds room in the office
in the office to get any work done are
- The Standard, Kenya, frankly ridiculous. They would seem
October 23, 2009 almost humorous if such stereotypical
beliefs were not so widely and genuinely
Your sources might say some pretty held. Journalists have a duty to challenge
outlandish things about SOGIE minori- sources who parrot vilifying stereotypes.
ties. Take a look at the quotes in this story If such quotes are somehow deemed
about workplace SOGIE issues in Kenya: newsworthy, they should be contex-
tualized and balanced with alternative
I think we should not shun gays unduly so opinions that more closely reflect reality.
long as they do not embark on a recruit-
ment drive in the workplace. Their lifestyle
should remain private, and they have a
right to it just like anybody else, said a
lecturer at Egerton University.
Headline: Nkurunziza
Mr Nelson Njema, an accountant with an furious as Senate rejects
oil firm, says being gay is just like being anti-gay law - The East
impotent or a hermaphrodite.
African, Burundi, March
He says gays and lesbians have the right 28, 2009
to workplace benefits and respect like
anybody else.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 49

This article makes numerous reference a bearded sister. As time goes by, the
to the roughly 400 gay people living couple takes to the childrens depart-
in Burundi, a country of more than 10 ment over that small matter of adopting
million people, without ever citing a a future voter.
source. Statistics concerning sexual orien-
tation and gender identity are extremely The child duly goes to school where
unreliable given that such data must be the couple dutifully attend visiting and
self-reported, often in societies where Parents Days. One is daddy, the other the
homosexuality is stigmatized or unlawful. male mother. Now imagine the child
That being said, the proportion of sexual filling forms with spaces for Fathers and
minorities among Burundis general pop- Mothers names. Picture too, trying to
ulation is certainly above .004% if surveys introduce them in a social gathering.
from other parts of the world provide
any guidance. Be skeptical of any SOGIE This is not far-fetched.
statistics you come across, and always
check and report the source if you do use The unnamed authors fear mongering
numbers in your stories. and reliance on invented terminology to
introduce a news report is irresponsible,
unprofessional and unethical. Such fram-
8. DONT PANDER TO YOUR ing does a disservice to our readers and
AUDIENCES FEARS should be avoided at all costs.

Headline: Im your dad, For more advice on what NOT to do,

hes your papa - Daily Na- see GLAADs Terms to Avoid in the
Key SOGIE Terminology section of this
tion, Kenya, May 22, 2012 guide.

Our audiences biases, prejudices and

fears around SOGIE issues often stem
from ignorance or misinformation. Our
job as journalists is to inform the public,
not to prey on their fears for our own
financial gain. Consider the following
introduction to a story about a Kenyan
National Human Rights Commission
report that recommended the decrimi-
nalization of homosexuality and same-
sex marriage:
Screenshot of article on Africa Review
Picture 21st Century Kenya as a country Correspondent
where same-sex marriages are legal. A
man falls head over heels and marries

50 A Reporting Guide for Journalists



A Reporting Guide for Journalists 51

Faith Leaders Perspectives

During the Cape Town workshop, Romans 1:2627

journalists met with human rights activists
and faith leaders from across the religious Corinthians 6:910
spectrum. Here we summarize three of
Timothy 1:10
those speakers presentations.
Many Christians believe these passages
ECCLESIA DE LANGE: condemn homosexuality as a sin, but
IAM cautions against reading the Bible
The Rev. Ecclesia de Lange is an ordained literally:
minister of the Methodist Church of
Southern Africa (MCSA). She has been One cannot randomly choose isolated
involved with Inclusive and Affirming verses as if they represent Gods com-
Ministries since 2014 and is currently part mand to us today. We must interpret and
of IAMs senior management team. understand the Bible, with the aid of the
Holy Spirit, within the Biblical context as
In their booklet The Bible and Homosex- well as our own context. The big chal-
uality, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries lenge therefore is: How do we read the
contextually engages with eight Biblical Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit?
passages that refer directly or indirectly to
homosexuality. These are: To do this, IAM suggests that readers
strive to understand: 1) the cultural
The Creation story as narrated in contexts in which the Bibles authors
Genesis 13 lived, 2) how specific verses fit into larger
passages and the Bibles overall message,
The Sodom narrative in Genesis 19:
and 3) how verses can be read with con-
temporary context.
Judges 19
On the issue of homosexuality, IAM warns
Leviticus 18:22 of several potholes readers should avoid
stumbling into when reading the Bible.
Leviticus 20:13

52 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

These include: rights activist who focuses on sexual ori-
entation and gender identity within Islam.
01. Isolating specific verses from Muhsin is the founder and director of The
their broader meanings or Inner Circle, the worlds largest formal
context. organization that supports Muslims who
have been marginalized because of their
02. Inconsistently applying the sexual orientations or gender identities
literal method by regarding and expressions.
certain verses as eternal truths
while ignoring other verses that Muhsin says homosexuality and gender
bear similar style. non-conforming identities have existed
within predominantly Muslim societies
03. Using isolated texts to prove since Islams inception more than 1,400
your own point of view. No text years ago.
speaks on its own.
He cites the example of the mukhan-
nathun, a social group mentioned
04. Relying on translations of the
in ancient ahadith and sunan among
Bible that introduce ahistorical
which sexual and gender non-conform-
prejudices or misconceptions.
ing activities and expressions were
prevalent. Some of those mukhan-
05. Falling back on moralism and
nathun were castrated and worked as
prescriptiveness or categoriz-
servants in Muslim homes.
ing certain sexual sins as worse
than the sin of judgement.
Although lesbianism has been present
throughout the history of Islam, it has
It is irresponsible and unscientific to often been ignored or undocumented
interpret isolated verses in the Bible due to patriarchal notions that sex must
literally or in a fundamentalist way. The involve penile penetration.
Bible says absolutely nothing about, nor
does it condemn, a committed, loving and Numerous homoerotic and homoroman-
faithful homosexual relationship as we tic paintings and poetry emerged during
know it today. the early centuries of Islam from such
luminaries as Abu Nawas, Caliph Muham-
MUHSIN HENDRICKS: mad al-Amin, Omar Khayyam, Rumi, Ibn
al-Farid, and Hafez.
Muhsin Hendricks is a Cape Town-based
Under the Umayyad and Abbasid
Islamic scholar with a background in
Caliphates, which ruled after the Prophet
Classical Arabic and Islamic Sciences
Muhammads death until about 1258,
from the University of Islamic Studies in
Muhsin says there is no record of poets
Karachi, Pakistan. He is an imam (religious
being punished for their published sexual
leader) by profession and also a human

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 53

opinions and statements, or even for their Muhsin says there are verses in the Quran
sexual activities. that are broad enough in meaning and
interpretation to acknowledge human
Muhsin says a contemporary conflict diversity and to include sexual identities
between queer narratives and orthodox and gender expressions that go beyond
Islam leaves many queer Muslims with traditional male and female binaries.
cognitive dissonance and low levels of
self-esteem when trying to reconcile their PHARIE SEFALI:
sexual orientations or gender identities
with their faiths.
Pharie Sefali is a freelance journalist and
This cognitive dissonance, coupled with an executive committee member of
blatant rejection from orthodox Muslim Ubambo Lwam Luvuyo LGBTI Traditional
communities, has led many queer Muslims Healers Forum in Cape Town.
to negotiate this dilemma between sex-
uality and spirituality through assuming Pharie describes traditional healing as
dual identities, drugs and alcohol abuse, more cosmology than religion and says
irresponsible sexual behaviour, apostasy that traditional healers (also called sango-
and even suicide. mas) serve as the medium through which
physical, psychological, spiritual and
Barring the Hanafi school of Islamic ancestral worlds are connected.
thought, Muhsin says mainstream
Sunni and Shia scholars agree that LGBTQI+ sangomas are often consid-
homosexuality falls under adultery and ered strange and out of line with African
should be punished under Islamic law. ancestral beliefs. In rural communities
In 2007, the Muslim Judicial Council of across South Africa, families of LGBTQI+
South Africa declared that any Muslim individuals organize ceremonies with
who accepts homosexuality should be traditional healers in hopes that ances-
considered an apostate. tors will change their loved ones sexual
orientation or gender identity.
The Quran is written in a poetic form,
leaving it open to evolving and varied The Traditional Healers Forum advocate
interpretations. Quranic interpretation for the social and institutional rights of
has to constantly evolve as humanity LGBTQI+ traditional healers. The forum
evolves otherwise it becomes a dead educates sangomas and society at large
book. Unfortunately, Muslims have pre- about issues surrounding sexuality and
served the Quran to such an extent that spirituality. Pharie describes the forum
alternative interpretations of it have been as a safe space for people to talk more
discouraged and marginalized. openly about their sexuality and to
challenge beliefs that LGBTQI+ people
cannot be sangomas.

54 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Pharie interviewed fellow LGBTQI+ sangomas at a workshop for a 2015 article that
originally appeared in GroundUp:

Sindiswa Tafeni told the workshop that being lesbian in the

township was hard enough, and being a lesbian sangoma was
even harder because of the attitude of other sangomas.

Its hard to get clients because communities and straight healers

speak badly of you. If you go to a traditional ceremony where you
meet other healers, they have an attitude of mockery and say that
you are faking the healing gift and that being lesbian shows that
your ancestors are angry at you, said Tafeni.

Nokuthula Mbete, who works for the Quaker Peace Center and
is a traditional healer and a pastor, said some parents assumed
that a child who disclosed that he or she was gay or lesbian was
bewitched and that the family had been cursed. The children
were sent to traditional healers to reverse the curse and heal the
child from the homophobic disease.

People take homosexuality as something that can be solved, fixed

or cured. I work with youth every day. Some get suicidal because
their parents are giving them traditional medicine to cure the
homosexual disease. So even sangomas have to be educated
about sexuality, and we have to change their stereotype mindset,
Mbete said.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 55



56 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Trainee Stories

The following stories originated during NAMIBIAN CHRISTIANS

the November 2016 workshop in Cape GRAPPLE OVER PRAY THE GAY
Town and evolved in the weeks that fol- AWAY TACTICS
lowed under Religion News Foundations
editorial guidance and support. Each
story has been published in the trainees AUTHOR: Martha Mukaiwa
own publications and via Religion News
Service. Additional trainee stories, includ- As Namibian church leaders try to deci-
pher Gods will for LGBTQ+ congregants,
ing television and radio pieces, can be
sexual minorities forge their own relation-
found at: ships with God.
WINDHOEK, Namibia First there was
STORY 1 the oil. A small steady stream the church
prophet poured over Marcos head as he
knelt, crying on a rough brown sack in the
back room of a Pentecostal church in the
Namibian capital.

His countrys flag and the smell of candles

are all Marco, a pseudonym used to protect
his identity, remembers about the space.

Along with the rituals oil and ash, the

The nonprofit Tulinam held a dialogue
25-year-old says he washed away the
workshop with female church leaders in
traumatic memories from that summer
Otjiwarongo, Namibia, on 6 August 2016.
Photo courtesy of Madelene Isaacks. ceremony in 2014, but only after hed
assured his mother, the church prophet
and a church elder that he was no longer
gay, that hed been cured, and that the
evil was gone vanquished by fervent

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 57

prayer and scattered ashes. who identify as Christian. From his pulpit
in the Windhoek industrial area, he tells
Marco didnt ask any questions about congregants that sin without repentance
the prayer ceremony at the time but later leads to literal fire and brimstone.
researched it online. Ash, according
to Old Testament stories about Job and If a gay person came and asked me
Nineveh, is a symbol of repentance. for help, I would embrace the person,
Sackcloth was worn by kings and subjects Dowie said. I dont treat homosexu-
as an expression of humility, and Jesus ality any differently from any other sin.
disciples used oil to heal the sick. There must be some form of chastising.
They must be disciplined. If they sit
From the substance of their prayers, under my ceiling, change will come.
Marco concluded that his mother, the
prophet and the elder believed he was Like Alan Chambers -- the former pres-
being influenced by an evil spirit. ident of Exodus International who was
at the forefront of a faith-based ex-gay
The prophet took my hands, the three movement in the U.S. before publicly
of them surrounded me, and they were requesting the LGBTQ+ communitys
all saying different things, mostly that forgiveness for undue harm in 2013 --
they wanted the thing in me to be gone Dowie doesnt think you can pray being
so I could fulfill my greater calling on gay away.
Earth. Eventually they started praying in
tongues, Marco said, adding that they I think you must decide to change,
wore white and looked almost angelic as and that you can infuse that with prayer,
their prayers hit fever pitch. but whether you bombard heaven with
prayer, you will obviously be tempted
I love my mum, but in that moment I until the end of your days. Just like I may
felt she had deserted me, he said. I be tempted to sleep with someone other
am a very private person, and I felt so than my wife. Gays just need to have
ashamed and humiliated. The person I discipline, he said.
expected to be there and who I loved
most let me down. Dowies seemingly judgemental toler-
ance of sexual minorities is something
Two years later, Marco says he is still Madelene Isaacks is all too familiar with.
gay. Pastor Duane Dowie, one of the
few Windhoek-based pastors eager to A lesbian and a Christian herself,
comment on his story, believes Marco is Isaacks faith-based NGO Tulinam has
destined for hell. witnessed four years of intolerance and
restrictive acceptance while helping to
Dowie, who preaches at the non-denom- create safe spaces for sexual minorities
inational Floodgates church in Prosperita, in Namibian churches.
is among the 90 percent of Namibians

58 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

As a LGBTI person, you are expected to Unfortunately, a highly conservative
leave your sexuality at the church door, brand of Christianity dominates in
she said of her experiences with local Namibia and promotes all kinds of false-
faith communities. Where there is com- hoods. Whittaker said. If you consider,
passion or tolerance, it comes mostly with for example, that Archbishop Desmond
the notion that if you let us pray for you Tutu has publicly and very strongly
and if you confess your wrongdoing, God supported the LGBTQ+ community, then
will free you from this sin. So a pastor will you should realize how subjective the
tell you we love you, but we hate the sin approach to religion is.
that you do.
South African archbishop emeritus
While a few denominations, including and human rights activist Desmond
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Tutu has said God makes him speak
Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), express up on gay rights.
tolerance towards LGBTQ+ Christians,
Isaacks says most are outright condemn- What many Namibian parents do
ing or say they leave judgment to God. not realize is that LGBTQ+ people are
born with their sexual orientation and
These churches are fiercely homopho- cannot change themselves, Whittaker
bic, to the point that, if they can identify said. The best approach for parents
them, they will single out gay people in is to accept and emotionally support
their congregation and drive out the gay their offspring, especially when they
demon or attempt any ritual that they are teenagers, as this is a time of great
feel is needed to deal with this person, uncertainty and identity clarification.
she said.
Georges nightly prayer sessions began
Recalling a pastor who threatened to at 15 when his parents discovered explicit
out a gay congregant to his family as text messages on his phone.
well as three gay men who allowed
the demons to be driven out of Both Pentecostal church leaders, Georges
them to no avail, Isaacks said, Its as if parents believed the way to stop their sons
some pastors do not realize that they same-sex attraction was to forbid him from
are dealing with human beings, with seeing gay friends and to pray with him
feelings and emotions. every night for six months.

According to Windhoek-based clinical Intense, focused prayer sessions were

psychologist Shaun Whittaker, the mandatory in the kitchen or in the living
possible effects of this sort of shaming room after dinner. His parents would
and lack of support can include severe place anointing oil on his forehead and
depression, emotional dysfunction, ask God to change their son.
feelings of isolation, loneliness and
even suicide.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 59

I believed God would change me, but My mum and I dont talk about it. Not
I struggled, because why would God about the ceremony. Not about my sexual
make me this way if it was so wrong? orientation. he said.
George, also a pseudonym to protect his
identity, said. I prayed, but I felt like I was Watching a judge on South Africas
acting a certain way so I could shut my version of American Idols with his mother
parents up. It hurt to have to give up my two years later, Marco wondered if she
friends. I had to pray by myself and with would ever see her son for who he is.
my parents, focusing on specific verses
about Sodom and Gomorrah. I asked A few weeks ago we watched Idols and
to be forgiven. I read out verses that Somizi was on -- yellow hair, so flamboy-
highlighted how unnatural I am, how Im ant -- and my mum said she loves him.
an abomination. And I just thought, Mum, here I am too!
Im gay too! Marco said. Maybe if I
After promising that he would continue achieve something like him, Ill get the
praying on his own and avoiding his gay love that I want as myself. I think she still
friends, the parent-monitored prayer has this hope that the ceremony worked
sessions fizzled out. George hoped he and that I changed that day. But I didnt.
would eventually become attracted to I cant.
women, but he never did.
Martha Mukaiwa is a journalist based in
Neither did Marco. Namibia.

As local churches struggle to decipher

Gods will for LGBTQ+ individuals in
their congregations, Isaacks, Marco
and George continue to see God as the
compass in their lives.

The church has a responsibility to put

Gods love into action by addressing
injustices and the plight of minorities
in Namibian society, Isaacks said.
Let this not divide us. Rather, let us The number of LGBT-friendly bars in
approach it with humility and admit our Cameroon shrunk recently when a formerly
limitations. How do any one of us know friendly pub posted a sign forbidding access
that we are correctly interpreting Gods to homosexuelles. Photo provided to the
word for us today? author by an activist who requested anonym-
ity due to safety concerns.

Despite the trauma of his sackcloth and

ash ceremony, Marco maintains a loving
relationship with his mother and attends
church regularly.

60 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

AUTHOR: Mbom Sixtus can only be compared to the peace and
serenity of a graveyard, he said. They
Some people may think LGBTI+ people are silent but live in distress.
live in peace in Cameroon. Their lives
can only be compared to the peace and Awonos distress started in her teens
serenity of a graveyard. They are silent but when her father insisted it was a sin for a
live in distress.
biological male to act like a woman.

YAOUNDE, Cameroon Awono, whose

I was criticized for not doing what boys
name has been changed to protect her
do, not playing football, for walking
identity, fidgets and laughs uneasily as
and talking like a girl. I tried to hide my
she describes her trip to hell and back.
feelings. At the end of it all, my father sent
me away from home, she said.
I was 16 when my father called me up
for questioning. He is a police officer
Awono became homeless and struggled
and criticized me for acting too girly. I
to make ends meet.
tried to make him understand that it was
just who I am. The whole family was con-
I was ready to do anything for food
fused. They said I was not like that when I
and shelter. I ended up being raped by
was growing up, but I argued they simply
so many men I cant even remember
did not notice, she said.
how many. When I fell sick, I couldnt
go to hospital for fear of rejection. I was
Awono, now in her early 30s, is a trans-
obliged to call my mum on the phone
gender woman in Yaounde, Cameroon.
and explain how natural my gender iden-
tity is. You know mothers have soft spots
People attack me at home and steal
for their children, she said.
my stuff, she said. Whenever the
case goes to the police, they say
Awono says her mother then rented a
they attacked me because I am of the
house for her and sent her back to school
LGBTI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-
where she became married to her
gender, intersex) community, and [the
perpetrators] get away with it.
I knew it was my only chance for sur-
Brice Evina, President of the Cameroon
vival, she said. I went through lots of
Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAID), says
things, and today, I am a happy woman.
the West African country has witnessed
Yet Awono and other gender and sexual
a recent spike in arrests and attacks
minorities in Cameroon face new chal-
targeting sexual and gender minorities.
lenges every day.
He describes the current situation as a
cemetery peace.
Right now, we only hang out in partic-
ular bars, which are LGBTI+-friendly,
Some people may think LGBTI+ people Awono said.
live in peace in Cameroon. Their lives

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 61

The number of such spaces shrunk guilty because I work for an NGO that
recently when a formerly friendly pub advocates for LGBTI+ rights.
posted a sign forbidding access to
homosexuelles. Serge was eventually released without
charge. His attacker remains in jail.
We find that disturbing, but what can
we do? The bouncers see you from a Serge believes his release is unique and
distance and ask you to walk away. They that other sexual and gender minorities in
have a database with our photos. Even Cameroon would likely still be in custody
when they find you sitting, they ask you to after being attacked.
leave, she lamented.


Serge, whose name has been changed to
protect his identity, has faced ostracism
and violence in Cameroon because of his In 2013, when Cameroons human
sexuality. When his family learned he was rights record was reviewed at the U.N.
gay, they prayed to cast out the witchcraft Human Rights Council, 15 nations
they believed possessed him. urged the country to improve its treat-
ment of LGBTI people.
People come preaching and asking you
to stop sleeping with men and telling Cameroons network of human rights
you how sinful it is. At the end of the day, advocates agree that Article 347-1 of the
they still take your evil money when they Penal Code runs contrary to the Universal
need your help, he said. I know parents Declaration of Human Rights, the African
who only accept their childrens sexuality Charter on Human and Peoples Rights,
when they start earning a living. But when and even Cameroons constitution, which
you die, they call you names and say you guarantees freedoms and condemns all
probably died of some of those LGBTI+ forms of discrimination including that
diseases. What a pretentious world. based on gender.

Serge says he was attacked at his apart- Article 347-1 prescribes fines of up to
ment in October 2015. 200,000 Central African Francs (about
$320) and prison terms of up to five years
When we got to the gendarmerie, the for anyone who has sexual relations with
attacker admitted he wanted to kill me someone of the same sex.
because I was gay and claimed I was
having sex with his younger brother, Emmanuel Mbanmi Ndinga, a member
Serge said. The following day, I was of parliament in Cameroons Northwest
shocked. A TV crew from the CRTV Province, says not everything in interna-
national broadcaster was brought in, tional conventions or charters should be
and I was in the news. During a chamber implemented in local law.
hearing, the judge insisted I was gay and

62 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

We cannot implement aspects that are hospitals and are denied medical atten-
repugnant to our cultures, he said of equal tion. In some cases, we go there and
rights for sexual and gender minorities. sensitize the medics, and they agree to
treat the patient when he returns.
CAMFAID Human Rights Coordinator
Jean Jacques Dissoke says Cameroons Awono is familiar with such discrimination
anti-LGBTI legal framework promotes but says she feels none when she visits
discrimination. her local Catholic church.

When people are charged under Article Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop
347-1, it becomes difficult to find lawyers emeritus of Douala, has on several
willing to defend them publicly. Some occasions reminded congregants that his
even abandon court proceedings mid- church does not excommunicate sexual
trial due to scrutiny and stigma. minorities. He insists that all humans sin
and that homosexuality should not be
CAMFAID has recorded 50 arrests under singled out as a bigger sin than others.
Article 347-1 since 2012. In late-Novem-
ber 2016, gendarmerie officers raided In a 2015 interview with the Catholic
a house in Yaounde and arrested 12 Church newspaper LEffort Camerounais,
suspected sexual and gender minorities Tumi said, In imitation of Christ, the
who were living together. Church has never condemned a sinner.

We do not have enough funds to

follow up on their cases. It is funny how
people think that being of the LGBTI
community or defending the rights In January 2013, Cameroons President
of sexual minorities is always about Paul Biya told journalists theres no
money, Dissoke said, citing a com- reason to despairMinds are changing,
mon trope that Western donors funnel with regard to LGBTI issues. Six months
money to Africa to promote and recruit later, the founder of CAMFAID Eric
unAfrican notions of sexuality. Lemembe was found dead at his home.

Although Cameroons sexual and gender Freedom House reported that Lemem-
minorities face stigmatization, verbal bes neck and feet had been broken and
aggression and criminalization, Evina says his face, hands and feet had been burnt
local human rights advocates have suc- with a hot iron. The killing, according to
cessfully improved their access to health the American NGO, was a demonstration
facilities and services. of ignorance, prejudice and laws that
deny LGBTI people in Cameroon their
fundamental rights.
We sensitize prison wardens and
medics on the health needs of the
Cameroons Communication Minister Issa
community. At times, gay persons go to
Tchiroma held a press conference and

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 63

condemned Freedom House for request- UGANDAS LGBTI FAITH LEADERS
ing equal rights for LGBTI people. Tchi- SAY GODS LOVE IS UNCONDI-
roma said Cameroon is made up mainly TIONAL
of Christians, Muslims and traditionalists
whose beliefs are against such rights. He
also added that a criminal offence cannot AUTHOR: Barigye Ambrose
be promoted.
Ugandan human rights activist Barigye
Three years later, Cameroon still has a Ambrose profiles religious LGBTI Ugan-
dans and their allies who have stood firm
long way to go to reach equality for gen-
in the face of local homophobia.
der and sexual minorities, but Awono and
Serge are hopeful for the future.
KAMPALA, Uganda Religion is at the
core of many African societies, includ-
Inasmuch as issues of human rights will
ing those that cite faith and culture to
always exist in our society, I am happy
condemn sexual and gender minorities
that we now have organizations that will
as unAfrican, ungodly and unnatural.
always be there to promote and defend
these rights, especially those of sexual
In Uganda, despite stigma and legal
minorities, Serge said.
prohibitions, the gender and sexual
minority movement has grown into a for-
Mbom Sixtus is a journalist based in
midable force fighting for the realization
of equality for all citizens. This fight has
been met by strong resistance from most
STORY 3 religious leaders and anti-gay advocates
who argue that same-sex relations are a
threat to traditional African family values
and that they deserve no place in the
predominantly Christian.

Homophobic ideas have united different

religious sects, political parties, and
the general public. Muslim, Anglican,
Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Seventh Day
Adventists, Pentecostal and leaders of
traditional religions have all united to fight
Rev. Patrick Leuben Mukajanga, founder and
LGBTI rights and preached sermons that
executive director of St. Pauls Voice Centre
of Uganda (SPAVOC). Photo by Barigye label homosexuality as an evil practice
Ambrose at LGBTI Pride 2015 in Entebbe, among unholy people who need spiritual
Uganda. and sacred cleansing.

Such rhetoric has led some religious

LGBTI Ugandans and their straight allies

64 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

to denounce or abandon their faiths are seldom given a platform to speak or
while others work to spiritually nourish defend alternative interpretations of Bibli-
their peers. cal verses often used to condemn them.

Here we profile leaders and allies of the Brian believes there is no fundamental dif-
Ugandan LGBTI community who have ference between heterosexual and homo-
kept their faith when religious leaders sexual relationships as long as both are
disowned them. built on love. According to this preacher,
God doesnt focus on gender or sexuality
but rather on the human being.
Being a religious leader and open advo-
cate for the rights of sexual minorities has
not always been easy for Brian.

Brian Byamukama-Executive Director for SAME-SEX
Rural Movement Initiative (RUMI) and pastor RELATIONS EVIL.
and founder of Bethany Baptist Church in
Mbale, Uganda. Photo by Barigye Ambrose
[Uganda] has become a dumping site for
on 1 January 2017 in Mbale.
hate propaganda from the West. That is
why most religious fundamentalists have
Brian Byamukama is a pastor at Bethany
brought their anti-gay gospel to Africa.
Baptist Church in Mbale district, Eastern
These [fundamentalists] do not solely hold
Uganda, and a human rights defender
the blame. Our systems also are partly to
who works on LGBTI issues. He is the
blame for allowing people like Scott Lively
founder and Executive Director of Rural
to come and sow their seeds of hate in
Movement Initiative (RUMI) an organiza-
our country, pushing for the persecution of
tion protecting marginalized people in
LGBTI people.
Mbale district. Brian is an out bisexual
man married to a woman, with whom he
Scott Lively, president of Abiding Truth
has one daughter.
Ministries in California, has advanced
anti-gay agendas in different countries
Brian says the persecution of fellow LGBTI
around the world, including Uganda.
Ugandans prompted him to come out
as a human rights advocate. He believes
Brian also notes the effect of Ugandan
that many LGBTI Ugandans have run away
mainstream medias negative reporting
from their faith communities because they

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 65

on LGBTI issues and advises media outlets Most religious leaders in Uganda con-
to embrace a fair and balanced approach sider same-sex relations evil. This has
rather than relying on sensational reporting been witnessed during various religious
of already marginalized people. crusades in which pastors and other
evangelicals call upon the general
Let us spread the word of God without public to fight homosexuals with all
divisionism because salvation is by grace their might because they believe they
and we have to understand that we are contradict African family values. Patrick
diverse and God is the only judge. advises these leaders to preach the
gospel of inclusiveness and to leave
judgment to God. For his work, Patrick
was awarded the Makwan Prize for
Human Rights in 2013.

Patrick said he has been ostracized and

attacked by angry residents of his home
district of Ibanda in western Uganda and
threatened and arrested by police on
charges of promoting homosexuality.
Ugandas Penal Code Act Section 145
punishes carnal knowledge against the
order of nature with life imprisonment.

Rev. Patrick Leuben Mukajanga, founder Because of the nature of my work and my
and executive director of St. Pauls Voice openness while advocating for the rights
Centre of Uganda (SPAVOC). Photo by of LGBTI people, I have suffered many
Barigye Ambrose at LGBTI Pride 2015 in forms of discrimination from my immedi-
Entebbe, Uganda. ate neighbors. I have kept strong despite
these challenges..
Rev. Patrick Leuben Mukajanga is the
founder and executive director of Ugandan media has been known to out and
Saint Pauls Voice Centre of Uganda shame people suspected of being LGBTI.
(SPAVOC), a Christian-based NGO Some tabloids have printed the names,
that partners with local and interna- faces, and addresses of such people
tional organizations to fight against alongside sensational headlines, inciting
the discrimination of LGBTI people in public violence against sexual minorities.
Uganda. Patrick is an out gay advocate Targeted Ugandans have been disowned
for the rights of sexual minorities and a by their families, evicted, fired from their
Christian who has dedicated his life to jobs and kicked out of school. Facing verbal
preaching the gospel of love to those and physical attacks, many LGBTI Ugandans
that feel abandoned because of their have sought asylum abroad.
sexual orientation and gender identity.

66 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Our media here in Uganda has always Born and raised in a Christian family, she
reported stories about LGBTI issues with was taught that God loves us despite
more sensationalism, which has caused our sins. Although religious persecution
more harm to these outed members of the of sexual minorities has caused her to
gender and sexual minority community. question her faith at times, she believes
I hope that all this can be eradicated if that only God can judge us.
our journalists here researched more and
emphasized professionalism while report- Diane uses social media platforms
ing on such sensitive topics in society. including WhatsApp and Facebook to
share scriptures of encouragement with
her followers and to encourage them
Patrick believes that God loves all his
not to lose hope in the face of persecu-
creations and that all humans deserve
tion. She does the same offline at LGBTI
equal and fair treatment in society,
community gatherings.
despite their differences.
She believes these messages of hope
DIANA SYDNEY BAKURAIRA have impacted many LGBTI lives. On a
recent trip to the U.S., a friend told Diane
that her messages on social media had
encouraged her to return to church to try
to reconcile her sexuality and her faith.

In 2007, Diane left her old house of

worship in Kampala because of the
pastors hate sermons. She then moved
from church to church in search of an
all-inclusive space and finally found
Rubaga Miracle Centre in Kampala, which
preaches against discrimination and
focuses on love.

The best way for these religious leaders

Diane Sydney Bakuraira, administrative to understand LGBTI people is to first of
officer at Sexual Minorities Uganda all get in touch with them, understand
(SMUG). Photo by Barigye Ambrose on 1 who they are, their background, and then
January 2017 in Kisasi-Kampala. approach them with a gospel of love, not
hate. Before you change your attitude
Diane Sydney Bakuraira, better known as towards something you must first under-
Didi Baks in the Ugandan LGBTI com- stand why you have that very attitude.
munity, is an out lesbian woman, a trained They need to first understand the LGBTI
paralegal and administrative officer at the community and find a way of preaching
Kampala-based NGO Sexual Minorities to them the appropriate message of love
Uganda (SMUG). depending on different interpretations of
the Bible.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 67

Diane believes that religious lead-
ers who disown sexual and gender
minorities often do so because they
selectively and wrongly interpret verses
of the Bible. She says these verses from
Leviticus and Deuteronomy make LGBTI
people feel guilty and unwanted, yet the
Bible is meant to encourage us to love
one another. She encourages preachers
to embrace diversity in their churches
and to make an effort to understand
their congregations.
Pastor Samson Turinawe, founder and exec-
However much the world does not under- utive director of Universal Love Ministries.
stand me, my God does and he is the only Photo by Barigye Ambrose on 23 November
2016 in Kamwokya-Kampala.
person who will judge me and the only one
who holds the truth and the answers. So,
Pastor Samson Turinawe is the founder
for me to keep in touch with my faith is quite
and director of Universal Love Ministries,
important as a Christian.
a charity based in Kampala that preaches
for the inclusion of LGBTI persons. After
Diane encourages LGBTI people to find
his graduation from Life Bible school in
churches where they feel spiritually com-
2005, Turinawe ministered in a Pentecos-
fortable and to not always focus on hate
tal church as a youth pastor in Bushenyi,
speech or they will become demoralized.
western Uganda. By 2006,,his congre-
She advises religious leaders to embrace
gants started openly discussing sexual
peace and love and tells the public not to
minorities, and the church that he was
judge, persecute or discriminate against
administering started expelling sus-
LGBTI people, encouraging them to
pected LGBTI members.
research sexuality and gender identity.

Convinced that these members should

be heard and understood rather than
banished, he stood in their defense and
eventually parted ways with the church.

It is not right to chase away someone

that is seeking the righteousness of God,
because we are all Gods children, Sam-
son says he told church officials. My
church responded by saying that they
cant tolerate this and that I am a danger-
ous person and that they cant allow me
to continue administering in their church

68 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

because I am promoting homosexuality. We see Jesus identifying with every
person, we see Jesus teaching love, but
His own banishment from the church we dont see Jesus teaching to discrim-
inspired Samson to create a space where inate, and so those using [the Bible] to
sexual minorities would be free to express condemn and persecute LGBTI people
themselves without prejudice and where have gone astray. You are not going to
he could educate religious leaders about heaven because of your sexual orien-
the gospel of love, tolerance and accep- tation or who you hold hands with. You
tance of sexual minorities. are going to heaven because you are
Gods child and because of his grace.
Thus was born Universal Love Ministries, God loves every person.
which educates religious leaders on gen-
der identity, sex orientation and spiritual-
ity. Samson believes most preachers who
spread messages of intolerance towards
LGBTI people do so because they lack
knowledge about them and that these
sensitization programs can help them
learn more about SOGIE issues.

Samson also educates religious leaders

on how to contextually interpret the
Bible in ways that respect all people.
While some leaders are willing to learn
more about sexuality and gender identity Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, founder and
head of St. Pauls Reconciliation and Equality
and have responded positively to such
Centre (SPREC). Photo by Barigye Ambrose
messages and techniques, others refuse
on 21 November 2016 in Bukoto-Kampala.
to listen.
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo is a retired
We believe that if these religious leaders Anglican Bishop in the Church of Uganda
are sensitized about these issues and who has dedicated his life to defending
understand them, they will be able to marginalized people, especially LGBTI
make informed decisions. Ugandans, through counseling and spiritual
refurbishment programs. He is the founder
Because of his work with LGBTI people, of St. Pauls Reconciliation and Equality
Samson has faced discrimination and Centre (SPREC), which aims to reconcile
been called a sinner and a pastor gone heterosexual and LGBTIQ persons.
astray, often by other pastors. He believes
religious leaders who use the Bible to His open declaration for support of sexual
persecute sexual minorities are teaching minorities prompted the Anglican Church
their own gospel but not the one that to bar him for supporting what peers
Jesus taught. consider ungodly. This didnt stop him.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 69

Senyonjo believes God loves all his crea- STORY 4
tures without any form of discrimination,
and this is evidenced in Jesus gospel of
loving one another.

Senyonjo worked with determination to

combat the infamous Anti-Homosexuality
bill that was signed into law by President
Museveni in February 2014 and annulled
by the Constitutional Court in August
2014 on technical grounds.
Members of Kenyas gay community hold a
The only problem we have is a lack of sign during a demonstration. Religion News
education, and some people are not Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili.
willing to learn and understand deeply the
concept of sexuality and gender identity. FOR GAYS AND LESBIANS IN
Once people embrace and research more MOMBASA, COMING OUT CUTS
about these issues, homophobia will be BOTH WAYS
eliminated gradually in society.
AUTHOR: Mkamburi Mwawasi
Bishop believes Gods love does not
segregate and that LGBTI people should
Members of Mombasas LGBTI community
be given space to express themselves in discuss the pain and pleasure of coming
their churches rather than being fenced out to friends, family and society at large.
off or excluded for being different.
MOMBASA, KenyaFamily rejection,
Barigye Ambrose is an activist and jour- homelessness and imprisonment are
nalist based in Uganda. some of the harsh realities facing Mom-
basas sexual and gender minorities.
Although human rights organization are
fighting for their equal rights, stigmatiza-
tion and discrimination remain high.

Eric, 18, whose name has been changed

to protect his identity, said he came out
as gay to himself and to his family in July.

Having dated girls in the past, Erics

family was surprised to learn of his sexual
orientation and responded by kicking
him out of the family home.

70 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Family members were all shocked. It was After coming out, she said her mother
a blow to them, and they got angry, he would not look at her for nearly a year.
said. My dad disowned me and chased Other members of her immediate
me out of his house. He told my sister we family took the news better than she had
were not related anymore and threatened expected.
to take me to jail.
Apart from a few who believed it was a
In addition to his family calling him an phase and constantly tried to hitch me up
abomination and telling him he was with their male friends, I cant say I have
cursed, Eric faced backlash on social ever faced any stressful situation from my
media and lost most of his friends. family, she said.

He went into hiding for six weeks, avoid- Essendi said her circle of friends also
ing the streets of Bamburi and Bombolulu accepted her.
in Mombasa County where people had
threatened to beat and kill him. In my eyes, I am one of the luckiest
SOGIE [sexual orientation, gender
Finally, my dad and I settled our differ- identity and expression] persons living
ences. After accepting me, he promised in Kenya to have such an accepting and
to pay my school fees, and Im happy to supportive family, she said.
be back home, he said.
But problems arose when she joined a
Eric advises other sexual and gender religious college in Karen, Nairobi County.
minorities to come out as early as possi-
ble to someone close to their family who
can help explain the situation to other
concerned relatives.
I would also like to ask the community
not to discriminate against us. They
should understand that one does not THAT HOMOSEXU-
wake up in the morning and decide to be
gay, he added.
Louisa Essendi, 27, a lesbian in Mombasa,
says her mother learned of Essendis
sexual orientation at the age of 18. BECOME FOR SEX-
Being a single parent, raising three
children, with a minimum paying job, TO BE ACCEPTED IN
trying to acquire funds to get me into
college. This is not a truth she wanted
to deal with then, Essendi remembers.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 71

She says she faced hostility and discrimina- at the age of 16 to supportive friends and
tion from lecturers and students because of family was made easier by the fact that
her sexuality, which was no longer a secret. her parents were both deceased.

Coming out is a very personal initiative. She said the process was very natural
One has to closely analyze their context because she knew she was attracted
before making that step, she said. to women.
However, that doesnt mean that those
who have not yet come out cannot be The idea of getting intimate with a man
themselves. They absolutely can. It is freaks me out, and Im so happy that my
the violence perpetuated by our Kenyan family was supportive meeting my partner
brothers and sisters towards our commu- for the first time, she said.
nity that limits all the rights we have as
human beings and Kenyan citizens. Evans Gichuru, board chairman for the
Mtwapa Initiative for Positive Empower-
Essendis case is similar to that of Marys, ment, works to sensitize Kenyans to sexual
whose name has been changed to pro- orientation and gender identity issues.
tect her identity.
Homosexuality is not a bad behavior as
Mary calls herself a super lesbian and perceived by the society, its an orienta-
said it was easy to come out two years tion. The community should also under-
ago because she was only living with her stand that people are born gay, he said.
mother. She opened up to her mother
through a friend who is a psychologist. Gichuru said the more Kenyans understand
that homosexuality is a sexual orientation,
My moms friend was very under-
the easier it will become for sexual minori-
standing, and I felt I could trust her
ties to be accepted in society.
with how I feel towards my fellow
ladies, Mary said.
Ishmael Bahati, legal advocacy officer at
the Mombasa-based LGBTI rights group
She advises those who have not come
out to take their time and to start by tell- Persons Marginalized and Aggrieved,
ing people they trust, as not everyone advises sexual and gender minorities
will be supportive. to develop emotional intelligence
and financial independence and to try
People should not be judged because to maintain good relationships with
of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans- friends and family despite fears of being
gender, Mary said. I always go by the ridiculed or rejected.
saying, you only know my name, not
my story. Mkamburi Mwawasi is a journalist based
in Kenya.
Winnie, whose name has been changed
to protect her identity, said coming out

72 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

STORY 5 in secondary school, said Precious,
whose name has been changed to
protect his identity. My family knows
I am different, but no one has ever
approached me to find out about my
sexual orientation, though I suspect
some members of my community know
I am gay, as I have received some death
threats because people think I am evil.

When asked about his experiences trying

to get medical care at a health facility, Pre-
Bwaila Referral Hospital in Lilongwe, ciouss eagerness to speak evaporates.
Malawi. Photo provided by Mirriam Kaliza.
I had a sexual health issue that
LGBT MALAWIANS FACE required medical attention. I was
HOMOPHOBIA AND DISCRIM- disappointed with the way the nurse at
INATION AT PUBLIC HEALTH the health facility handled the situa-
FACILITIES tion. After the routine diagnosis, she
asked me if I was homosexual. I said
yes because I wanted help. She told
AUTHOR: Mirriam Kaliza
me that I was evil and my future was
Activists say the religious beliefs and doomed because God does not allow
affiliations of health workers and their that, Precious said, his head bowed.
institutions often contribute to anti-LGBT
discrimination. She then called her colleagues to come
and see me. They took turns pouring insults
LILONGWE, MalawiDressed in a red on me. One of them openly said I did not
checked shirt and camouflage shorts, deserve medical attention.
sporting his signature mohawk, 18-year-
old Precious is already seated in the Instead I should be arrested for indulging
Centre for Development for People in homosexuality, which is an offence. I was
(CEDEP) office where we are supposed totally upset and I left the clinic for a drug
to have our interview. store so I could treat myself, he added.

He has never faced a reporter before Preciouss case is not an isolated one
but seems eager to share a personal many LGBT Malawians face similar
story he rarely talks about in a society discrimination and hostility when seeking
where people like him are often consid- health care at public and private facilities
ered outcasts. in the country.

I realized I was gay at the age of 14 while CEDEP, an organization that works to

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 73

promote minority rights in Malawi, is we treated an LGBT member, they said it
trying to change that. Maria Ngulube is means we are promoting sin, so for fear
the Projects Coordinator for Linkages, a of being labeled, health workers indeed
project CEDEP and other organizations were shunning them, Kalino said.
are implementing to ensure equal access
to health service for everyone in Malawi, She said CEDEPs trainings have
including the LGBT community. softened some of the stigma around
treating LGBT patients.
We have had cases of the community
complaining of maltreatment at the Another CEDEP-trained nurse who
health centers and clinics, so the project requested anonymity said Malawis LGBT
decided to engage the health workers community faces discrimination when
themselves, said Ngulube. seeking medical treatment because too
few medical practitioners are trained to
CEDEP and its partners have trained more address their specific health concerns.
than 50 health workers in Malawi since
Linkages started in 2014. The program,
which Ngulube plans to expand, offers I REALIZED I WAS
guidance on how to address the specific
health needs of sexual minorities. ATTRACTED TO
Ngulube says the religious beliefs
and affiliations of health workers and
the institutions where they work often ARY SCHOOL.
contribute to anti-LGBT discrimination.
With few public hospitals available Somehow religion plays a role, as
in the country, many LGBT Malawians many faith groups condemn the [LGBT]
access health care at church-owned community, saying they are sinners. If
facilities operated by the Christian [their sexuality is] known, they end up
Health Association of Malawi. being excommunicated from church,
and in that case anyone associating with
Fatsani Kalino is a health worker at Bwaila them is considered a sinner. That is why
Referral Hospital, a public facility in Lilon- many health workers find themselves in
gwe, where she works on HIV Testing and a dilemma between doing their job as a
Counseling within the STI Department. professional and being a spiritual being,
She describes the pervasive stigma that the nurse said.
existed around treating sexual and gen-
der minorities before CEDEPs training On average, she said she treats between
program began. 40 and 80 sexual minorities each month.

Sometimes we were regarded as LGBT The CEDEP training has helped us to

health workers. If colleagues learned that treat clients without stigma and accept

74 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

them as anyone else, but I wish the society beliefs and religion, she said.
accepted them so that they may be using
the social services freely, she added. In December 2016, the Episcopal Con-
ference of Malawi held a protest march
Chisomo, a gay man whose name has asking the government to enforce laws
been changed to protect his identity, says that criminalize same-sex relationships
access to health care among LGBT peo- and homosexuality, arguing that they
ple in Malawi has improved somewhat threaten traditional family values.
since CEDEPs health worker trainings
began in 2014. Under Malawian law, consensual sex
between men is punishable with 14
We are now being directed to those that years imprisonment. In 2010 two men
have been trained on how to deal with received the maximum sentence for
marginalized groups, Chisomo said. allegedly holding a public engagement
ceremony. The sentencing attracted
His boyfriend James says cases still exist international condemnation with some
where LGBT people go to the hospital western donors withdrawing support to
for medical assistance and are humiliated Malawi. The couple was pardoned after
and ridiculed for their sexual orientation. serving five months of their sentence
when then U.N. Secretary General Ban
I wish for the day Malawians will accept Ki-moon met with Malawis then presi-
us as we are. Being gay or lesbian in this dent the late Bingu wa Mutharika.
country, you risk being excommunicated
from church, fired from work, banished Malawis government has since sus-
from home, even getting arrested, pended prosecutions under its anti-sod-
James said. I would like to urge the orga- omy laws. Despite the moratorium,
nizations fighting for our welfare to offer inequality in access to health services
training to more health workers for a fairer among LGBT people remains high.
health care treatment to everyone.
Malawian journalist Suzgo Chitete
Mercy, whose name has been changed produced a documentary focusing on
to protect her identity, describes being the plight of sexual minority groups in
lesbian in predominantly Christian Malawi Malawi in early 2016. Chitete thinks
as a nightmare. that no matter how much the gov-
ernment is willing to protect sexual
I realized I was attracted to women when minorities, churches will still be able
I was in secondary school. I have never to stimulate homophobia and discrim-
had any feelings for the opposite sex. ination against them.
No one can change that. So I plead with
churches and everyone concerned to let
us be and to accept us. Give us health
care like anyone else regardless of cultural

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 75

The moratorium on sodomy laws is
a step forward. But again, in a society
where the moral compass is dictated by
religion, the political leadership cannot
easily stand against such a dominant view
for fear of losing public support, he said.
We need more dialogue on the issue.
Concerned stakeholders should engage
religious institutions to be tolerant to
diversity. The church must not preach
love, peace and harmony and yet perpe-
trate discrimination.

A worshipper falls to the floor during a

I WISH FOR THE deliverance ceremony at the Mountain of
Fire and Miracle Ministries prayer service
DAY MALAWIANS called Power Must Change Hand in Lagos,
WILL ACCEPT US AS Nigeria. Photo by Andrew Esiebo, used with
his permission.
According to a recent report from the SEEKING DELIVERANCE FIND
International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, MENTAL HEALTH ANGUISH
Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), INSTEAD
homosexuality remains illegal in 73
countries worldwide, 33 of which are
AUTHOR: Wana Udobang
in Africa.
Distrust of Nigerias mental health
Even in African countries where same-sex system prevents many sexual and gender
sexual relations are not officially criminal- minorities from seeking professional help
ized, LGBT people often face marginaliza- when coming to terms with their faith and
tion, discrimination and violence for their sexuality.
sexual orientations or gender identities
and expressions. LAGOS, NigeriaA pastor spits out
prayers as his subject falls to the ground,
Mirriam Kaliza is a journalist based writhing and contorting after a 30-day
in Malawi. fast. Ministers form a circle around
the emaciated man and douse him in
anointing oil and holy water. When the
prayer tsunami ends, a hovering calm
ensues. A hologram glides through the
mans atrophied body as he springs to his
feet, professing his salvation. So goes the

76 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

standard script for a deliverance session In 2009, while attending a Pentecostal
or exorcism in Nigerian film. church service with her girlfriend at
the time, the pastor asked women who
Bree, whose name has been changed to wanted to be delivered from the spirit
protect her identity, said her first deliv- of lesbianism to approach the altar.
erance session in 2004 had none of this
Nollywood drama. I was so tired of feeling rejected by God.
I just wanted peace, she said of her deci-
The pastor acted like it was pretty sion to step forward. I was so conflicted.
normal and routine. It was a quick You go to church and keep hearing
15 minutes, and nothing changed, about how lesbians and gay people are
she said, stifling a laugh. I felt like an abomination, how they are going to
he didnt realize it was a big spiritual hell, and you dont understand why God
issue, and he didnt treat it with the is rejecting you before you even had a
weight it deserved.
chance to say, I dont want this.

Bree, who identifies as queer and Chris- The pastor laid hands on Bree and her
tian, had been grappling with reconciling girlfriend. Believing they were entranced
her faith and sexuality for most of her life. in spirit, the women rolled on the ground
Growing up in a conservative community and were surrounded by ministers.
in Lagos where the two identities were
considered mutually exclusive, her sense It was intense, and I was hopeful this was
of Gods disapproval and abandon-
it, maybe we had been cured. I needed
ment had taken its toll. Her meandering
to not be gay anymore, Bree said of the
from unstable to abusive relationships
reinforced a belief that her queerness
was wrong and something that would
After a tearful breakup from her partner
continually punish her.
following the deliverance session, they
got back together a week later, both
exhausted from acting healed.
TO A PROFES- I finally had a conversation with God
saying that if this is who I am, you made
SIONAL ABOUT IT, me, then you fix me, Bree said.
Bree says one of the burdens religious
GOING TO HAVE exorcism places on sexual minorities is
SOMEONE VALI- the need to perform. She reminds herself
DATE NEGATIVE to switch feminine pronouns to masculine
ones when discussing past relationships
FEELINGS. with work colleagues and when writing
on her blog. Once, when a colleague

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 77

gave her a suspicious look for staring coming to terms with her faith and sexuality.
admiringly at a woman, Bree lied about
having previously met the person to I wouldnt talk to a professional about it,
diffuse the situation. because Im not going to have someone
validate negative feelings. The people
Olumide Makanjuola is executive director who we talk to will fall back on culture or
of The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS), religion, she said.
an organization based in Lagos that works
on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Makanjuola says Nigerias LGBTQI com-
queer and intersex (LGBTQI) rights and munity often face stigmatized responses
sexual health. from health care providers due to institu-
tionalized homophobia and prejudice,
In a space like Nigeria, people making it difficult for gender and sexual
perform sexuality quite well. We dont minorities to seek help.
care what performance does to people
mentally, as we are focused on how Addressing this lack of trust and pre-
people see us and how they imagine sumed discrimination, psychiatrist Dr.
us, Makanjuola said. Gbonju Abiri from the Federal Neuro-Psy-
chiatric Hospital in Lagos said, Nigeria is
Through his work, Makanjuola has encoun- deeply ingrained in culture and religious
tered many people in the local LGBTQI beliefs, and we are not able to deal with
community dealing with acute anxiety diversity just yet as we should, though our
and depression as a result of performing practice encourages that we should put
straightness brought on by deliverance health above all first.
attempts and conversion therapy.
She added that many LGBTQI patients
Exorcism reduces people. They feel so ask doctors about their views on sexuality
incomplete and powerless, he said. prior to consultations, using the doctors
responses to determine whether or not to
We run a religious system that is full of go forward with the appointment.
condemnation as opposed to under-
standing, which is very problematic. It is almost impossible to discuss the
issues sexual and gender minorities face
Makanjuola emphasizes the importance in Nigeria without mentioning the Same
of deconstructing social norms and Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which stip-
warns about the mental health strain ulates up to 14 years in prison for sexual
that can arise when people feel a con- orientation and gender identity expres-
stant need to perform. sions that deviate from cultural norms.

Bree said her deep-seated distrust of Makanjuola believes the law validates
Nigerias mental health system prevented existing social prejudices.
her from seeking professional help when

78 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

As a health service receiver, you are
dealing with two monsters: a doctor who
is prejudiced towards you, and a service
provider who is also using the law to
validate their own sense of what is right.
If you win with the law, are you going to
win with the angle of their personal belief
system? he asked, rhetorically.

In 2012, exhausted from feeling

depressed and condemned, Bree
decided to study more about the
intersection between her faith and her
sexuality. She looked through the works Faithful Word Baptist Church Pastor Steven
of theologians, unlearning most of what Anderson talks about being prohibited
she had been taught and reading stories from entering South Africa in a video ser-
of people who had taken their own lives mon posted online on 12 September 2016.
when faced with similar battles. Screenshot from YouTube video

You cant blame people, because there STRIKING OUT IN SOUTH

is a culture that has been handed down, AFRICA, ANTI-GAY AMERICAN
but I will not accept that anybody is an PASTOR STEVEN ANDERSON
abomination because of whom they BRINGS HIS MESSAGE TO
love, she said. MALAWI

Bree is now working to earn a profes-

sional counseling qualification to help AUTHOR: Edwin Nyirongo
others who were once in her shoes. She
hopes to find acceptance inside herself, The Arizona-based pastor, known for his
and to help others do the same. hate speech against sexual and gender
minorities, says homosexuality is a crime
Wana Udobang is a journalist based in worthy of death and is trying to spread
Nigeria. this message in Southern Africa.

BLANTYRE, MalawiThe Book of

Matthew is very clear about the greatest
commandment: love. One should not
wish death or bad luck upon loved ones.

Unfortunately, many who claim to be

continuing the work of Jesus Christ seem
not to understand his basic teachings.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 79

Take, for example, the American pastor Then government spokesperson Malison
Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Ndau told local media, Thinking of
Baptist Church. coming to set up a church here with such
ideologies cannot be allowedThe ide-
The Arizona-based pastor, known for his ologies are against human rights, which
hate speech against sexual and gender the Government of Malawi respects.
minorities, says homosexuality is a crime
worthy of death and has tried to take his The government suspended enforcement
message to Southern Africa. of anti-gay laws in 2012 and renewed the
moratorium in 2015. But within Malawi,
many religious leaders side more with
THE GOVERN- Anderson than the government.

MENT SUSPENDED In January of this year, the government

ENFORCEMENT OF organized prayers to ask for divine inter-
vention to help end a severe drought.
ANTI-GAY LAWS IN Anti-gay messages soon dominated the
2012 AND RENEWED prayers.
THE MORATORIUM In February, pastors in Malawis Northern
IN 2015. Region went to court to challenge the
governments moratorium decision.
The church is supposed to bring love
among the people, and what happened Then in December, the Episcopal
will only make these people vulnerable Conference of Malawi (ECM) and the
Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM)
Although he was denied entry into South organized a march against homosexuality
Africa in September under a section of and abortion.
the countrys Immigration Act that prohib-
its advocating social violence, Botswana We note with grave concern that the
accepted him. institution of marriage between a man
and a woman is under direct attack
In Gaborone, he called gay men pedo- by those pushing for the legalization
philes and said homosexuals should of homosexual practices and unions.
be stoned to death during a radio Besides being sinful and unnatural,
interview, declarations that prompted the homosexual acts and unions are a threat
government to arrest and deport him. to the community and morality of a soci-
ety, said a statement the two organiza-
Despite these setbacks, the pastors thirst tions released on December 6, 2016.
for Africa did not end there. Anderson said
he wanted to set up a church in Malawi. Gift Trapence, executive director of
Centre for the Development of People

80 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

(CEDEP), an organization that champions In Luke 19:10, Jesus came to seek and
the rights of sexual minorities, thinks local save the lost. You would not stone to
clergy have gone overboard. death a person you regard as a sinner, but
make him or her repent, he said.
Malawi is a secular state. As such, the
diversity in beliefs should be recog- Nyasulu added that the paramount law in the
nized, he said. I dont think Jesus would Bible is lovefirst God, then your neighbor.
behave like many church leaders we see
today. There is a lot of hypocrisy and Edwin Nyirongo is a journalist based in
pretense to be holy. Let us preach the Malawi.
message of love rather than hate. Leave
judgment to God. STORY 8
Trapence tells clergy that the church
and God should exist for everyone
regardless of sexual orientation, won-
dering how God could discriminate or
hate His own creation.

Father Martin Kalimbe of the Anglican

Church in Malawi said he feared the anti-
gay demonstrations as well as the con-
duct of the American pastor might bring
hatred and chaos for sexual minorities in President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe
the country. on 2 June 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/
Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah.
I dont think that [marching] was the
right thing to do, he said. The church is ZIMBABWE MINISTRY GIVES
supposed to bring love among the peo- HOPE AND COUNSELING TO
ple, and what happened will only make ABUSED SEXUAL MINORITIES
these people vulnerable. Some people
will interpret the march [in December] AUTHOR: Problem Masau
to mean they have been given the green
light to do whatever they want against In a country where homosexuality is
homosexuals. criminalized and authorities and religious
leaders often shun and demonize LGBTI
General Secretary of the General Synod people, one Pentecostal church outside
of the Church of Central Africa Presbyte- Harare is encouraging survivors of sexual
rian Reverend Dr. Timothy Nyasulu said violence to speak up.
all sins should be treated equally to avoid
being misinterpreted. HARARE - Zimbabwes President Robert
Mugabe has on various occasions labeled

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 81

LGBTI people worse than dogs and has After my relatives discovered that I was
used international fora to castigate them. somehow strange to them, my uncle
who I was staying with forced me to have
In 2013, he criticized South Africas sex with him several times. I was just 16.
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Desmond Tutu He said that was the only way of cor-
for supporting LGBTI rights and said, recting me, said the now 29-year-old
never, never, never will I support homo- mother of one.
sexuality in Zimbabwe.
I got pregnant when I was 19 as a result of
In this Southern African country where these sexual encounters with my uncle, just
homosexuality is criminalized by authori- after writing my A Level exams. He chased
ties and religious leaders often shun and me, and I had to live with my grandmother
demonize LGBTI people, many sexual in the rural area since my parents are dead.
minorities suffer in silence after being For the next two years, I was holed in the
abused or harassed. remote Muzarabani district until a good
Samaritan decided to pay for my university
The NGO Gays and Lesbians of Zimba- education. I had to leave my son with my
bwe (GALZ) says over 55 percent of its grandmother, she said.
members have either been arrested or
raided by police in the past year and that We believe sex should not be a taboo, and
some of its members have also been there is nothing wrong with consensual sex
chased away from the church. between adults regardless of their sexual
Chido, a GALZ member who prefers to
use only her first name for security rea- Amid her distress, Chido said she found
sons, knows the feelings of ostracization no solace from local churches.
all too well. Tears wet her cheeks as she
discusses the neglect, stigma and abuse The pastor shunned me after I told him
she has faced from close relatives and about my predicament. At one point, I
religious leaders because of her sexuality. was contemplating suicide, she said.

Today Chido is working with Gracious

I PROVIDE COUN- Light Ministries Pastor Anyway Humbe to
support sexually abused LGBTI individu-
SELING TO EVERY- als in Bindura town, about 50 miles North
ONE. I AM A MIN- East of Zimbabwes capital Harare.

ISTER AND A My case is just a tip of the iceberg of

SERVANT OF THE many cases in Zimbabwe. I am a living
testimony that one can be abused
LORD. because of his or her sexual orienta-
tion, Chido said.

82 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Gracious Light Ministries, a Pentecostal mon broadcast on his television channel
church, gives counseling and legal help Christ TV.
to LGBTI people and others who have
been sexually abused. Through support Faced with such statements, GALZ said
groups, they encourage survivors to talk churches should rather foster love, unity,
about their abuses and find solidarity in empathy and cohesion.
their shared struggles.
We pray for a day when the question
Pastor Humbe said the church should be of ones sexuality will become irrelevant
a safe haven for everyone regardless of and discrimination against LGBTIs will be
his or her sexual orientation. relegated to the same heap containing
slavery, racism, sexism and discrimination
I provide counseling to everyone. I am a against socially marginalized groups and
minister and a servant of the Lord. It is not people, GALZ Programs Officer Sylves-
up to me to judge, he said. Everyone ter Nyamatendedza said.
is welcome here, and I believe we are all
equal in the eyes of the Lord. Ongoing abuse of LGBTI people in Zim-
babwe has spurred the establishment of
Humbes sentiments have drawn rebuke Sexual Rights Center (SRC), a local human
from local Seventh Day Adventist Church rights organization that works with LGBTI
Pastor Sikhumbuzo Dube, the author of communities, men who have sex with
Sodom Has Bounced Back: A response men, women who have sex with women,
to Contemporary Challenges Faced by sex workers, and society at large.
Young Christians, who says gays and les-
bians should have no place in the clergy When we talk about gays and lesbians,
and church membership. the police forget that they have rights just
like anyone, said SRC Programs Officer
It is a sin, and the church should not
tolerate such practices, Dube said of
homosexuality. The LGBTIs do not need CHIDO SAYS SHE
counseling but to be told point blank that
what they are doing is a sin. IS STILL WAIT-
Dube said his book, which is popular
among Seventh Day Adventists in the
country, discusses what he believes ZIMBABWE WONT
motivated the Lord to destroy Sodom and
Gomorrah in biblical times.
Another popular preacher in Zimbabwe
Emmanuel Makandiwa has described
LGBTI people as mentally sick in a ser- TION.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 83

Nombulelo Madonko. Because of fear Chido says she is still waiting for the
and rebuke, [sexual minorities] become day when people in Zimbabwe wont
faceless. We believe sex should not be a be stigmatized because of their sexual
taboo, and there is nothing wrong with orientation.
consensual sex between adults regard-
less of their sexual orientation. It is my hope and wish that one day we
will all be equal before the law regardless
Dumisani Nkomo, chief executive officer of ones sexual orientation. I look forward
of the Zimbabwe human rights NGO to the day when victims of sexual abuse
Habakkuk Trust, said every citizen is enti- because of their sexual inclination will see
justice, she said.
tled to dignity, privacy and the enjoyment
of all rights.
Problem Masau is a journalist based in
I do not believe gays or lesbians should
be discriminated against or should be
persecuted or discriminated because, like STORY 9:
everyone, they are human beings. What
everyone does in their bedroom is none
of peoples business, he said.

Zimbabwes former sodomy law was

changed to a sexual deviancy provision
in 2013 under Section 73 of the countrys
Criminal Code. According to the law, it is
an offense for two people of the same sex
to kiss or have sex.
U.S. and Uganda flag. Photo courtesy of
US Army Africa under a Creative Commons
Section 4.78 of Zimbabwes constitution 2.0 license.
reads, Persons of the same sex are pro-
hibited from marrying each other. IN UGANDA, PARENTS SEEK
Despite the laws, Zimbabwe Lawyers SURGERY FOR INTERSEX
for Human Rights (ZLHR) spokesperson BABIES
Kumbirayi Mafunda said abuse emanat-
ing from ones sexual orientation is still
a crime. AUTHOR: Yasin Kakande

Any harassment and persecution based An intersex rights group says operations
carried out in Uganda are unnecessary
on sexual orientation is a monumental
and sometimes botched, advising
tragedy and also a violation of interna- parents to wait until after children have
tional human rights law, he said. reached puberty before making any
decisions on surgery.

84 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

KAMPALA, Uganda After their story of a poor child born with ambigu-
baby was born in a private clinic near ous genitalia and pleads for donations.
the Ugandan capital, parents Justine
Nakato and Stephen Mbaziira Dembe But an intersex rights group says operations
were frustrated their nurses and doctors carried out in Uganda are unnecessary and
would not show them their baby or tell sometimes botched, and advises parents
them its gender. to wait until after children have reached
puberty before making any decisions on
They kept asking the nurse to tell them surgery, whether at home or overseas.
what was going on. She said the baby
was doing well and they would tell them Tamale Ssali, a consultant obstetrician
the sex soon. and gynaecologist in Kampala who
has examined Timothy, said the childs
When the mother was discharged, the parents would need around $50,000 to
hospital staff handed over the baby pay for the surgery in Britain as Uganda
wrapped up in blankets and warned them lacks the facilities to safely undertake such
not to expose the infants skin to the cold complex surgeries.
until they got home. There the couple
discovered their baby had both a vagina The baby was born with a condition
and a penis. called ambiguous genitalia. There is a
small vagina but no possible uterus and
At first we were shocked, we went to a well developed penis but no scrotum,
many physicians to try to find out what we Ssali said.
should do, Dembe said at his home in
Nsambya, a suburb of Kampala.
According to an August 2015 report by
the Support Initiative for People with
He started passing urine through the
Congenital Disorders (SIPD), a Ugandan
penis. Then we decided to give him male
intersex rights organisation, at least
names, Timothy Ziwa.
three children are born with an intersex
or difference of sexual development
Timothy is now 10 months old and his
condition every week in Mulago
parents are trying to raise funds to carry
National Referral Hospital, the biggest
out genital reshaping surgery, a contro-
hospital in Uganda.
versial process that involves procedures
intended to make genitalia more like
Giving birth to an intersex child can
those of either typical males or females.
come as a shock to parents, and many
opt for genital reshaping surgery,
They are not alone.
according to Ssali.

Local radio stations in Uganda buzz with

appeals seeking donors to help fund
genital reshaping surgery abroad. One,
played regularly on Metro FM, tells a

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 85

In its survey of 25 districts in Uganda, the faced with changes associated with male
first of its kind, SIPD recorded 48 cases of puberty, such as beard growth, body hair
such surgeries being performed. and voice deepening.

Julius Kagwa, executive director of These developments can bring ridicule

SIPD, whose book From Juliet to Julius and stigma, which can lead to suicide
describes changing gender as an adult, attempts and higher rates of school drop-
said Uganda does not have a laboratory out, according to SIPD.
performing chromosomal tests for chil-
dren to help determine sex, and genital SIPD advocates for the best guess
reshaping surgeries are often flawed. non-surgical approach where an intersex
child should be raised in the best-suited
gender, without irreversible surgical
SUPERSTITION intervention, until they can be active par-
ticipants in the decision, said Kagwe.
ANOTHER FACTOR Sam Lyomoki, a doctor and member of
the Ugandan parliament, said parliament
FACING INTER- issued guidelines in 2015 to the Ministry
SEX CHILDREN IN of Health advising against surgical inter-
vention for intersex infants.
The guidelines stress counselling for
A few surgeries have been attempted to the parents, and there are counsellors
alter ambiguous genitalia in infancy but trained to do that. Surgery can only be
most of these have been unsuccessful done when the child is old enough and
and the intersex children have ended up has shown more features of either sex
developing physical characteristics of the or the child can decide for him/her-
opposite sex at puberty, he said. self, he said.

BIOLOGICAL MILESTONES Intersex people who have undergone

early genital reshaping surgeries have
complained of problems like loss of
Most intersex children in Uganda are sexual sensation.
assigned female at birth and raised to
identify as women, according to the
Betty, who uses a pseudonym to pro-
SIPD report.
tect her identity, said from her home
in Kampala that she underwent genital
But for many intersex women, female reshaping surgery when she was a
biological milestones, such as menstru- baby. She went on to have a child, but
ation and breast development do not has no clitoral sensation.
necessarily follow. Instead, some are

86 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

I think what the doctors and my parents can be rectified if a traditional healer
agreed to cut out was just an elongated speaks to the ancestral spirits, identifies
clitoris but not a penis, she said. their demands, and has them fulfilled,
he said.
Not fulfilling family obligations and anger-
ing ones ancestors could be a reason
one gets an intersex child. DESPITE LEGAL PRO-
Malta was the first country to prohibit
involuntary or coerced modifications to
sex characteristics. The Council of Europe SOUTH AFRICA
has also recognised a right for intersex
persons to not undergo sex reassignment
treatment against their will. THE ONLY COUN-
Superstition and shame is another fac-
tor facing intersex children in Uganda. NENT TO RECOGNIZE
Intersex children are often hidden as SAME-SEX MARRIAGE.
their families consult traditional healers
for answers.
Intersex people have also challenged
laws in Uganda, including the Registra-
SIPD reported cases in which mothers
tion of Births and Deaths Act, which has
conspired with witchdoctors to have
a provision that restricts people above
their intersex children killed in cleans-
21 years of age from changing their sex
ing rituals because they were believed
details in the National Births Register.
to be cursed.

Yasin Kakande is a journalist based in

Mothers also abandoned their inter-
sex children in toilets or forests, and
others subjected them to harmful
mutilations to reshape their genitalia,
according to the report.

Joseph Musisi, a traditional healer based

in the Makindye suburb of Kampala, said
the mutilation of intersex children is an out-
dated practice and said his peers practice
therapies within the confines of the law.

Not fulfilling family obligations and

angering ones ancestors could be a
reason one gets an intersex child. This

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 87

STORY 10: same-sex marriage. The countrys liberal
constitution makes it a refuge of sorts for
LGBTQI+ people, but even Cape Town,
often considered the continents gay capi-
tal, is not immune to sexual orientation and
gender identity/expression (SOGIE)-based
discrimination. Hate crimes, including
so-called corrective rapes, still plague
impoverished communities, and LGBTQI+
tolerance is still hotly debated among many
religious institutions.

Cape Town-based Imam Muhsin Hendricks To support SOGIE minorities who feel
founded The Inner Circle 20 years ago in his invalidated or rejected by their religious
garage as a safe space for queer Muslims. communities, inclusive prayer and wor-
RNS photo by Brian Pellot. ship spaces have emerged in Cape Town
to help reconcile the rifts between faith,
QUEER INCLUSIVE PRAYER sexuality and gender identity/expression.
SPACES IN CAPE TOWN Here are three such spaces, one for each
of the major Abrahamic faiths:
AUTHOR: Cara Mazzola
Even in Africas gay capital, sexual and COMMUNITY CHURCH, CAPE
gender minorities can feel invalidated or TOWN CITY CENTER
rejected by religious communities. Here
are three inclusive prayer spaces in Cape
Town that work to reconcile rifts between Good Hope Metropolitan Commu-
faith, sexuality and gender identity. nity Church (GHMCC) bills itself as a
theologically progressive and inclusive
CAPE TOWN, South AfricaMany Christian community founded on the
governments and religious institutions principles of Jesus Christ that celebrates
around the world share a legacy of ten- diversity in a safe environment.
sion with and towards sexual and gender
minorities. In at least 72 countries, les- The desire of Good Hope Metropolitan
bian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Community Church is that there will no
and/or intersex (LGBTQI+) relationships longer be a need for that safe space of
and identities are punishable by law, worship because other denominations
sometimes even by death. will have become more embracing and
celebratory of the entirety of a person
Despite legal prohibitions across much and of respectful consenting relationships
of Africa, South Africa stands alone as the between people, Senior Pastor Rev.
only country on the continent to recognize Beulah Drrheim said.

88 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

GHMCC holds weekly services at the cracks in the dam, but they wont hold
Central Methodist Church in Cape Towns because cracks never hold when rivers of
city center near Greenmarket Square. The justice flow. Theres no wall that can stop
church uses inclusive language and offers it, the dam will burst, de Villiers added.
congregants gender-neutral bathrooms,
a rare sight at even non-religious build-
ings in Cape Town.
GHMCC is part of the interdenomina-
tional Universal Fellowship of Metropol- Muhsin Hendricks, one of the worlds
itan Community Churches, the worlds few openly gay imams, founded The
first LGBTQI+-friendly church started Inner Circle (TIC) in 1996 to support
in the late 1960s in the United States LGBTQI+ Muslims. Hendricks later
following the Stonewall Riots, a series of opened the Peoples Mosque as a wel-
coming place for all Muslims.
milestone resistance demonstrations by
the American LGBTQI+ community.
Theres nothing in the Islamic text that
denies people from different sexual
GMHCC held a service of lament
orientations, cultures and religious
and hope on Sunday, October 26 in
backgrounds to enter a relationship
partnership with the Centre for Christian
of mutual consent, love and intimacy
Spirituality, Inclusive & Affirming Minis- as long as there is commitment and
tries and the Dutch Reformed Churchs agreement between the two parties,
Groote Kerk. The service focused on Hendricks said.
the Dutch Reformed Churchs recent
decision to revoke its recognition of gay Women are not obliged to wear hijab
marriage and ordination of non-celibate at the Peoples Mosque, nor are they
gay ministers. required to sit separately from men.

Its like inviting somebody for dinner They are encouraged to take up leader-
and, as they arrive, you slam the door ship roles and to lead prayer.
in their face, said Groote Kerk minister
Riaan de Villiers about the DRCs reversal. Most other mosques in Cape Town
are very conservative, especially when
Despite what many consider to be a it comes to separation of genders, a
step backward in the fight for equal congregant at the Peoples Mosque
rights, congregations from various who wished not to be named said.
Christian denominations, including Even though some of them are good at
the Dutch Reformed Church itself, engaging in discourse [around] sociopo-
continue to stand in solidarity with the litical analysis, queer politics, capitalism,
LGBTQI+ community. sexuality, I dont think they implement
it as fully as TIC.
Some people managed to fill up the

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 89

Despite a fatwa passed against him by heard? Where are there people who
South Africas Muslim Judicial Council in are not seen? How can we bring those
2007, Hendricks continues to operate people forward and make them visible,
The Inner Circle and host workshops included, and part of this community?
contextualizing the story of Sodom and
Gomorrah, which he believes is not a Temple Israel seeks to provide a safe
condemnation of homosexuality at all, space for LGBTQI+ Jews and allies and
but rather a cautionary tale about power hosts the annual Pride Shabbat, which
and privilege. forms part of Cape Towns Pride Week
celebrations each year.
The Quran is written in classic Arabic
poetry style, and one word in Arabic I think our progressive way of looking
could inflect in 14 different interpreta- at the world is about recognizing
tions. It can be stretched to meet the injustice and fighting injustices. Thats
context of any human experience, really the true essence of Judaism in the
Hendricks said. Each Surah begins with, Torah, said Sofa Louisa Zway, Temple
in the name of God, the most compas- Israels youth development officer. The
sionate, the most merciful, to remind us world God wants us to create is one
to interpret it in a healing way. that is just and inclusive and welcoming
and loving.
The people behind Cape Towns inclu-
sive prayer spaces use their houses of
worship to deconstruct power, exclu-
sion and dogma. They celebrate and
The prayer books used in Temple empower marginalized identities through
Israels services refer to God with worship and community. They show that
gender-neutral pronouns, and women religious institutions can be part of the
are expected and encouraged to fulfill upliftment and not the oppression of mar-
the same religious obligations as men. ginalized individuals and communities.
In Rabbi Greg Alexanders words, We
dont just campaign for women, we As Rev. Drrheim says, God is where the
campaign for what is right. pain is. God walks closest with those who
feel outcast, misunderstood, rejected,
Temple Israel made the decision to rec- oppressed.
ognize same-sex marriages after the Civil
Union Act was passed in 2006 legalizing Cara Mazzola is a journalist in
same-sex marriage in South Africa. Cape Town.

Rabbi Alexander approaches SOGIE

issues with three questions to himself,
Where are there voices that are not

90 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

STORY 11: movie industry, this dramatic exchange
between a pastor and a businessman may
well have emanated from a Nollywood
film studio. Instead, the words come from
a real life conversation between Pastor
Christopher of The Synagogue, Church
of All Nations (SCOAN), one of Nigerias
best-known Pentecostal churches, and
Tedus Odupute, a Nigerian businessman
based in Cameroon.

The testy exchange took place in April

Nigerian pastor and televangelist T.B. 2015 at SCOAN headquarters in Lagos
Joshua. Photo courtesy of Creative Com- and was broadcast on Emmanuel TV,
mons/S Briggs. the 24-hour satellite channel set up by
SCOANs charismatic leader and founder
NIGERIAN MEGACHURCHS T.B. Joshua to reveal his congregations
CLAIM TO PRAY THE GAY activities to the world.
ACTIVISTS As a popular Pentecostal church, SCOAN
claims to offer miraculous healing pow-
ers, attracting more than 30,000 visitors
AUTHOR: Anthony Akaeze
each week. Emmanuel TV viewers witness
a variety of supposed healing and deliver-
Megachurch pastor and televangelist
ance sessions on a daily basis.
T.B. Joshuas Synagogue, Church of
All Nations (SCOAN) claims to drive
demons out of sexual minorities on live Among those who visit SCOAN are
television. LGBT activists and psychol- sexual and gender minorities seeking
ogists say the practice can bring about deliverance. In many African societies,
new harms. as is true in much of the world, lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex
Pastor Christopher: What have you been (LGBTI) people are sometimes viewed
pushing him to do against his will? with suspicion or considered to be in
need of spiritual cleansing.
Tedus Odupute: I made him love men.
Instead of loving women, he loves men In his televised account to SCOAN,
I made him gay. Odupute said he wasnt originally gay
but was initiated on a business trip he
Pastor Christopher: You unclean spirit, made to Asia.
come here! Come here!
After swimming with some men he met at
To anyone familiar with the Nigerian a hotel, Odupute said he felt as if some-

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 91

thing entered (inside) me and I started Jude, an LGBTI activist whose name has
having a passion for men and going been changed to protect his iden-
closer to my fellow man. tity, said he knows at least two LGBTI
people who underwent deliverance
The I made him gay comment suppos- sessions at Pentecostal churches in
edly emanated not from Odupute himself Nigeria without success.
but from the demon inside of him.
Odupute later claimed his session with There was a time in my life I thought I
SCOAN rid him of the demon, and that wasnt really living right, and I went to a
his life has changed for the better. Pentecostal church, but at the end of the
day you find out it doesnt help matters
because they are just going to tell you
REAL SEXUAL AND that you are evil, you are possessed,
which you are not, he said. [Deliver-
GENDER MINORI- ance] doesnt last because these people
TIES HAVE NO would go back to their lifestyle.

REASON TO SEEK Another member of the LGBTI commu-

DELIVERANCE, SHE nity, who also requested anonymity for
security reasons, said some of those who
INSISTED. visit religious centers in search of deliver-
ance are lured by monetary rewards from
I have been myself, Im so happy today, the churches. Real sexual and gender
he said after the session. minorities have no reason to seek deliver-
ance, she insisted.
What do you mean by youve been
yourself?, T.B. Joshua asked. Fagbohungbe Oni Bamikole, a lecturer
in the Department of Psychology at
I now have total deliverance and a real the University of Lagos, says that while
passion for the opposite sexI have the act of cleansing people who are
been living like a normal human being, possessed by evil spirits is as old as
the way I was before three years ago, man himself, he believes such acts
Odupute replied. can either be real and true cleansing
or phony or stage-managed healing
Many LGBTI community members and depending on the persons involved.
activists disagree with the notion that
someone can or needs to be cured in I have personally witnessed real and
the first place. They insist that sexual and true deliverance in life, Fagbohungbe
gender minorities who visit churches or claimed, drawing a distinction between
mosques for healing are often forced to what he believes to be phony deliver-
do so by family members or friends. ance by arrangement aimed at attracting
multitudes into the church and extorting

92 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

money from unsuspecting victims from feel they have benefited from the churchs
what he considers a more genuine practice. services are known to willingly show
appreciation in the form of financial or
For Fagbohungbe, from a psycholog- material gifts. Church members also tithe.
ical perspective, the issues of religion Such donations are believed to account
and deliverance may boil down to for the wealth of T.B. Joshua and other
individual belief. Nigerian Pentecostal pastors, whose
individual net worths exceed billions of
If a man defines a situation as real, naira (tens of millions of dollars).
it becomes real in its consequences.
In Christianity, it is called strong faith, Anthony Akaeze is a journalist based in
i.e. you receive, you believe and you Nigeria.
become, he said.
Fagbohungbe listed some of the poten-
tial psychological effects of healing or
deliverance sessions, including anxiety,
neurosis or agoraphobia triggered by
the memory or any activity that symbol-
izes the purportedly cured evil spirit.

Justine Dyikuk, a writer and communica-

tions director of Bauchi Catholic Diocese,
Nigeria, said the use of electronic or
social media for evangelization can Activist Lundu Makoza displaying the
be good but should not be used for rainbow flag during an anti-AIDS march in
miracle sessions, as doing so amounts Lusaka, Zambia. Photo provided by Lundu
to propaganda, cheap popularity or Mazoka.
seeking membership, which is often tied
to monetary gains. ZAMBIAS LGBT COMMUNITY
It is God who gives healing powers to NITION IN HIV FIGHT
the Church, he added.
AUTHOR: Paul Monde Shalala
Although SCOAN says it publicizes its
activities on Emmanuel TV in order to glo-
A consortium of Zambian civil society
rify Gods work, church officials declined organizations championing the rights
to speak about LGBTI-related issues when of LGBT people has embarked on a
contacted for comment. A source within campaign to advance their rights in the
the church who requested anonymity said soon-to-be-launched 2016 2019 Zambia
the church does not bill beneficiaries for National AIDS Strategic Framework.
its healing sessions but that people who

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 93

KITWE, ZambiaA consortium of who has carnal knowledge of any person
Zambian civil society organizations against the order of nature, a vague defi-
championing the rights of lesbian, nition that includes homosexuality, can be
gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) jailed for 14 years.
people has embarked on a campaign to
advance their rights in the soon-to-be- Natasha, whose name has been changed
launched 2016 2019 Zambia National to protect her identity, is an activist
AIDS Strategic Framework. with Friends of Rainka, an NGO that
campaigns for LGBT rights in Zambia.
According to the consortiums submis- She says the consortium submitted its
sion to Zambias National AIDS Council, recommendations because LGBT people
the group wants the new framework need support and recognition from the
to openly recognize their plight and to Zambian government to ensure the pro-
channel funds towards the fight against
tection of their equal rights.
AIDS in the LGBT community.
We are aware that last year, the Global
The confidential submission, leaked by
Fund [a partnership organization that
an activist who helped draft it, details
works to accelerate the end of AIDS]
names and explanations of LGBT-relevant
gave the Zambian government $2 mil-
terminology the consortium hopes will
lion to help the LGBT community fight
be included in the forthcoming frame-
HIV, and we are waiting for the way
work. It also notes that use of the phrase
forward, she said.
key population to refer to the LGBT
community in the 2014 2016 National
AIDS Strategic Framework has not helped The National AIDS Council has not
reduce the stigma and challenges facing responded to requests for comment on
the community. why the money has yet to be spent on the
community for which it was intended.
According to the Zambia Popula-
tion-based HIV Impact survey released in We know that the money is in the hands
December 2016 by the Ministry of Health of government, and we cannot demand a
and the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka, 12.3 share. However, what we want is money
percent of people living in Zambia are to be channeled towards sensitization
HIV-positive. activities in the LGBT community and
increasing access to health in the commu-
There are no official statistics on the nity, said Natasha.
prevalence of HIV among Zambias LGBT
community due to sensitivity surround- The National AIDS Council is currently
ing issues of sexual orientation, much of holding a series of meetings with activists
which stems from conservative beliefs in to devise a plan for how the Global Fund
the country. allocation will be disbursed and utilized.

Under Zambias Penal Code, any person Both activists and the council are

94 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

tight-lipped on what they expect these Moses Lungu believes homosexuality is
meetings to achieve, but whatever comes wrong because marriage is between a
of them will likely be key in mapping man and a woman in the Bible.
approaches to HIV prevention among the
LGBT community going forward. From the Old Testament to the New
Testament, marriage has always been
Various interest groups are submitting between a man and a woman. Leviticus
what they want included in the forthcom- calls [homosexuality] an abomination. In
ing framework. In the current framework, this country we shouldnt allow what the
which expires this year, key populations Bible doesnt allow, Lungu said.
include the LGBT community, sex work-
ers, migrant laborers and children on the
streets. The document refers to LGBT in ZAMBIAS MOST
its high-risk class but does not spell out
what interventions can be done to fight
AIDS in the community. GAY ACTIVIST
Zambias most prominent gay activist
Lundu Mazoka says a holistic approach SAYS A HOLIS-
is needed. TIC APPROACH IS
He cites culture and religion as two NEEDED.
factors that propel ignorance and apathy
towards the LGBT community. Other groups in Southern Africa, including
the Cape Town-based Inclusive and Affirm-
During the run-up to the 2011 general ing Ministries, endorse a more contextual
elections, Zambias three church mother and contemporary reading of scripture.
bodies the Council of Churches in Zam-
bia, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia In 2013, a Zambian Pentecostal musician
and the Zambia Episcopal Conference whose stage name is Kings released a
issued a joint statement condemning song called Wake up Zambia in which
homosexuality and asking voters not to he called on Christians to resist what he
support anyone who was suspected of terms donor-driven homosexuality.
supporting the LGBT community.
On the cultural side, many Zambians
Since then, many churches have been consider homosexuality taboo. Hundreds
vocal in their opposition to equal rights of the countrys traditional chiefs outlaw
for LGBT people, and in January 2016, same-sex sexual relations in their chief-
Zambias President assented to a con- doms. Chiefs are very influential in social
stitutional amendment that once again and political lives, and their subjects
declared Zambia as a Christian nation. widely respect their authority.
Lusaka-based evangelical preacher

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 95

Mazoka says human rights issues con- STORY 13:
cerning the LGBT community need to be
enshrined in Zambian laws to properly
safeguard the LGBT community and to
promote tolerance in society.

Because Zambians thought unprotected

anal intercourse was just for homosex-
uals, we have also failed to address this
high-risk sexual behavior in young girls
who engage in anal intercourse as a way
to preserve virginity and avoid preg-
nancy, he added.
Prince Appiah interviews Kwasi, whose name
has been changed to protect his identity,
In the past four years in Zambia, three near Kumasi, Ghana in January 2017.
people have been brutally arrested and
taken to court on suspicion of promot-
ing or practicing homosexuality. The CLERGY COUNSELORS STOKE
cases have all ended in acquittals due LGBT FEARS AT GHANA HIGH
to lack of evidence. SCHOOLS

Despite laws prohibiting homosexuality AUTHOR: Prince Appiah

in Zambia, other laws allow universal
access to health services for all citizens In Ghana, LGBT students are expelled for
irrespective of sexual orientation or sexual misconduct or silenced for fear
gender identity. of being demonized by school counselors
who double as religious leaders.
Paul Monde Shalala is a journalist based
in Zambia. KUMASI, GhanaOn a summer after-
noon in 2012, Kwasi, whose name has
been changed to protect his identity,
gathered the courage to confide in his
school counselor Frederick Ansah.

Then 18, Kwasi told Ansah, who is also a

pastor and a teacher at the school, that
Kwasi had been sexually attracted to men
since he was 14 and that he had had inter-
course with several of his male peers.

Kwasis coming out that day was driven

by taunts from schoolmates, who were
threatening to publicize a picture of him

96 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

kissing a male student at their senior been caught or blackmailed like Kwasi.
high school on the outskirts of Kumasi in
Central Ghana. At the hearing, Charles was shocked to
see Ansah sit quietly as other members
Kwasi told Ansah that the classmate of the committee heaped accusations on
he kissed had pretended to be gay to him, accusations presumably based on
deceive and blackmail him. information Charles had shared confiden-
tially with the counselor.
There was a plot, Kwasi said. I stupidly
agreed to his proposal, believing it was
genuine. IF THEY ARE
According to Kwasi, the students behind
the alleged plot knew that if school DISMISS THEM,
authorities ever learned of the kiss, Kwasi YOU ARE NOT
would be expelled, so they extorted him
for 500 Ghanaian Cedi (about $120) in HELPING THEM
exchange for their silence. EXPRESS THEM-
I was seeing a counselor, a religious SELVES.
leader. He gave me assurance. I trusted
him, but he disappointed me, Kwasi said Charles told the committee he had told
of Ansah, who had promised to keep Ansah of his same-sex attraction in hopes
this coming out a secret and to help him that the counselor would help him over-
become straight. come the desires.

In December 2012, a witch-hunt ensued I was lucky. I think its because of how
at Kwasis school when another student emotionally I spoke the truth, that is
came out and was forced to identify why I was spared in the mass dismissal,
fellow gay students. because innocent people were also
dismissed, he said.
A long list of names was pasted on the
school notice board under the heading, The Ghana Education Service Discipline
Due for Dismissal; Report to the Disci- Code for Students stipulates that students
plinary Committee as soon as possible. who are found guilty of sexual miscon-
duct should be summarily dismissed.
Then 19, second-year student Charles,
whose name has been changed to The 2016 case of Barima, 17, and Osei,
protect his identity, was fourth on the list. 19, two close friends at Opoku Ware
Surprised, he walked into the committee Senior High School in Kumasi whose
room gripped with fear but confident he names have been changed to protect
would be absolved because he had not their identities, demonstrates the damage

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 97

these rules can cause. anything. Their explanation was that the
other boys might lynch us, Barima said.
In January 2016, the two male students
were accused of kissing and having Frank Okyere is a researcher, student
sex, allegations they denied. Students counselor and teacher at a senior high
wielding sticks and belts tried to attack school in Kumasi.
Barima and Osei for their unaccept-
able sexual orientation. He thinks the sexual misconduct clause
in the Education Service Discipline Code
The crowd refused to retreat until the stu- for Students is unhelpful because school
dents confessed to their crime. It was authorities often hide behind provisions
only on the advice of a school counselor of the code to unilaterally dismiss stu-
that the mob dispersed. dents accused of being gay.

On the day we were summoned [for If they are accused and you dismiss
our disciplinary hearing], we denied all them, you are not helping them express
charges, but school authorities com- themselves. Therefore, they get to con-
pelled us to say, yes, were gay, in order clude that they are not welcomed in this
to avoid being beaten to a pulp by the world, he said.
boys. They claimed it was our confes-
sion, Barima said. Okyere is also executive director at SEAT
OF GRACE, a pastoral and counseling
The authorities did not even enquire to NGO that tries to convert sexual minorities
get evidence before they asked us to stay to heterosexual orientations, a controversial
home for two weeks, which ended up and potentially harmful practice.
extended to two months, Osei added.
Still, he suggests the discipline code be
Both students said the incidents emotional revised to accept lesbian, gay, bisexual,
trauma and their lengthy suspensions nega- transgender and intersex (LGBTI) students
tively affected their exam performance. and provide guidance to assist them emo-
tionally rather than demonizing them.
We suffered stigma. It hurt me a lot
because our final exam was approaching. Education is holistic, teachers are
Even in class, people didnt want to sit by supposed to help students in and outside
you. Learning became difficult because the classroom. I think that particular piece
you have to stay home. Some of our must be reviewed. A regulation that is
geared towards reforming students must
friends still dont talk to us, Osei said.
be applied, he advocated.
It was very bad because school author-
Alberta Agnes Tardie, a senior tutor
ities asked us to go home without allow-
at Opoku Ware Senior High School in
ing us to take any books along. We were
Kumasi, describes local guidance and
not allowed to go to our rooms to take
counseling systems as weak and use-

98 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

less. She believes this institutional weak- Okyere, the documents lead researcher,
ness has contributed to the dismissal of says special training must be given to
perceived sexual and gender minorities school counselors to equip them to be
from the education system. able to address sensitive matters concern-
ing sexual and gender minorities.
Students dont trust counselors anymore
because most of them are pastors who The document also confirmed that sexual
demonize them, at the least, she said. and gender minorities are often afraid
of being demonized by the many senior
Tardie hopes that when more professional high school counselors who double as
counselors are employed in senior high religious leaders.
schools, the situation may improve.
I think there should be intensified
education on sexual orientations in
I THINK THERE school, Charles said. I was lucky I was
not expelled from school. It could have
SHOULD BE INTEN- ended my education.
TION ON SEXUAL Prince Appiah is a journalist based in

Assemblies of God Church pastor Rev.

Dr. David Okai also worries about school
counselors demonizing LGBT students.

He believes the church must work to

embrace LGBT people, understand them,
give them love and work on their emotions.

A November 2016 document by SEAT OF

Women dance outside Zimbabwes Par-
GRACE titled Legalising Homosexuality
liament in Harare on December 7, 2016,
in the World; Will Ghana join the New
demanding condoms in schools. Photo by
Order? was recently presented to senior Ray Mwareya.
high schools students in Kumasi.
It flags as problematic the threats and TIONS IN RURAL ZIMBABWE
beatings of perceived sexual and gen- LINKED TO RISE IN TEEN PREG-
der minorities in Ghanas schools and NANCIES
society at large.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 99

AUTHOR: Ray Mwareya of church authority, is witnessing the
countrys fastest growing rate of teen-
With Zimbabwes government deep age pregnancies.
in debt, churches play a critical role in
providing free or subsidized sexual health According to Zimbabwes Demo-
clinics, maternity homes, and schools. graphic Health Survey, the fertility rate
Their support comes at a price.
among regional teenage girls between
the ages of 15 and 19 increased from
HARARE, ZimbabweIf ever Im spotted
99 per 1,000 to 115 per 1,000 between
walking into a beer hall to buy a pack
2005 and 2015.
of Durex condoms, my father will beat
me with a rubber belt, my teachers
Observers and some experts attribute
would banish me from the classroom,
the rate rise to church restrictions and
our church pastor will expel me from the
stigma around condoms and other
Sunday choir band.
forms of contraception.

Nancy, whose name has been changed

With Zimbabwes government deep
to protect her identity, is a 17-year-old
in debt, churches play a critical role in
biology student at a Baptist-run school
providing free or subsidized sexual health
in Chimanimani, a mostly rural part of
clinics, maternity homes, surgeries and
eastern Zimbabwe.
schools in this region.

Condoms are a banned word in our

And churches strictly discourage
church youth seminars, she said. On
the debate on condoms within their
rare occasions our church pastor speaks,
assemblies, said Bishop Fani Moyo, a
he shouts, condoms are full of holes,
sociologist and founder of The Progres-
beware! Condoms stick inside women!
sive Churches Sexual Health Forum
Abortion is Satans invention!
of Zimbabwe.

Between February and September

It is seen as a profanity for Sunday
2016, Nancy says 10 of her classmates
school girls to introduce a sermon on
became pregnant and were kicked
condoms publicly.
out of school despite directives from
the Zimbabwe Education Ministry and
Authorities take a more relaxed view.
constitutional court mandating that
Parents are free to drop in condoms
pregnant girls must not be excluded
when they pack food and books in their
from finishing high school. childrens schoolbags, Zimbabwes edu-
cation minister Lazarus Dokora said.
I know for sure religious stigma towards
condoms put girls in harm here, Nancy At Rusitu Mission Hospital, a large
said of her classmates. institution run by United Baptists Church
in Zimbabwe, nurses motion patients to
Rural eastern Zimbabwe, a bastion

100 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

participate in morning prayer sessions cleverly send my 18-year-old boyfriend
before giving out medication. to buy us condoms from supermarkets,
and hope the pastor or his parents dont
If you ask for condoms when you get see him with them. Each pack costs $1.
into a relationship, church nurses will The price is too much for teenage girls,
report you to the church school principal. Nancy said.
A beating follows. We girls endure sex
without protection, Nancy said. Rural east Zimbabwe is home to the
Johane Marine Apostolic Church denom-
ination, a strictly Africanist church sect
IN THE DISTRICT that draws tens of thousands of followers
and is wildly popular among Zimbabwes
WHERE THIS influential government ministers, security
CHURCH THRIVES, chiefs and diplomats.
THE MAJORITY OF The denomination is famous for its pro-
SCHOOL GIRLS, motion of polygamy and child marriage
and for its fiery dislike of condoms and
SOME AS YOUNG other forms of contraception.
MARRIED TO In the district where this church thrives,
the majority of school girls, some as
OLDER MEN FROM young as 10, have been married to older
men from their church.
Most marriages are arranged between
Many businesses and tribal courts in the
adult church men and underage girls.
region also restrict the distribution of
Request for condoms can result in a
condoms to teenage girls. teenage bride being divorced harshly,
said Edson Tsvakai, a community health
It is an offense punishable by a fine of project coordinator at The Union for the
two goats if a schoolgirl is seen buying Development of Apostolic Churches in
condoms in a beer tavern in my village, Zimbabwe-Africa (UDA-CIZA).
said Sam Chirandu, a tribal village head
in east Zimbabwe. School girls mustnt Zimbabwes Ministry of Education and
do sex before marriage. It is against our Culture says only one-third of the 10,000
social values. local girls who enroll in high school grad-
uate after four years.
Unlike in neighboring South Africa
where condoms are widely available, Tsvakai pins the high dropout rate on
often for free, in rural Zimbabwe they runaway teenage pregnancies.
are almost hidden.

For fear of stigma and beating, I have to

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 101

The police are the biggest let down in Condoms are a necessary evil. They save
early forced child marriages and preg- lives and marriages, he said.
nancies, as they have continued to turn
a blind eye to these religious crimes, he Pashapa keeps condoms in his office
said. Prosecutions die down quickly. for needy couples and sexually active
Church sect leaders are secretive, and in youth. He says Zimbabwes HIV/AIDS
high favor with political elites. crisis, which contributed to 29,000
deaths in 2015 according to UNAIDS,
The countrys Domestic Violence Act is slowly breaking down the Churchs
prohibits marriage under the age of 16 high moral ground on sexual absti-
for both girls and boys, but enforcement nence among youths.
is weak in rural districts where poverty
incentivizes underreporting. He would like to see a future in which
condoms should be distributed in
Noah Pashapa, a bishop of the Pente- churches accompanied by information
costals Liberty Churches International promoting abstinence and informed
in Harare and one of Zimbabwes most choices among the youth.
famous preachers, holds a pragmatic
view on contraception. Ray Mwareya is a journalist based in

102 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


A Reporting Guide for Journalists 103
Additional Resources
and Readings

ILGAs annual State Sponsored Ho- in Southern Africa is a 2016 report by

mophobia Report documents sexual The Other Foundation that assesses the
orientation laws around the world. depth and nature of social exclusion of
LGBTI people and analyzes how LGBTI
The 2016 ILGA-RIWI Global Attitudes groups are organizing to transform that
Survey on LGBTI People surveyed reality in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho,
nearly 100,000 people online in 65 Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique,
countries, nine of which are in Africa. Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and
The Global Divide on Homosexuality
is a 2013 Pew Research Center report Criminalising Homosexuality and
on global attitudes to homosexuality Understanding the Right to Manifest
in 39 countries. On the question, Religion (2016) is a briefing note by
Should Society Accept Homosexu- the Human Dignity Trust that discusses
ality, a majority of people said No how religion and criminalisation of ho-
in the six African countries surveyed, mosexuality are connected around the
namely South Africa (61% No), Kenya world. The note includes statements
(90%), Uganda (96%), Ghana (96%), by religious leaders from a diversity of
Senegal (96%), and Nigeria (98%). faiths on LGBTI issues.
The survey found that acceptance of
homosexuality is most widespread in Breaking the Silence: Criminalisation
countries where religion is less central of Lesbians and Bisexual Women and
to peoples lives. its Impacts (2016) is a report by the
Human Dignity Trust that documents
Violence Based on Perceived or Real the history of laws criminalizing con-
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity sensual sexual intimacy between wom-
in Africa is a 2013 report compiled en, and the homophobia anti-LGBT
by African Men for Sexual Health and criminal laws foster and perpetuate
Rights (AMSHeR) and the Coalition of against lesbians and bisexual women
African Lesbians. The report docu- in particular.
ments different forms of violence, fac-
tors fueling violence and the impacts of The summary report from Homopho-
violence on LGBTI individuals in Africa. bia and the Churches in Africa: A
It is available in English and French. Dialogue synthesizes a two-day con-
ference held in Pietermaritzburg, South
Canaries in the Coal Mines: An Africa, in April 2016. You can watch
Analysis of Spaces for LGBTI Activism video recordings of each session here.

104 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

The ILGA-Europe magazines Winter Watch African Pride, a 2014 film that
2015/16 edition on reconciling sexual documents how black lesbians and
orientation, gender identity, gender allied activists are rallying to stop
expression and religion features a sec- homophobic violence in South Africas
tion on the right to freedom of religion townships. Contact filmmaker Laura
or belief and its intersection with other Fletcher to request access to the full
rights. film (

Silenced Voices, Threatened Lives is Read Out in Africa by Aryn Baker

a 2015 report documenting the impact in TIME, June 4, 2015. Bakers story
of Nigerias 2014 Same Sex Marriage documents the harm caused to Ugan-
Prohibition Law on freedom of expres- das LGBT community at the hands of
sion. The report was written by the American evangelicals and sensational
PEN American Center, PEN Nigeria, media reporting.
and the Leitner Center for International
Law and Justice at Fordham Law School The United Nations Free & Equal
in New York City. Campaign posts several fact sheets
on LGBTI rights and equality including
Dipolelo Tsa Rona -- Our Stories is a FAQs, international human rights law,
collection of personal essays published and specific information on criminaliza-
in 2016 by Lesbians, Gays and Bisexu- tion, violence, refuge
als of Botswana (LeGaBiBo). and asylum.

FeminismInIndia.coms Sameera Khan ProjektHopes Guidebook to Re-

summarizes 16 strategies for imple- porting Gender and Sexuality (2015)
menting gender ethical journalism, all offers practical advice for journalists
of which can be readily applied in the reporting on LGBTI issues in Nigeria.
Sub-Saharan Africa SOGIE context. It includes sections on understanding
gender and sexuality in the African con-
Religion News Services 2015 reporting text and their implications for public
series on the intersection of faith, health.
ethnicity, and sexuality features 12
stories that address religion, sexual Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action
orientation, and gender identity and (GALA)s 2006 Out in the Media?
expression in the Global South. report discusses knowledge, attitudes
and practices among South African
Watch Quorum, a 2015 video series media towards LGBTI issues and offers
from the Daily Beast featuring LGBT a historic benchmark from which to
activists from the Global South. assess reporting today.

Watch God Loves Uganda, a 2013 Inclusive and Affirming Ministries

film that documents the connection training booklet on the Bible and
between North American evangelical- homosexuality analyzes and interprets
ism and homophobia in Uganda. The eight passages of scripture often cited
documentary is available on Netflix. as pertaining to homosexuality.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 105

Where Do We Go for Justice?, a ments condemning prejudicial and
2015 report by the civil rights organiza- biased reporting on LGBTI individuals;
tion Chapter Four Uganda, documents provide training for journalists on how
abuse of the rights of sexual minorities to ethically cover LGBTI-related events;
in Ugandas criminal justice system. and promote the voices of LGBTI activ-
ists and organizations in media cover-
The Centre for Human Rights at the age that affect the community. These
University of Pretoria in South Africa guidelines have global relevance.
held a week-long course on sexual
minority rights in February, 2016. See The U.K. Department for International
the course program and key readings Developments Faith, Gender and
on the Centres website. Sexuality Toolkit includes sections on
sexuality & gender diversity, culture,
Read Security in-a-Boxs guide to tradition and faith.
digital security for the LGBTI commu-
nity in Sub-Saharan Africa. The guides The Media Institute of Southern Africa
tips are equally relevant for journalists published a series of articles on the
reporting on the community. state of Africas press on the 25th
anniversary of the Windhoek Declara-
Watch the Journalist Survival Guides tion, which in 1991 set out to promote
animated videos on protecting source an independent and pluralistic African
identity, journalists international rights, news media landscape. Several articles
how to protect your computer against directly address journalism safety.
hacking, how to get a secure internet
connection, and how to secure your The Solutions Journalism Toolkit (2015)
Skype account. offers tips to help journalists produce
rigorous and compelling reporting
The Tow Center for Digital Journalism about responses to social issues.
at Columbia Journalism Schools Digital
Security and Source Protection For Jour- International Media Supports Hand-
nalists guide (2014) offers strategies for book for Conflict Sensitive Journalism
reducing source exposure online. (2004) offers tips to help journalists
report information to the public in
Amnesty International has information times of conflict without exacerbating
and resources about LGBT rights on its tensions. IMS has also created coun-
website. try-specific handbooks for Zimbabwe
(2009), Rwanda (2008), and Kenya
Outright Internationals 2015 report (2007).
on Homophobia and Transphobia in
Caribbean Media encourages regional UNESCOs Conflict-Sensitive Report-
media to: promote self-regulation ing guide (2009) aims to strengthen
among media groups in the pursuit medias capacity to contribute to
of ethical and fair-minded coverage; dialogue, mutual understanding,
ensure accountability for unethical and reconciliation and peace.
unbiased coverage; issue joint state-

106 A Reporting Guide for Journalists



A Reporting Guide for Journalists 107

Sub-Saharan Source Guide

For the most up-to-date source informa- and to encourage collaboration with
tion, queer members of the local, national and
lgbtqi-religion-africa/. international Muslim community. Contact
Imam Muhsin Hendricks: admin@thein-, muhsin@theinnercircle.
SOUTHERN AFRICA:, +27 21 761 0037.

Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM): Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action
IAM, based in Cape Town, works as (GALA): GALA is a center for LGB-
a catalyst for full inclusion of LGBTI TI culture and education based in
people within mainstream churches in Johannesburg. Its mission is to act as a
Southern Africa and for the celebration catalyst for the production, preserva-
of diversity within religious contexts. tion and dissemination of knowledge
IAM raises awareness of diversity on the history, culture and contempo-
regarding sexual orientation and faith rary experiences of LGBTI people in
interpretation, encouraging people to Africa. GALAs archival collections can
re-examine their beliefs and attitude be viewed by appointment. Contact
towards homosexuality and engage archivist Linda Chernis: linda.chernis@
in dialogue in affirming and inclusive, +27 11 717 4239.
ways. Contact IAMs director the Rev.
Judith Kotze:, +27 Triangle Project: Triangle Project is
21 975 8142. a non-profit human rights organisa-
tion based in Cape Town that offers
The Inner Circle: The Inner Circle, based professional services to ensure the full
in Cape Town, provides support to realization of constitutional and human
Muslims who are marginalized based rights for LGBTI persons, their partners
on their sexual orientation and gender and families. They offer sexual health
identity. The organization strives to raise clinics, counselling, support groups, a
consciousness around gender and sexual helpline, public education and training
diversity by engaging faith and beliefs services, community outreach, and a

108 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

library. Contact Sharon Ludwig sub-Saharan Africa that works to
( or Matthew address the disproportionate effect of
Clayton ( HIV/AIDS on MSM and LGBT individ-, +27 81 257 uals; to redress the human rights vio-
6693. lations these populations face on the
continent; and to increase the visibility
Gender DynamiX: Gender DynamiX, of LGBT individuals and their issues.
based in Cape Town, works towards Contact Executive Director Kene Esom
the realisation of all human rights of in Johannesburg, South Africa, at
transgender and gender nonconform-,,
ing people within and beyond the +27 11 482 4630. Contact Law & Hu-
borders of South Africa. Contact Sivu man Rights Advocacy Specialist Berry
Siwisa and Zachary Shimange: com- Nibogora based in Dakar, Senegal, at,
+27 21 447 4797. Sex Workers Education & Advocacy
Taskforce (SWEAT): SWEAT is South
Sonke Gender Justice: Sonke Gender Africas leading sex worker rights orga-
Justice works across Africa to strength- nization working on advocacy, human
en government, civil society and citizen rights defense and mobilization from
capacity to promote gender equality, its head office in Cape Town. SWEAT
prevent domestic and sexual violence, works closely with LGBTI rights groups
and reduce the spread and impact of across South Africa. Contact Lesego:
HIV and AIDS. It has offices in Cape, +21 21 448
Town, Johannesburg, and Mpumalan- 7875.
ga, South Africa. Sonke works closely
with a range of organisations and Centre for Human Rights at the Univer-
individuals including womens rights sity of Pretoria: The Centre for Human
organisations, social movements, Rights at the University of Pretoria in
trade unions, government depart- South Africa works towards human
ments, sports associations, faith-based rights education in Africa, a greater
organisations, media organisations, awareness of human rights, the wide
university research units and human dissemination of publications on hu-
rights advocates. Contact Patrick man rights in Africa, and the improve-
Godana: ment of the rights of women, people
za,, +27 21 living with HIV, indigenous peoples,
423 7088. sexual minorities and other disad-
vantaged or marginalised persons or
African Men for Sexual Health and groups across the continent. Contact
Rights (AMSHeR): The African Men for Director Frans Viljoen, frans.viljoen@
Sexual Health and Rights is a coalition,, +27 12 420
of 18 LGBT/MSM (men who have sex 3228, +27 12 420 3810 / +27 12 420
with men)-led organisations across 3034.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 109

Iranti-org: Iranti-org is a queer human homophobic policies, legislations and
rights visual media organization based attitudes. Contact Human Rights Pro-
in Johannesburg. Iranti-org works gram Manager Paula Assubuji: Paula.
within a human rights framework to, info@za.boell.
build local partnerships and move- org, +27 21 461 62 66.
ments that use media as a platform for
lobbying, advocacy and educational Open Society Initiative for Southern
interventions across Africa. It aims to Africa (OSISA): Based in Johannesburg,
serve as an archive of queer memory in OSISIA is committed to deepening
ways that destabilize numerous modes democracy, protecting human rights
of discrimination based on gender, sex- and enhancing good governance in
uality and sexual orientation. Contact the Southern Africa. OSISAs vision is to
director Jabu Pereira: jabu@iranti-org. promote and sustain the ideals, values,,, +27 11 institutions and practices of open soci-
339 1476, +27 11 339 1468. ety, with the aim of establishing vibrant
and tolerant southern African democra-
The Other Foundation: The Other cies in which people, free from material
Foundation is an African trust that and other deprivation, understand
advances equality and freedom in their rights and responsibilities and
Southern Africa with a particular focus participate actively in all spheres of life.
on sexual orientation and gender iden- Contact LGBTI Program Manager Ian
tity. It gathers support to defend and Southey-Swartz:, +27
advance the human rights and social 11 587 5000.
inclusion of LGBTI people and offers
support to groups in ways that enables Southern Africa Litigation Centre:
them to work effectively for lasting The Southern Africa Litigation Centres
change, recognizing the particular dy- LGBT and Sex Worker Rights Pro-
namics of race, poverty, inequality, sex, gramme works to end discrimination
national origin, heritage, and politics and mistreatment faced by people who
in the region. Contact CEO Neville identify as such throughout Southern
Gabriel ngabriel@theotherfoundation. Africa. Contact Anneke Meerkotter:
org, tsekoma@theotherfoundation., +27 10 596
org,, 8538.
+27 72 011 6536.
Coalition of African Lesbians:
Heinrich Bll Foundation Southern The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL)
Africa: The Heinrich Bll Foundations is a regional network of organizations
office in Cape Town works to advance in Sub-Saharan Africa committed to
gender and sexual equality in South advancing freedom, justice and bodily
Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. The autonomy for all women on the African
foundation partners with key civil continent and beyond. It is based in
society actors as well as public and Johannesburg. Contact Regional Advo-
religious thought leaders to challenge cacy Officer Fadzai Muparutsa: fadzai@

110 A Reporting Guide for Journalists,, +27 11 Positive Vibes: Positive Vibes, based in
404 0004, +27 11 404 0007. Windhoek, Namibia, works to ensure
that LGBTI people are empowered to
Womens Leadership Centre: The respond effectively to discrimination
Womens Leadership Centre in Wind- and health challenges. Contact: +264
hoek, Namibia, promotes womens 61 245 5556,
writing and other forms of personal and
creative expression as a form of resis- GALZ: GALZ was founded in 1990 to
tance to discrimination and oppression serve the needs and interests of LGBTI
embedded in patriarchal cultures and people in Zimbabwe and to push for
society, with the aim of developing in- social tolerance of sexual minorities
digenous feminist activism in Namibia. and the repeal of homophobic legis-
Contact Liz:, lation. It is Zimbabwes leading LGBTI
+264 61 221106. organization. Contact Samuel in Harare
at, +263 4741736,
Tulinam: Tulinam is Inclusive and +263 4740614. Contact Teddy in
Affirming Ministries Namibian partner Bulawayo at
organization. Contact Madelene and
Lukas:, LeGaBiBo: LeGaBiBo (The Lesbians,
+264 8169 47699, lmukongo@yahoo. Gays & Bisexuals of Botswana) is the
com, +264 8123 98558. most prominent LGBTI organization in
Botswana. Contact Bradley: dblfortu-
Out-Right Namibia: ORN, based in, +267 316 74 25.
Windhoek, Namibia, is an LGBTI, MSM
(men who have sex with men), WSW Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and
(women who have sex with women) HIV/AIDS: BONELA is a non-govern-
human rights organization that offers mental organization (NGO) formally
psychological counselling and support established in 2001 to support human
groups for survivors of gender-based rights initiatives in the area of HIV/AIDS
violence, holds conferences and and to protect and promote the rights
workshops, and raises awareness of of all people affected by HIV/AIDS.
issues affecting the LGBTI community. Contact: +267 393 2516, bonela@
Contact: +264 61 237329, outrightna-
Matrix Support Group: Matrix, based
Rights Not Rescue: Rights Not Rescue, in Maseru, Lesotho, is a local LGBTI
based in Windhoek, Namibia, has network that aims to build a society
outreach programs that target sex that is free from stigma, abuse, rejec-
workers and LGBTI people. They offer tion and discrimination against people
counseling, lobbying, advocacy and who identify as LGBTI. Contact: +266
home-based care. Contact Mama Af- 22324120, +266 59978705.
rica: +264 8120 68240, naoxamub@

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 111

LAMBDA Association Mozambique: flexible, accessible resources to
LAMBDA works to ensure the econom- support civil society activism around
ic, political and social rights of LGBT issues of sexuality, health and human
citizens in Mozambique. Contact on rights in the East African region (Kenya,
Facebook: +258 21304816. Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burun-
di) with a specific focus on the rights of
ZANERELA+: The Zambia Network sexual minorities. UHAI has an archive
of Religious Leaders Living with or of LGBTI media clippings going back
personally affected by HIV and AIDS to 2008. Contact Wanja or Roselyn at
(ZANERELA+) is an interfaith network-, info@uhai-
ing and advocacy organization that is, +254 20 2330050.
geared towards bringing together faith
leaders who are living with or personal- Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya
ly affected by HIV and AIDS in Zambia. (GALCK): GALCK acts as an umbrella
ZANERELA+ is the national chapter of organization for six LGBTI organizations
the International Network of Religious in Kenya: Minority Women in Action,
Leaders living with or personally Ishtar MSM, Tea and Gay Kenya, PEMA
affected by HIV and AIDS (INERELA+). Kenya, and Afra Kenya. Its mission is to
Contact: kenpachunguone@gmail. defend the interests and rights of LGBTI
com, organizations and their members,
including their health rights. In 2016,
Juliet Mphande: Juliet Mphande is a GALCK produced the media toolkit
human rights, media and peace activist SOGIE 101 for the Kenyan Media Pro-
in Zambia who started the LGBTI group fessional. Contact Jackson at +254 20
Friends of Rainka. Contact via LinkedIn. 2426060,, Jotieno@
Pharie Sefali: Pharie Sefali is a journalist
and activist based in Cape Town who Esther Adhiambo: Adhiambo was
has written about gay and lesbian san- until recently the executive director at
gomas or traditional healers. Contact: Persons Marginalized and Aggrieved (PEMA), an LGBTI rights organization
based in Mombasa, Kenya, that orga-
Gabriel Khan: Gabriel Khan is the
nizes outreach sessions and workshops
sexual diversity rights officer in South
with local faith leaders. Contact via
Africa for Hivos International. Contact:
Roselyn at UHAI-EASHRI.
Neela Ghoshal: Neela Ghoshal is a
EASTERN AFRICA: researcher at Human Rights Watch. She
joined HRWs LGBT Rights Division in
UHAI-EASHRI - UHAI-EASHRI, the 2012 after five years in the Africa Divi-
East African Sexual Health and Rights sion, where she covered human rights
Initiative, is an indigenous activist fund issues in Burundi and Kenya, including
based in Nairobi, Kenya. It provides political repression, police abuse,

112 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

justice sector reform, and transitional to advance equality and inclusion of
justice. As LGBT rights researcher, LGBTIQ persons. Contact Eric: +254
Ghoshal is currently conducting 20 4400525,
research on rights abuses affecting
sexual and gender minorities and other David Kuria: In 2013, David Kuria be-
marginalized groups in several African came Kenyas first openly gay politician
countries, including Tanzania and to seek office. He writes regularly
Cameroon. Contact: ghoshan@hrw. about LGBTI issues and heads the Kuria
org, +254 20 220 8105. Foundation for Social Enterprise, which
aims to enhance social inclusion by
Pembizo Christian Council: Pembizo contributing technical and financial
Christian Council is a faith-based resources to socially excluded persons
advocacy organization in Kenya that and groups. Contact: info@kuriafoun-
seeks to build an all-inclusive Church in, +254 721360365.
Africa. It works with Christian leaders
in several African countries. Contact: Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda: HRNJ works to enhance hu-
man rights by defending and building
None on Record: None on Record is a the capacities of journalists in Uganda
media organization based in Nairobi, from its office in Kampala. HRNJ
Kenya, that collects the stories of LGBTI researches, monitors and documents
Africans and produces media content attacks and threats aimed at journalists,
on LGBTI rights. In 2015, they trained as well as abuses of press freedom in
East African journalists how to better Uganda. They also offer legal support
report on LGBTI issues. Contact Selly to journalists who need these services
Thiam:, because of their work. Contact national coordinator Robert, coordinator@, +256 414 667 627,
Selly Thiam: Selly Thiam is a journalist +256-414-272934.
and oral historian whose work has
appeared on NPR, PBS and in the New Spectrum Uganda: Spectrum Uganda,
York Times. She was a producer for based in Kampala, offers support to
the Storycorps Oral History Project, promote a healthy and empowered
PBS Learning Matters and a Carnegie community of men who have sex
Fellow at the ABC News Investigative with men (MSM) in Uganda. Contact:
Unit. She is the founder and Executive, +256
Director of None on Record, an African 800100040.
LGBT digital media organization. Con-
tact: Icebreakers Uganda: Icebreakers Ugan-
da is a nonprofit support organization
National Gay and Lesbian Human for LGBT people in Uganda. It focuses
Rights Commission: NGLHRC is a Ken- on sexual health, sexual health rights
yan organization that provides legal aid advocacy, community mobilization and

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 113

HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention Contact:
for all LGBT people. Contact: info@, +256 Sexual Minorities Uganda: SMUG is an
392853652. umbrella non-governmental orga-
nization based in Kampala, Uganda
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo: Bishop that advocates for the protection and
Dr. Christopher Senyonjo is a retired promotion of human rights of LGBT
Anglican Bishop in the Church of Ugandans. Contact Frank: info@sex-
Uganda who founded St. Pauls Recon-
ciliation and Equality Centre (SPREC) to
reconcile tension among straight and Freedom & Roam Uganda: FARUG is
LGBTI persons. He has become one of a Ugandan organization that works to
the leading LGBTI voices as a straight stop harassment and discrimination
ally for LGBTI people in Uganda and against LGBTI people. Contact: +256
the world. Contact: info@stpaulsrecon- 392 176977,, +256 31 2514537.
African Centre for Media Excellence:
Human Rights Awareness and Pro- ACME is a Uganda-based organization
motion Forum (HRAPF): HRAPF is an that strives to improve professionalism
NGO based in Kampala, Uganda, in the media. They have worked to
whose mission is to promote respect improve reporting on LGBTI issues and
and observance of human rights for religion in local media. Contact: +256
marginalized groups, including LGBTI 393 202351,,
persons. Contact:,, akakaire@
+256 414 530683.

Uganda Media Womens Association: LGBTI Sey: LGBTI Sey works to provide
Uganda Media Womens Association an open, safe, inclusive space and
(UMWA) is a human rights advocacy community committed to challenging
and service delivery NGO that helps sexism, genderism, homophobia, bi-
Ugandan women make informed phobia, transphobia and heterosexism
decisions by providing them access to in the Seychelles. Contact: lgbtisey@
information on rights. It also fights for
the rights of women working in media
Centre for the Development of People:
and counters negative portrayals of
CEDEP is an organization based
women in local media. Contact: info@
in Malawi that works with media, +256 393 113
and religious leaders to defend the
848, +256 772 469 363.
welfare of marginalized communities,
Kuchu Times: Kuchu Times is a media including prisoners, sex workers and
organization based in Kampala, Ugan- LGBTI people. Contact Gift Trapence:
da, that aims to provide a voice for
Africas LGBTI community.

114 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

MANERELA+: The Malawi Network mali: LGBT Somalis at Home and Abroad.
of Religious Leaders Living with or Contact:
personally affected by HIV and AIDS
(MANERELA+) is an interfaith network- Young Queer Alliance empowers
ing and advocacy organization that is young LGBTI people in Mauritius to
geared towards bringing together faith promote equality. Contact the organi-
leaders who are living with or personal- zations president Najeeb Fokeerbux:
ly affected by HIV and AIDS in Malawi. +230 454 50 76.
MANERELA+ is the national chapter of
Collectif Arc en Ciel: Collectif Arc en
the International Network of Religious
Ciel is an association based in Mauritius
Leaders living with or personally
that campaigns against homophobia
affected by HIV and AIDS (INERELA+).
and the various forms of discrimination
linked to sexual orientation. Contact, +230 465
Gift Nankhuni: Gift Nankhuni directs 4596.
the Malawi-based Lawyers Forum for
Humure: Humure is a human rights
Human Rights. Contact: giftnankhuni@
organization in Burundi that works to
fight all forms of discrimination based
LGBT VOICE: LGBT VOICE is an LGBT on sexual orientation and to fight AIDS
rights organization working to advance within the LGBTI community. Contact:
equality, diversity, education, and, alsahabo.
justice in Tanzania. Contact via the
Isange Rwanda is an umbrella coali-
Geofrey Mashala: Geofrey Mashala is tion of Rwandan LGBTI organizations.
the founder of AMKA Empowerment Contact:
Organization, a community-based
Rights for All Rwanda (RIFA): Rights for
group in Tanzania that works on human
All Rwanda (RIFA) is an organization
rights, empowerment, and health
that works to improve the health,
issues of LGBTIQ people. Contact:
rights, and protection of lesbian,
bisexual and transgender sex workers
Ethiopia Gay Library: Ethiopia Gay and individuals in Rwanda. Contact:
Library aims to be a reference point for
everything posted on the web about
gay Ethiopians and gay life in Ethiopia. WESTERN AFRICA:
Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa
Afdhere Jama: Afdhere Jama is an Ameri-
(IDNOWA): Founded in 2016, Interfaith
can writer and filmmaker of Somali origin.
Diversity Network of West Africa is a
He wrote the book Being Queer and So-
regional network of activists, faith-based

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 115

individuals, LGBTQI persons, advocates human rights. He has trained journalists
and individual activists working to how to better report on LGBTI rights.
advance the inclusion of and respect for Contact:
diverse persons. Network members are
based in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Liberia, NoStringsNg: is a
Cte dIvoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Nigerian advocacy media platform for
Sierra Leone, Senegal, and the Gambia. LGBTIQ news and information. Its aim
Contact: interfaithdiversitynowa@gmail. is to debunk negative stereotypes in
com, +234 80 231 999 612. mainstream media against the Nigerian
LGBTIQ community. Contact Mike
Africa Regional Sexuality Resource (pseudonym):
Centre: ARSRC, based in Lagos, Nigeria,
aims to promote more informed and Bisi Alimi Foundation: The Bisi Alimi
affirming public dialogue on human Foundation promotes and advocates
sexuality and to contribute to positive for equal opportunity and social
changes in the emerging field of sexual- inclusion of LGBT people in Nigeria.
ity in Africa, by creating mechanisms for Contact:, info@
learning at the regional level. Contact:, +234 1 7919307.
Felicity Thompson: Felicity Thompson
The Initiative for Equal Rights: The works on LGBTI rights in Western Africa
Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) is a La- for Human Rights Watch. Contact:
gos-based NGO that works to protect
and promote the human rights of sex-
Panos Institute West Africa: Panos Insti-
ual minorities nationally and regionally.
tute West Africa, based in Dakar, Sene-
Contact: +234 8125549015, info@
gal, works to democratize communica-
tion and strengthen public spaces for
Queer Alliance Nigeria: Queer Alliance open African societies. Contact: info@
Nigeria is a human rights, health, mcoulabaly@panos-ao.
advocacy and support group for the org, +221 33 849 16 66.
LGBTI community in Nigeria. Its mission
Article 19 Dakar: Article 19 is a British
is to create an enabling environment
human rights organization that focuses
for the respect and recognition of the
on the defence and promotion of
fundamental human rights of LGBTIQ
freedom of expression and freedom of
Nigerians through advocacy, edu-
information. Article 19 has an office in
cation, research and publications. Con-
Dakar, Senegal. Contact Fatou: fatouj@
tact Rashidi Williams: rashwilliams@, westafrica@article19., +234 8136137852.
org, +221 33 869 03 22.
Cheikh Traore: Dr. Cheikh Eteka Traore,
Senegal Tomorrow/Association
based in Abuja, Nigeria, works at
Prudence: Senegal Tomorrow is a legal
the intersection of public health and
defense fund that seeks to assist those

116 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

who face discrimination on the basis of 768 733, +233 266 191 054.
race or ethnic origin, religion, gender,
age, disability, marital status, or sexual Solace Brothers Foundation: Solace
orientation. Contact Nick Diamond or Brothers Foundation, an organization
Djamil Bangoura: nick.diamond@sen- based in Accra, Ghana, trains para-, prudence12349@ legals to defend the rights of LGBT, djamilbangoura@yahoo. people in the country. Contact via
fr, +221 77 651 5282, +221 77 903 Facebook message.
1221, +1 248 931 2115.
Stop AIDS in Liberia (SAIL): Stop AIDS
Charlotte Campo: Charlotte Campo in Liberia (SAIL) is a Liberian organi-
is Associate Human Rights Officer at zation that addresses issues affecting
the West Africa Regional Office of the sexual orientation and gender identity
United Nations High Commissioner minorities and other key populations
for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Dakar, at risk of contracting or transmitting
Senegal. Contact: ccampo@ohchr. HIV, including sex workers and inject-
org, +221 33 869 89 76. ing drug users. Contact: smcgill_sail@
Oumar Zi Coulibaly: Oumar Zi Coulibaly
is vice president at REPMASCI (Rseau des Liberia Women Empowerment Net-
Professionnels des medias, des Arts et des work: The Liberia Women Empow-
Sports pour la lutte contre le sida et les erment Network focuses on women
autres pandmies en Cte dIvoire), which and girls living and or affected by HIV/
helps fight the stigmatization of LGBTI AIDS in Liberia. They also work with
people. He is a journalist at the newspaper local LGBTI groups. Contact: info@
Notre Voie in Cte dIvoire and helped, +231-888465042,
run a regional project called Voices and +231-886133299.
Ways Against Homophobia. Contact:
Benin Synergies Plus (BESYP): BESYP
is an organization based in Cotonou,
Bianca Juhl Andersen: Bianca Juhl An- Benin, that advocates for the rights of
dersen is a United Nations Programme key populations that have the highest
Analyst on Human Rights and Gender risk of contracting and transmitting
based in Accra, Ghana. Contact: bian- HIV, including female sex workers and men who have sex with men (MSM).
Contact: +229 67 18 11 81.
Human Right Advocacy Centre:
The Human Rights Advocacy Centre Dignity Association is an organiza-
(HRAC) is a not-for-profit, indepen- tion in Freetown, Sierra Leone that
dent, non-partisan, research and ad- campaigns for LGBT rights. Contact:
vocacy organization set up to advance
and protect human rights in Ghana.
Contact George Owoo: +233 302

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 117

Associao ris Angola: Associao
ris Angola is an LGBTI rights group International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
based in Luanda, Angola. Contact: Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA):, +244 ILGA is a worldwide federation of
929082666. 1,200 member organisations from
125 countries that campaign for LGBTI
La Voix des Sans-Voix: La Voix des rights. Contact Andre du Plessis or
Sans-Voix, which translates into English Daniele Paletta: andreduplessis@
as The Voice of the Voiceless, is a,, +41
human rights group based in Kinsha- 227313254.
sa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Contact:, +243 995 Pan Africa ILGA (PAI): PAI is a federation
814 266. of organizations in Africa that work to
improve human rights based on sexual
Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko (RSM): orientation and gender identity expres-
Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko, sion (SOGIE). It is based in Johannes-
based in the South Kivu province of the burg. Contact:
Democratic Republic of the Congo,,
facilitates education, coordination,, +27 11
and outreach to those who identify 339 1473, +27 72 196 8743.
as LGBTI and networks with other or-
ganizations to build respect for LGBTI Global Interfaith Network for People of
rights in the region. Contact: rainbow. All Sexes, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (GIN-SSOGIE):
GIN-SSOGIE, based in South Africa,
Ligue Centrafricaine des Droits de aims to promote interfaith dialogue
lHomme (LCDH): The Central African and to strengthen LGBTI voices within
Republic League of Human Rights, religious institutions and structures.
based in the capital of Bangui, advanc- They provide resources, training, and
es human rights in the country. collective programmes to help indi-
Contact:, +236 viduals and organisations engage in
72 28 54 58. meaningful, constructive dialogue with
religious leaders and to advocate at the
Alternatives Cameroun: Alterna-
regional and international level for dig-
tives Cameroun, based in Doulala,
nity and rights. Contact: ginssogie@
Cameroon, works on sexual minority
rights in the country. Contact Yves:, +237 698 48 Alturi: Alturi is an online hub for news,
26 14. stories, and advocacy that aims to edu-
cate and engage individual supporters
who want to help improve the lives

118 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

of LGBTI people worldwide. Contact Jason McGill and Global Religions Pro-
Steve Roth:, +1 310 gram Director Randall Miller: jmcgill@
908 5075., rmiller@arcus-, +1 212 488 3000.
OutRight Action International: Outright
(formerly known as International Gay Human Dignity Trust: The Human
and Lesbian Human Rights Commis- Dignity Trust is a legal charity based in
sion) is a U.S.-based INGO that ad- London that supports those who want
dresses human rights violations against to challenge anti-gay laws wherever
LGBTI people. They have an office in they exist in the world. They support
Johannesburg that works on Sub-Saha- local activists and their lawyers to
ran LGBTI rights. Contact the New York uphold international human rights law,
headquarters: hello@outrightinterna- including a persons right to dignity,, +1 212 430 6054. equality and privacy. Contact former
Executive Director Jonathan Cooper:
American Jewish World Service: jonathancooper@humandignitytrust.
American Jewish World Service is an org, +44 20 7419 3770.
international development and human
rights organization headquartered Kaleidoscope Trust: The Kaleidoscope
in New York City. AJWS supports Trust, based in London, works to up-
women, girls and LGBT people, as they hold the human rights of LGBT people
organize to end discrimination, stop in the Commonwealth and beyond
violence and live with dignity, safety where individuals are discriminated
and health. Contact Javid Syed on the against because of their sexual orienta-
Sexual Health and Rights Team: ajws@ tion and/or gender identity. Contact:, +1 212 792, info@
2900, +1 800 889 7146, +1 212 792 +44 20 8133
2930. 6460.

National Lesbian and Gay Journal- Gill Foundation: The Gill Foundation
ists Association (NLGJA): NLGJA is a is one of the United States leading
U.S.-based network for LGBT media funders of efforts to secure full equality
professionals and allies dedicated to for LGBT people. Contact Sara Santos:
the highest journalistic standards in the, info@
coverage of LGBT issues. Contact ex-, grantsmanager@
ecutive director Adam Pawlos: adam@, +1 303 292 4455,, +1 202 588 9888. +1 888 530 4455.

Arcus Foundation: The Arcus Founda- Fund for Global Human Rights: The
tion is a charitable foundation focused Fund for Global Human Rights. The
on issues related to LGBT rights, social Fund has made recent grants to groups
justice and conservation. Contact working on LGBTI rights in Burundi,
Social Justice Program Vice President Democratic Republic of Congo,

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 119

Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Contact John in need without prejudice and discrimi-
Kabia and Tony Tate: jkabia@global- nation. Contact Bishop Joseph Tolton:, ttate@globalhuman-,, info@globalhumanrights. +1 415 861 6130.
org, +1 202 347 7488.
The Initiative for Strategic Litigation
ARC International: ARC Internation- in Africa: The Initiative for Strategic
al, based in Geneva, Switzerland, Litigation in Africa, based in Johannes-
advances LGBT rights and facilitates burg, is a Pan-African and feminist-led
strategic planning around LGBT issues initiative that aims to contribute to the
internationally, strengthening global development of jurisprudence on sexu-
networks, and enhancing access to al rights and womens human rights on
United Nations mechanisms. They have the continent by providing expertise
played a key role in the development on strategic litigation. Contact: +27 11
of the Yogyakarta Principles on the 338 9024.
application of International Human
Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orien- House Of Rainbow: House Of Rainbow
tation and Gender Identity. Contact Fellowship is an inclusive, welcoming
Kim Vance and Arvind Narrain: kim@ and affirming religious community to all, arvind@arc-inter- people, including sexual minorities and marginalised people, based in the U.K.
It was founded in London by the Rev.
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice: Rowland Jide Macaulay, an openly gay
The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for African theologian. Contact: jide@hou-
Justice works exclusively to advance, +44 7507 510357.
LGBTQI human rights around the
globe. The Foundation supports African Gender Institute: The African
grantee partners in the U.S. and Gender Institute at the University of
internationally and works for racial, Cape Town is a teaching, learning and
economic, social, and gender justice research institute which focuses on
so that everyone can live freely, without issues of gender and development on
fear, and with dignity. Contact Director the African continent. The AGI has de-
of Programs Sarah Gunther: sgunther@ livered innovative integrated outcomes, +1 917 930 on gender justice, sexuality and human
8509. rights, peace and conflict studies and
capacity building in relation to gender
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries: and womens studies knowledges.
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Contact Jane Bennett: jane.bennett@
aims to support religious teachers and, +27 21 650 2970.
laity in moving towards a theology of
radical inclusivity led by an equally
radical social ministry, reaching to the
furthest margins of society to serve all

120 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Church World Service: CWS works to Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, The
create a safe space for LGBTI persons, Fellowship Global, and The United
providing both resettlement for LGBTI Coalition of Affirming Africans to em-
refugees and protection to those still power progressive and inclusive clergy
in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Cte
facing the fear of persecution. CWS
dIvoire. Contact: +1 212 462 8808,
currently works with LGBTI communi-
ties in both Africa and the United States
in order to safeguard the human rights John Marnell is the publishing and com-
of all persecuted persons and provide munications officer at Gay and Lesbian
services that address the needs of the Memory in Action (GALA) in Johannes-
LGBTI community, engaging faith com- burg and is often based in Melbourne,
munities to achieve impact. Contact Australia. He has trained journalists from
across Sub-Saharan Africa how to better
Marie Ramtu in Nairobi: MRamtu@
report on LGBTI issues. Contact: john_, +254 20 444 0150.
Fabrice Houdart: Fabrice Houdart is
Shawn M. Gaylord: Shawn M. Gaylord
human rights officer at OHCHR New
York who works on issues of sexual ori- leads Human Rights Firsts initiative to
entation and gender identity. His team combat violence against LGBTI people
leads the United Nations Free & Equal globally. Contact: GaylordS@human-
campaign to promote global LGBTI, PlummerC@human-
rights. Contact:, +1, +1 202 370 3310.
202 250 1356, +1 212 963 1816.
Brian Pellot:Brian Pellot is director of
Joel Bedos: Joel Bedos is executive global strategy at Religion News Foun-
director at the International Day dation and Religion News Service. He
Against Homophobia, Transphobia &
organized and implemented the No-
Biphobia (IDAHOT). The annual day
is observed on May 17 to draw the vember 2016workshop in Cape Town
attention of policymakers, opinion and wrote this guide.Contact:rnsbri-
leaders, social movements, the pub-
lic and the media to the violence and
discrimination experienced by LGBTI Graeme Reid: Graeme Reid is director
people internationally. Contact: of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch in New York City.
Originally from South Africa, Reid has
Colin Stewart: Colin Stewart runs conducted research, taught and pub-
the Erasing 76 Crimes blog, which
lished extensively on gender, sexuality,
focuses on the human toll of more than
70 countries anti-LGBTI laws and local LGBT issues, and HIV/AIDS. Contact:
struggles to repeal them. Contact:, +1 212 290 4700., 76crimes@ Michael Heflin: Michael Heflin is the
director of equality for the Open
Bishop Joseph Tolton is based in Society Human Rights Initiative, which
New York City and works with The advocates to promote justice, equality,

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 121

and participation of all, including LGBTI
individuals and communities. Contact:
michael.heflin@opensocietyfounda-, +1 212 548 0600.

Mindy Michels: Mindy Michels man-

ages Freedom Houses Dignity for All
LGBTI Assistance Program from Wash-
ington, D.C. Dignity for All provides
emergency assistance; security, oppor-
tunity, and advocacy rapid response
grants (SOAR grants); and security
assessment and training to human
rights defenders and civil society or-
ganizations under threat or attack due
to their work for LGBTI human rights.
+1 202 296 5101.

Tiffany Mugo: Tiffany Mugo is the

co-founder and curator of HOLA Africa,
a pan Africanist online hub that aims
to share the stories of Africas queer
female community and increase the
digital visibility of queer African wom-
en. Contact:

122 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


A Reporting Guide for Journalists 123
Trainer and Speaker Biographies


Brian Pellot is director of global strategy at Religion News

Foundation and Religion News Service. He has worked and
reported from more than 50 countries and currently lives in
Cape Town, South Africa. Brians writing has appeared in the
Daily Beast, Washington Post, Huffington Post, USA Today, Inter
Press Service, Foreign Policy, Religion News Service and dozens
of other publications. He speaks regularly about freedom of
expression and freedom of religion or belief at media and
human rights conferences around the world. Before joining
RNF, Brian was digital policy advisor at Index on Censorship in
London and online editor at Free Speech Debate in Oxford, UK.
He studied international convergence journalism and Middle
Eastern studies at the University of Missouri and earned an
MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies as a Marshall Scholar at
Oxford University.


Debra Mason is a leading scholar and trainer on how religion is

portrayed in the media. She brings more than 30 years of pro-
fessional and scholarly experience to her position as director of
the Center on Religion and the Professions, an interdisciplinary
center at the world-renowned Missouri School of Journalism that
works to improve the religious literacy of professionals so they
can better serve a multi-faith public. She has also directed the
largest repository of religion resources for journalists, including and For nearly 20

124 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

years, she served as director of Religion News Association,
a professional association of journalists who cover religion in
mass media. She is publisher emeritus of Religion News Service
(RNS), the worlds only non-sectarian wire service exclusively
covering religion. As publisher, she led a multi-million dollar
expansion that converted RNS from a for-profit to non-profit
business model, quadrupled monthly online traffic to more than
1 million unique visitors; created five local niche religion sites,
garnered an unprecedented number of industry honors for
RNS, and oversaw the rebuilding of ReligionNews.coms front
and backend. She has played key roles in entrepreneurial efforts
to create local, online and sustainable models of professional
religion news, resources and training. Mason has received
numerous grants, awards and honors for her work.


Selly Thiam is a journalist and oral historian whose work has

appeared on NPR, PBS and in the New York Times. She was a
producer for the Storycorps Oral History Project, PBS Learning
Matters and a Carnegie Fellow at the ABC News Investigative
Unit. She is the founder and Executive Director of None on
Record, an African LGBT digital media organization.


Layla Al-Zubaidi is director of the regional office of the Heinrich

Boell Foundation in South Africa since 2012. From 2006 to
2012 she was director of the Middle East Office in Beirut and
was based in Ramallah/Palestinian Territories prior to that,
working for development and media organisations. Layla
studied social anthropology in Germany and the United States.
Books she co-edited include Anywhere but Now: Landscapes
of Belonging in the Eastern Mediterranean (HBF), Unmaking
Power: Democratic Transition in the Middle East (Routledge)
and Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution: Voices from Tunis to
Damascus (Penguin), which won the British PEN award.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 125


Paula Assubuji is the Human Rights Program manager of the

Heinrich Boell Foundation in Southern Africa. As an economist
by training she developed her expertise on socio-economic
issues through years of working in development in Southern
Africa and Europe. She has a track record of working with com-
munity-based and community-driven projects with a particular
focus on gender issues. Among a range of other organisations
in Mozambique and Germany, she has worked as the Director
of Operations for OneWorld Sustainable Development and led
the Secretariat of Slum Dwellers International in Cape Town.


Muhsin Hendricks is an Islamic Scholar with a background in

Classical Arabic and Islamic Sciences obtained at the Univer-
sity of Islamic Studies (Jamia-Dirasat Al-Islamiyyah), Karachi
Pakistan (1990-1994). He is an Imam (religious leader) by
profession and also a human rights activist focusing on
sexual orientation and gender identity within Islam. He has
done independent research on Islam and sexual diversity, an
area that does not often get explored in the Muslim world.
He has also delivered many papers and facilitated workshops
on Islam and Sexual Diversity to many organizations in South
Africa, USA, Asia and Europe. Muhsin is also the founder and
director of The Inner Circle (founded in 2004), the worlds
largest formal organization that supports Muslims marginal-
ized based on sexual orientation and gender. It is the only
organization that has a strong focus on movement build-
ing, mainstreaming and public training. Muhsin Hendricks
also holds a Diploma in Counselling and Communication
obtained through the South African College of Applied

126 A Reporting Guide for Journalists


Zachary Akani Shimange is the Community Mobilization

Officer at Gender DynamiX. Zachary studied a BSc degree in
Microbiology at the University of Limpopo where he founded
OutRAGE UL, the campus society for LGBTIQ+ persons. He
has many years of experience working with gender minori-
ties within the NGO sector. After leaving the University of
Limpopo, Zachary went on to work with Limpopo LGBTIQ+
Proudly Out. He then joined Iranti-Org as an intern under
their Zwakala Program.


The Rev. Ecclesia de Lange is an ordained minister of the Meth-

odist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA). She holds a Compre-
hensive Honours degree in Theology from the University of
Southern Africa (UNISA) and a Masters degree in Social Science
from the University of Cape Town (UCT). After announcing to
her congregation that she was going to marry her same-sex
life partner, Ecclesia was charged, suspended, disciplined and
discontinued as a Methodist minister in February 2010. She has
been involved with Inclusive and Affirming Ministries part-time
since 2011 and became a full-time staff member in 2014. She is
currently part of IAMs senior management team.


Teboho Klaas is an ordained minister in the African Methodist

Episcopal Church, working with a congregation in Vosloorus,
Johannesburg. He has a long history of involvement in ecumen-
ical church leadership and social justice activism. After working
at the Institute for Contextual Theology, he became the national
health director of the South African Council of Churches (SACC)
and also served as the executive assistant to the general secre-
tary of the SACC. Teboho also worked as the national coordi-
nator of the Jubilee 2000 debt cancellation campaign in South
Africa. He holds a Bachelor of Theology (Honours) degree.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 127


Pharie Sefali is a freelance community journalist and is currently

working for an organisation called Equal Education as a materials
developer. She is also an activist for human rights focusing
on education and LGBTIQ+ rights. Pharie is in the executive
committee member for LGBTIQ+ traditional healers forum and a
board member for the Quaker Peace Centre.


Dr. Azila Talit Reisenberger is head of the Hebrew Department

at the University of Cape Town where she lectures on gen-
der, sexuality and religion. Her academic articles, volumes of
poetry, short stories, and novel have been translated into many
languages and won much acclaim. Since 1989, she has served
as spiritual leader (Rabbi) of the Jewish Progressive Community
in East London.


Zethu Matebeni is an activist-academic and documentary film-

maker based at the University of Cape Town. In the academy,
Zethu is known for black queer radical politics centred on
nuanced understanding of what it means to be Queer in Africa.
Zethu is also a tourist guide in the Western Cape region.


Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Rabbi Osher Feldman hails

from a prominent Rabbinic family spanning many generations.
Rabbi Feldman received his Rabbinic ordination after studying
in Rabbinical colleges in the USA, Canada and Israel. While
completing his Rabbinical and post-graduate studies he was
involved in the Rabbinate and community outreach in countries
as far flung as the USA, Russia, Estonia, Australia and Israel.
In 2007 the newly married Rabbi Feldman and his wife Sarah
joined South Africas first Synagogue, the Cape Town Hebrew

128 A Reporting Guide for Journalists

Congregation otherwise known as the Gardens Shul, founded
in 1841. With their youthful enthusiasm, the young Rabbinic
couple initiated programmes and activities which brought a
new spirit to the ageing community, attracting many new young
members and changing the fabric of the congregation into a
vibrant community.

A Reporting Guide for Journalists 129

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