Blog, Press

The Misuse of freedom of speech – A Nation’s tragedy

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

― United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

There is no doubt that the Freedom of Speech is one of the greatest human rights any person can have and yet it is also one of the greatest to be trampled on in the world today.

One of the biggest misconceptions nowadays is that our freedom of speech not only can be exercised but should be exercised at any cost.  The problem with the world today is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it no matter what that might do to the feelings of others.  Freedom of speech in 2020 has been abused and misused mainly by the media.

The most attentive and influential use of freedom of speech is through the elements of the media. This spans from public speaking to news reports, to social media. In the world today, these mediums have become discriminative, unpleasant and in many cases, just downright barbarous.

We have seen the social media space fill up with malicious content, trolling and cyber bullying. It seems that the anonymity that social media can provide leads to many users to believe they can say whatever they want while hiding behind their online profile. But even the print media is adorned with writeups and commentaries that contest people’s fundamental human rights.

In Ghana or Nigeria, we see the majority use media as a tool for driving injustice and infringing on constitutional human rights. When it comes to expressing opinions, people do not have a problem doing so either by phone, email, social media or even in person. However, the global nature of online media means the abuse is immediate and far reaching. 

The ease of accessibility to social media means that anyone can express their opinions to the downfallof another person simply because they do not like the person or what the person may represent.

Some 3.5 billion people in the world today connect via social media.  That is 45% of the world population. Social media can bring people closer together, form links across social and economic divide; bring minority groups togetherfor positive reinforcement; but too often it is used to judge others, to belittle minorities, groups and individuals. Social media is becoming a forum where judging others is the norm and there is an increase in people crossing the boundaries of constitutional rights.

Freedom of speech is scaling new heights everyday but with disregard of the consequences of misusing it; consequences that include suicide and social suicide. People become so engulfed in their virtual lives that that they often fail to realise that the quest for social media relevance may be tied to another’s downfall.

Celebrities, politicians, authors, and the general public, are exposed to cruel and perverted individuals who believe that they can say whatever they want, whenever they want to say it no matter what the consequences may be. Various mainstream issues such as gay rights, feminism, equal pay or gender equality are being fuelled by people who are ignorant to culture, because they feel the need to express what they believe despite being politically incorrect.

Yes, freedom of speech dies give us the right to express how we feel, but it does not give us the right to degrade, humiliate, curse or abuse people.

Social media has changed the way we live our lives. From the way we get our news to the way we interact with our loved ones. Social media is everywhere. It’s unavoidable, it’s powerful, and it’s here to stay, but this form of freedom of speech should not be misused, abused, and thrown around, like trash.

People, we need to think before speaking; before typing.  We need to show empathy, see past what we disagree with and not hide behind our online profile.

Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing; a great human right, but it is also dangerous and we need to use it with responsibility.

Davis Mac-Iyalla

Executive Director Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa

Fellow, Outright International Advocacy UN Religious Program 2020

Blog, Press

World Congress of Families to Boost Export of LGBTIQ-phobia in West Africa

The World Congress of Families (WCF), designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, announced last week that a regional conference would be held on October 31 and November 1 in Accra, Ghana, marking an expansion of its right-wing fundamentalist agenda in West Africa.

 Formed in Russia in 1997 by American right-wing thinkers and Russian counterparts, the World Congress of Families is one of the major driving forces of the global promotion of an anti-choice and anti-LGBTIQ agenda. Using pseudo-human rights language about the rights of the family, the child, and freedom of religion, WCF promotes conservative ideologies centered around concepts of “natural law” and “natural family” through laws criminalizing LGBTIQ people and sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular abortion, both at a national and international level.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Executive Director, Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa, comments:

“It is extremely concerning to see the group expand its interest in West-Africa; its presence will undoubtedly increase social stigma and discrimination against LGBTIQ people, especially those living with HIV/AIDS. Same-sex relations are still criminalized in the majority of the region, violence, and harassment of LGBTIQ people are ripe, so LGBTIQ people are already living in hiding and in fear for their lives. We fear that the congress will come with an even harsher agenda, and ample resources for increasing hate against LGBTIQ people in West Africa.”

WCF is well-connected, well-resourced and influential, and has, to a greater or lesser degree, influenced the passing of barbaric laws such as the anti-homosexuality act in Uganda, the same-sex marriage prohibition act in Nigeria, and the notorious so-called gay-propaganda law in Russia.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, comments:

This is not the first instance of American Evangelicals and organizations exporting homophobia and transphobia around the world. Their agenda stands in stark contrast to basic human rights standards, instead openly inciting attacks on human dignity, and promoting a long out-dated world of religious domination and stark gender inequalities. We have to work across civil society and state boundaries to support activists in West Africa and ensure that an already hostile environment for LGBTIQ people and women does not become even more so.

The congress brings together participants from right-wing civil society organizations, such as Citizen Go and Family Watch International, religious groups, as well as elected officials, religious leaders, scholars and others. It provides a platform for strategizing on further promotion of the fundamentalist agenda.

Taken from

https://www.curvemag.com/News/World-Congress-of-Families-to-Boost-Export-of-LGBTIQ-phobia-in-West-Africa/

Blog, Events, Uncategorized

The First Speakers Bureau Training

 

Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa held it first Speakers Bureau Training from the 11-14 July 2019 at The Capitol Hill Hotel Cape Coast.

Participants attended from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana. The training was first of its kind in West Africa and the main objective was to empower IDNOWA members on how to engage with religious leaders, state actors and the media more professionally.

 

 

 

Events

ILGA World Conference, Wellington, New Zealand 2019

IDNOWA as a proud member of ILGA were able to attend this conference.  We took part in an inter-faith pre-conferences, workshops and various panels.  On our arrival, we were sadden to hear about the shootings in Christ Church.  We were able to attend the vigil for the 50 Muslims that were killed at Christ Church.

We took part in the regional pan-African Caucus of ILGA, contributing to strategies and organising the next conference in West Africa.

At the conference, we were able to establish links with other inter-faith networks and groups who were also attending the conference.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Executive Director, along with other partners organised a workshop called “Freedom for all” LGBTI, Women, HIV/AIDS – By countering Religious Right. The workshop was well attended.  Participants engaged and learnt more about West Africa and the impact of colonisation on women and LGBTI groups.